Mother Earth does a pretty amazing job at creating net-zero energy systems. As the green design momentum continues, modern-day innovators are taking their queues from nature, learning how to better replicate her systems, which will result in a healthier existence for all of us. We have focused on some of these innovations before, such as self-healing technology for concrete. Today, we want to take a look at how algae and solar panels can be used to transform sunlight into energy while simultaneously shade your interior spaces.

In an interview with Katie Weeks at, architect and educator Blaine Brownell spoke a bit about bioactive facades, or exterior building components that mimic nature for beneficial results. One example is the use of algae, an amazing harvester of sunlight. Algae has been used in curtainwall panels on homes, creating the ultimate in passive design. In periods of lower light, algae-filled panels bloom less, allowing more sunlight and, therefore, heat into the the space. When the sun’s rays are strongest, the algae colonies bloom, creating a shade canopy to block light that would normally contribute to heat gain.

BIQ House Algae

BIQ House Algae Panels. Source:

We’re also seeing a change in how solar panels are being integrated into home design. As this article on demonstrates, architects and designers are working to integrate solar panels into the home’s artistic design and function, rather than simply installing them linearly along the roof.  They can provide shade as awnings, follow the sun’s arc across the sky and work as solar water heaters.

Solar panels on Modern Exterior via

Are you interested in using algae or solar panels as a part of your Cambridge green design? Contact Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Interiors. We’re excited about the possibilities.