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These days there is much controversy concerning the future of sustainable energy sources. Cutting down on the use of coal and oil for energy production is becoming more and more of a priority as the negative effects of climate change slowly become more apparent. In addition to the negative environmental impact that results from the use of coal and oil, the cost of powering buildings with these finite resources is quite expensive. Many developing countries struggle to provide electricity to their citizens due to the high cost of energy production. The high cost of these fuel sources provides yet another reason to explore green energy solutions. One country may be ahead of the curve when it comes to establishing more sustainable methods of generating energy. Officials in Zimbabwe have constructed a major shopping center, apartment complex and office building by mimicking the structure of particular termite mounds that can be found in the country.

 

In Harare, Zimbabwe, the Eastgate Center is a large shopping mall that also contains several offices and apartment units. This colossal structure may have been expensive to build, but the project has paid for itself thanks to termites. The higher termites that are native to Zimbabwe and other African countries are well known for dwelling within nesting-mounds that are built with features that allow for internal temperature control. These termites farm a fungus inside of their mounds. In order for the fungi to grow, the temperature within the mound must remain at exactly eighty seven degrees fahrenheit. In one twenty four hour period, the temperature in Zimbabwe can range in between thirty five and one hundred and four degrees fahrenheit. Despite this dramatic fluctuation in outside temperature, the internal mound environment remains at eighty seven degrees fahrenheit at all times. The termites manage to achieve this feat by opening and closing ventilation ducts within the mound in accordance with changes in the outside temperature. The Eastgate Center was constructed to mimic this clever temperature control method in order to reduce energy costs. The complex uses less than ten percent of the energy of a similar sized building. This energy efficient model has saved three and a half million dollars in energy costs thanks to termites.

 

Do you think that the United States could benefit from having more structures built that mimic the manner in which termite mounds function?

 

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