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World Trade Center: Rebuilding Sustainably

By Heather Hassel-Finnegan | Green Buildings & Architecture, Urban Design

The most arresting feature of the newly constructed One World Trade Center is it’s reflective surface, which mirrors the lush greens of the memorial lawns below, and the serene blue of the sky above. This design element creates the illusion that the building itself is a vertical nature-scape. And, it serves as the first hint to the public that the World Trade Center complex is being rebuilt in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Green Elements

Both One World Trade Center (otherwise known as The Freedom Tower) and Seven World Trade Center (a smaller high-rise that is part of the complex) have been designed to LEED Gold standards. A large percentage of the wood used in the building is from sustainably managed forests and many other building materials on site are made from recycled content. Green concrete was used in place of cement in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To avoid health problems for builders and occupants, no Volatile Organic Compounds were used in construction. Once the building is occupied, air quality monitors will track and alleviate any air quality issues that arise.

Significantly more than half of the power for the Freedom Tower will be produced from renewable energy sources, including off-site wind power and on-site fuel cells. The heat released from fuel cells will be harvested and reused to heat water and air that is circulated in other areas of the building. The building will be cooled using a system that circulates water from the nearby Hudson River. Energy use will be further reduced through the use of day-lighting which regulates the amount of man-made light emitted in the space in response to daylight entering the building.

Rainwater will be collected and stored in towers for later use in irrigation. The area around One World Trade Center and the September 11th Memorial and Museum will be extensively landscaped. The green space in the area will include hundreds of trees and public grassy areas that provide an aesthetically welcoming environment. The trees serve a functional purpose, as well, regulating temperatures in the underground Museum.

A Skyline’s Vision Statement

World Trade Center’s redevelopment is the culmination of a decade long community engagement effort. Following the tragic events of September 11th, it was hard to envision the World Trade Center’s future. But, through the tireless collaboration of private and public stakeholders the project’s vision of resilience and harmony has been realized.

Feature Image: One World Trade Center LEED Gold standard building. Image via World Trade Center.

About The Author

Heather Hassel-Finnegan
Heather is a Sustainability Specialist working in the healthcare industry. She is a LEED Accredited Professional and holds a Sustainability Professional Certificate. She has a background in Biology and Anthropology, and much of her past work focused on wildlife biology and conservation. Heather resides in the Philadelphia region with her husband and toddler daughters.