The plan is to “harness some of that innovation to create a building that’s not only netzero carbon but actually has a positive environmental footprint,” said Sean Quinn, a sustainable design specialist at HOK and the lead architect and project manager for the winning design.
The HOK design would place algae in 6-foot by 8-foot horizontal tubes. Although algae has been used before to generate energy, this design is the first to place the algae on the exterior of a building, Quinn said.
The design would also impact how employees in the building work. The algae’s effect would be to create a “green glow” throughout the interior, which actually helps with people’s ability to focus, Quinn said.
Quinn added that the federal government has a “wonderful opportunity” to use emergency technologies such as this one to improve energy efficiency.
“The question will be in the next few years, Can this technology be scaled in such a way to actually accomplish this?” Quinn said.