The international jury for the Zumtobel Group Award 2014 has selected projects from Arup of Germany, Studio Tamassociati of Italy and Elemental of Chile as the winners in their respective categories. To promote innovations for sustainability and humanity in the built environment, the Austrian lighting group had invited submissions for the award in three categories: APPLIED INNOVATIONS, BUILDINGS and URBAN DEVELOPMENTS & INITIATIVES.

In the APPLIED INNOVATIONS category, the jury awarded first prize to the SolarLeaf façade co-developed by Arup Deutschland GmbH. The SolarLeaf façade is a building-integrated system that absorbs CO2 emissions and produces biomass and heat. The generation of these renewable energy resources is based on the biochemical process of photosynthesis and the cultivation of microalgae in flat-panel photo bioreactors which require no additional space and are largely immune to the weather conditions. The façade system was developed by Arup Deutschland in collaboration with SSC Strategic Science Consult GmbH and Colt International GmbH, with subsidies from the federal research initiative ZukunftBau. The system was first installed in a four-storey residential building that was designed by SPLITTERWERK architects for the 2013 International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg. The SolarLeaf façade can play an important part in establishing zero-carbon building clusters that generate surplus energy.

Explaining the reasons for their choice, the jury said: “In the future we need to develop buildings which don’t just offer shelter and minimise energy consumption but also try to deliver answers to how we provide the urban environment with energy, water and better air quality. The SolarLeaf façade is an outstanding example here in that it generates energy without taking up additional space. This project is especially valuable because for the first time we have an application that actually works in an existing building.”

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