Filming The World’s Foremost Eco-Friendly Skyscraper

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Originally published on the ECOreport

If we can believe the developers, Joe Nafis’ stunning documentary on the Shanghai Tower is much more than a record of how the planet’s second-highest skyscraper was built. Nafis spent four years filming the world’s foremost eco-friendly skyscraper.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 10.05.45 AM

Set Up A Camera For Four Years

Much of the footage is taken from a single viewpoint, where the filmmaker set up a camera for four years, but he also “took hundreds of thousands of photos from various viewpoints around the city.” The result is a surprisingly fast-paced documentary, which is truly enjoyable to watch.

Environmentally Friendly Features

What you do not see is that the building’s carbon footprint is expected to save 34,000 metric tonnes of carbon per year over conventional construction methods.

Though this not actually the first eco-friendly skyscraper, it might be setting a higher standard. Some of the  environmentally friendly features include:

  • Wind turbines at the tower’s crown that produce 54,000 kWh/year and are used to power the buildings external lighting
  • Two curtain walls enveloping the building, to create an air pocket that provides insulation in winter and cooling during the summer
  • One third of the building’s interior is public green space (“sky garden”)
  • Many local materials, with a high-recycled content, were utilized in construction

Screenshot of the Shanghai Tower

This is a marked improvement over Chinese buildings erected during the past two decades, which have been major contributors to the nation’s air pollution.

“Working with the client [the government], we are hoping that the Shanghai Tower sets a new international benchmark for environmental responsiveness.” said Grant Uhlir, the Principal of Gensler.

Screenshot from the Shanghai Tower

Symbolizes China’s New Self-Confidence

On his video page for this project, Nafis wrote:

“Towering above this city of 24 million people at 632m (2,073 feet), the Shanghai Tower is the tallest building in China and 2nd tallest in the world, only surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Its 128 stories are divided into 9 vertical zones, including retail at the base, offices in the middle, hotels and observation decks at the top. The super-tall skyscraper features a double-decker elevator that offers the longest single elevator journey in the world at 580m (1,900 feet) in under a minute,” wrote Nafis.

” … The completion of the Shanghai Tower not only represents the financial success of Shanghai, it symbolizes China’s new self-confidence and the shift in the global balance of economic power.”

Screenshot from Joe Nafis' film the Shanghai Tower

If you like this film, go to Nafis’ homepage to find more time-lapse/hyperlapse views of Shanghai.

Photo Credits: All images are screenshots from Joe Nafis’ film the Shanghai Tower


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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales