David Sailor, director of Portland State University’s Green Building Research Laboratory, began working in July 2009 on a better heating and cooling system for buildings: wax that absorbs and releases heat. His idea is to incorporate wax — similar to earwax, honeycomb wax or wax you might find while wandering around Nehalem — into a building’s walls. The wax is inserted into plastic capsules smaller than grains of sugar to maintain their shape and then mixed into the material of the wall. They melt at high temperatures, capturing heat and cooling the building. When the temperature cools, the wax solidifies and releases heat. “You’re able to lessen the peak temperatures that building will see most days of the year,” Sailor says. “You can remove the need for air conditioning.” First Sailor must find the optimal chemical composition for capturing heat in concrete walls. He’s researching the matter and expects results within a couple of months. He hopes his wall wax will evolve into a widespread component of green building technology with a dual benefit of cutting heating and cooling costs and saving the environment.