Monday, January 20, 2014

Hospital Building Eats Mexico City Smog

The urban landscape is changing, slowly but surely.  Overpopulation, pollution, and climate change issues are the prevailing priorities right now.  And as American infrastructure turns over for the next century, experts would do well to look all over the world for improvements.

Right now, there's no better example of how innovative designs can tackle sustainability issues than the facade of the Torre de Especialidadesis (Manuel Gea Gonzalez Hospital) building of Mexico City, Mexico.  100 meters long with tiles coated in titanium dioxide (TiO2), the facade creates chemical reactions with any nitrous pollutants that come in contact; most of which are from automobile emissions.  The pollutants are subsequently broken down into harmless CO2 and water vapor, meaning this hospital building effectively cleans the air for its inhabitants and neighbors.

While there may be long-term problems of maintenance, the rewards for this kind of environmental tweak are sneakily abundant.  Not only is the hospital creating a cleaner atmosphere for its patients- saving them time and space in the long run- but give it five, ten years; any long-term study that shows drops in related issues such as asthma, plant growth, medical diagnoses, will herald this kind of architecture as necessary civic infrastructure:

As the video states, natural UV rays act as a catalyst for the chemical reaction, and the tiles neutralize the equivalent of pollution from 1000 vehicles per day.  Comparing that to the average traffic in Mexico City, it's a drop in a bucket.  But imagine 20 buildings such as this.  Or 50.  Or one on every major intersection.  Cost and bureaucracy is an always an issue, but ideas like this have to be thought of on a large scale if they're to have any real impact at all.
Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

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