Through the very kind support of the Boston chapter of the Green building council, we were able to spend an afternoon at the Expo for the U.S. GBC when it came to the Boston Seaport recently.
Students and teachers fanned out across the giant expo center, and met a couple times during the afternoon to compare notes. When asked if there were any favorites, students had a lot to say:
Robby Huang '18: "The company, C6XTY, introduces an ingenious of deploying nature's own geometry to create materials and structures that are both strong and lightweight. The inventor, Sam Lanahan, talked about how he spent ten years to work on this structure. Because the structure of a C-60 molecule has a unique geometry that is inherently stable, the building structure can be well suited for carrying loads in compression much like a ball bearing. Depending on the problems that people are facing in real life, the structure can be manufactured at any scale. The wide range potential applications are from as small as a catalytic converter with much more surface area to as big as a permeable and self-draining bridge/roadway."
Mitchell Robson '20: "In attending the USGBC, I was able to discover and learn about companies at the forefront of cutting-edge technology in all sorts of fields, ranging from heliotropic solar panels to water-efficient toilets. However, the company that was most intriguing to me was Suffolk Construction. By using preexisting SteamVR virtual reality technology, they were able to fuse that with their architectural field to create a truly innovative piece of software. The software allows a headset-wearing user to virtually "walk" around a house or other building that has been three-dimensionally rendered through this software's conversion of architectural files into a tangible, 3D model that can be viewed virtually. Other features included a "wand" tracked through mounted infrared sensors that the user points at different surfaces within the house, which can then be changed to different desirable colors or designs. Perhaps what I found most captivating about this innovation was not only in how it elegantly used existing technology and applied it to the field of construction, but also in how it solves a major problem. Instead of having to physically refurbish a building to cater to the client's requests, which can be a costly and time-consuming process, the architect could instead just update the architectural file and show the new design via virtual reality to the user. All in all, while the design of the software is not too complex or high-level, I still find some of the things we can do in virtual reality to be incredible."
Jack Maguire '19: "Windover Construction is using Virtual reality headsets to show their clients what will be built and where. It allows them to not worry about a client second guessing a purchase or design option because they can see it in person and therefore make a more informed decision. This saves money and supplies because they make less design errors being able to double check work." (Note: the Windover staff was especially fun to be with, as they recognized some of our clothes - for those that don't know, Windover designed and built our two major additions on campus.)
Arty Ivanenko '19: "One of the companies that interested me at the Greenbuild Expo was ParexUSA. They specialize in what I like to refer to as the next generation of bricks, which they call ComfortBlock. At the event, they appealed to me by describing their blocks as Lego-like. The bricks, apart from being lighter weight compared to other bricks of a similar size, are fire and mould resistant. The blocks are attached by a special adhesive which is supposedly five times than traditional mortar, while also being five times faster to work with over traditional brick and mortar. They also have an inside architecture that allows for easy routing of insulation and wiring, each of which get their own channel separated by a thin wall. From both the outside and the inside, these blocks look like normal concrete, and ParexUSA offer multiple textures for the exterior wall, meaning you do not have to sacrifice style for efficiency. Although they were not the largest or most impressive companies at the Greenbuild Expo, this simple change could mean large energy savings for suburban homes in the near future."
Mitchell, Robbie, Mr. Smith, John, Ian, Jack, Arty and Ms. Erwin with the Seaport Expo Hall in the background. Hundreds of vendors were on site demonstrating their products, services and innovations.
A bunch of the exhibits we were interested in were from theworld of Net-Zero energy. A good-sized chunk of the exhibit hall was powered by renewable energy that was set up on site. Above, a photo from Charge Point's charging station in Porter Square, Cambridge. Next to that, CET's booth demonstrated state of the art battery storage - the missing link between solar, wind and 24x7 power.
Water Cleaning and Storage:
Access to clean and plentiful water is one of the biggest challenges many communities in the U.S. and definitely the world face today. Companies like Orenco and Rainwater Management have technologies that can trap and clean water that is usually thrown away. Many car washes use technology like this, but American cities are increasingly interested in saving water so that it can be used more than once. Invisible Structures makes several products that can turn a water shedding parking lot into a water-trapping space, and they can do it on a large scale. Climate change means larger extremes of dry and wet, and these technologies offer a straightforward way of meeting the demands of cities and homes for this most important resource.
Making SJP Green:
Our group also got a number of ideas for things we could try with the club - from wind turbines to green walls and even a tiny home conversion van, all of us got more ideas for how we could improve recycling, composting or the natural beauty of campus. Pretty Inspiring!