We all know how good spinach is for your body, but did you know that it is also good for your house? That’s the proposition behind the house designed by Matthew Coates and Tim Meldrum. Together, they have designed a residence which obtains its electricity from spinach, making it worthy of being declared the winner of Cradle to Cradle contest.
Well, saying that it is powered entirely by spinach is a bit of a stretch. In reality the house is powered by solar energy. To do this however, their design called for a house to be cladded with a solid-state photosynthetic solar cell based skin, whose main component for generating electricity from the sun is a protein called Photosystem I, which is derived from spinach. The system, still in its infancy, was developed by MIT researchers and has proven to be a solid avenue of pursuit in the search for more efficient solar cells.
The residence incorporated many other sustainable features. It was designed with passive solar strategies in mind, using thermal mass and shading devices where appropriate. It has a landscaped roof garden designed to collect and filter stormwater . It recycles black and grey water to be used in garden, which in turn provide fruits and vegetables to the occupants. Soy-based wall panels and recycled concrete materials are used within the structure providing a sustainable alternative to standard construction materials.
The most intriguing aspect of the residence lies in the way that it works within a community. The excess energy developed by the spinach-based skin is sent back to the grid for the neighborhood to use. The grey and black water recycling systems have enough capacity to treat the effluent from the neighbors and the garden is designed to be used by the community.