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Dr. Blaine Brownell

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA


Talk Title
Power Windows:Innovative Energy Technologies for Buildings

Talk Abstract

As the world’s largest consumer of energy, the building sector bears the primary responsibility for our reliance on fossil fuels. Using approximately 40 percent of global resources, buildings are inherently complicit in the accelerating effects of climate change. Despite this fact—or perhaps because of it—buildings are increasingly viewed as the solution to global warming. For example, the historic 2015 United Nations’ 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris hosted the first Buildings Day in acknowledgment of the built environment’s critical function in mitigating climate change.

To meet our carbon dioxide emissions goals by 2050, buildings must not only conserve energy—they must generate it. The widespread incorporation of renewable power technologies in existing and new buildings will bring about a new paradigm in resource harvesting. The shift from centralized to distributed energy promises many advantages, such as overcoming the inefficiencies and vulnerabilities of remote electricity delivery via an aging power grid. Yet hurdles remain in achieving the mass adoption of building-integrated renewable energy.

Conventional solar, wind, and geothermal power systems for buildings are akin to “one size fits all” approaches that lack the context-specificity, customizability, and deep integration required for widespread inclusion in the built environment. However, a diverse array of emerging technologies promises solutions to these problems. Multicolored facades composed of miniature wind turbines, solar “ivy” that generates additional energy by fluttering in the wind, self-regulating ventilating surfaces, and curtain walls that serve as vertical algae farms are just a few of the innovations now available for new and existing buildings. This wide-ranging survey of novel, disruptive energy applications will highlight the intrinsic advantages over conventional systems while raising broader questions about distributed energy in the built environment. The talk is intended for a broad audience interested in the future of architecture and cities.

Short Biography
Blaine Brownell is an architect and former Fulbright scholar to Japan with a focus on emergent materials and applications. He is an associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. Brownell has authored seven books on advanced materials for architecture and design including the four-volume Transmaterial series, Matter in the Floating WorldMaterial Strategies, and Hypernatural (co-authored with Marc Swackhamer). He has written the Mind & Matter column for Architect magazine since 2009, and his work has been published in over 70 architecture, design, science, and news journals.
Talk Keywords
Renewable energy, buildings, distributed power, innovation, disruption.
Target Audience
Researchers, Government policy makers, Industrail leaders, Students, General publics
Speaker-intro video

The International Conference on Innovative Applied Energy (IAPE’18)