Thermal Comfort  

Algae-covered facade systems enhance thermal comfort

Reducing energy consumption in buildings is a design imperative and experimental design strategies are essential for tackling non-renewable energy depletion. In high-rise constructions, the environmental impact of using glass facades, for example, is increasing due to the heat gain. Bio-facades are sustainable alternatives to glass and metals and include algae facade systems with algae bioreactors. Incorporating urban landscapes with green designs such as these is an ongoing strategy in the development of energy efficient constructions which reduce heat and mitigate carbon dioxide.

French Dream Towers, image credits: XTU Architects.

Facades made from wide spacing leaves or microalgae act as vertical shading devices which effectively reduces heat via solar radiation and absorbs carbon dioxide via photosynthesis. The more matter covers the facade, the better the thermal performance. Algae bio-facades allow daylight transmission to the building, enhance air quality and promote thermal comfort (by reducing heat transfer to and from the building). In addition, the effective passive cooling technique results in a building’s better thermal performance. The biological building skin also services the conventional purpose of insulating buildings from sound and cold whilst also absorbing dust particles.

 BIQ House

The first algae-powered construction in the world was the five-storey BIQ House based in Hamberg, Germany. The building is equipped with 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, which enables the construction to generate microalgae biomass and renewable energy. The algae facade improves indoor air quality within the building by producing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. The flat panels cause no added land-use and the system operates all year round where the light to biomass energy conversion is approximately 10%- 38%.

BIQ House

Unlike BIQ House, many bio-facades have long remained in their conceptual stage. A recent example is a futuristic construction for ‘Hangzhou’ designed by Paris- based architectural company XTU Architects. The design called French Dream Towers incorporates a bio-facade covered in algae panels and includes a tower which absorbs carbon dioxide. The building is envisioned to include working spaces, restaurants and galleries and similar to BIQ House, the algae growth from the facade can be converted into renewable fuel such as biomass and biofuel. The biomaterial enhances the air quality within the building and is envisioned to improve and maintain the thermal comfort of the building.  

Bio-facades such as the BIQ House and the French Dream Towers project are examples of the future direction of building design and the progressive incorporation of biological alternatives to conventional technologies. 

To view more about BIQ House click here and to read about French Dream Towers click here

French Dream Towers, image credits: XTU Architects.

French Dream Towers, image credits: XTU Architects.

 

French Dream Towers, image credits: XTU Architects.

French Dream Towers, image credits: XTU Architects.