EcoGeek reports how America’s tallest building – the Willis Tower in Chicago – is going green. EcoGeek writers believe there’s a safe balance between technology and nature and the articles on their website explore this symbiosis.
“The south side of the 56th floor will soon be home to solar electric glass windows, turning the tower into a 2-MW vertical solar farm.
The windows called high power density photovoltaic glass units are being made by Pythagoras Solar. They will retain views and daylighting for the floor, reduce heat and produce as much electricity as a traditional solar panel. The windows consist of monocrystalline silicon solar cells sandwiched between two layers of glass with an internal prism that directs the sunlight onto the solar cells, while letting diffuse light through. The result is a cooler, natural lighting environment inside the skyscraper and a more efficient solar panel.
The windows are part of a bigger project by the tower’s owner and Pythagoras to show the benefits of a building integrated PV system (BIPV). For large towers all over the world, this could be a key component in both energy efficiency and renewable energy production.”
I first heard of ‘vertical farms’ on an ABC interview with an ABARES spokesman who said the concept had been around for a few years. True. The UK’s Guardian last year published this fascinating theoretical piece, complete with pictures, based on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Are Vertical Farms The Future For Urban Food?
It describes this wonder of the ancient world saying:
“The vaults rose up as high as the city walls, bearing reeds richly bedded in bitumen and gypsum. The layered galleries peered each beyond its neighbour to reach the sunlight, and water drawn from the river was pumped through conduits up to the highest level. The topsoil was thick enough to root even the largest trees…”
About future problems it says:
“Financial and environmental pressures on modern agriculture have sparked new interest in vertical farming. With global population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, competition for land to grow both food and energy crops will become increasingly fierce. Four-fifths of us will live in dense urban areas, and increasing awareness of the carbon and water footprints of well-travelled food will have pushed locally grown produce even further up the list of desirables.
So it’s easy to see the appeal of a system which, its proponents insist, can surpass the productivity of existing agricultural spaces by up to 20 times, while using less water, cutting mileage and energy costs, and delivering food security.”
ABARES was formed following the merger of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) and the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) in 2010. Its research and analysis spans economics, science and social science covering the agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food, resources and energy sectors.