In the midst of Istanbul’s sprawling concrete jungle lies Turkey’s “first vertical forest.” With nine hundred trees climbing up its geometric façade, the 16-floor building towers over those around it, serving as an urban landmark for the growing green building trend.
For residents of Istanbul, the project is known as Greenox, a play on the words “green” and “oxygen.” For others, it is home.
Home Green Home
As a resource-efficient building certified with EDGE, Greenox contains 170 residential units that conserve energy, water and embodied energy in materials, resulting in utility savings and a lower carbon footprint.
The building saves up to 35% energy, 42% water and 41% embodied energy in materials compared to a conventional apartment building. Greenox has high-efficiency boilers for space heating and hot water, low-flow faucets in all kitchens and bathrooms and concrete filler floor slabs. Features like solar panels, gray water treatment and rainwater collection systems also contribute to its efficiency. “With the technologies used, the utility costs of those living in this building will be lower,” said Katya Kaya, an EDGE Expert and Project Manager at TURKECO, the consulting firm that supported Greenox’s ambitions.
Siblings Dilhan and Oltan Urcu chose Greenox as their home. Oltan is an architecture student in the city and Dilhan supports both of them on her income alone, so living in a resource-efficient building allowed the pair to save money on utilities. As an architecture student, living in a uniquely green building inspires Oltan, stating “I live in a building that guides my career.”
Like the Urcu siblings, the Tan family, who learned about Greenox from their bank, also chose to move to Greenox to live out their commitment to a sustainable lifestyle. “The primary reason for us to choose the building was to improve our quality of life,” said Mrs. Tan. “I was impressed by the green theme of Greenox, and how it comes from people who are truly environmentally friendly.”
In addition to being green, Greenox has other benefits. Located in the heart of the European side of Istanbul, Greenox is near Buyukdere Avenue, where residents can walk to public transportation and easily reach their offices and schools. Residents also have access to outdoor spaces, a rooftop swimming pool and other entertainment facilities in the building.
Since 2011, Istanbul has undergone a major reconstruction effort to prepare the city for what scientists believe to be an inevitable major earthquake. However, as most buildings are demolished and rebuilt compliant to the new regulations, Istanbul might be missing the opportunity to leverage these efforts to transform into a sustainable city. Greenox offers a different way.
The joint venture of Aycan-Feres, the force behind Greenox, saw a greater opportunity to build something unique and sustainable. “We took a risk and said if we can realize our ideal, it will become a model,” said Aysun Susuzlu, the COO of Aycan-Feres.
A model is certainly needed. Istanbul has seen an average population growth rate of 2.3% annually since 2010, which makes it one of the fastest growing metropolises in the world. With over 15 million people, the city can already feel overcrowded. Since buildings contribute to more than 19 percent of energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions and consume approximately 40 percent of global electricity, the urgency for sustainable buildings is apparent.
Duygu Erten, CEO of TURKECO, building green should be considered a responsibility for those who are stakeholders in the real estate sector said, “We need to support and pave the way for the construction of green buildings. All buildings should be built green not in the future, but today.”
Toward a New Future
Greenox is a symbol of a global trend towards resource-efficient buildings certified with EDGE. An innovation of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, EDGE makes it faster, easier and more affordable to build and brand green. EDGE provides a green building software, standard and certification program for over 140 countries, offering hope for a more sustainable future. Since the launch of the program in 2014, EDGE has certified nearly 3.6 million square meters of floor space.
Greenox is irresistibly unique, but incredibly practical. With more buildings like Greenox, climate change can be curbed, and people can live better lifestyles. In Istanbul, this vision has only begun.
“We could end up with a sea of concrete,” said Tom Saunders, EDGE Program Director for thinkstep, an EDGE certifier. “This building shows us a different way.”