Representation by Decibel Architecture

A demonstration office building currently under construction in Shanghai is set to become China’s highest rated sustainable building, according to its Australian-based design and consultancy team from Decibel Architecture. 

Officially breaking ground in January this year, Shanghai Construction Group’s SCGZero+ is also set to be China’s first “5Zero” building, meaning zero carbon, zero energy, zero water, zero waste, and zero formaldehyde. 

The project draws on the lessons of Australia’s current highest LEED, BREEAM, and Green Star rated building, Melbourne’s Pixel building, which also happens to be the home of Decibel Architecture.

“Six years ago when I met the Shanghai construction group chief engineer, we entertained him here at Pixel, which is another building that I designed, and he quite liked it,” Decibel Architecture conductor, Dylan Brady, told The Fifth Estate

“I’ve now spent about five years working with him to say let’s do a new demonstration building that we partner with the government in China, the National Development Reform Commission, in order to rechallenge the industry. Because Pixel sadly still sits at the top of the lead rated buildings in the world.” 

By tapping into the knowledge and experience of a global group of building experts, including Atelier Ten, Landleaf and Fabric First, SCGZero+ is seeking to claim the world’s highest scores in LEED, BREEAM, WELL, China3Star and China Healthy Building.

To achieve their sustainability goal, the building’s designers have incorporated prefabrication methods in structure and façade assemblies, as well as robotic fabrication techniques, the use of innovative low embodied energy materials such as recycled steel, low carbon concrete, CLT and CLB (Cross Laminated Bamboo) and implemented fine-tuned rainwater and solar energy capture systems.

Brady said that using CLT in such a large building raised compliance challenges. He said Chinese firecodes are unfamiliar with using timber in this capacity. 

“What we’re doing is pushing it in a number of areas where we can demonstrate its functionality and actually have a real world installation,” Brady said. 

“We’re using a bunch of CLT and some Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and also some interesting new materials like CLB which we’re fabricating over there.

“So our façade is prefabricated and all the framing and the façade is actually CLB and LVLs rather than aluminium sections and steel.” 

The building will be Passive House certified and cover a construction area of 11,509 square metres with 6313 square metres above ground.

Other sustainability features include:

  • materials and material supply chains will be low VOC and follow cradle to cradle principles
  • Biophilia and indoor greenery
  • circadian lighting throughout
  • “water balanced design” that extends beyond the site and throughout parkland surrounds
  • on-site elevated running tracks, gyms, dance and yoga studios, childcare and maternity spaces
  • generous end of trip facilities
  • vegetarian kitchens and on-site rooftop farms
  • flexible and resilient indoor gathering and working spaces

Construction is expected to be completed by 2022.