August 2012: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

                                                 Solar Ivy

The brother and sister team Samuel Cochran and Teresita Cochran behind Sustainably Minded Interactive Technologies (SMIT) are the New York-based producers of solar ivy, ‘a solar energy product that looks and behaves like natural ivy on buildings.’

“Ivy is a plant that integrates with our buildings and our structures – it grows to find light and resources so it can prosper,” says Samuel Cochran, explaining his design inspiration in Organic Spa Magazine. “The concept was how can we as human beings learn from that plant and its relationship to our built environment and create an object that can provide for us in a similar way that this plant can provide for itself.”

Why is it beautiful? The clean energy start-up is climbing the halls of higher education at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City with their modular, and distinctively customizable, solar ivy. These solar beauties will grow anywhere – even up the vertical brick facade of a building – and can be installed to specifications for color, spacing, photovoltaic type, and orientation.

Why is it useful? Re-purposing the traditional ivy covered halls of higher education with solar ivy – leaf-shaped photovoltaic panels that transforms solar power into energy – is a technologically savvy move by the next generation of green-minded students. The leaves combine solar power with cladding and also provide shade for the building. This means green energy and a cooler building with lower energy costs.

Why is it green?  These modular leaves flutter in the breeze and shift to capture the available sunlight – mimicking the natural world while producing energy. A 4×7 foot strip can generate up to 85 watts of solar power. And it doesn’t have to be green – the color is customizable!

Check out Sally’s blog for more B.U.G. designs.

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