David Hertz is turning air into water.

There’s only a few people I know who care about the community they live in as much as David Hertz does. He plays a tough role as a famed architect, tough due to the ongoing war on modern development and gentrification in the Venice community. His passion is preserving the soul of the city where he lives and giving back to those less fortunate than him.

While filming a video (below) with David last year I learned about some of his philanthropy. Last year when Brendon Glenn was fatally shot and killed by a police officer David and his wife rescued his beloved dog and gave him a new home. He’s actively involved in various Venice charities and they’re always a priority for him when he’s putting together any sort of event. David is an active member of the community and somehow between building revolutionary wave pools with Kelly Slater, resorts in the Bahamas, and building homes made out of Boeing 747 wings, he finds time to learn and invest in technologies that can help the world. 

Dave's latest endeavor is with Sky Source, a filtration system that turns condensed air into water. Yes, it turns the air you breath into clean drinking water.  While designing a house for a client he came across the technology. His client asked if Hertz could vet the new product and having already been fascinated by water and well aware of the water crisis he obliged. “I have been fascinated by water for some time and water as a material that arrived here from outer space, because it’s not indigenous to our planet. The same amount of water that arrived here is the same amount of water we’ve always had and there is so much opportunity for our drinking water to become contaminated, Lake Michigan being just one public example. If you look at most municipal water supplies they’re all treated with chemicals.” Dave explains. 

After a community hearing about a city ordinance that would require local restaurants to give water to a homeless person if asked the arguing started, naturally. Dave saw the opportunity to provide clean drinking water to the community through the newly innovated Sky Source project and sprung into action. "It occurred to me that water is a fundamental human right and when we think about it, in Africa where a women or girl is sent to walk 15 miles to a well that might not even have water or it’s contaminated with cholera we look at that water inequality, but sometimes we don’t think about what’s happening in our own back yard”.

The machine that Dave has built and installed in the alley way behind his architectural firm is able to produce up to 120 gallons of water a day, all off solar power. 'I thought what can I do with the extra water and then I heard about the homeless and vagrant community having to find water elsewhere because the city had turned off most of the drinking water due to the drought. It was the perfect opportunity to use all the excess water our machine was producing so I decided to do this project or social experiment and create a bottle filling station in the alley.’

So how does this thing work? The machines use refrigeration techniques to maintain a dew point within a condensation chamber to maximize water production from the existing atmospheric condition-- the higher the humidity and temperature, the more water that can be produced.  After condensation, the water is filtered and treated with ozone to enhance its taste and prevent potentially hazardous micro-organisms from forming.

Pretty confusing? Well, think about it like an air conditioning system, it takes air and condenses it through a condenser and chills the air which creates a dew point producing moisture. The compressor sends air over a series of copper coils that cools the air which creates the dew point, creating water droplets off the coil. So A/C has condensation but this is reversed to not make cold air but condensation in a much more efficiant way.

For the full interview, press play below and marvel in the brain of Mr Hertz. 

All Photos by Matt Smith


Still here? Learn more about David in a short film we recently shot with him. Enjoy.