Image Credit : Decibel Architecture (dB(A)) and SHADOWLAB





Project Overview

SCGZero+ is designed to be the first “5Zero” office building in the world, and the highest rated green building ever made. With Zero carbon, energy, water, waste and VOC's, SCGZero+ is located in Shanghai, China and will house 400 staff. This ground-breaking project builds on dB(A)’s experience designing Melbourne’s (and the world’s) current highest LEED, BREEAM and GreenStar rated building Pixel, to redefine a new global benchmark and attain world’s highest scores in LEED, BREEAM, WELL, China3Star and China Healthy Building. The goal is to achieve the world’s most exemplary status in sustainability, helping China and the world in our race to reach and exceed net zero as soon as possible. Invested and constructed by SCG, dB(A) and the SCG Design Institute have gathered a team of the world’s most talented experts in international and local sustainable design to realise the project. Working from our globally distributed virtual offices throughout 2019 and 2020, the team has minimised CO2 in design, and sought to ensure the very best innovation and insight is applied in design thinking.

Project Commissioner

Shanghai Construction Group (SCG)

Project Creator

Decibel Architecture


Dylan Brady
Chris Jones
Darren O'Dea
Lillian Le
Biljana Lojanica
David Smith
Arthur Chen
Son Nguyen
Yichen Yang
Quentin Leroy
Giovanni Veronesi
Jia Shun (Johnny) Xu
Iris Meng

Project Brief

In SCGZero+, dB(A) and SCG’s design is a demonstration of innovative, transferrable technologies that can lead the path to changing and improving the rules upon which sustainable buildings are built. Key to this is the understanding of an integrated network of ecological thinking – not simply and only a reduction of energy and cost, rather the integration of symbiotic systems that nature has perfected over billions of years.

Incorporating PassivHaus Design Principles and building on dB(A)’s experience designing Pixel, SCGZero+ is set to achieve a new global benchmark and take the title of world’s highest scores in LEED, BREEAM, WELL, China3Star and China Healthy Building. The expert consultant team, based in Melbourne and Shanghai, have ensured SCGZero+ is on track to achieving the world’s highest sustainability status and help China (and the world) not only reach, but go beyond net zero.

Project Innovation/Need

SCGZero+ represents a new way of building, of embedding technology and natural symbiosis in everyday thinking. By partnering with the National Development Reform Committee as part of the delivery, design and assessment process, dB(A) and SCG are looking to help change the rules by which buildings in China (and the world) are designed and built.

The project utilises demonstration PV windows, individually optimised solar, water and ventilation driven facades, rapidly renewable materials in ross Laminated Bamboo for all factory-built, double skin facade panels, and sophisticated systems for managing life-cycle waste streams, water-balanced operations and carbon neutrality. Curating new and existing technology and scoring every point has demanded deep strategic thinking and approaches from all contributors.

The shift demonstrated in SCGZero+ will create a major leverage to improving humanity’s chance of preserving our global comfort zone and hitting the circular and doughnut economy that delivers an equitable, carbon neutral future. This building is a celebration of life in these challenging times.

Design Challenge

Seeking to improve on the legislation governing Chinese construction SCGZero+ will create a tangible, living example of what is possible in sustainable building practices. This kind of innovation can improve humanity’s chance of preserving our global comfort zone and hitting the circular and doughnut economy that delivers an equitable, carbon neutral future in this challenging century.

Change is hard – and blazing the trail of environmental design innovation is as rewarding as it is fraught. The introduction of a new ways of thinking and cutting-edge design implementation is incredibly challenging and requires intensive research, testing, resource, patience and determination. Robust and open communication with our design partners has been key to the success of this project to date, and we remain grateful to our client and consultant partners for their commitment, their vision and their determination to meet and exceed our shared ambition. As we continue to be presented with and overcome obstacles to achieving these successes, we remain more resolute than ever to making meaningful change in the area of sustainability for this and future generations.


SCGZero+ utilises key approaches to improve embodied energy and operational effectiveness. We will use prefabricated construction methodologies in structure and façade assemblies, embed robotic fabrication techniques and innovative and experimental materials, in CLT and CLB (Cross Laminated Bamboo). We are guided by cradle-to-cradle philosophies on all material supplies and supply chains to specify recycled steel, low carbon concrete and low VOC.

As our primary interface with the world, our façade is key to operation and Passivhaus creation. It is airtight, triple glazed, prefabricated and will enable natural ventilation, water harvesting and thermally broken structures. Additionally, it will incorporate on-site biomimicry to ‘close the loop’ on water quality and usage through ‘Living Edge’ water systems prototyped and tested in Pixel. Integrated, adaptable, and finely tuned assembly of vision and solar units across the building will maximise PV generation and improve daylighting.

Skylights in the building (including the main atrium) introduce more natural light into the space, and with the inclusion of biophilia and indoor greenery, pay homage to the concept of healthy workplace architecture. Lighting will utilise daylight sensors and circadian lighting systems to counter the fatigue caused by traditional lighting environments, and in turn reduce energy consumption. SCGZero+ will also include flexible and resilient indoor gathering and working spaces, integrated on-site elevated running tracks, gymnasiums, dance and yoga studios, childcare and maternity spaces, and vegetarian kitchens looking to close the loop on food miles utilising on-site rooftop gardens which will provide fresh, organic produce for staff.

This award celebrates the design process and product of planning, designing and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical, social, and aesthetic considerations. Consideration given for material selection, technology, light and shadow. The project can be a concept, tender or personal project, i.e. proposed space.
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