Unisphere, an innovative net zero commercial building

Originally Published  Case Study at VGBC

PROJECT OWNER

United Therapeutics is a biotechnology company. It believes that sustainable design aligns directly with its mission of saving lives. The company also views its facilities as “strategic assets” in attracting and retaining top talents.

The project, named Unisphere, is one of the largest net-zero commercial buildings in the US. 

THE CHALLENGE

Unisphere is located in a dense suburb of Washington DC, with hot, humid summers and relatively cold winters. The site is surrounded by mid-rise buildings constructed to the vertical zoning limit. Getting to net zero is challenging, especially for a  commercial building with gross floor are of more than 12500 m2 (excluding parking space).

Energy modeling was used to guide the early design decisions. From the beginning, an elliptical shape was chosen to minimize the east/west exposure and maximizing the north/south exposure. Each successive floor is a little smaller than the floor below it to maximize the solar access for the facade-mounted solar panels. On the south facade, the solar panels not only generate energy, but also function as shading devices.

Almost all of the office spaces are illuminated significantly with daylight. 

Read the FULL CASE STUDY here.

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