Today I’d like to tell you about BIQ, Bio Intelligent Quotient: basically it’s a five-storey building in Hamburg able to self-sufficiently generate the energy it needs. It’s not big news, I agree, as it’s been a while that renewable energies have been employed in such a way. But there is more to it of course: the 50% of the energy the building consumes is generated by seaweed. You heard that right. Seaweed collected from the Elba river.

People have been living in the fully-operative building for over a year and in the BIQ’s fifteen apartments is now conclusion-drawing time. Conclusions that are definitely going to be positive, as Jan Wurm – one of the architects in charge of the project – explains. The amount of energy produced has been remarkable, well beyond expectations. But how does the BIQ work? The seaweed is located inside the panels that cover the building: once directly exposed to sunlight, they release heat as a result of the photosynthesis process, warming up the water they are immersed in. And with 129 panels – or bioreactors, as Wurm calls them – enveloping the building, the BIQ’s steady energy supply is guaranteed.

What about the costs though? The project is still in its trial stage, therefore they are still pretty high: we are talking about an average of €2,000/ square meter. The price, however, could drop dramatically over the next few years, perhaps if the panels were to be the serially-produced. In addition, once exhausted its energy-provider function, the seaweed is processed and turned into mineral-rich food supplements. It’s a win-win situation, really.