Blog Post

Seven Online Green Building Tours for Safe Inspiration

Educational building tours help us learn new strategies—but what if you can’t go in person?

Building tours: they’ve been a vital educational component of green building from day one. But now COVID-19 has made them unsafe. Thanks to the Sustainability Leader Peer Networks we help convene, we’ve compiled a list of online tours and other videos that you can view from the safety of home.

This is by no means comprehensive, so we hope you’ll share your favorites in the comments!

1. Austin Central Library

Austin Central Library

Designers of the Austin Central Library describe how they developed a “building shaped by light” in this six-minute video. A six-story atrium is at the heart of the project, which also uses reclaimed water for irrigation and toilet flushing. The Mayor of Austin has referred to the building as “the best library in the world.”

2. Co|Lab


HITT Contracting
Created as a space for researching innovative green building technologies, Co|Lab was the first mass timber project built in Virginia. The virtual tour allows users to see the floor plan or a “dollhouse” view, and to do a 3-D virtual walkthrough. There is even a measurement tool so you can get a sense of the dimensions. For a more immersive experience, the tour includes a virtual-reality option.


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3. Discovery Elementary School

Discovery Elementary

U.S. Deparment of Energy
This nine-minute video, in addition to copious glamor shots, has snippets from school officials about the green elements of Discovery Elementary School, including net-zero energy. The school says this feature is saving $100,000 a year.

4. Hitchcock Center for the Environment

Hitchcock Center for the Environment

Hitchcock Center for the Environment
It’s not exactly a building tour, but this cool widget from the Hitchcock Center for the Environment illustrates green building features categorized by Living Building Challenge petal.

5. Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design

Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design

Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech’s new Kendeda Building was celebrated during the school’s 2020 Earth Day festival. Starting at the exterior of the building, the video tour includes details about everything from stormwater management to daylighting to the heat-exchange system. (Fair warning: if you are extremely prone to motion sickness, you might want to be careful with this one.)

6. Mahlum Architects’ Portland Studio

Mahlum Architects' Portland studio

Mahlum Architects
A 20-minute video highlights features of the Portland, Oregon studio of Mahlum Architects. This adaptive reuse project began with staff surveys designed to determine must-have features, which included “practicing what we preach.” The video contextualizes the project before a 15-minute tour begins.

7. Santa Monica City Services Building

Santa Monica City Services Building

BuroHappold Engineering
The Santa Monica City Services Building can be “toured” through a two-hour video. There’s also an eight-minute option. Utilizing natural ventilation, radiant cooling, and phase-change materials to reduce energy use, the project is pursuing full Living Building Challenge certification and could be the first municipal building in the world to achieve it.

Published August 27, 2020

Melton, P. (2020, August 27). Seven Online Green Building Tours for Safe Inspiration. Retrieved from

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September 16, 2020 - 3:26 pm

Weber Thompson’s most recently completed project is the deep-green 72,000 GSF Class A+ office and retail structure known as Watershed.

This Living Building Pilot project goes beyond any of the firm's previous projects to show how new developments can be a regenerative force to stressed natural systems. Furthermore, it incorporates art, beauty, on-site water capture, and dramatic energy reduction while enhancing its community in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.

September 4, 2020 - 1:08 pm

You can now virtually tour the Bullitt Center via a 2020 video produced by the Discovery Commons at the University of Washington’s Center for Integrated Design. This 15-minute video highlights the strategies of this certified Living Building in Seattle, Washington: