Green Solutions Awards International trends

The 2020-21 edition of the Green Solutions Awards is over! This edition was really successful: a myriad of projects from many countries have been represented, showing the wide scope of the competition. In total, 15 districts (in Switzerland, Russia, China, France and Belgium), 29 infrastructures (in Argentina, Brazil, England, Poland, France, Belgium, Germany and Malaysia) and 148 buildings competed. From these projects ensue some international trends.


This edition of the Green Solutions Awards gathered infrastructures from 3 different continents: Europe, Asia and South America. Unsurprisingly, Europe is the most represented with 28 infrastructures, mainly from Western European countries.

The main themes covered by the projects are: waste recycling, vegetalisation, circular economy and energy savings. It highlights issues that are face by every territory and city in the world. As the majority of them are easily replicable (Bin-e, park tank, plan lumière, etc), they consist in inspiring demonstrators.



During this edition, districts from 5 countries were represented (4 in Europe) : Switzerland, Belgium, China, France and Russia. Each country offers a different model of sustainable district, specific to its culture, and local issues. In China, the Suzhou Industrial Park combined environnemental consideration with hightech systems. In Russia, the aim is to make the area more sustainable while highlighting the cultural heritage of the city. In Belgium, the project emphasises the importance of public spaces and social mixity in a district. Finally, GreenCity in Switzerland is based on a strong participative process to encourage cooperation between different actors throughout the decision-making process.

However, some common points between the candidates can be observed: they all have very good results in energy efficiency, they include green mobility considerations in their project and they make a point to develop attractive and pleasant public spaces.



Although its headquarters are located in France, Construction21 is also established in other countries. For these Green Solutions Awards, local competitions were organised in 6 supplementary countries: Germany, China, Belgium, Morocco, Luxembourg and Spain. An international competition was organised for the rest of the world.

Discover the French trends



13 buildings were competing in Germany, including several schools and office buildings. The candidates were mainly new buildings. Energy efficiency is the main theme originating from these projects: they have very good performances, many of them have labels and certifications such as Passivhaus and DGNB and most of them integrate renewable energy. An evolution in the building-making process can also be observed. Indeed, many of the candidates have thought extensively about the interior design of buildings: they developed a flexible organisation in order to adapt rooms to evolving needs. As a result, possible future obsolescence of buildings is avoided. Additionally, some of the buildings were built following a prefabrication process, a technology increasingly used used in the sector.



These 4 buildings are representative of China's ideal sustainable building: based on low energy, renewable energy and promotion of science and technology (high-tech, AI, 5G, and so on). They are equipped with smart and performant systems. Thanks to these technologies, it is possible to collect and analyse data and to model the building and their environment in order to optimise energy consumption.



5 Belgian buildings competed in this edition: 3 new buildings, 1 renovation and 1 extension. The projects cover 3 office buildings, 1 commercial building and 1 semi-detached house. They all rely on performant energy systems, particularly renewables. Each project includes solar photovoltaic and most of them uses geothermal energy through heat pumps. They are also all equipped with a double flow heat exchanger for the ventilation, and two projects have the Breeam certification. Another interesting common point between the projects is the use of bio-based materials, such as natural grass, wood or straw.



The five Moroccan projects cover a great diversity of buildings types: swimming pool, hospital, collective and non-collective housing, etc. The majority are new buildings, 1 is a patrimonial renovation. All the projects extensively considered the health and comfort of the inhabitants and implemented efficient waste and water management systems. Last but not least, most of them include renewables like geothermal energy and photovoltaic. As a result, 4 of these buildings are certified HQE.



This edition, there were 3 Luxembourgish candidates: a house, a school and an office building, all new buildings. The 3 projects implemented flexibility principles in order to improve the buildings lifespan: they are based on modular construction or prefabrication. 2 projects are certified DGNB (Modular School Strassen and Schroeder 2020).



Spain was widely represented in this edition: 12 buildings have competed, mainly new buildings like in other countries (10, against 2 renovations). Different types of building were included: office building (3), single family houses (4), collective housing (4) and a gymnasium. They mainly competed in the Health & Comfort and Energy & Temperate Climates categories. Some also comepted for Low Carbon. All the projects have a very high energy efficiency. Many of them are built following a bioclimatic process and include renewables such as geothermal energy (heat pump), solar thermal or solar photovoltaic. 

Moreover, the buildings have a high health and comfort level for the inhabitants (indoor air quality, thermal, acoustic comfort, and so on.). All these qualities are highlighted by the labels and certifications they received. Indeed, 7 of them are certified Passivhaus, one Leed and one Breeam.




What are the other projects that are not competing in the previous countries? 30 buildings from 15 countries are represented: 1 in India, 2 in USA, 2 in Italy, 1 in the Netherlands, 3 in Canada, 5 in England, 1 in the United Arab Emirates, 2 in Benin, 1 in Sri Lanka, 5 in Austria, 1 in Moldavia, 3 in Switzerland, 1 in Turkey, in 1 Slovenia and 1 in Australia. Here again, there are more new buildings (21) than renovations (9). Many types of buildings applied: almost half of them are single family houses, but there are also 3 collective housings, 2 schools, 2 office buildings, 1 commercial building, 1 blaked clay house, 1 museum, 1 castle, 1 hotel, 1 library and even 1 house for giraffes in a zoo. They mostly applied to the Low Carbon and Energy & Temperate Climates categories. Many of the buildings have labels and certifications (13 PassivHaus, 1 DGNB, 1 Leed and 3 Minergie). 


As a conclusion: the general trends 

This international edition of the Green Solutions Awards was particularly rich and inspiring. The projects all have excellent energy performances. They also use a large diversity of renewables, from geothermal energy (with heat pump) to solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. As a result, many of them achieve PassivHaus standards, an emoinent certification. 

A large part of the candidates follow a bioclimatic conception with solar protection, which is essential to attenuate the impact of climate change on buildings temperature. They also offer inspiring solutions and models to improve the health and comfort of the inhabitants at a relatively low cost (indoor air quality, thermal comfort, acoustic comfort, and so on.).

Finally, a rise of the use of bio-based materials among the candidates can be noted. Wood, straw, cellulose, clay, etc: a wide range of materials were used for these projects. They demonstrate that it is possible to build or to renovate with these products. 



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