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Design Competition Proposes Using Energy-Generating Algae for Power

By MaryAnne Beatty
U.S. General Services Administration

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2011 – A proposal to use energy-generating algae to power a circa-1965 GSA federal building won the top prize in Metropolis magazine’s Next Generation Design Competition.

This year’s contest challenged young designers to retrofit the building to attain a net-zero energy status. The theme dovetails with GSA’s sustainability goals, which include a 30-percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020.

A Washington, D.C.-based 15-member team of HOK/Vanderweil architects and engineers submitted the winning entry, called “Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution.” The entry addressed every aspect of the building’s design and systems. Other ideas included designing three atriums and eight light wells that would provide 100-percent daylight penetration into workspaces, with integrated louvers assisting in providing natural ventilation.

The plan also envisions 30,000 square feet of rooftop collectors circulating water through floors for interior climate control.

GSA Chief Architect Les Shepherd, one of the competition’s jurors, said he was impressed by “the sophistication of the winning entry, and of the many other inventive submissions."

"With appropriate testing and validation, certain Next Generation strategies could be replicated across a wider swath of our Great Society-era buildings,” Shepherd said.

Read More About the Competition>>