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Tue 5 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Futurist skyscraper revealed

Building to have same processes as a tree.

A futuristic building that can carry out the same biological processes as a tree was unveiled last month at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

The building, designed by William McDonough, is the result of a commission by Fortune Magazine to create a skyscraper that has a positive impact on people and place.

"What we came up with was a building for the present, something possible today that embodies the idea of a building like a tree. A building that receives its energy from the sun, that grows food, that builds soil, that provides a habitat for hundreds of species, that changes colours with the seasons and purifies water," explained McDonough.

The building will rely on photovoltaic panels to provide up to 40% of the building's needs. The remaining energy will be supplied by geothermal heating and on-site power generators. All materials will be designed to be biodegradable or recyclable and there will be extensive water recycling systems on-site.

The building will also feature a three-storey atrium with gardens and a green roof, which reduces the "urban heat island" while at the same time absorbing and cleaning rainwater.

"Around 40% of the climate change from emissions and waste comes from construction and buildings - so we have a crucial role to play. If we can cut the energy consumption of buildings in half, we can have an effect of 20%, a dramatic amount," added McDonough. "And if we can do buildings that are energy-positive - that produce more energy than they need to operate then we are ahead of the game."

The architect also dismissed claims that green buildings should be viewed as more costly to implement. "Green buildings shouldn't be seen as something that add cost, they should be seen as high-performance buildings. Our buildings don't cost much more than normal buildings but they outperform them," he said.

McDonough added that he believed in the near future buildings would only be designed with this sustainable approach in mind.

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