With the biggest building in the world in China and the highest in Dubai, many Asian cities want to sum to this architectural trend, where the luxury and the oddness appear in this futurist structures which are looking to enhance over the world.

So South Korea will start the construction of tower infinity, a building with 450 meters of height. So, it will be in the 10 highest building in the world. It will be the sixth, after SkyTree Tower in Tokio.


Its glass structure makes a difference between the others Asian megaconstructions. It is designed to be ‘invisible’ from the heights. The tower will be located in a privilege place in the surroundings of Seúl, it will be a few kilometers from the International Airport of Incheon, so all the visitors can visit it and enjoy their services.

The installations will occupy a total of 110.000 square meters and it will be a theater, restaurants, viewpoints, roller-coaster and luxury parks. Moreover, in a height of 392 meters it will have the third observation platform highest of the world.


But the most interesting thing of the building is that will be ‘invisible’ thanks to a sophisticated system of LED lighting. Therefore, with this technology it will be able to generate visual effects and if we watch it from the sky will make it disappear. How it will work?


It will be three different heights in six different sides of the building, to capture images in real time of the surroundings; other three sections, each one of 500 lines of LED screens will project the individual digital images.

With a digital procedure the images will be adjusted, turned and joined to create a panoramic image of one piece that will appear in the LED screen lines to create the invisibility illusion. So, in broadly, everything that will occur behind the building will be project on it.

The construction of the Tower Infinity will start during 2014.



Sole Power

Ten seconds left. Ring, Ring, Ring. Your phone constantly notifying you that it clearly needs to be charged before the life from it is sapped away. The reactions to many at this point would be a full on sprint to their desk, pushing everyone and everything in their way to reach their charger to save their phone from dying. Let’s be honest, everyone has this problem of having low battery when their phone is needed the most. How can this be fixed?

Two students from Carnegie Mellon University, both mechanical engineer graduates, were able to solve this constant problem for the low battery life of phones by literally, “Taking it one step at a time.” What I mean by this is, the students were able to utilize the kinetic energy that humans produce when walking to charge phones and other devices. This was done by having a removable sole that uses this kinetic energy when we walk.

The students did not know the project would end up resulting in something as big as this though. The original project was light up shoes that would illuminate the students presence on the road to avoid accidents. Only after presenting their information at an alumni event at their school, they were able to see the big picture in the project.

Sole power works in a simple manner. “It takes the linear movement of the step, converts it into a rotational energy, which then spins a generator.” The sole that is attached to the shoe takes the energy from walking then stores it into a USB. Both engineers boasted in the fact that they were able to perfect the art of harnessing the energy from walking. Something we do everyday.

Their product has sparked a project called SolePower and they are using this same technology in the shoes to market other products in 2014.


Personal Comfort System

Comfort can be a very subjective and wide area, specially related to building’s workspaces. On the other hand it can be divided in several specific areas, like thermal comfort.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) accounts approximately for about half of the energy consumption in buildings. HVAC technology has been developed, offering operator controllability based on needs in a building, but few of them have put the occupant squarely in the center of that controlla­­bility. Changing the indoor air temperature set point can reduce HVAC energy consumption, but changing the set point too aggressively can excessively reduce user comfort.

However, researches at the University of California, Berkeley think they have found a workable individualized solution. It is called the Personal Comfort System (PCS).

 The PCS uses low wattage devices embedded into a system of chairs, foot warmers and fans that can quickly warm or cool individual users on demand. The PCS system targets the most thermally sensitive parts of the body, such as face and head, the torso and feet, to provide warmth or cooling as needed and as desired, rather than trying to maintain one temperature for the entire building or floor.  The system will also interface with smart phone apps, software, and sensors to relay building temperatures, weather forecast, and thermal satisfaction responses to the people who currently make decisions about energy use in the building.


Office with face fan, feet and chair warmer.

According to other research called, “SPOT: A Smart Personalized Office Thermal Control system” from the University of Waterloo, several assumptions have to be made for the research, such as workers are in offices that have work areas relatively thermally isolated from each other, thus heating and cooling within a personal work space would be for the benefit of a single worker. Also, factors like, equipment costs, calibration, validation and environment can generate different results.

