What termites can teach us about cooling our buildings

Termite mounds store nutrients and moisture, and allow water to better penetrate the soil. Giant "cathedral'' termite mounds (above) can soar over 4m tall.
Termite mounds store nutrients and moisture, and allow water to better penetrate the soil. Giant "cathedral'' termite mounds (above) can soar over 4m tall.PHOTO: SUSAN LONG
Termite mounds (above) store nutrients and moisture, and allow water to better penetrate the soil. Giant "cathedral'' termite mounds can soar over 4m tall.
Termite mounds (above) store nutrients and moisture, and allow water to better penetrate the soil. Giant "cathedral'' termite mounds can soar over 4m tall.PHOTO: ROBERT PRINGLE, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

In the capital of Zimbabwe, a building called Eastgate Centre holds nearly 350,000 square feet of office space and shops. It uses 90 per cent less energy than a similar sized building next door.

What's Eastgate Centre's secret? Termites.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2019, with the headline 'What termites can teach us about cooling our buildings'. Print Edition | Subscribe