The Green Technology Shaping the Future
Even if you’re making eco-conscious decisions in your day-to-day life, you may wonder about your environmental impact. Can one person really make a difference? Or are our “green” choices overshadowed by the massive amounts of pollution produced by factory farming, industrial activity, and travel? While it’s true large-scale changes are needed to protect the planet, green technology is making a difference.
Global improvements must be made to the ways that we produce and consume. Thankfully, many intelligent and ambitious people and companies are already envisioning what that change may look like. These eco-entrepreneurs are developing, testing, and implementing the technologies that will power the future and save the environment.
Green Technology in Buildings
One of the most exciting fields for innovative green technology is in construction, with architects and designers finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of new projects. This makes sense both ecologically and financially. A building that uses fewer resources—water, electricity, and fossil fuels—is significantly less expensive to operate. That’s why the past two decades have seen steady growth in LEED-certified construction. But there’s still plenty of room to innovate:
1 | Roofing
Solar & Air Purifying Roof Tiles: Most people don’t think of their roof tiles until it’s time to replace them, but some innovators (including Tesla’s Elon Musk), want them to do more, from absorbing particulates from the air to passively generating enough energy to power an entire house.
2 | Concrete
Eco-concrete: Two new types of concrete that incorporate green technology are seeing wider use. One type actively absorbs carbon dioxide from the air as it sets, keeping it out of the atmosphere. The other is made from fly ash, a waste product that would otherwise end up in landfills.
3 | Windows
High-efficiency Windows: Keeping buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter takes a lot of energy. Windows can be responsible for a lot of temperature variations, so more builders are turning toward highly efficiency, triple-paned windows to prevent heat and cooling loss.
We also shouldn’t forget smart homes and Internet of Things devices. Smart lighting and thermostats really do cut down on energy use through occupancy sensors, timers, and dimmers, and they’re technology that more and more of us are able to use.
Green Technology in Urban Design
Urban design is another major area where green technology is already having a big impact. While many people may think of cities as centers of pollution because of traffic, construction, and industry, there’s been a major turn toward sustainable cities. Many cities have been identifying ways to cut down on energy consumption, from improved infrastructure to green technology:
1 | Pavement
Cool Pavement: Asphalt absorbs a lot of heat, and can raise the temperature of an entire city. Cool pavements solve this problem through solar reflective materials and finishes, which can help cool down a large area and reduce energy consumption.
2 | Transit
Eco-Friendly Public Transit: Public transit has been leading in green vehicles in many cities for years, and that’s on pace to continue into the future. Cities are already adding electric vehicles to their public transit fleets and building train rails that capture and store energy.
3 | Sidewalks
Permeable Pavers: Figuring out what to do with water is a challenge for many cities. Some, like Chicago, have started using permeable pavers to capture rainfall and begin the reclamation and treatment process while also cutting down on flooding and pooling.
Cities are looking toward the future and asking themselves how to prepare for the energy and transportation needs of the 21st century. And increasingly, the answer they’re finding is green technology.
Green Technology Innovations
The increasing use of green technology in our homes and cities is already making enormous changes in the world. We’ve only started to take a look at some of the innovations that are shaping our future. In our next post, we’ll take a look at how green technology is revolutionizing food production and our everyday lives.
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