Friday, 1 June 2012

Top 10 Green Movements from Around the World

People all over the world are becoming more and more concerned about the quality of life they follow - as well as the planet they will be leaving behind. Concerns differ from country to country, and strongly depend on the level of development, but despite these differences all across the globe there is a consistent upward trend in the amount of green products, services, and solutions becoming available. No matter the reason, going green is good for the Earth!

Collaborative Corporate and Social Responsibility platform

To keep up with the green trend, producing companies are now tracking the impact their suppliers have on the environment in addition to a wide variety of other statistics. The more responsible the supplier is, the better reputation it can bring to the end-producer.

EcoVadis operates the first collaborative platform that allows companies to assess the environmental and social performance of their suppliers on a global scale. The company supports large, trans-national, and medium-sized companies with simple and reliable scorecards, covering 150 purchasing categories and 21 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) criteria. These scorecards help companies reduce the risks of using irresponsible suppliers and also introduces eco-innovation into the supply chain. The existence of such a collaborative platform is a great indication of the increasing concern companies have for responsible products. Check out the platform here!

SixthSense technology

Reducing product waste is a primary concern for many eco supporters. Through improving the quality and quantity of products we produce, many people hope to not only reduce the size of our landfills but also improve our own health and that of our atmosphere.

SixthSense technology is a combination of a projector, camera, and a mobile device that enables you to use almost any surface to make numerous operations: dial a number, edit a presentation, or surf the Internet.  By combining these elements, SixthSense reduces the amount of hardware production costs correlated with it; with this technology you won’t need a big screen and a keyboard to project an image, you only need a non-transparent physical surface. The technology combines several devices: it can be used as a laptop, mobile phone, photo-camera, or projector, thus reducing the amount of resources involved and energy used. This break-through technology was developed in November 2009 by an Indian engineer Pranav Mistr and is currently going through the commercialization process; the product should be available to the general public in the near future through different devices and formats.

Intelligent light switches and systems

In order to affect the energy consumption in the future, it is necessary to build awareness in the present. American designer and engineer Tim Holley came up with a creative way to make children into "energy champions" by creating a ghost-like light switch, called the Tio, which changes its expression and color when too much energy is used.

The Tio gives children a visual reminder of how much energy they use: it starts out green and smiling, after 4 hours it turns yellow and somewhat displeased, and after more than 8 hours it becomes red and disappointed with frown and angry eyes. In addition to its mood, the Tio light switch is connected to a computer game where children can raise a green tree, depending on the energy consumption, while parents participate by tracking scores. Of course, there is a target age group for Tio, but even some adults will be happy to see a smiling green ghost reminding them that they are consuming energy wisely.

For those that feel the Tio is not for them, there are numerous energy-saving options for adults. With the help of the intelligent devices and sensor technologies, lights can be set to turn off and on by time, light sensitivity, motion awareness, and more. For more information, check out Steinel to have a look at the variety of intelligent lighting solutions.

Zero-energy homes

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that buildings are responsible for 48% of greenhouse gas emissions annually and 76% of all electricity generated by U.S. power plants goes to supply the Building Sector Architecture 2030. Estimating these impressive figures, engineers came up with a break-through idea of a zero-energy home. The idea implies that this home will produce as much energy as it will consume. If implemented world-wide, the concept of zero-energy houses can become one of the most significant movements in decreasing energy consumption among the households.

In support of this movement there is already a technology called Passive Housing available to the general public. A passive house is a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight construction that is primarily heated by the external, passive solar energy and by the internal gains from people and even electrical equipment. Smart construction and positioning of the home's windows allows it to maximize heating benefits from the sun and limits cooling, while the recovery ventilator provides a balanced fresh air supply splitting the warm and cool air. One of the pioneers on the North-American market, making this movement available for the average house consumers, is the Canadian company Fab-Homes. Fab-Homes recently introduced its collection of specially designed houses on the base of the Passive House concept.  “The idea is to make the Passive House design more accessible and affordable and present a selection of different shapes offering flexible, ready-to-go design solutions,” says director Alexander Maurer.  

Graduate programs in Eco-Innovation and Sustainability

Any significant movement requires the support of a motivated and educated work force; as the green movement grows, an increasing number of universities and business schools are offering graduate education for individuals who want to create a socially and environmentally sustainable world .

A great indication of their fast development was given by emergence of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) organized by United Nations in mid 1980s, when the concept of sustainable development became widely discussed around the world.  Every year the non-profit organization Net Impact prepares a guide of green oriented programs to help students find a best solution for future development and recruitment; here is the link to their 2011 guide “Business as UN-usual”.

