Usually in the world of architecture, environmental design includes using effective materials, more insulation, carefully designing every small detail that at the end could save some heat within the building envelope. Essentially that is so that less energy is used in your building. Quite popular nowadays is the so called Passivhouse, which is effective, but sometimes its design could get ridiculous - huge depth of insulation and packed plan of the house, thus maximizing the space inside while minimizing the materials used.
There is another way of designing enviromental, 'green' buildings.
Quite a lot of houses have solar panels, thus producing the electricity for themselves. Same applies for wind turbines. However neither the sun nor the wind are constant, which means electricity will not always be free. And what happens during the night,when there is no sun? No power.
The BIQ building in Hamburg is the first building that produces power and heat on its own. It uses a revolutionary method for that - an 'algae farm' which is a type of bioreactor. Similar as the effect in the ocean algae, that clean the water (and heat it a bit).
What the algae farm needs is sun, oxygen and CO2. As simple as that. Algae is a plant, which photosinthesize using these three materials. It then multiplies. The extra algae can be burned the same way oil does, and creates electricity. The other advantage is that that algae 'goo' can be stored and burned whenever possible, which in a way 'stores' power.
Also, when multiplying, the algae heats the water in the tank. That water can then be used as an underfloor heating system.
University of Huddersfield, Achitecture Year 2
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