Role of Algae in Built Environment and Green Cities: A Holistic approach towards Sustainability


  • Imran Ahmad Algae and Biomass, Research Laboratory, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra, 54100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Norhayati Abdullah Algae and Biomass, Research Laboratory, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra,54100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Iwamoto Koji Algae and Biomass, Research Laboratory, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra,54100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Shaza Eva Mohamad Algae and Biomass, Research Laboratory, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra,54100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Anas Al-Dailami Algae and Biomass, Research Laboratory, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra,54100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Ali Yuzir Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra, 54100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



Sustainable, green cities, algae, CO2 sequestration, algal façades


The changing lifestyle, urbanization, and depletion of non-renewable resources to match the ever-increasing energy demand are causing a pessimistic impact on the environment. The cities are responsible for 75% of carbon emissions and about 60-80% of the energy consumption globally, causing a precarious situation because they only constitute 3% of the earth’s land. Urbanization makes the cities vulnerable due to the changing climatic conditions and possibilities of natural deserts disasters, thereby compelling the researchers to go for planning building green and resilient cities. Green cities are imperative in resisting the environmental crisis and assure a sustainable future for the upcoming generations. The pivotal role for the green cities is played by the renewable sources of energy. Therefore, solar and wind energy systems were employed, but eventually these renewable energy systems are associated with cost and pollution issues.  This led to the paradigm-shifting towards algae as a third-generation feedstock and it is expected to become a potential source of green energy and environment due to the following advantages: (i) sequestration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), (ii) they can be easily and rapidly cultured and bioengineered, (iii) they can utilize the wastewater as a source of nutrients for its cultivation,  (iv) their growth does not depend upon the geography and climate, and (v) algal biomass can be processed into biofuels (biodiesel, bioethanol, biogas etc) and other useful bioproducts (biofertilizer & biochar). This review paper incorporates the role of microalgal bioreactive façades (algae powered buildings) in the simultaneous mitigation of environment and energy production, contributing to green cities. Since the importance of Urban Green Space (UGS) is imperative for green cities, its functions and role during the critical period of the pandemic are also explained together with the efficient and viable biofoundry approach of converting algal blooms in urban water bodies to energy and useful products.


Abdallah T. (2017). Sustainable Mass Transit: Challenges and Opportunities in Urban Public Transportation: Elsevier.

Ahmad I., Abdullah N., Koji I., Yuzir A., & Mohamad S. 2020. Anaerobic Digestion of Microalgae: Outcomes, Opportunities and Obstructions. Paper presented at the Latin American Meetings on Anaerobic Digestion.

Ahmad I., Abdullah N., Koji I., Yuzir A., & Mohamad S. (2021). Potential of Microalgae in Bioremediation of Wastewater. Bulletin of Chemical Reaction Engineering & Catalysis, 7.

Ahmad I., Abdullah N., Koji I., Yuzir A., & Muhammad S. E. 2021. Evolution of Photobioreactors: A Review based on Microalgal Perspective. Paper presented at the IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering.

Ahmad I., Yuzir A., Mohamad S., Iwamoto K., & Abdullah N. 2021. Role of Microalgae in Sustainable Energy and Environment. Paper presented at the IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering.

Al-Dailami A., Ahmad I., & Ahmad M. D. (2020). Sustainable entrepreneurship, Integrative framework and propositions. PalArch's Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology, 17(9): 9031-9041.

Al Dakheel J., & Tabet Aoul K. (2017). Building Applications, opportunities and challenges of active shading systems: A state-of-the-art review. Energies, 10(10): 1672.

Alam M. A., & Wang Z. (2019). Microalgae biotechnology for development of biofuel and wastewater treatment: Springer.

Anjos M., Fernandes B. D., Vicente A. A., Teixeira J. A., & Dragone G. (2013). Optimization of CO2 bio-mitigation by Chlorella vulgaris. Bioresource technology, 139: 149-154.

ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55- A. (2013). Thermal environmental conditions for human occupancy: ASHRAE Atlanta, GA.

Aron N. S. M., Khoo K. S., Chew K. W., Veeramuthu A., Chang J.-S., & Show P. L. (2021). Microalgae cultivation in wastewater and potential processing strategies using solvent and membrane separation technologies. Journal of Water Process Engineering, 39: 101701.

Beauregard S. J., Berkland S., & Hoque S. (2011). Ever green: A post-occupancy building performance analysis of LEED certified homes in New England. College Publishing, 6(4): 138-145.

