Learning from Termites How to Create Sustainable Buildings
We generally think of termites as destroying buildings, not helping design them. But the Eastgate Building, an office complex in Harare, Zimbabwe, has an air conditioning system modeled on the self-cooling mounds of Macrotermes michaelseni, termites that maintain the temperature inside their nest to within one degree, day and night (while the temperatures outside swing from 42 °C to 3 °C). The operation of buildings represents 40% of all the energy used by humanity, so learning how to design them to be more sustainable is vitally important. Architect Mick Pearce collaborated with engineers at Arup Associates to design Eastgate, which uses 90% percent less energy for ventilation than conventional buildings its size, and has already saved the building owners over $3.5 million dollars in air conditioning costs.