Advantages and Disadvantages of High-Rise Buildings
Another dimension associated with high-rise buildings is Environmental psychology. Richard Wener and Hannah Carmalt studied the Environmental psychology and sustainability in high-rise structures from the social viewpoint. This study addresses the human elements of sustainable design in urban high-rise buildings. It also discusses social, psychological, and behavioural issues that need to be addressed in high-rise facility management, as well as the potential for sustainable buildings to ameliorate some of the problems in those areas traditionally associated with high- rise buildings (Bautech 2005). A number of questions according to Richard et al. remain concerning sustainable design and occupant behaviour: What kinds of behaviours are expected and/or required of residents in a sustainable skyscraper? How “sustainably robust” are technologies? How much behaviour change is tolerated before a building falls below its stated sustainability goals? How does living in this kind of setting differ from life in low-rise and/or traditional high-rise buildings? (Wener and Carmalt 2006). According to Richard Wener et al. mega-structures may have certain advantages of centralisation and economies of scale, but they come with built-in challenges with respect to the social and psychological needs of building users. People within mega-structures lose an element of personal control over their life conditions and safety. Inside these buildings, occupants become significantly dependent on technology for air, light, and even the shortest of trips. As discussed, the larger the structure, the more people are disengaged from natural elements. There is increasing evidence that such separation has negative consequences for psychological conditions and behaviour resulting in poor health and productivity loss (Wener and Carmalt 2006). What if people live in the world’s tallest residential skyscraper (422 m high) that will be ready for dwelling by the first
Fig. 9.29 The World’s tallest residential skyscraper, Dubai, UAE. Image source: (http://www. designmena.com/thoughts/ worlds-tallest-residential- tower-is-70-complete/)
quarter of 2016 (Fig. 9.29). In a 117-storey residential tower, this may cause psychological and behaviour issues (http://www.designmena.com/thoughts/worlds- tallest-residential-tower-is-70-complete/).
If the skyscrapers are green, they will have potential improvement on energy performance. It can approach zero impact in part by giving control back to the individual and by being designed to support basic behavioural needs. It can also assist in restoring the lost connection with nature that most high-rise occupants suffer by providing greater access to and contact with natural elements in the form of vegetation, daylighting, appropriate ventilation, non-toxic materials, and views of the world outside (Wener and Carmalt 2006).
Based on the research and the discussion earlier, then, how can designers use behavioural and psychological information to create a more holistic approach to sustainable high-rise building designs (Wener and Carmalt 2006). A full summary of the steps that may be appropriate to create sustainable tall buildings can be found in (Wener and Carmalt 2006).
To reduce GHG emissions and combat climate change improving the energy performance of existing building refurbishment is identified as one of the key measures. In recent research, 46 potential methods commonly used for major sustainable building refurbishment in high-rise residential buildings located in cities with a sub-tropic climate like Hong Kong were identified through the literature review (Cleveland and Morris 2009). Using various energy-efficiency measures which may be adopted during the sustainable refurbishment exercise have been examined by S. Thomas Ng et al. (2014). These sustainable building refurbishment methods are classified under five criteria, namely (a) energy, (b) user patterns, (c) domestic, (d) high-rise buildings, (e) climate features and other building characteristics. In this study, a questionnaire survey was used to assess the feasibility of the identified refurbishment methods based on the perception of owners and occupants. It was revealed that those methods classified under building services category such as lighting, appliances, ventilation, and lifts receive greater support from owners and occupants. It is stated that owners and occupants did not favour those sustainable refurbishment options which are related to the building envelope when it comes to major refurbishment. In terms of renewable energy refurbishment methods, their acceptability is improving indicating that there is huge potential for being incorporated into the major building refurbishment (Ng et al. 2014). It is seen that these results would significantly assist in improving the understanding on what factors contribute to the satisfaction of owners and occupants of existing tall residential building in a major sustainable refurbishment scheme. Nonetheless, in the selection of sustainable refurbishment strategy it depends more on the acceptability of owners and occupants. This is the case of Hong Kong, however.