Unique Approach to Increasing the Sustainability of Old Buildings

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Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut has recently come up with an interesting and unique solution to turning an old, 1970’s apartment building into a very sustainable complex. His plans call for the transformation of the existing concrete structure into an energy producing building with a green façade.

Callebaut would leave the building as is, but would add 274 planter beds into its ornamental façade. These would hold about 10,000 plants carefully chosen by botanists, to create a sort of vertical garden or green façade, which would increase the building’s thermal performance and clean the air. According to Callebaut’s calculations the plants would capture 50 tons of C02 per year. The windows of the apartments would also have to be exchanged for energy saving ones to further improve the thermal performance of the building. Keeping the green façade flourishing would not be difficult at all, since there would be a drip-feed system that would require maintenance only twice a year.

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The second step in the renovation of this building to make it more sustainable would be the installation of a structure called the Chrysalis, which would be placed on the roof. A large solar panel array and 42 wind turbines would cover the top of the Chrysalis, which would produce an estimated 128,340 kWh of energy per year. This would offset the energy needs of the building considerably. The Chrysalis itself would be made of timber and steel and could be used as retail or office space, or extra residential space.

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The project is quite ambitious, but it would make this particular building nearly independent of the power grid. It’s still in the design stage though, and there’s no word yet whether it will ever get the green light.

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