Feb/March 2014: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

     bio bricks from bioMason, Inc.

Ginger Krieg Dosier, former architect and now scientist, is on her way to revolutionizing our aging manufacturing processes with biology, using what she once considered to be the lowest common denominator in construction – the brick.


– bioMason grows bricks –
image via Siddharth Siva

Why is it beautiful? “Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with the act of making,” says Krieg Dosier in a TED talk. Many of us don’t think of a brick as a thing of beauty, but what if that brick was grown in a closed-loop system that eliminated all emissions from its manufacturing process? Using sand and bacteria, Dosier’s company bioMason does just that – using a ‘brick nursery’ to grow bio-cement material without carbon emissions.

Why is it useful? BioMason’s better, cleaner, and more sustainable bricks have the potential to clean up the building blocks of construction. Flush with the “huge encouragement” of award-winnings (Metropolis Mag’s 2010 Next Generation design competition and Denmark’s Postcard Lottery’s 2013 Green Challenge), Krieg Dosier is at work with teams in the USA and the United Arab Emirates on scaling up the manufacturing process.

Why is it green? Bricks are used in 80% of global construction — 1.23 trillion bricks are produced annually worldwide; the firing process releases 800 million tons of carbon pollution each year. That’s more than what is released by all the airplanes in the world every year. Krieg Dosier’s transformative idea uses principles of biomimicry to apply nature to the way we make our physical world. Her planet-saving solution uses chemistry, biology and materials science to grow bricks like one would grow plants in a greenhouse.

Visit Sally’s Blog for more B.U.G. Designs.

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.

B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

October 2011

2011 Solar Decathlon
Maryland University’s “WaterShed”

Our in-house design guru, Sally Dominguez writes, “Even before we started making HOGS in the USA, we had our first Solar Decathlon customers when Cornell University bought HOGs for their 2007 Decathlon entry. Teams apply to the US Department of Energy with their proposals for a zero energy house. Grants are given to the top 19 entries to enable their teams to realize the designs in Washington DC. It’s a terrific initiative to demonstrate new and proven sustainable energy and water management strategies. This year’s winner, Maryland University’s “WaterShed” is near to our hearts for its comprehensive water collection and reuse strategies. See the engineering behind the “WaterShed” here.

©Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat
Maryland University’s “WaterShed” wins the 2011 Solar Decathlon.

Why is it beautiful? “Inspired by the rich, complex ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” the architecture distills its parts into an elegantly simple language. It’s a house that delivers beautiful design with its impressive sustainability achievements.

Why is it useful? The use of vegetation to filter wastewater is terrific but nothing beats the soon-to-be-patented “liquid desiccant waterfalls for humidity control” – a brilliant piece of biomimicry.

Why is it green?
Well, it’s covered with lush vegetation for a start!  The vegetation not only collects and filters the rainwater but provides thermal mass to regulate the temperatures inside the house.

Check out Sally’s blog for more BUG Designs.