High-tech showroom a symbol of future technology, Bensalem redevelopment
Posted: Sunday, June 5, 2016 3:30 am
by Crissa Shoemaker
In an aging industrial park off State Road in Bensalem sits a glimmer of the future.
Township officials look at the oddly shaped building as a symbol of their plans to revitalize and redevelop nearly 700 acres along the Delaware River.
Michael Holbert looks at the building, known on paper simply as ISPBC US-00, as something more: a high-tech showroom for both sustainable building and the latest in interactive touchscreen technology.
"This is the future in one 1,100-square-foot showroom," Holbert said. "It's very modern, very futuristic."
Holbert fills many roles. He's president of Cleancoating LLC, a Philadelphia company licensed to distribute an anti-microbial technology called XTIO2. He's also managing partner of Smart Retail User Interface (SRUI), which develops and installs interactive glass touchscreens.
Finally, Holbert is director of the Philadelphia steering committee of the International Self-Powered Building Council, a worldwide organization dedicated to advancing self-powered building technologies.
All three of those organizations are showcased in the building, which is open to potential customers by appointment.
On one wall is a 165-inch glass touchscreen. It is designed for retailers and other organizations that want to immerse customers in life-size demonstrations or entertain them with realistic experiences.
"It's what we think the world will demand and expect," Holbert said. "The younger generation, it expects this."
The building is completely self-powered, generating roughly 12,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year through solar panels on the roof, walls, windows and even the conference tables. It has its own food source; kale, lettuce and other leafy green vegetables are being grown on an LED-lit hydroponic wall. It's also self cleaning, having been coated on all surfaces with XTIO2 "nanocoating" that is designed to improve air quality and fight bacteria. Sustainable water-collection technologies are being installed soon.
"What excites me most is it gives people a real solution to natural disasters and power outages," Holbert said of self-powered buildings. "That is a big problem. A lot of people spend most of their time indoors now. We worked to make a self-powered building, make a 24/7 cleaning solution inside for air quality. If there is a natural disaster and you have a flood, there's mold prevention."
All the technology is also affordable, he said; buyers can finance the products for monthly payments. While he wouldn't divulge total project costs because of competitive reasons, he said a touchscreen system, for instance, could cost less than $1,000 per month, depending on the screen size and the quality of the projector.
"To me, it is the future," said Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo. "And it's available. It's incredible."
DiGirolamo said the showroom is a highlight of the "renaissance in new Bensalem" that township officials have been working on for several years. Last year, the township adopted ordinances to spur redevelopment of 675 acres of riverfront property. The revitalization has been slow, DiGirolamo said, but there have been some highlights, including the new Waterside townhouse development.
Holbert's showroom, he said, demonstrates what can be done and how the township can encourage high-tech companies to make their home in Bensalem.
The gray, modern building stands out from its older industrial neighbors. Holbert acknowledged he likes the "shock value" of the juxtaposition.
But he also chose Bensalem for a reason: It's easy to get to from major highways and is close to airports and train stations. The industrial park also is home to a manufacturer that could meet his needs for fabricating the framing and building of the touchscreen and the window solar panels.
"It all comes to localized manufacturing," he said. "We wanted to show where our products are made. Developers, architects, engineers, retail, construction, they can come here, come see where the products are, how they're used in one building. They can choose if they want to buy one thing or if they want to buy everything."