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TEDxDelft 2016 | TEDxDelft Salon | Sustainable travel

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“When you think about sustainable travelling, the first thing you think of is the fuel consumption used to get to your destination,” Robert Mulder, architect says. “But what about the hotels?”

Architecture is not just Mulder’s career, it is a passion. He graduated from TU Delft’s civil engineering faculty with a major in architecture. He started out as an architectural draftsman, before further climbing the ladder, from architect to project architect. Eventually, he would become owner of his own agency, working on several prestigious projects.

Hotels contribute extensively to climate change. “Hotels are heated or cooled 24/7, which is unnecessary,” explains Mulder. Many measures have been taken, such as leaving towels on the floor, or the card that turns off all electricity when a guest leaves the room. But these measures make relatively little impact on the environment. Mulder argues that a more extensive rethinking is needed of what a sustainable hotel is.

By designing a new hotel from the ground up with sustainability and reusability in mind, the possibilities to minimise a hotel’s footprint become almost endless. By reusing water from the shower for the toilet, and then for greenhouses on the roof of the hotel, less water is being used. The greenhouse allows the hotel to grow its own fruits and vegetables, and the gases help to warm up the hotel. A system built into the facade further helps with regulating room temperature by allowing sunlight in or blocking it, depending on whether or not guests are in the room. By rethinking hotels and creating a more integrated system of use and reuse, Mulder is convinced hotels will have a big impact on the environment in the future.

TEDxDelft 2016 | TEDxDelft Salon | A wheel without a centre

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“Cars have changed a lot over the past 100 years,” Bas aan de Stegge explains. All except for the combustion engine.

Aan de Stegge started out as a mechanic for Formula Student Team Delft, working on the powertrain while studying for his Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering at TU Delft. He would later become part of the team’s Chief Recruiting Committee. In this role, he was charged with recruiting new engineers. Eventually, he would take on the role of Chief Executive Officer for the team, a role he continues to fulfill to this day.

A combustion engine accounts for a significant part of a car in terms of weight. In addition, it is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Many elements of the car have evolved throughout the years, but the combustion engine has not. In recent years the number of electric cars has risen, but they still use concepts from cars as they have been built throughout the years. At Formula Student Team Delft, they decided to take up the challenge to develop a completely new drivetrain.

“Electric motors are used to store energy, and to propel the vehicle forward,” aan de Stegge explains. Electric motors can be far smaller than they currently are. The team decided to try and place this new type of engine in a new place: the wheel.  This meant a complete re-imagining of the wheel, more specifically the rim. What they came up with is a spoke-less wheel, which includes a motor to propel the car, as well as the brakes. “It offers several advantages: the car is lighter and the performance is better.” Though the technology is still relatively new, aan de Stegge is convinced that this technology will eventually replace the combustion engine, definitely bringing the car into the modern era.