Bright future for solar capture

Capturing solar heat from all parts of a building – not just the roof – is a highly effective way of making buildings more sustainable. But it’s not as easy as it might sound.

During 2020, we worked together with TNO and Emergo in the Netherlands to develop an innovative facade system for a sports hall in the city of Almere.

The venue is covered in colorful solar collectors that capture the thermal energy buildings would normally absorb. It’s then used to heat and cool the structure.

Green building birds eye perspective (photo)
Green building as seen from the ground (photo)
Green building up close (photo)

One of the big challenges was how to avoid having to use black panels – not always aesthetically pleasing for a building exterior, even if darker colors do absorb heat better.

That’s where our expertise came in. We’ve developed technology which can capture heat using the sort of lighter and brighter colors that traditionally reflect near-infrared light (NIR makes up 50% of the total solar energy).

“It’s a practical and sustainable solution for making buildings energy positive,” explains senior AkzoNobel scientist Anthonie Stuiver. “It means we can harness sustainable energy via a system that looks good, as well as doing good.”

The collaboration came about as a result of AkzoNobel’s involvement in the European ENVISION research project, which is made up of 13 partners.

SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities (icon)SDG 13 – Climate action (icon)SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals (icon)

Aligned with SDG 11, 13 and 17 (see the Our approach to sustainable business section).