27-03-2013

The green building industry has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, to the point where it's now become a well-known option for both commercial and domestic buildings.

However, this rise and the amount of innovation involved doesn't look to set to let up anytime soon, with the recent International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg showcasing cutting edge technology.

Perhaps the most exciting and groundbreaking aspect that was revealed to guests was the first house to demonstrate the use of a bio-reactive façade.

It includes 200 sq metres of integrated photo-bioreactors, which enables the property to generate both biomass and heat, something which may find its way into homes and businesses in the future.

Also, within the building are features such as dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, with the algae within the facades housed in flat panel glass bioreactors.

The four-storey residential building currently has 129 bioreactors fitted in total, as well as a fully automated energy management centre, which helps to regulate heat and power.

Solar thermal heat and algae are also harvested in a closed loop to be stored and used to generate hot water with research leader, Jan Wurm, explaining that the innovation could have a major impact on future housing.

"Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept," he said.

"It might well become a sustainable solution for energy production in urban areas, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario."

As part of the house, photosynthesis is used to generate micro-algae, which are then harvested and converted into biomass for the purposes of energy generation, helping to cut down emissions.

From this, there is a green façade created for the building, offering an attractive exterior as well as contributing to the creation of sustainable, renewable energy.

Cleverly, this façade also acts as a carbon sink for the CO2 created from flue gas.

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