BY Kate May
Basically, green technology is one that has a green purpose. It aims at contributing to environmental sustainability. Green inventions and innovations are ecologically sound that often involve energy efficiency, recycling, safety and health concerns, renewable resources, and so forth.
Solar cell is one of the best known examples of green technology. The reusable water bottle is another simple green invention: Drinking lots of water is healthy and reducing plastic waste is great for the environment.
Green technology, also known as clean technology, uses technology that makes products and processes more eco-friendly or non-polluting such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Places with thousands or millions of people can be hotspots of pollution. Environmentally conscious stakeholders are implementing green initiatives to keep these places clean and protect their natural resources.
Innovation in airport terminals
Rain water harvesting, rooftop gardens, energy efficient lighting, living walls and yoga rooms are a few of the initiatives airports are taking to make their terminals greener and healthier, theguardian online newspaper reported.
At Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom, switching 83,000 light bulbs to LED has reduced consumption for lighting by 64 per cent.
Ecuador’s Galapagos Ecological Airport, which has Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, was built with 80 per cent recycled materials and makes use of natural lighting with large windows and skylights, as does Heathrow’s terminal 2.
To give passengers some respite from the stress of travelling and a chance for small globetrotting pets to relieve themselves, without having to be taken back through security, JFK International Airport in the United States has opened a farm to grow more than 2,000 species of herbs and other produce to feed hungry restaurant diners.
Biodiversity around Heathrow
Airports of the future will be biodiversity stewards and safeguard the woodlands, wetlands and animal species co-existing around them, according to theguardian.
Ten of Heathrow’s 13 biodiversity sites (420 acres) are home to 2,585 recorded species of plants and creatures.
Having to safeguard the population of birds and at the same time discouraging bird airstrikes can be challenging. Germany’s Frankfurt Airport keeps grass long so predatory birds struggle to see prey in the grass and circle less above the airport.
Airports must also ensure any waste products they produce do not damage natural areas. Heathrow is treating water contaminated with glycol, which is used to de-ice planes, by filtering it through a system of reed beds. Around seven tonnes of organic pollution are removed every year.
Energy harvesting sidewalks
Imagine a colourful modular paving system that snaps together like Lego bricks replacing dull pavements populating today’s concrete jungles.
According to Inhabitat, an online guide to green design and innovation, Hungarian start-up Platio designed that pavement system to make sidewalks do more for us.
The paving system, made with recycled plastic, offers firm ground while harvesting clean energy from the sun.
Platio is not the first company to dream up energy harvesting roads but its paving system is targeted at sidewalks for now. The architects and engineers behind it are brainstorming how to make cities more sustainable.
The paving system harvests power from the sun via monocrystalline silicon cells inside tempered glass. A plastic backing enables the system to dodge damage when people walk on it.
The pavement modules connect in such a way that does not need extra wiring. The pavement reportedly generates 160 watts per 10sq ft.
Platio is now working to create another innovative system to harvest energy from footsteps.
World’s 1st solar panel road opens
France has officially opened the world’s first solar panel road with 1km and 2,880 solar panels in Tourouvre-au-Perche, a village in Normandy, Inhabitat reported.
Now, the country is waiting to see if the road, built with construction company Colas’ Wattway technology, will live up to the hype surrounding the clean energy experiment. The road is designed to produce enough power to electrify street lighting in the village of 3,400 people.
Resin including five layers of silicon covers the solar panels to ensure resilience against damage. The new solar panel road will be tested for two years with lifespan and output as the two main factors to consider.
France’s ultimate aim is to cover 1,000km of roadways with solar panels.
However, not everyone is thrilled with the solar panel road, saying it is very expensive although it is without doubt a technical advance.
China to build giant solar plant in Chernobyl
Two Chinese energy firms will be building a new solar power plant in the exclusion zone near the Chernobyl nuclear reactor which suffered a devastating explosion in 1986 that poisoned the surrounding areas with nuclear radiation, according to Inhabitat.
A 1,000sq mile exclusion zone of forests and marshland surrounds the former Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine and has been off limits since the 1986 disaster.
The reactor itself will be covered by a US$1.6 billion (RM7.2 billion) steel structure this year. Ukraine has passed a law allowing the site to be developed for agriculture and other things.
Meanwhile, in China, to discourage urban expansion from absorbing more farmland, it has implemented policies that encourage solar and wind power plants on damaged land including in Shanxi, the country’s top coal province.
Europe prepares for no sunshine and no wind
Every new or refurbished home in Europe will have to be equipped with an electric vehicle recharging point under a draft EU directive expected to come into effect by 2019, theguardian reported.
The EU initiative is intended to lay the infrastructure for the sort of electric car boom envisaged by Norway and the Netherlands. Both plan to completely phase out vehicles with diesel engines by 2025.
The mushrooming number of recharge stations would allow vehicles to feed their electricity back into the grid.
That in turn would open the door to a futuristic world in which cars supply energy to Europe’s power network at all times of the day and night, balancing shortfalls from intermittent renewable energies when the sun is not shining and the wind not blowing.