Algae-covered Walls To Heat Building

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An apartment building in an up and coming section of Hamburg, Germany will attempt to employ the use of millions of microalgae in order to generate some heat. The microalage do this when fed a mixture of liquid nutrients, CO2 and sunlight. The building will not get all of its heat from the microalgae, however. It will have solar and be linked to a bio-methane plant and a network of similar energy-generating buildings.

Image Credit: Image Credit: IBA Hamburg, Martin Kunze
Image Credit: Image Credit: IBA Hamburg, Martin Kunze

Called the Bio Intelligence Quotient (BIQ) house, the building will have fifteen separate apartments. Upon hearing that algae will be covering parts of the exterior, it may sound offputting, but they are microscopic and can be attached in a way so they much more resemble green paint than something you see in a pond. These microalgae can produce five times more biomass than land-based plants in addition to the heat they generate. This extra plant matter would have to be collected and converted to biogas away from the residential building though.

Bio Intelligence Quotient (BIQ) house is also part of an overall urban design to reclaim former industrial sites and convert them into spaces for people to live in and enjoy. Another fifteen innovate buildings are slated for construction in the center of Wilhelmsburg.

The BIQ house will be green due to the living exterior that generates heat, and in design due to the people who took the time to conceive, create and implement it. One might call this sustainable approach functional aesthetics because there is beauty in integrating natural systems with human housing.

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Jake Richardson

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