CREO-Tive Solution Boosts Nature in Urban Areas

By on February 19th, 2021 in Usage

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CREO-Tive Solution Boosts Nature in Urban Areas
The AirIQ air purification system. (Image courtesy of CREO.)

Aristotle stated that “Man is by nature a social animal.” However, social distancing due to COVID-19 has turned us into increasingly sedentary animals.

“We are living indoors more than ever,” said Hooman Koliji, founder and CEO of California-based green tech company CREO, in an interview with “These are harsh environments with a lack of resources in terms of adequate light and temperature for plants to grow.”

The pandemic has also turned the usual order of the world upside down. “People have become more conscious about food security, supply-chain security, and clean food,” noted Koliji.

Koliji was a tenured professor of architecture at the University of Maryland, where he interacted regularly with plant scientists, biologists and engineers to understand the best methodology of integrating nature with the built environment. Unfortunately, growing plants in buildings is resource intensive, requiring a lot of energy to provide them with needed water and light. Koliji realized that nature is no longer able to sustain itself in urban cities and became concerned about how this would affect the future of humanity.

“This is a time when we need to be in contact with nature the most,” said Koliji.

The drive to overcome these multifaceted problems led Koliji to found CREO. A resident of the Autodesk Technology Center in San Francisco, CREO devises solutions that use alternative growing to sustain plant life with minimal intervention. Since joining the Autodesk residency program in 2018, the CREO team has been working on developing smart, modular and autonomous green living systems for homes and buildings.

AirIQ: The Air Purifier

“Over 90 percent of the world’s population is breathing polluted air, which causes diseases like asthma and cancer,” said CREO’s Negar Kalantar, who also serves as codirector at California College of the Arts’ Digital Craft Lab.

To counter these adverse health effects, CREO has designed the AirIQ, a soil-less hydroponic system that employs a hybrid growth medium.

The AirIQ system is fully automated through a centralized control center that can measure nutrients, water level, pH level and other data. Air quality sensors and moving arms serve the dual purpose of providing necessary light to plants as well as scanning their growth.

Water runs through the entire system from a tank located at the bottom. A growing section made up of hybrid synthetic medium comprises three layers. The first layer optimizes irrigation and root structure, the second enables air filtration, and the third acts as a wick for water retention. All three layers combine to allow peak growth of the plants while being optimized for air purification. The root system, which serves as the air filtration element, has microorganisms that efficiently metabolize pollutants.


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