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Another innovative way of generating energy is the piezoelectric cell. The piezoelectric effect is the phenomenon that certain crystals produce electricity under the influence of pressure, such as bending, and vice-versa: they deform when electrically charged.

The electricity generated from the vibrations of six hundred lorries driving over the road every hour could power forty homes. Surely this means that a well-used office staircase should be able to light the workplace?

Besides generating energy with solar paint and piezoelectrics, cooling with PCMs, insulating with vacuum panels and airgel materials, other materials can take over the functions of installations. An optical light film from 3M with a prismatic surface reflects more than 98 percent of incoming sunlight and is able to provide daylight to underground parking spaces or basements through ‘light pipes’. Window washing is no longer necessary if a coating with the Lotus Effect (Stolotusan) is applied and shading can be controlled by glass with a photochromic effect.