Infrastructure, Energy & MaterialsJuly 27, 2023

Can we cool cities by taking a cue from human skin? 

Smart Panel plans to revolutionize cooling systems by creating building facades that regulate temperature just like humans do.
Avatar Shoshana Kranish

This summer has been hot. Record-breaking temperatures have been set all over the globe, continuing the trend of years past. And sweltering seasons tend to cause us to do the same thing: reach for the air conditioner. While we know that they have harmful impacts on the external environment, they can be delightful for internal ones. 

But what if you could cool your office, home, gym or any other building, for that matter, without it? 

A new bio-mimicry inspired facade aims to enable exactly that. By designing the exterior of an edifice to function the way human skin interacts with heat, Smart Panel is creating an environmentally conscious cooling system for the future. 

The human body is an excellent regulator of temperature, which is why it serves as a formidable model for transferring the same concept to buildings. 

The ‘pores’ of the building are its ventilators, the ‘veins’ its fluid pipes, the insulation its adipose tissue. Smart Panel, a start-up in the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab accelerator program, is creating a system that mimics the biology of the human body and can result in buildings powered by sustainable energy with decreased HVAC costs and a smaller carbon footprint. 

With environmental and economic benefits, the company’s flagship product offers a solution that reduces reliance on air conditioning. That makes lowered cooling costs — a plus for businesses — and a decreased carbon footprint, potentially at scale.

The facades have other advantages, too, in addition to decreasing reliance on power grids. They can also contribute to a reduced urban heat island effect. This phenomenon is caused by a high density of heat-producing buildings and infrastructure, like trains and cars. It creates a literal ‘island’ in urban areas where the temperature is considerably higher than in surrounding communities. 

Smart Panel's planned building facade - Dassault Systèmes

Smart Panel’s solution offers an innovative fix to this issue, balancing energy expenditure and reducing the heat output from inefficiently cooled buildings. And because the company’s panels are made with sustainability in mind, they also seek to reduce the need for certain CO2-intensive building materials, like concrete and aluminum. Smart Panel, therefore, joins a consortium of growing companies working toward incorporating environmentally-friendly concepts into the construction industry, like the use of green steel, which emits considerably less CO2 in its production than its traditional counterpart. 

By joining the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, Smart Panel has gained access to design and simulation software that enables them to create their product in a way that nearly matches the biological perfection of human skin. From fluid circulation simulations to component integration processes, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform allows the company to incorporate all their necessary systems and procedures into a singular, easily managed space. 

Learn more about start-ups in the lab with innovative sustainable solutions: 

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