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New Green Building Powered by Microalgae

algaebuildingUsually, when we talk about green buildings, we refer to the eco-friendly elements or the sustainable design factors that lessen a building’s carbon footprint.

But this new green building is, quite literally, green, as it has a microalgae bioreactor facade acting as a “bio-skin” that provides enough energy for the building’s electrical and heat needs.

The Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) building, in Hamburg, Germany, cultivates microalgae in a vertical farm of 129 transparent glass panels on the sides of it that face the sun.

When the tiny plants reach harvest levels, some of the algae is then removed and fermented into biogas for use in the building’s heating and energy needs.

In addition to providing harvests of algae, the outer skin also acts to shade the building from direct sun, as well as insulate the building from temperature differences and external sounds.

BIQ IBA Hamburg

“The BIQ has a holistic energy concept: it draws all of the energy needed to generate electricity and heat from renewable sources – fossil fuels remain untouched. It is able to generate energy using the algae biomass harvested from its own façade.

Moreover, the façade collects energy by absorbing the light that is not used by the algae and generating heat, like in a solar thermal unit, which is then either used directly for hot water and heating, or can be cached in the ground using borehole heat exchangers — 80 metre-deep holes filled with brine.

This remarkably sustainable energy concept is therefore capable of creating a cycle of solar thermal energy, geothermal energy, a condensing boiler, local heat, and the capture of biomass using the bio-reactor façade.” – BIQ

According to IBA Hamburg, this five story building, by using a combination of algae and geothermal and solar energy, will generate more energy than the residents of the house will use, making it a “Plus Energy House”.

The BIQ building is being presented at the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Hamburg.

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