Biloria N., & Thakkar Y. (2020). Integrating algae building technology in the built environment: A cost and benefit perspective. Frontiers of Architectural Research, 9(2): 370-384.

Brookfield A. E., Hansen A. T., Sullivan P. L., Czuba J. A., Kirk M. F., Li L., Newcomer M. E., & Wilkinson G. (2021). Predicting algal blooms: Are we overlooking groundwater? Science of The Total Environment, 144442.

Burns A. (2014). Photobioreactor design for improved energy efficiency of microalgae production.

Buzalo N., Ermachenko P., Bulgakov A., & Zakharchenko N. (2015). Mathematical modeling of energy balance in the photobiological treatment plants. Procedia Engineering, 123: 117-124.

Casini M. (2016). Smart buildings: Advanced materials and nanotechnology to improve energy-efficiency and environmental performance: Woodhead Publishing.

Chen B., Wan C., Mehmood M. A., Chang J.-S., Bai F., & Zhao X. (2017). Manipulating environmental stresses and stress tolerance of microalgae for enhanced production of lipids and value-added products–a review. Bioresource technology, 244: 1198-1206.

Chew K. W., Chia S. R., Lee S. Y., Zhu L., & Show P. L. (2019). Enhanced microalgal protein extraction and purification using sustainable microwave-assisted multiphase partitioning technique. Chemical Engineering Journal, 367: 1-8.

Chew K. W., Khoo K. S., Foo H. T., Chia S. R., Walvekar R., & Lim S. S. (2020). Algae utilization and its role in the developments of green cities. Chemosphere, 129322.

Chia S. R., Ong H. C., Chew K. W., Show P. L., Phang S.-M., Ling T. C., Nagarajan D., Lee D.-J., & Chang J.-S. (2018). Sustainable approaches for algae utilisation in bioenergy production. Renewable Energy, 129: 838-852.

Clark II W., & Cooke G. (2016). Smart Green Cities: Toward a Carbon Neutral World: Routledge.

Corcoran A. A., & Hunt R. W. (2021). Capitalizing on harmful algal blooms: From problems to products. Algal research, 55, 102265.

Council U. G. B., & Council S. B. I. (2016). What is a Green Building? San Marcos, 888: 336-7553.

Davis T. W., & Gobler C. J. (2016). Preface for Special Issue on" Global expansion of harmful cyanobacterial blooms: Diversity, ecology, causes, and controls". Harmful Algae, 54: 1-3.

Dietz L., Horve P. F., Coil D., Fretz M., Eisen J., & Van Den Wymelenberg K. (2020). 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: A Review of the Current Literature and Built Environment (BE) Considerations to Reduce Transmission.

Elnokaly A., & Keeling I. (2016). An empirical study investigating the impact of micro-algal technologies and their application within intelligent building fabrics. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 216: 712-723.

Elrayies G. M. (2018). Microalgae: prospects for greener future buildings. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 81: 1175-1191.

Fan L.-H., Zhang Y.-T., Zhang L., & Chen H.-L. (2008). Evaluation of a membrane-sparged helical tubular photobioreactor for carbon dioxide biofixation by Chlorella vulgaris. Journal of Membrane Science, 325(1): 336-345.

Ganeshkumar V., Subashchandrabose S. R., Dharmarajan R., Venkateswarlu K., Naidu R., & Megharaj M. (2018). Use of mixed wastewaters from piggery and winery for nutrient removal and lipid production by Chlorella sp. MM3. Bioresource technology, 256: 254-258.

Genin S. N., Aitchison J. S., & Allen D. G. (2016). Photobioreactor-based energy sources Nano and Biotech Based Materials for Energy Building Efficiency . 429-455. Springer.

Gupta S. K., Malik A., & Bux F. (2017). Algal Biofuels: Springer.

Haines-Young R., & Potschin M. B. (2018). Common international classification of ecosystem services (CICES) V5. 1 and guidance on the application of the revised structure: Nottingham: Fabis Consulting Ltd.

Hamburg I. B. (2013). Smart Material Houses.

Hindersin S. (2013). Photosynthetic efficiency of microalgae and optimization of biomass production in photobioreactors. Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky.

Ho S.-H., Chen C.-Y., & Chang J.-S. (2012). Effect of light intensity and nitrogen starvation on CO2 fixation and lipid/carbohydrate production of an indigenous microalga Scenedesmus obliquus CNW-N. Bioresource technology, 113: 244-252.

