Oculus at the World Trade Center
Courtesy Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Oculus at the World Trade Center

As part of a $7.9 million contract with Baltimore-based energy company Constellation, more than 13,000 light fixtures at the World Trade Center in New York will be switched to LED sources in an effort to reduce the structure's carbon footprint by 4,700 metric tons annually—the equivalent of removing 1,000 passenger vehicles from the road. According to a recent release, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey could save more than $715,000 in the first year of the decade-long contract, with continued savings over time. Constellation has already begun the upgrade work, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. The retrofit will also switch the existing uplighting at the Oculus, the transportation hub designed by Santiago Calatrava, FAIA, to color-changing spotlights. [Constellation]

Courtesy UBC

Vancouver, British Columbia–based A&K Robotics has partnered with the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the development of autonomous floor-cleaning robots, which can now been seen scrubbing throughout university's campus buildings. During a pilot program in May, the A&K team worked with university staff to train the robots and test their efficacy. Since then, A&K—whose founders are UBC alums—has secured a contract with Vancouver International Airport, among other clients. [UBC]

Earlier this month, ARCHITECT attended Bentley Systems' annual Year in Infrastructure (YII) Conference, as part of a 130-person press corps invited to the Oct. 15–18 event in London. During the conference, the Exton, Pa.–based AEC software company announced a series of acquisitions and introduced several new products designed to streamline the design workflow and enhance collaboration in architecture, urban planning, construction, infrastructure, and engineering. [ARCHITECT]

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed an executive order establishing the Autonomous Illinois Initiative to promote the research and study of autonomous vehicle safety and introduction in the state. "As the transportation hub for the entire country, Illinois is ideally situated to be a leader in the research of connected and automated vehicles,” Rauner said in a press release. “This technology is here and Illinois is ready to embrace it. Working with our public and private partners, we can make our roads safer, save lives, attract investment, and create new high-tech jobs throughout the state.” [State of Illinois]

Bio-brick made with human urine
Courtesy the University of Cape Town Bio-brick made with human urine

Researchers from the University of Cape Town in South Africa have developed bio-bricks grown from human urine. First, sand is combined with bacteria and an enzyme called urease, which undergoes a chemical reaction when combined with urine, resulting in solid formations. The bricks can be cured at room temperature, removing the necessity for energy-wasteful kiln firing used to make conventional bricks. [University of Cape Town]