Top Ten Green Innovations That Will Have The Greatest Impact
Humankind continues to reach the highest peaks of innovation in all matters of technology. These modern marvels also apply to the world of sustainability and creating green technologies that will continue to enhance our world for the better. Becoming aware of and advocating and using these green technologies is our responsibility too as we all take part in preserving our climate and ecology.
Outlined here are some of the most relevant, practical and usable real-life examples of green technologies and products that demonstrate significant commitments to reducing humanity’s damaging footprint on earth.
This Top Ten List was first complied in February 2021 by Climate Conscious
- Cool Pavements
Conventional pavements are a main contributor to the urban heat island effect, common in large cities, where average temperatures can be up to 4° C higher than their surroundings. This happens because conventional paving materials such as asphalt and concrete absorb 60-95% of the energy reaching them instead of reflecting it into the atmosphere.
- A “cool pavement” is a road surface that uses additives or special mixes to reflect solar radiation.
- Reflective pavements stay cooler in the sun than traditional pavements.
- They can potentially reduce local air temperature by 1° degree.
- Existing pavements can be altered to reflect sunlight through white-topping or by adding a reflective coating.
- New cool pavements can be constructed by using mixes with higher reflectivity, permeable pavements, or vegetated pavements.
- The environmental impacts are numerous: cool pavements lower urban air temperature, improve air quality, and lower surface temperatures.
- Hydrogen-Fuelled Cars
The RiverSimple Rasa is a British-made car driven by hydrogen. The Rasa was conceived with the sole purpose of being an accessible, affordable alternative to zero-emission electrical vehicles (EV).
- Still only available as a prototype, the Rasa boasts a 300 miles range and a re-fuelling time of a few minutes.
- The range is achieved by very low weight (less than 1 ½ tons) and a propulsion engine able to make the car reach 50mph top speed.
- It emits about 40g/km lower than EVs with unfavorable energy source mixes.
- The Rasa cannot be owned. If you want to drive this car you pay a subscription fee that includes maintenance, insurance, and hydrogen.
- Low environmental impact is rewarded along the supply chain. For example, the supplier of the hydrogen fuel cell remains its owner, so they have an interest in its longevity and reliability.
- RiverSimple has adopted a completely open intellectual property model. The design plans and specifications of the Rasa are free to be shared with anyone interested in collaborating in the design or build of their cars.
Photovoltaics (PV) -panels that convert thermal energy into electricity, versus solar panels which convert solar radiation into heat- are helping us get rid of fossil fuel-based electricity.
- These panels or photovoltaic shingles can be incorporated into the façade or roof of a building seamlessly.
- The panels mimic the appearance and function of conventional roofing materials like slate while performing the core task of generating electricity.
- Tesla solar roofs have been getting a lot of attention lately, but there are other brands such as RGS Energy, SunTegra, and CertainTeed.
- Besides providing savings in materials and electricity costs, solar roofs often have lower overall costs than PV systems.
- The average solar shingle can last for two to three decades while delivering maximum energy output.
- Solar panels produce zero emissions once installed on the roof.
- However, they will have an environmental impact during manufacturing and at the end of their useful life.
- Plant-Based Packaging
Avantium is just one of many companies that are producing a plant-based packing that is 100% recyclable and degradable.
- The material is made entirely from bio-based feedstocks (sugars) sourced from sugar beet, sugar cane, wheat, and corn as well as non-food crops such as agricultural residues.
- Food crops based on bioplastics are not as climate-friendly as one would assume, as the large-scale production of bioplastics would require changes in land use globally, eliminating high CO2 absorbing forests.
- Avantium showed a 45–55% greenhouse gas reduction potential (from corn starch feedstock) compared to current petroleum-based plastics.
- As a plastic, the usages of plant-based PEF are considerable and are currently being used in the packaging, textiles, and plastic film markets.
- Plant Walls
Not only gorgeous decorative elements, but Plant Walls are also extremely beneficial to the environment.
- These vertical structures holding different types of plants do more than just look beautiful.
- With built-in monitoring and irrigation systems, Plant Walls have a noticeable air purification prospect.
- Outdoor plant walls insulate buildings, capture rainfall, and provide habitats for insects.
- Inside, the evaporation process can slightly reduce temperatures and purify the air. Plants can also reduce stress and improve concentration (Psychology Today).