Ideally, an HVAC control system should control room temperature not to achieve a temperature set point, but a particular human comfort level. This is the key idea that motivates the design of Personal Comfort Systems.


Finally, a system that only maintains personalized temperature offsets from a building wide base set point, is not only easy to deploy, but also likely to reduce the overall building energy use. Researchers working on the project think the system could reduce natural gas use by up to 39 percent and electricity consumption by 30 percent in typical California office spaces.


Personalized Office Comfort System Could Save 30% in Building Energy Costs


Office too hot or cold? Researchers aim for comfort, energy efficiency

Personalized Office Comfort System Could Save 30% In Building Energy Costs


Research Paper: SPOT: A Smar Personalized Office Thermal Control System


A Human-Building Interaction Framework for Personalized Thermal Comfort Driven Systems in Office Buildings


Fighting the humidity in basements

Engineers have come a long way in improving the indoor air quality and comfort for inhabitants of houses. Whether it is a double story house or triple story house the HVAC systems and all the design measures ensure controlled environment yet there is one portion of the house or building that faces problems, the basement. Having a room in a basement, I have been searching for ways to solve certain problems that are very minor or not at all present in the rest of the house. Some of the problems are that there is a musty and warm atmosphere in basements during summer, while there is an extremely cold and clammy environment in basements in winter. In either weather the basement often remains humid. There are two instant and easy solutions that everyone thinks about:

  • Getting a dehumidifier
  • Membrane or coating on inside

Getting a dehumidifier seems like a good option but there are issues associated with that too. Dehumidification can be used as a means of reducing the humidity and odor in a basement, but it is not a permanent or complete solution. In fact, if a dehumidifier is used in a basement with moisture problems, it may cause greater damage. By drying out the basement air, moisture is drawn into the basement more rapidly causing efflorescence of concrete and further damage to interior finishes.

Combating basement moisture problem with a membrane or coating on the inside seems effective, however, the water is still present and eventually these systems deteriorate or simply move the water to another pathway into the basement. So what can be done to solve the problem completely? Upon further research I have understood that we can not remove the water but can channel it for our benefit. The two most important measures are depicted below:

 Appropriate Gutters, Downspouts and Accurate Grading:

A great number of basement water problems can be solved by the method as follows

  1. Sloping the grade away from houses
  2. By handling rainwater and surface drainage properly using gutters and downspouts with extenders or splashblocks to carry the water away from the foundation.




Adequate Exterior or Interior Drainage System:                                

Exterior Drainage:

It is expensive to do this but it’s the most effective means of water proofing. The conventional exterior drainage systems use

  • Free-draining sand in the backfill.
  • Drain tile placed beside or on top of the footing.
  • A minimum of 12 inches of coarse aggregate should be placed around the drain tile.


Interior Drainage System:

There are a couple of ways to install drainage system inside the basement. Most of them consist of either a normal or perforated drain pipe on the perimeter collecting water and dumping it to sump pump.5


If we want a comfortable less humid environment in the basements we should give more importance to the drainage of water and should combine that with the use of Dehumidifiers to get the best possible result.

For more information visit these links:

Recycled building materials

According to the United States Green Building Council, building structures account for 38 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, and 39 percent of the total energy used, nationwide. Environmental concerns have made the use of natural and recyclable resources a priority. Not surprisingly, green building’s use of recycled materials and efficient designs is becoming a popular alternative to classical building construction. 


Building construction uses large quantities of natural resources; in fact, construction activities use 60 percent of the raw materials, other than food and fuel, used in the entire U.S. economy. And the nearly 170 million tons of annual building construction, renovation, and demolition derived wastes (commonly referred to as C&D materials) account for nearly 60% of the nation’s non-industrial, non-hazardous solid waste generation.

Salvaging building materials and reusing them saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by minimizing the need to extract and process raw materials and ship new material long distances; it also reduces the economic and environmental impact from waste disposal (for example, greenhouse gases generated from waste decomposition, the need to build new landfills or the emission of air pollutants from waste incineration). Also, some salvaged building materials are rare and sought-after, such as marble mantles, antique fixtures, old growth hardwoods, wide-plank lumber and knot-free, fine-grain wood.



