The Dubai International Financial Center | Green Skyscrapers

lighthouse tower The Dubai International Financial Center | Green Skyscrapers

Keeping in step with Dubai’s desire to do everything better than anybody’s ever done anything, they’re stepping up the green game with the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC). It’s nicknamed “The Lighthouse” because it’s designed to serve as a beacon for modernity that guides people toward this forward-looking cityscape. And…it’s green!

His Excellency Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman says of the DIFC: “The unique design of this slender tower will make it stand out, especially at night, when the external lighting will serve, like a lighthouse, to attract the admiration of residents and visitors alike. We are particularly proud of the project’s environmentally friendly and sensitive design, which will set a new benchmark for energy conservation in the region.”

Besides the green aspects, one of the main goals of the DIFC is to draw businesses, tourists and residents to downtown Dubai. This will be achieved by the special external lighting design created by the architects at Atkins Middle East. The concept has worked; all of the residences have already sold out. The Lighthouse will contain commercial space, a convention center, shops, and even an environmental visitor center.

Since there’s a new structure being built in Dubai every day, The Lighthouse also serves as an example of successful green architecture by reducing the impact on local and global resources. The height and shape of the DIFC allows for some major green improvements. Talk about photovoltaic panels — the DIFC wants to put in 4,000 of them for solar power. And don’t get me started on the wind turbines. Three wind turbines, twenty-nine meters in diameter, 225 KV, also to help with the energy use.

If the building does come to fruition, Atkins Middle East will strive to select materials from sustainable sources. The Lighthouse will be one of the first low carbon towers in Dubai. All of these improvements will reduce the energy consumption by 65% and the water consumption by 40%.

Construction was started in 2005, but the contracting firm Ayoubco General Contracting LLC has hit some snags. The foundation has been laid, but there has not been any new construction on The Lighthouse since 2006, even though the units are already sold. There are new plans, however, to finish the building — and construction in Dubai, once approved, can move very rapidly.

The Lighthouse has fierce competition for being the greenest skyscraper ever; there are several other green buildings vying for the title.

bur al taqa tower The Dubai International Financial Center | Green Skyscrapers

In fact, green skyscrapers are a growing trend in cities all over the world. Back in Dubai, there are plans for another massive green building, the Burj al-Taqa (Energy Tower), which will derive 100% of the building’s energy from the massive wind turbine on the top, 7,000 photovoltaic panels collecting energy, and air conditioning powered by seawater. If created, it will also be the 22nd tallest building in the world. Chicago has almost finished 340 On The Park, which may become the first residential skyscraper to meet LEED standards. The CIS Tower in Manchester, England reduces its energy consumption with 7,000 photovoltaic panels and wind turbines. China is building the Pearl River Tower, which uses wind turbines for lighting, solar power, and daylight responsive controls.

The Pearl River Tower has much in common with Dubai’s Lighthouse: it uses its shape; it looks like a giant wing; it functions as a green tool, catching the wind and pushing it through the turbines.

All over the world, it seems, the color of our cityscapes is changing from gray and smoggy to green.

New buildings are constructed in Dubai at a frenetic pace, and in order to keep up, Dubai is at the forefront of innovative building in all areas. They’ve created man-made islands to expand the coastline, a year-round indoor ski slope, and they’re currently building the tallest building in the world. This type of forward thinking is a great asset to the green building community.

Anything is possible in Dubai. And this attitude serves as both a wonderful example and an excellent challenge for other cities as they rethink their own green building practices.

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