- Some brands include Green Fortune, Plant Walls, Plants on Walls, and Natural Green Walls.
- Plastic Roads
The technology to maintain our road infrastructure using recycled plastic exists.
- Plastic Roads can be made entirely of plastic or mixed together with asphalt or made with 100% recycled plastic.
- This variety consists of prefabricated, hollow, modular elements made from consumer waste plastics. There is no asphalt in the mix. This product is still in the demonstration phase.
- If successful, Plastic Roads could significantly reduce the carbon footprint (50 to 72%) of traditional road construction thanks to a longer lifespan and reduction of transport movements involved in its construction.
- Public Electric Transport
Electric and hybrid vehicles are rapidly expanding, with 160 models available today. Now municipalities are taking notice too.
- In America, we have electric bus fleets in South Carolina, Seattle, Illinois, and Two Rivers C.A.
- China has 300,000 electric buses on its streets every day. This will entice European cities to follow suit.
- Initial acquisition costs are higher, but the total cost of ownership is lower due to their independence from pricey diesel.
- Benefits: they eliminate local particulates, including SOx, NOx, and CO2, all major pollution issues in most cities today.
- BONUS: Electric trucks are also on the rise!
- Solar Flower
This ground-mounted solar panel system (kind of shaped like a flower) consists of a structure with petals that open at sunrise and close with the sunset to absorb solar energy.
- Contrary to solar panels that require installation, the solar flowers are completely portable and ready to plug and go.
- It’s a self-cleaning system (increasing efficiency and durability).
- Different than a rooftop system, the flower includes a sun tracker to maximize solar energy production.
- It produces between 4–6 MWh/year depending on the location, enough to fulfill the average electricity needs of half of a typical American household.
- The Solar Flower is an environment-friendly way to get clean energy.
- Sunlight Transport
One of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions is by reducing energy usage. Another technological breakthrough in harnessing solar energy and saving energy usage is happening. The company Parans is doing just that by transporting energy from external sources through fiber optic cables to illuminate light-deprived rooms in office buildings.
- As a result, energy consumption during the daytime is zero.
- The indoor devices look and work much like a normal lamp, giving off ambient light.
- Parans’ system can spread light in a range of customized ways: over a large surface, directed at the ceiling (which gives an illusion that the light comes through an open shaft), or onto a large wall area like a waterfall.
- The light changes as sunlight outside changes, enabling people even in the darkest rooms to re-establish a connection with the natural cycle outside.
- As the indoor lighting is provided by a passive system there is no energy consumption during daytime hours. During the evening, the system must be replaced by a regular artificial setting.
- Sustainable Phones
Smartphones are one of the most resource-intensive products on the planet. The world’s most popular consumer electronic device, with over 4.5 BILLION in use, is expected to generate 146 million tons of CO2 or equivalent emissions (CO2e) in 2022. They also include toxic materials including lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chlorine, and bromine.
- And most of us discard them after 3 or 4 years.
- Addressing this problem head-on are many leaders in the industry, one of them is Fairphone.
- Already fully present in the market, Fairphone is a social enterprise company that designs and produces smartphones with a lower environmental impact and a higher sense of social responsibility.
- The phone does not contain conflict minerals, ensures fair labor conditions along the supply chain and guarantees longer durability of each smartphone.
- Another sustainable phone is the Teracube, based in the USA and financed via crowdfunding. Offering a 4-year guarantee, every component of this no-frills smartphone is replaceable, including the battery (there is no glue, only screws).
- Even the packaging is made out of recycled paper and printed with soy-based ink.
These technologies are truly innovative and if we all put them to use they will make a sold impact on our environment. While some are still in the testing phase they are sharing a look into the exciting future of a low-carbon world. Just visualize your town filled with solar paneled offices, running on captured solar light, with plant walls, and electric busses driving on heat reflecting rubber roads. How amazing! Eco-friendly technology is here, alive, and always innovating as we advance into greener pastures.
#greentech #sustainability #innovation #zx #ninja #renewableenergy #r #w #climatechange #greentechnology #tech #energy #gogreen #green #renewable #greenenergy #sustainable #cleantech #cleanenergy #ecofriendly #technology #z #se #climate #solarpower #environment #sl #water #sustainableliving #solarenergy #solar #nature #startup #renewables #engineering #business #circulareconomy #biodegradable #greenlife #zerowaste #cleanwater #zeroemissions