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(Federal News Radio.com - May 15, 2006) - A team of college students is making window material, sturdy enough to cover the side of an office building, out of stuff grown in a field. The concept just won an Environmental Protection Agency award.

Buildings use up about forty percent of both U.S. energy and landfill space. So a University of Michigan team, led by engineering professor Harry Giles, is making new materials.

"We see a future where our buildings come from sources that are grown rather than materials that are dug out of the ground where we have limited sources," says Giles.

They're strategically positioning thin wafers of material like bamboo or wheat between plastic. The result, Giles says, is extra strong windows that block light in the summer while letting it in, at just the right angle, in the winter.

"We don't have to mechanically open and close blinds all the time to control lighting."

And all the parts can be recycled.

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On the Web:

EPA's P3 Award

List of Winners

The University of Michigan student project: Growing Alternative Sustainable Buildings

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