Green building and construction typically revolves around concepts such as energy efficiency, the use of sustainable building materials, water systems, lighting, and facilities to encourage environmentally friendly commuting options.
Rarely do many think about having their cars parked for them or buildings that heat themselves.
The Geyser building in Auckland, New Zealand, designed by architectural firm Patterson Associates, does just that.
One of the most interesting features of the retail and office complex, which achieved a 6 Green Star – Office Design certified rating from the Green Building Council of New Zealand in late 2009 and was pronounced ready for business earlier this month, is a 165-vehicle automated car-stacker system that actually parks your car for you.
“You park in a virtual garage and then a turntable spins the car around, loads it onto a lift and takes it to an available space” explains Marco Creemers, general manager of building owners the Samson Corporation. “You just swipe your card when you come back and the machine finds and returns your car to you.”
The car-stacking system is not just efficient, it is also a tool to promote environmentally responsible commuting – a quarter of all of the spaces available are reserved for smaller, more fuel efficient cars.
The building is close to major public transport hubs and its provision of showers, lockers and cycle parks cater for those who prefer a greener, healthier way to get to work.
The building boasts other impressive green features. For instance, it effectively heats itself using technology which traps warm air between the walls in winter. In summer, by contrast, the building’s outer skin opens electronically for full ventilation. Because of this, the building not only uses around one-third less energy when compared with standard buildings of a similar size. Its owners also say it provides occupants with 100 per cent fresh air, as opposed to an average of 25 per cent for air conditioned offices across New Zealand.
The site’s architectural layout sees the various buildings positioned around a courtyard, and a system of atriums with pedestrian linkages maximises natural light and promotes networking and a sense of community.
Water for toilets and irrigation is supplied by a rainwater harvesting system.
Thanks to this, as well as the layout, Geyser’s owners claim the building uses only half the amount of artificial lighting and water compared to a typical office building of equivalent size.
New Zealand Green Building Council’s CEO Alex Cutler praised the new building, saying it will boost productivity and reduce absenteeism.
“Businesses here will be making a statement about their commitment to staff, customers and the planet,” Cutler says. “Much of the focus of green buildings is on benefits such as energy and water savings. But just as important is the quality of the working and living environment.”
In their desire to make their buildings stand out, architects are increasingly incorporating unique features into their designs.
A building that parks your car for you certainly achieves that.