Buying recycled-content materials helps ensure that the materials collected in recycling programs will be used again in the manufacture of new products. Examples of construction materials that can be readily found with recycled content include: 

  • Drywall (many utilize recycled paper and post-industrial gypsum) 
  • Insulation (including cellulose, mineral wool, fiberglass, and recycled cotton insulation) 
  • Plastic lumber 
  • Kitchen countertops 
  • Glass tiles 
  • Landscaping materials 
  • Carpet and carpet padding 
  • Steel 

There are also some recycled innovations used in the buildings such as Mirra Work Chair from Herman Miller. 42% recycled aluminum and steel, minimum number of parts, 96% recyclable by weight. 


All in One

The Plan for September 2013 had an article about the design, goals for the project, and trying to make the building be sustainable in all categories. The John and Frances Angelos Law Center or also known as the “hybrid cube” for the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland program layout had to fit all the needs for the school, such as, classrooms, offices, library, and a mock court room. The architects had to find a way to make the building hold all of these programs and much more for the students, but making it inviting and socially interactive as well.  What makes this building a good example of multi energy saving systems? A rain screen of glass plates, operable windows for each room, ceramic fritted glass panels that helps with natural light and minimal solar gain (only 30% façade is clear), louvers, LED lighting, local materials, passive system, the structural system is embedded with plastic tubing to help cooling and heating. Every detailed was looked at by the stakeholders, architects, and engineers to create an “iconic” building for the city, but a perfect model for sustainable building.[1]

Depending on which article you read about this building it was either lead by two goals in mind: day lighting and the passive system or in more abstract terms “the canyon”.  Two of the main reasons why detailing was so important in the design was because people do better in natural light and also because the clients and architects were trying their best to stay off the grid for electrical consumption. The atrium functions for two reasons: one to bring more light for the interior and help with ventilation.  With the concept of making the building feel translucent with the amount of glazing, the building needed to have a hollow core to translate that idea through, as well as, making it a transition point for programs. How passive systems work is to make the building cooler by creating a hollowed section to carry the heat up out of the building and a well-designed façade in this case. This building fits various types of programs and energy saving techniques that work perfectly for this cube.  


John and Frances Angelos Law CenterJohn and Frances Angelos Law Center[2,3]




The Plan: Architecture & Technologies in Detail., Issue September 2013

TESTA Produce


The First US LEED Platinum Food Distribution Center


I had the opportunity to receive a tour of TESTA Produce, the first LEED Platinum food distribution center in the US this last Friday, located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago. This was a groundbreaking building for future LEED warehouses and refrigerated buildings. One of the keynote features of this facility is the large wind turbine which is the landmark icon for the facility; it was how I knew that I had reached my bus stop along the 47 route.

The keynote feature of this facility is the 238 foot, 750 kw turbine which contributes towards 38% of the building’s energy. This may seem like a low number to many people but for a facility that maintains refrigerator and freezer temperatures in its warehouse space, being able to compensate for 38% of the energy consumption with wind energy is incredible. The payback period for this wind turbine is seven and a half years.


After your gaze wanders from the wind turbine the next keynote feature is the green roof which barrels over the crest of the roofline and supports native vegetation. This sloped green roof is 45,650 square feet and maintains an insulated barrier for the building envelope. Additionally the roof collects rainwater which is then reused as non-potable (greywater) throughout the building’s plumbing facilities.

The application of all LED lights throughout both the office space and storage facilities within the building really reflects how new energy saving technologies can contribute towards both functionality and energy savings. Most facilities of this type are lit by large ballast lights which radiate a lot more heat than LED lights and take several minutes to warm up and light up. The lighting system in Testa’s large cold storage area does not add heat to the system and is activated by the movement of the forklifts that bring products around the space. These lights are also adjustable by dimmers which adjust based on the activity levels of the warehouse. For example, 4 AM is the busiest hour in the warehouse and this is when the LEDs are at 100%, but closer to 10 AM does not have as much activity and the lights are not as strong.

There are many more integrated solutions and technologies that are being utilized at Testa Produce that I highly recommend anyone to get a tour of the facility which they offer pretty frequently through various groups and organizations. The truly remarkable part of this project is the use of such a wide range of sustainable, renewable practices. This probably wouldn’t have happened without a private owner who had the foresight to see that these building system changes would pay off in the long run.