From: Arj Singh, BBC Earth
Published October 19, 2011 02:20 PM

Amazing animal-inspired inventions!

The best way to save our planet might be to learn from the animals that have lived here harmoniously with it for millions of years...

The humble termite may still pose a threat to wooden buildings, but their home has inspired a new, green, efficient form of building in Africa.

Termites live in termitaria – towering nests commonly called "anthills". The ability of termites to control the temperature in these mounds has led to the building of one of the most green examples of architecture in the world.

The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, has no conventional air conditioning or heating but temperature is controlled year round using techniques from the termites.

Inside the mounds termites farm a fungus, which is their primary source of food, and it must be kept at 87 degrees F while the temperature outside can range from 35 degrees F at night and 105 degrees F during the day.

Amazingly, the termites manage to do this by constantly opening and closing heating and cooling vents in the mound over the course of a day. The hard-working termites are constantly opening new vents and closing old ones to keep the temperature regulated.

The mainly concrete Eastgate Centre works in a similar way. Outside air that is drawn in is either warmed or cooled by the building mass depending on which is hotter, the building itself or the air. It is then vented into the building’s floors and offices before exiting via chimneys at the top.

Eastgate uses less than 10 per cent of the energy of a normal building of its size, and the owners have saved $3.5 million just because they didn’t have to install air conditioning. It also means the tenants pay rent that’s 20 per cent lower than in neighbouring buildings.

And it’s all thanks to the termite!

See this story and related ones at BBC Earth!

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

2017©. Copyright Environmental News Network