Our friends at Ecolect, the go-to sustainable design and materials community, have launched a monthly spotlight on sustainable design called Limelight – and the first feature is tough act to follow. Teresita Cochran’s sustainable design group, SMIT (Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology) has a compelling new project called GROW that’s an innovative and aesthetically arresting solar and wind power solution. Combining the best of green tech and ecology, GROW draws inspiration from ivy growing on the side of a building – resulting in a hybrid energy delivery device of flexible, ivy-like fluttering solar leaves that provide power via both sun and wind.

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After a serendipitous collaboration with her brother, Samuel Cochran, during his undergraduate studies at Pratt and her graduate studies at ITP/NYU, Teresita began working on Samuel’s Industrial Design thesis project, GROW, by cutting leaf-shaped solar panels. What eventually followed was GROW as SMIT’s first product offering, which now exists in 2 versions, GROW.1 (currently at the Museum of Modern Art until May 12th, 2008 in the exhibit Design and the Elastic Mind), and GROW.2, a residential application built on top of a stainless steel mesh system, allowing ivy and other crawlers to grow with it.

Using a series of flexible solar cells as leaves, GROW takes the shape of ivy growing on a building- the leaves are solar cells while the wind that causes them to flutter is harvested as viable energy using a series of piezoelectric generators on the underside of each leaf. SMIT hopes that the modular system will be readily available in stores such as the MoMA store or Design Within Reach in the coming 1-2 years, in addition to other retail methods allowing consumers to access the technology via multiple channels. GROW also integrates an energy monitoring system called WATTg for GROW’s users to visualize their energy consumption and generation. The leaves are made of 100% recyclable polyethylene, and are available in a variety of colors and opacities.

We love the simplicity of the idea, the natural inspiration, and the idea of bite-sized solar panels fluttering in the wind on the side of a house. Gorgeous and green equals a great idea!

Ecolect will give one sustainable project the Limelight every month. To be considered for upcoming months, email limelight [at] ecolect [dot] net with an overview of how your sustainable project is making an impact.

+ Teresita Cochran interview on Ecolect + SMIT