Zimbabwe’s capital has a building called Eastgate Center that houses several offices and shops. One thing that sets it apart from other buildings its size is that it uses 90 percent less energy than a similar sized building next door. The secret behind this is the building’s unique design that mimics a termite nest!
Yes, you read that right! When it comes to building sustainable buildings, humans have a lot to learn from termites.
Today’s architects and builders are continuously seeking new and improved ways to cool buildings without using more energy. As the planet warms, people will increasingly need to build sustainable buildings that do not rely on vast amounts of energy for air conditioning.
This is where termites come in. There are two types of termite nest: fungus growing and non–fungus growing.
Termites that do farm fungus, build towering nests that are ventilated by a complex system of tunnels and openings. These tunnels regulate the nests’ ventilation the same way chimneys and windows work in a human house.
But those termites that do not grow fungus build nests which appear smooth, and have no apparent openings. In spite of this, ventilation remains important for these termites. A recent research found that the tiny building blocks that make up the nests itself are optimized for air ventilation to occur naturally and effectively as their walls are composed of micrometer-sized pores.