Current research in sustainable building materials is producing several notable advances in the type of material that may eventually become commonplace in the home building market. New approaches to construction materials could result in products that dramatically improve residential sustainability and energy efficiency.
- The Stratus Project, from design research firm RVTR, creates an interior residential envelope that responds automatically to occupant needs and activities. The project is constructed of a number of sensors, lights, fans and light-transmitting cells. The system can monitor and respond to room conditions that are affected by the presence of people, such as CO2 content, temperature and illumination. The system responds by changing airflow, lighting and other conditions to achieve optimum comfort levels within the interior envelope environment.
- HygroSkin, produced by a team of German architects, offers material with apertures that open and close automatically in response to the relative humidity of a room. The material is designed to maintain relative humidity within 30 to 90 percent through 1100 openings that respond to humidity conditions. HygroSkin can produce a self-adjusting building envelope that controls humidity and light and air transmission with one type of material that needs no electricity.
- SolarLeaf is another material possibility used in creating building envelopes that can adapt to changes. This material applies micro-algae to a facade system that collects solar energy and provides shade at the same time. The living material can capture and use thermal energy from the sun even as it prevents sunshine from entering through windows. As the amount of solar energy hitting the material increases, the amount of algae growth rises, producing improved shading and capturing more solar energy.
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