Top 3 Winners of the Holcim Awards: Sustainable Construction at Heart

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By Gustavo Grad
December 17, 2011

The winners of the 3rd International Holcim Awards are ripping up the old paradigm of bandage solutions and creating designs that are completely eco-beneficial instead of merely low impact.

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction is based in Switzerland and holds awards in five regions across the globe.

The gold Holcim award and the $100,000 prize winner went to an infrastructure network for Inuit communities in Canada. This socio-architectural project creates regional food-gathering nodes and a logistics network in Canada’s High Arctic Territory. The “Arctic Food Network” project secures mobility between the scattered Inuit communities, allows a better distribution of local foods, and preserves traditional, sustainable hunting practices.

“The project includes purposeful interventions which are integrated without any grand gestures or expensive structures, but instead bridges between the traditions of the Inuit and the expectations of the young generation,” says Moshe Mostafavi, who served on the contest’s jury and also is dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

The silver Holcim award went to a design for a two-level, zero-energy, certified school building to be constructed on multiple campuses throughout Los Angeles. The project uses modular panels to create a climate-responsive solution for each site. The jury praised the project’s comprehensive approach to design, the technical and structural concept, and simplicity.

The Julie Snow Architects of Minneapolis took home the bronze award for a border control station on the US frontier to Canada at Van Buren, Maine. This project has a zero-energy goal and water saving targets that are achieved through features such as ground-source heating and cooling, a solar wall to temper outside ventilation air, a ground-coupled heat pump, peaking bio-diesel boilers, LED lights, and lighting control systems to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

And all of this brilliance was only from the North America Holcim awards! The global winners will be selected by the jury in March 2012. For more information on the five regions and winners, the Holcim Foundation offers many online readings and free downloads, including the latest North America awards.

© 2011 SCGH, LLC. 

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