Green zero and solar chargers

With electrical consumption being such a large energy aspect to consider, individuals all over the world are being encouraged to do their part in small amounts. Saving energy by reducing usage is a key factor in many energy-saving campaigns.

To help save energy companies have developed "intelligent"  chargers for your mobile phonesClaiming to be the "most eco-friendly and efficient way to charge mobile devices," Braketron's GreenZero chargers automatically shut off once your device is charged, eliminating stand-by energy consumption. The series supports all main mobile and handled technologies including smartphones, GPS, tablet/PC, MP3, and satellite radio. Officially they are set to appear on the market in the summer 2012.

In addition to green zero chargers, designer Vivien Muller has proposed a new product to the market, Electree - the creative solar energy tree that is capable to charge your mobile device . The tree shape is made of 27 solar panels, installed on the tips of branches, making it an effective way to capture solar rays. After its initial charge for 35 hours ,prior to its first usage, you can start charging your devices through a USB connection.  It can charge your phone and recharge itself in just a few hours.

Car sharing

We are lucky to live in a time where you do not necessarily need to own a car yourself, if you live in or near a city you can easily share a car with the other citizens like you. Car sharing can be found in most large cities in North America and Europe, providing evident benefits for users by eliminating the costs of car ownership.  Broadly used, this concept is a revolution in personal transportation and urban mobility of the 21st century. This approach is not only convenient and attractive to one's wallet, it also very eco-friendly, reducing gas greenhouse emissions and the number of cars on the road.

Car sharing first appeared in Europe in the 1940’s and became more popularized in the early 1990’s; now car sharing operates in over 600 cities across the world sharing more than 11,000 vehicles. Car sharing members typically pay through hourly rates and subscription-access plans, with 24/7 access and real-time vehicle tracking. As more and more car share companies emerge, costs become competitive and even further benefits can be realized by users. In Vancouver alone there are already three car-share companies: Car2goModo, and Zip Car. Car sharing associations also have directories to find out if there is a car sharing service in your region, such as

Reusable Bags

Reusable bags are one of the most prevalent green products today because they are highly practical, for a variety of purposes, and are fairly inexpensive and easy to produce, purchase, and use. Reusable bags can be found at most grocery and retail stores and are now even being used as take-out bags for restaurants.

The company 1 & Bag at a time even boasts that you can plant your worn out bag in your garden and allow it to decompose! It can even be customized with any design you want.

Eco-friendly fashion

As one of the most popular fabrics in the textile industry, it may be surprising to many people to learn that approximately 25% of all pesticides produced in the world are used to stimulate the growth of cotton. A large amount of these chemicals are retained on the clothes we wear and are often accompanied by un-natural dyes and other artificial elements. As the world begins to demand cleaner, more natural, and healthy products, the fashion industry is slowly introducing eco-friendly fabrics and methods of production.

Most people say their purchase of eco-friendly and socially responsible clothes strongly depends on the price. In order to combat this obstacle the France-based company Veja has developed a new approach in footwear production. A group of talented entrepreneurs decided to provide the best of the best by launching  comfortable, fashionable, and reasonably priced shoes with a label of “responsibility” towards the environment. With organic cotton from Brazil, wild Amazonian rubber, and eco-friendly leather, Veja is inventing new methods of work in terms of ecological inputs, fair-trade practices, and workplace management. Keeping in line with their unique approach, Veja's strongest promotion tool is the word-of-mouth; the company does not spend a penny on the traditional means of advertising and instead chooses to save this money for proper materials and research and development projects.

Watch the making of their Volley here!

Eco-night club

Utilizing a common activity to capture energy is the idea behind most kinetic devices. Products such as exercise bikes, treadmills, sports equipment, and much more have been eco-fitted to incorporated energy harnessing systems, but what if you didn't have to buy anything new to get your energy working for the world?

The first eco-club was opened in London in 2008 where electricity was captured from people dancing at the specially modified dance floor. When compressed by dancers, it produced electricity that would be stored in batteries and used further to cover the electricity burden of a nightclub. In addition to capturing the natural energy of the guest, before entering the club people were asked to sign a pledge promising to work towards curbing climate change. This idea is not only utilize renewable energy but also to inspire youth to be more concerned of global warming and become more eco-friendly in their daily lives. 

Shaheen, Susan and Cohen, Adam, “Worldwide Car sharing Growth: An International Comparison: