Gallery: Algae Powered Building Retrofit Wins Metropolis Mag’s Next Gen...

 
Many proposals for net zero energy buildings exits now but few retrofits go so far, especially retrofits that improve the environment rather than just degrading it at a slower pace.

The competition, now in its 8th year, is for emerging architects and designers to push the limits on design, and this time focused on helping the Government Service Administration re-imagine how it can make their massive number of aging buildings environmentally sound and better places to work in. The winning team, made up primarily of professionals with 10 years or less of experience from HOK and Vanderweil, used the premise of the Living Building Challenge 2.0 to design a building that was not just a better place to work and made all of its energy on site, but also cleaned the air and water around it.

That goal was achieved by the unique proposal of incorporating huge glass tubes on the southern façade of the building which will hold algae breeders. The technology is being heavily researched by many private and public groups with the hope that the right technology and algae species can create useable fuel. The technology uses waste water from the building as nutrients and pumps CO2 laden air from the freeway to the basic building block for the plant. The algae then pumps out oxygen and creates fatty lipids which can be burned in co-generators for heat and electricity.

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