Kabir E., Kumar P., Kumar S., Adelodun A. A., & Kim K.-H. (2018). Solar energy: Potential and future prospects. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 82: 894-900.

Kaldellis J., Garakis K., & Kapsali M. (2012). Noise impact assessment on the basis of onsite acoustic noise immission measurements for a representative wind farm. Renewable Energy, 41: 306-314.

Khan S., Siddique R., Sajjad W., Nabi G., Hayat K. M., Duan P., & Yao L. (2017). Biodiesel production from algae to overcome the energy crisis. HAYATI Journal of Biosciences, 24(4): 163-167.

Khoo K. S., Chew K. W., Yew G. Y., Leong W. H., Chai Y. H., Show P. L., & Chen W.-H. (2020). Recent advances in downstream processing of microalgae lipid recovery for biofuel production. Bioresource technology, 304: 122996.

Kim J. K., Kottuparambil S., Moh S. H., Lee T. K., Kim Y.-J., Rhee J.-S., Choi E.-M., Kim B. H., Yu Y. J., & Yarish C. (2015). Potential applications of nuisance microalgae blooms. Journal of Applied Phycology, 27(3): 1223-1234.

Kutty A. A., Abdella G. M., Kucukvar M., Onat N. C., & Bulu M. (2020). A system thinking approach for harmonizing smart and sustainable city initiatives with United Nations sustainable development goals. Sustainable Development, 28(5): 1347-1365.

Lam M. K., Lee K. T., & Mohamed A. R. (2012). Current status and challenges on microalgae-based carbon capture. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 10: 456-469.

Lõhmus M., & Balbus J. (2015). Making green infrastructure healthier infrastructure. Infection ecology & epidemiology, 5(1: 30082.

Manirafasha E., Vangh A. V., Murwanashyaka T., Rugabirwa B., Ndikubwimana T., Mukagatare G., Ndayambaje J. D., Guo L., Shen L., & Zeng X. (2019). algal resources exploitation for green economy and sustainable development a review. Advances in Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Marsullo M., Mian A., Ensinas A. V., Manente G., Lazzaretto A., & Marechal F. (2015). Dynamic modeling of the microalgae cultivation phase for energy production in open raceway ponds and flat panel photobioreactors. Frontiers in Energy Research, 3: 41.

Martokusumo W., Koerniawan M. D., Poerbo H. W., Ardiani N. A., & Krisanti S. H. (2017). Algae and building façade revisited. a study of façade system for infill design. Journal of Architecture and Urbanism, 41(4): 296-304.

Mat Aron N. S., Khoo K. S., Chew K. W., Show P. L., Chen W. H., & Nguyen T. H. P. (2020). Sustainability of the four generations of biofuels–A review. International Journal of Energy Research, 44(12): 9266-9282.

Matthijs H. C., Balke H., Van Hes U. M., Kroon B. M., Mur L. R., & Binot R. A. (1996). Application of light‐emitting diodes in bioreactors: Flashing light effects and energy economy in algal culture (Chlorella pyrenoidosa). Biotechnology and bioengineering, 50(1): 98-107.

Mehrotra S., Bardhan R., & Ramamritham K. (2020). Urban form as policy variable for climate-sensitive area planning under heterogeneity: a geographically weighted regression approach. Area Development and Policy, 5(2): 167-188.

Naik S. N., Goud V. V., Rout P. K., & Dalai A. K. (2010). Production of first and second generation biofuels: a comprehensive review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 14(2): 578-597.

Öncel S., Köse A., & Öncel D. (2016). Façade integrated photobioreactors for building energy efficiency Start-Up Creation 237-299. Elsevier.

Pagliolico S. L., Verso V. R. L., Bosco F., Mollea C., & La Forgia C. (2017). A novel photo-bioreactor application for microalgae production as a shading system in buildings. Energy Procedia, 111: 151-160.

Pan J., Bardhan R., & Jin Y. (2021). Spatial distributive effects of public green space and COVID-19 infection in London. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 62: 127182.

Pruvost J., Le Gouic B., Lepine O., Legrand J., & Le Borgne F. (2016). Microalgae culture in building-integrated photobioreactors: Biomass production modelling and energetic analysis. Chemical Engineering Journal, 284: 850-861.

