A new facade system has been developed in Germany and it is literally green. Algae filled panels cover all of the surface area not used by fenestration and doorways. The system takes in nutrients and provides CO2 to the algae through a pipe system. The algae can then be used to produce energy through their biomass. There is a large heat output as a by-product which is very common among building systems, but here they found a use for the extra heat within another neighboring building. Among the energy benefits, the facade also gets measurable acoustical noise reduction as well as a visible and dynamic green aesthetic.
The modular panels are filled with water and the algae flows into the tanks resulting in a bioreactor setup. The algae flows between panels turning the facade green and resulting in heat and biomass. For efficiency of the system, the engineers looked to how much of the sun’s radiation turns to energy through the biomass (which was around 48%). Compared to PV and wind, the efficiency is lower but closer enough to conclude that it is a viable source of renewable energy for a building. It also covers alot more square footage of the envelope since it is a wall aesthetic so beyond efficiency, a greater amount of energy could be produced from the greater surface area (whereas PV panels are usually limited to roofs). People can now visibly see the impact that the environment has on the building and their impact on energy. This psychological impact in the community is a definite plus.