Borrowing from nature in buildings

An article from CNN caught my eye recently. It is about a concept for microgeneration on buildings called ‘nano vent-skin’. The idea is to use nanotechnology to create micro wind turbines linked in a lattice (hence the ‘skin’) to generate electricity for the building. Now I have to give the guy credit for the concept, however I think it will need a lot of work to become practical. firstly nanotechnology is not nearly at the stage where they could produce something like this economically and reliably, if at all. Second, I am skeptical that these turbines will work at such a small scale (dimensional analysis often shows that things that work on a large scale don’t work proportionally on a small scale and vice versa). Finally, wind generation only really works well in wide open spaces with a high wind ocurrence. Cities almost by definition don’t meet these criteria.

But these are the ideas that make the headlines…

In contrast here is an idea that uses only 10% of the cooling and heating costs of a conventional building and whats more it has already been built and is proven. Taken from inspiration from termite mounds, the Eastgate Centre in Harare (of all places!) uses a passive cooling system to maintain a constant temperature throughout the day. I hope to go into the details in a future post.

 

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