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"Growing" Buildings

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(WTOP Radio - May 14, 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.

WTOPRandy Atkins: 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 exit EPA, is making new materials.

Harry Giles: 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.

Randy Atkins: 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.

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

Randy Atkins: And all the parts can be recycled. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.

To find out more about this story, and the other winning entrants in the EPA contest, go to wtopnews.com exit EPA and click on "Innovative Engineering" under "Quick Links" at the very bottom of the page.

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