20 October 2007

Finally, a building that breathes

May5 - May 18, 2007
Issue 22

In collaboration of the UAE University and the University of Aberdeen, and with the support of the Dubai Municipality and the Al Hamad Group of Dubai, the first dynamic breathing building (DBB) will be erected in Al Ain.

"Our buildings need to breathe because you need to bring air to the occupants of that building. In most buildings, the air comes in through pipes. But in the type of building we are talking about, we developed an innovation called 'dynamic insulation,' wherein the ventilation can come through the walls or through the roof," Dr. Imbabi said.

"Usually, a building uses a lot of energy. But it loses it through the walls that 'pulls' the air that people breathe. It is as if you are throwing air away. With a breathing building, the air becomes trapped through the walls, pre-cooling the building with less energy. Aside from energy conservation, a breathing building can filter the air that comes in and comes out. What is more is that the air that is exhausted out will be cleaner than the air that came in because of this wall system. All in all, you have a building that functions with less energy, and with a clean-up technology that picks up pollution so that you can have a healthy life both inside and outside of the building."

Dynamic breathing buildings, although serving an ideal function, will not look any different from other buildings. "It will just give you more pleasant energy. You know, everybody is talking about the environment, especially the hazards of global warming. This is a technology that would enable us to do something about that."

Developers will also gain from DBBs. "In the UAE, the benefit is even greater. In addition to saving some energy and refining a building system, air-conditioning costs will also be reduced. We have tried this out in a residential block in Abu Dhabi last year from June to December using an 'Energyflocell.' There, we measured the performance of the system in this kind of environment, and we found out that it will work here throughout the year without any problem. It is also applicable to commercial and residential buildings alike in an affordable price."

But, just like with other researches that did not come into being, DBBs run into the risk of staying as an idea only. "Although this would be an opportunity to produce a 21 st century building, the economic argument is very strong because it will cost twice the amount of a conventional building. But fortunately, there are some countries that already showed interest in this project. In fact, I was in Korea three weeks ago to sign a memorandum with them. I think, once it is shown in one or two buildings, many people will benefit. It will hit off in a big way."

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