Air conditioning uses a lot of energy, which is undoubtedly why your father was always yelling about somebody messing with the thermostat when you were younger. The problem is, though, that now that we have it and expect it in every building, we can’t live without it. One 80 year old designer and engineer believes he has solved the energy consumption problem and a hotel in Amsterdam will be using his design to create the World’s first Zero-Energy hotel.
The project, titled “Breeze,” will begin construction in 2016 and complete in 2017. The 64,000 gross square feet, 155 room hotel will use nothing but nature to cool and power its building and will be the first of it's kind in the World.
The video below is a quick look at how the building will be cooled and heated:
When Ben Bronsema first conceptualized his idea for the design, he looked to termites for inspiration. Termites, as he explains in his 2013 TED talk (video below), use natural cooling to maintain a constant temperature of their mounds, which grow the fungus they live on. To verify his design, Bronsema also enlisted the help of a couple universities: TU Delft (who are also working on that concrete that can heal its own cracks, read more here) and TU-Eindhoven.
So how does the building’s A/C work? The building uses an overhang above the roof, where wind flows through the overhang at the roof level. That same wind then enters building directly, through a vent. The air is used for not only air conditioning, but also energy production, with the use of wind turbines. Before the air enters the occupied spaces, water is sprayed on the air, which cools the air in the summer and warms the air in the winter. The soil below, says Ben Bronsema, is around 51-53 degrees Fahrenheit (11-12 degrees Celsius), so they’ll use the soil to control the temperature of the water.
The building will also employ a solar chimney, which uses the sun to heat the air up inside the chimney, which pressurizes the air inside the chimney and allows it to be exhausted. The heat the leaves the building then heats up water, which is stored in the soil beneath the building to be used for energy later or to be used in the winter to heat the building.
The only piece of mechanical equipment needed in this set up is one small pump, which will push the water from the soil up to the roof of the building. Other additions made to the building to make it zero energy include, roof mounted solar panels and the aforementioned wind turbines, as well a solar façade on the South side of the building
Bronsema explains a few more benefits to the natural air conditioning, besides the energy aspect, that he designed: there will be no noise, no draft, a lot of fresh air, and no dry air.
It’s certainly an interesting concept, but I can’t help but notice the lack of any detail regarding humidity control. The use of water cooling will certainly reduce the dry air effect, but it will be interesting to see how adding water to an already humid air will affect indoor air quality and conditions. High moisture content inside buildings accelerate the natural aging of materials, greatly increase risk of mold growth, and also corrode metal over time.
Nevertheless, we'll wait until we hear the actual results of the building, before we judge anymore. If this building ends up working as well as their tests have shown, however, it would certainly reduce overall maintenance costs for many new buildings.
What do you think? Would you stay in a hotel room without any mechanical HVAC?
3D printing technology faces major issues when it is required to leave the shelter of a warehouse and step foot on a construction job site. 3D printers are extremely large, heavy, and rely on precise calibration for accuracy. Even the first 3D printed office building in Dubai, which was completed last year, had to actually have its components printed off site and assembled on site. But, Apis Cor, a 3D printing company, believes it has created the technology to print a full structure completely on site.
The concept of solar roadways has been in the news a lot recently. Using the millions of miles of roadways throughout the world to also create power seems like a no brainer, the asphalt and concrete we’re using now aren’t really accomplishing anything more than handling the traffic on the road. But, there’s also a very strong reason why those products are used: they’re strong, reliable, and relatively durable. Still, many researchers believe there is a lot of unharnessed potential for roads and the world now has a very strong test subject for the future of solar roadways in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France.
3D printed construction has been on top of the news the past few years, but we have yet to truly see many real world applications of the process. Last year, Dubai unveiled a completed 3D printed office building, which they say was built in only 19 days, but news has been pretty slow until the world’s first 3D printed bridge was completed recently.
It’s no secret that the United States dominates when it comes to LEED certified construction projects. The US actually has more total gross square meters and number of LEED projects than the the other top 10 countries combined, by almost 3 times, totaling 336.84 million gross square meters over 27,699 LEED projects! China, Canada, and India are ranked number 2, 3, and 4, respectively.
The US Green Building Council recently released their annual top 10 list of states for LEED construction in 2016.
Green building is no longer something that can be ignored. According to the USGBC, green building will account for ⅓ of all construction projects by the year 2018, which is now only 1 short year away. Construction is one of the leading industries in regards to the production of greenhouse gases, most notably due to the production of cement, which produces an estimated 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions alone. There are many companies throughout developing new techniques and building products to help reduce the industry’s impact, so here’s a list of 6 products that caught our eye in 2016.
Green building is big business these days and it’s expected to account for 1/3 of all construction projects in the United States by the year 2018. LEED, being the poster child for green construction and the world’s most widely used green building rating system, is expected to directly contribute to 386,000 jobs by 2018, as well. Though green building is a concept used significantly throughout the world, as seen in projects like the world’s first zero energy hotel, the United States absolutely dominates the industry with respect to LEED.
Concrete is one of the world’s favorite building materials; it’s strong, simple to mix, and generally widely available. Its dirty little secret has always been centered around one of its main ingredients: cement. To make cement, crushed rock and other ingredients are fed into a kiln that heats the components at temperatures reaching 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Those extreme temperatures cause large amounts of carbon dioxide to be released into the air and, combined with the carbon dioxide that’s produced just to burn the fossil fuels to heat the kiln, it makes cement one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, 5% in total.
One of the toughest aspects of construction in heavily populated or close-quarters areas is the control of noise and other pollutants. The public’s worries about these items can stall or kill projects before they begin. If and when they project actually begins, complaints can roll into the governing agencies causing project delays and/or fines.
Arup, a design, engineering, and consulting team in the United Kingdom, has been developing a living wall system, which they think can reduce the noise and improve the air quality surrounding ongoing construction projects.
World’s fairs have been held in varying locations across the globe since 1844 and are responsible for some of the most memorable buildings and structures that still stand today. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was originally built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was built to coincide with the 1939 World Fair, and Seattle’s Space Needle was designed and built for the 1962 World’s Fair (you can check out photos of the construction here), just to name a few.
At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, 16 homes were constructed for display to promote new building products and materials to the fair-goers.
Billions of dollars are spent by cities and countries to prepare for summer and winter Olympics. Many stadiums, housing and other infrastructure are built to not only be able to handle the games, but also the enormous amount of people that will eventually inhabit the city for a few weeks. But, that’s just it, it’s only for a few weeks. What happens after the games are over and there’s no longer a need for an International Broadcast Center or a handball venue? In the past, the answer has been to let the area rot away and be a hotbed of vandalism, but Rio has taken a different approach.