With growing concern over climate change and air pollution, people all over the world have been turning to solar power as a means of generating clean, sustainable energy. Free to use, the electricity generated by solar panels and other solar equipment provides a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly alternative to the burning of fossil fuels to meet energy needs. Over the past decade, a growing number of forward-thinking architects, engineers, and government leaders have implemented solar energy technology to meet the energy demands of buildings new and old.
Here are 5 of the world’s most famous buildings and landmarks that use solar power:
Named the world’s largest solar-powered office building in 2009, the 807,000 square-foot Sundial Building located in Dezhou, in the Shandong province of China was designed to look like a massive sundial. In addition to being powered by clean solar energy, the building features a number of energy-saving innovations in its insulation and flooring that reduce its overall energy consumption to 30% under the national average.
The National Stadium in Kaohsiung opened in July 2009 to host the World Games. Designed by world-famous Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the stadium was constructed at a cost of $150 million and is covered by thousands of solar panels in a semi-spiral shape resembling a serpent. The 8884 solar panels can produce up to 1.14GWh of electricity annually, saving in 660 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere. In addition to capturing the power of the sun the roof of the stadium collects rainwater through a system of pipes and storage tanks which is then used to supply the stadium and water its grass. Now that’s green!
Arguably the most recognizable building in the world, Paris’ iconic Eiffel tower has been fitted with solar panels, wind turbines, glass floors, and rainwater collection equipment in an effort to make the building more environmentally friendly. The energy generated from solar panels alone heats half of the hot water used in the Eiffel tower. Considered a marvel of architectural engineering when it first opened in 1189, the renovations to the Eiffel tower in 2013 helped continue its legacy as being a shining example of human ingenuity.
The tallest building in the world uses solar panels to help meet its sky-high demand for energy. Rising 2,717 feet above the Dubai skyline, the towering Burj Khalifa’s 384 solar panels save the equivalent of 3,200 kilowatts of energy each day and are used to heat 140,000 litres of water for daily use by the building’s tenants.
In 2010, President Barack Obama had the White House fitted with solar panels to symbolize his commitment to advancing America’s development of renewable energy. Oddly enough, the first solar panels to provide the White House with energy were installed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and removed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.