A walk in a shopping centre or a dancing night out are all leisure activities that every one of us can do to relax and enjoy some time during the weekend. But, have you ever thought that just by doing this, you could produce energy?
Energy Floors, a dynamic driven company based in Rotterdam, is using the kinetic energy that we develop by performing activities like walking or dancing to produce electricity in an interactive and funny way through their energy generating floors.
The idea originated in 2006 when the company participated in a research project called ‘When Nature Calls’, initiated by Enviu and Döll architects. They developed a concept for a sustainable club putting together People, Planet and Party: a place where to enjoy and socialize respecting the environment. The following year they developed the prototype of an energy generating dance floor and, in 2008, they installed the first version in the world’s first sustainable dance club, the Club WATT in Rotterdam.
The Club WATT soon became a hotspot. It attracted some of the world’s coolest artists to perform on stage and contributed to meet the city of Rotterdam’s targets to cut CO2 emissions by 50% by 2025. To reduce the club’s carbon footprint, several sustainable solutions were put in place: tap water and organic drinks served in recycled plastic cups; decorations fabricated out of waste material; rainwater-flush system for toilets; renewable energy sources and LED lighting. The key feature was the basement's energy-generating dancefloor, where the movement of the dancers was converted into electricity by an electro-magnetic generator under the floor. Thanks to this, the club made substantial savings on energy consumption (30%), water (50%), CO2 emissions (50%) and waste (50%), compared with a typical dance venue.
The Sustainable Dance Floor exceeded all expectations and the company started renting it to events, festivals, trade fairs and exhibitions worldwide and selling it as part of their product portfolio. But, how does it work exactly?
The kinetic energy created by the people who step on the floor system is converted into electricity. The technology used is electromechanical: the energy floor modules flex slightly when stepped on. Inside each module, there is an electromechanical system that transforms the small vertical movement produced by dancing or walking people into a rotating movement that drives a generator. Each module (with a size of 75x75x20 cm) can produce up to 35 watt of sustained output, between 5 and 20 watt per person.
According to the company website, in the past few years, the technology has also been improved, resulting in the most efficient energy converting tile, able to resist extreme weather, with a higher energy output, higher life expectancy and applicable in many possible solutions. The top sheet of the modules produces the maximum effect with as little energy as possible through a structure of glass, mirrors and LED lights that creates an infinity effect inside the tiles: only one row of LED lights is powered, but multiple lights are seen. Moreover, the top layer can be customised to the wishes of the client or the needs of the location in many different options. Therefore, the floor can be installed in different shapes and for various types of occasions: it can just be a pedestrian floor used in pavements and high footfall areas, such as sport arenas, airports, railway stations, shopping malls, office and apartment blocks; or the dance floor in a club; or it can be used for projects like major sports events, festivals, product launches, corporate events and pavilions, trade fairs, science centre exhibitions and auto shows.
The Sustainable Floors have many different types of applications, but they all turn energy consumers into energy producers, involving the people in the solution of the problem. Moreover, the whole concept contributes to raise awareness on renewable energy and help people to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Further study is certainly needed to improve the outcomes of this technology; however, this innovation also shows how anyone of us, not just large companies or government organisations, can make a little difference in the path towards a more sustainable world.
*Picture courtesy of the Energy Floors website.
Sustainable innovation, Resource efficiency, Environment, Public participation
Relevant tags: Energy floor, renewable energy, Technological innovation, Sustainability, Sustainable lifestyles