The world of energy efficiency is often seen as a complex one, weighed down by convoluted formulas, expensive equipment and heated political debates that could understandably turn away the casual observer. So it may come as a surprise to learn that models strutting down catwalks could one day be sporting cutting-edge renewable energy technology in the form of sleeves and skirts decorated with solar panels. Here are a couple of ways that fashion is breaking into the world of energy efficiency:
Kinetic energy: Professor Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, a designer and author of Designing With Smart Textiles, scheduled for publishing in 2015, has focused much of her research on light and movement in smart textiles. According to Pailes-Friedman, "really good design is when you don't notice it. We have always lived and worked in clothing so we know how it functions, 98% of how we wear it is no mystery to us. So technology being incorporated needs to be part of and as intuitive as our clothing."
Solar textiles: Meg Grant, of Solar Fiber, tells The Guardian that she and her co-collaborators are excited about pushing fashion boundaries with solar fibers.
The idea behind solar fiber is a flexible photovoltaic material that converts sunlight into electrical energy via a yarn that can be worked into many fabrics. Its latest prototype is the solar shawl, which displays the amount of energy being generated in real-time. The company's Wearable Solar line currently can only produce tiny amounts of power but its growing list of prototypes also includes a coat and dress made of wool and leather which also create energy through integrated solar cells.
The aim is to one day have a t-shirt that can effectively double as a smartphone charger. But, in the meantime, if you live in the Maryland area and are interested in energy efficiency, an energy audit from leading home inspection company Alban Inspections may be just what you need!