Green Buildings Minimize Natural Disasters

The vast majority of modern-day apocalyptic movies feature at least one scene of a mass urban exodus. Whether aliens have invaded or zombies have risen from the dead, the conventional wisdom seems to be that cities are among the least likely place to survive an existential crisis.

Mori Building, a privately-owned Japanese real estate developer, claims to have turned that logic on its head by pursuing an urban development concept that seeks to build “a city to escape into rather than a city from which people run away.”

Roppongi Hills, Mori Building’s largest real estate development, is the prototype of a disaster-proof built environment. The building complex includes a clutch of attributes to enhance resilience, including a combined heat and power plant that produces electricity and recycled heat with a high-efficiency large-scale gas turbine. The plant stayed online after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and provided power to neighboring communities that had lost electric service from the conventional power grid.

Green building firms in the US appear to be pursuing similar strategies for enhancing the resilience of the built environment.  Last week, the Related Companies, a pioneering green building real estate firm, development purchased a fleet of Capstone C65 and C200 Dual Mode microturbines fromRSP Systems, the Bronx, NY-based regional distributor for Capstone, which will be installed over the next two years in Related’s portfolio of office buildings, apartments and mixed-use properties.

What are the other ingredients of a disaster-proof building? Here are a few items listed on Mori’s website:

Sticky Walls

In Roppongi Hills Residences B and C, we have employed sticky walls technology. This is a technique in which a highly sticky substance is injected into the inside of box-shaped steel plates, and the resistance force that is generated when the independent internal steel plates inside alleviates shaking caused by earthquakes and wind. There are eight sticky walls installed in the central section of each floor.

Oil Dampers

These dampers work by absorbing the shaking of the building with the resistance force at the time the oil moves. The sensor installed inside the damper detects very slight shaking, and the damper immediately controls the flow of oil, meaning that it can alleviate shaking due to small and medium-sized earthquakes and wind as well as shaking from major earthquakes. There are 192 oil dampers installed in the Mori Tower, giving it an outstanding level of earthquake resistance.

Green Mass Damper

These use the pendulum effect which strongly shakes the rooftop green area insulated by the building itself and laminated rubber (normally the same as that used in a seismic isolation structure), so that the dampers installed between the laminated layers can reduce the burden on the building itself by absorbing the energy of the earthquake. These dampers are used in the Roppongi Hills Keyakizaka Complex.

CTF Columns

For the columns that provide a framework for the building, the inside of the steel pipes is filled with high-strength concrete. These columns have more outstanding resistance strength and deformation capacity than previous construction methods, and they are used in the Mori Tower, the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Roppongi Hills Residences B and C, and the Hollywood Beauty Plaza.

Super Double-Deck Elevators

We have installed these elevators in Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. Mori Tower’s “super double-deck elevators” are equipped with a pantograph joint on the part of the elevator that connects two passenger cars that can expand and contract by up to two meters, making it possible for the elevator to serve floors with varying heights. Nippon Otis Elevator Company and Mori Building have a joint patent on this pantograph joint structure, the first of its kind in the world.

The costs and benefits of Mori Building’s new approach appear to cut in Mori’s favor. A survey of office requirements of more than 1,000 companies in Tokyo, conducted in 2011 after the earthquake, revealed that the most important criteria for selection was earthquake resilience (92%), followed by proven disaster management by the company managing the building (55%) and onsite power generation to avoid power outages (51%).

Source: Forbes

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