Open and Closed shots of the Homeostatic Facade System from inside a building. Photo credit Decker Yeadon
A property developer who was building a 9 Star energy efficient house once confided in me, that much of that efficiency would be squandered if the house was inhabited by a 1 Star resident. And that's one of the conundrums with passive solar design. It works best when people interact with the building's non-mechanical heating and cooling systems.
But Decker Yeadon, architectural material technologists, envisage a middle road. Smart materials that regulates a building's climate by automatically responding to environmental conditions, without need of people, or energy intensive machinery. You have to watch the video below to get a real sense of how revolutionary their Homeostatic Facade System could be for building design.
Open and Closed shots of the Homeostatic Facade System seen from outside a building. Photo credit Decker Yeadon
All those swirling lines are panels of a dielectric elastomer wrapped over a flexible polymer core. A silver coating on the elastomer distributes an electrical charge across its surface causing it to deform. When excessive loads of sunlight land on it, it expands, creating shade inside the building. When bright light is no longer present, contraction occurs allowing more light to penetrate the building's interior.
Decker Yeadon, who we've showcased previously, believe such a concept has particular application in contemporary office architecture that has become increasing more transparent, clad in vast sheets of glass.
Were such a design concept to be commercialised it could improve the habitable quality of indoor spaces, whilst radically reducing the use of energy hogging artificial air conditioning systems. If combined with automated interior lighting systems, that lowered and raised their level of illumination relative to the amount of natural light available, this could radically cut office space energy needs.
Mind you, no matter how efficient such a system might turn out to be, the materials required to cover such a massive surface area is likely to create its own problems, especially if we have to coat them all with silver.
The greener and cleaner option is for us humans to simply manually operate our building's screens and blends. But knowing how inherently lazy we are, it might not be the most practical option.