As buildings today consume approximately 40% of the energy in the U.S., it's no wonder that serious consideration is being taken into energy efficient design. In cooling dominated buildings and climates, air conditioning is often a serious culprit. To combat this, the design of the the building envelope is paramount. The outer layer of a buildings envelope is often referred to as its skin. This skin is similar to that of the human body. Its purpose is to breathe and respond to the environmental conditions of heat, light, and humidity. One material that is being developed at the University of California - Berkley that caught our attention is SABER.
SABER is a new self-cooling material membrane that is currently being developed by Maria-Paz Gutierrez of the research initiative Bio Input Onto Material System (BIOMS). The membrane itself is designed to be self-activated by the use of micro-scale valves and lenses that open and close by sensors responding to light, humidity, and heat. What is even cooler about this material is its intended use in the tropical regions of developing nations around the world. The team at BIOMS is aiming to make SABER a passive low cost alternative to air conditioning.