Sardá R. C., & Vicente C. A. (2016). Case studies on the architectural integration of photobioreactors in building facades Nano and Biotech Based Materials for Energy Building Efficiency 457-484. Springer.

Sathyakumar V., Ramsankaran R., & Bardhan R. (2020). Geospatial approach for assessing spatiotemporal dynamics of urban green space distribution among neighbourhoods: A demonstration in Mumbai. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 48: 126585.

Say C., & Wood A. (2008). Sustainable rating systems around the world. Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat Journal (CTBUH Review), 2: 18-29.

Sheehan J., Dunahay T., Benemann J., & Roessler P. (1998). Look back at the US department of energy's aquatic species program: biodiesel from algae; close-out report.

Slater S. J., Christiana R. W., & Gustat J. (2020). Peer Reviewed: Recommendations for keeping parks and green space accessible for mental and physical health during COVID-19 and other pandemics. Preventing chronic disease, 17

Sugiyama T., Carver A., Koohsari M. J., & Veitch J. (2018). Advantages of public green spaces in enhancing population health. Landscape and urban planning, 178: 12-17.

Susaki J., & Komiya Y. 2014. Estimation of green space ratio for assessing urban landscapes using digital surface models and images. Paper presented at the 2014 8th IAPR Workshop on Pattern Reconition in Remote Sensing.

Sydney E. B., Sturm W., de Carvalho J. C., Thomaz-Soccol V., Larroche C., Pandey A., & Soccol C. R. (2010). Potential carbon dioxide fixation by industrially important microalgae. Bioresource technology, 101(15): 5892-5896.

Talaei M., Mahdavinejad M., & Azari R. (2020). Thermal and energy performance of algae bioreactive façades: A review. Journal of Building Engineering, 28: 101011.

Ugolini F., Massetti L., Calaza-Martínez P., Cariñanos P., Dobbs C., Ostoić S. K., Marin A. M., Pearlmutter D., Saaroni H., & Šaulienė I. (2020). Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use and perceptions of urban green space: An international exploratory study. Urban forestry & urban greening, 56: 126888.

Umdu E. S., Kahraman İ., Yildirim N., & Bilir L. (2018). Optimization of microalgae panel bioreactor thermal transmission property for building façade applications. Energy and Buildings, 175: 113-120.

Vassilev S. V., & Vassileva C. G. (2016). Composition, properties and challenges of algae biomass for biofuel application: an overview. Fuel, 181: 1-33.

Watson J. K. (2019). Energy diversification and self-sustainable smart villages Smart Villages in the EU and Beyond: Emerald Publishing Limited.

Wolch J. R., Byrne J., & Newell J. P. (2014). Urban green space, public health, and environmental justice: The challenge of making cities ‘just green enough’. Landscape and urban planning, 125: 234-244.

Wurm J. (2013a). Developing bio-responsive façades: BIQ House–The first pilot project. Arup J, 2: 90-95.

Wurm J. 2013b. Photobioreactors on facades for energy generation, alternative technologies in the building envelope. Paper presented at the Int. Rosenheim Window and Facade Conference.

Wurm J., & Entwhistle J. (2015). Algae-powered architecture. Ingenia, 64: 30.

Wurtsbaugh W. A., Paerl H. W., & Dodds W. K. (2019). Nutrients, eutrophication and harmful algal blooms along the freshwater to marine continuum. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 6(5): e1373.

Yaşar F. (2018). Evaluation and Advantages of Algae as an Energy Source. Journal of the Turkish Chemical Society Section A: Chemistry, 5(3): 1309-1318.

Yu K. L., Lau B. F., Show P. L., Ong H. C., Ling T. C., Chen W.-H., Ng E. P., & Chang J.-S. (2017). Recent developments on algal biochar production and characterization. Bioresource technology, 246: 2-11.

Zollmann M., Traugott H., Chemodanov A., Liberzon A., & Golberg A. (2018). Exergy efficiency of solar energy conversion to biomass of green macroalgae Ulva (Chlorophyta) in the photobioreactor. Energy Conversion and Management, 167: 125-133.




How to Cite

Ahmad, I. ., Abdullah, N. ., Koji, I. ., Mohamad, S. E. ., Al-Dailami, A. ., & Yuzir, A. . (2022). Role of Algae in Built Environment and Green Cities: A Holistic approach towards Sustainability. International Journal of Built Environment and Sustainability, 9(2-3), 69–80.