Two Indian teens (one of them Indian-origin) were part of 6-member team which won ‘Future of buildings and cities challenge’co-sponsored by United Technologies and the New York Academy of Sciences. One of them was Indian-origin student Bani Singh, 18, Minerva Schools at KGI, Oslo, Norway and the other one was Arunima Sen, 16, Kendriya Vidyalaya Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.
“My teammates and I were determined to combat the negative repercussions that human activities have brought upon the environment by participating in the challenge, and by designing an efficient skyscraper,” said Arunima Sen after winning the challenge. Equally overwhelmed by the response was Bani Singh who said “[This challenge was] an amazing opportunity to bring various perspectives, knowledge, and ideas to the table.”
The project was ‘Future of buildings and cities challenge’ and the goal of the project was to design a “smart building” with walls that are dynamic, living surfaces, that counter greenhouse gasses, internal systems that can convert waste into resources with new, useful applications, and more efficient HVAC systems that make use of solar energy and AI. Named Homestead Green, the team’s innovative solution consists of four parts:
- A water recycling system featuring a tank with a capacitive floating sensor helps to maximize efficient use of water. Water level is monitored using a 4-20mA current loop. A three-way actuated butterfly valve guide “graywater” from a building’s upper floors to the tanks. If the tank is full, the water will be guided to the nearest reservoir. If there is a water shortage in the toilet system and a lack of “graywater”, a spare tank opens the lower solenoid valve to transfer water for a single flush. If there are no spare tanks, the upper solenoid valve provides fresh water. The kitchen and unused bathroom “graywater” is treated and filtered to be used on-site or for watering surrounding green areas.
- Solar panels installed on a building’s roof and south-facing wall. The wall panels will be positioned at a fixed 75-degree angle. The roof panels include seasonal tilts specific to the region’s latitude to optimize the collection of sunlight.
- “Green walls” – a collection of vines, leaf twiners and climbers on a grid-like support – help to purify the air and provide additional building insulation. Rainwater collected on the roof provides a drip irrigation system to keep the vegetation fresh.
- The home assistant. This device uses a series of indoor sensors to detect occupancy, light intensity, temperature, humidity and air quality to maximize the use of energy. It will also monitor the usage of water, electricity and the amount of “graywater” recycled and received.
Apart from two Indian teens, other members of the team were Irhum Shafkat, 15, Rajuk Uttara Model College, Uttara, Bangladesh; Sachin Dangi, 18, Xavier International, Kathmandu, Nepal; Ioana- Elena Tarabasanu-Mihaila, 17, Saint Sava National College, Bucharest, Romania; Darius Filip, 17, National College, Vasile Lucaciu, Baia Mare, Romania.
For their winning solution, the team will share a $7,500 grand prize and each team member will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City to attend the annual Global STEM Alliance Summit in July.