Our environment is constantly changing and so does the need to use resources. Today, Americans consume resources more than ever before. Americans use up to 27 percent of the world’s resources yet only make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population (“The State of Consumption,” 2013). With the continued rate of consumption of resources from the environment, the resources become depleted. People have started to consider the earth’s long-term well-being by working to become more sustainable. In this blog, I will discuss seven innovative technologies that have been created to help grow sustainable development in the world.
Sustainability and technology are closely linked. Concerns over the environment could likely be the result of modern technology; however, a joint study by the MIT and Boston Consulting Group (2011) found that 70 percent of corporations in the United States are investing in turning their businesses sustainable. As reported by Harvard Business Review (2009), tech companies are among the leaders of the sustainability movement.
In the business of innovation, several tech companies are committed to sustainability. For instance, Samsung has created a solar-powered computer, which is a hot commodity for the energy market with conflicting electricity supplies. With technology such as solar powered computers, consumers not only save energy, but invest in the future of how individuals view technology in their life. The company has also created a series of mobile phones from bio plastic, which is made out of corn. These mobile phones have energy efficient chargers and come with full recyclable packaging. This makes a difference for some consumers, as reported by David Steel, Samsung Executive Vice President of Strategy, “Consumers take interest in companies and then they see if they do have specific products that don’t harm the environment,” (Fox, Z., 2011). Samsung and many other companies are not only looking to develop a sustainable product, but are searching to develop a sustainable business model.
Companies are looking more closely into their footprints and impacts, not just by re-imagining a product but the resources used throughout operations. When a company ships a package from point A to point B, an aircraft transports it safely, but air traffic is a major contributor to global climate problems. For instance, as reported by The New York Times (2013), one round trip from New York to Europe creates more than 2 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Many tech companies use resources, energy, and pollute the air we breathe, which may result in catastrophic difficulties.
According to Airbus, a leading aircraft manufacturer, in the last 40 years aircraft fuel burn and CO2 emissions (carbon dioxide) have been cut by more than 70 percent. With the development of sustainable aviation fuel by Airbus and other alternative energy such as electricity, hydrogen, and solar power, aircrafts are minimizing burning fuel and CO2 emissions. When this air fuel is burnt the emissions are the same as fossil fuels but they release 50 to 80 percent less CO2 over their entire life cycle. With the development of such technology and thoughtfulness, this innovation will create clear and clean skies above. As reported by the Airbus, over 1,500 commercial flights worldwide have been flown on sustainable aviation fuels to date and air technology companies are working with other manufacturing companies to make this an industry standard to reduce costs and have clearer skies, (“Powering future aircraft and infrastructure,” 2016).
According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) (2016), the world’s capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources has now overtaken coal. As reported in IEA’s five-year renewable growth forecast, half a million solar panels were installed every day last year around the world. The expansion of renewable energy reflects on cost reduction and efficiency improvement. Renewables are expected to cover more than 60 percent of world’s electricity by 2021 (IEA, 2016). As reported by BBC (2016), renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, and hydropower are seen as a key element in international efforts to combat climate change.
PowWow Energy has also joined the sustainability and innovation movement by creating and collecting data from assembled smart meters. Its system detects water leaks from irrigation systems used in agriculture and farms. When leaks appear, the system sends messages alerting farmers. The solution prevents unnecessary loss of resources and reduces repair costs. According to this pump monitor project it will reduce costs and saves unnecessary loss of water.
The Groasis Tech Waterboxx system helps plants to grow in desert areas and in countries with limited water resources without using expensive irrigation systems. With this ecological water saving technology millions of people all around the world can save water and grow plants. For instance with this technology you can use 1 gallon of water instead of 5, while planting in dry areas. It also helps the planter save money with eco-restoration. It is a planting technology that helps farmers to plant in dry places, including deserts and even in rocky areas. This water saving technology improves the soil using the right primary root; protect it against heat in the summer and from frost during the winter. According to Groasis this system is already being used in many places around the world. Water saving technology is an innovative breakthrough that could save millions of lives.
It is not only important for the company’s supply and operations to be efficient but as well as the company’s facility. In today’s construction business and design all companies are competing to design up to date buildings with the best views possible. View Dynamic Glass has created an intelligent window that automatically tints to maximize natural light and reduce heat. It helps to produce an energy efficient environment, reduces electric consumption by an average of 20 percent, (View Dynamic Glass, 2016). It automatically regulates the temperature and light in the room resulting in high energy-savings. According to the company’s report, View Dynamic Glass is designed for commercial buildings to eliminate the need for blinds or shades. This new design not only saves money and energy, but also creates a unique view and sustainable design to update buildings.
When companies think about sustainable efforts, production, operations, and supply are important but the recent development is on the reuse of products. Each year humans generate tons of electrical waste such as old computers, phones, media devices, and so on. Most electronics contain non-biodegradable materials and heavy materials like cadmium, lead, and mercury. Over time, these toxic materials can leak into the ground where they can contaminate the water we drink, the plants we eat, and the animals that live around the area. As reported by Outerwall on average, Americans replace their cell phones every 22 months, so what happens to all those old devices? Usually individuals put old electronics either in a drawer or throw them out. EcoATM from Outerwall is changing the wasteful life cycle with the first automated kiosk that buys back used consumer electronics directly from consumers. Through simple steps, customers can recycle old phones, tablets, and other electronics and receive cash back. To date, this company has recycled more than four million devices. Their efforts help consumers to get rid of their old devices and save the environment from chemicals that exist inside electronics (Outerwall 2016).
The use of modern technology on one hand creates problems; on the other hand it helps us to move forward. The need for more sustainable technology is more important than ever before. A sustainable society will only function if it can create and use resources and technology that could help build a brighter future for the next generations to come.
Sustainability and technology have long been reflected in business around the world. People use technologies on a daily basis, but they consume a lot more resources and power than they need to, and using and manufacturing them can be expensive and time consuming. Innovation in sustainability is not only producing a sustainable product but incorporating supply chain, operations, and the reuse in an effort to create a smaller footprint.
Even though progress has been made in innovating sustainable technology it still remains slow, it will require stronger actions by major powers to combat climate change and shift the technology toward better and prosperous green development that could help the next generation.
10 leading sustainable innovation. (2014). Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/gallery/2014/jun/16/10-leading- sustainability-innovations
EcoATM makes it easy and convenient for people to recycle their unwanted devices for cash. (2016). Outerwall. Retrieved from: http://www.outerwall.com/brands/ecoatm
Ecosystem restoration was never so fast, easy and cheap as with the Growboxx. (2016). Groasis Tech. Retrieved from: https://www.groasis.com/en
Fox, Z. (2011). 5 Ways Tech Companies Are Committing to Sustainability. Mashable. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2011/11/03/tech- companies-sustainability/#YkOLFU6hPkqk
How Intelligence Works. (2016). View Dynamic Glass. Retrieved from: http://viewglass.com/product/
IEA raises its five-year renewable growth forecasts as 2015 marks record year. (2016). International Energy Agency. Retrieved from: https://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2016/october/iea-raises-its-five-year-renewable-growth-forecast-as-2015-marks-record-year.html
Powering future aircraft and infrastructure. (2016). Airbus. Retrieved from: http://www.airbus.com/innovation/future-by-airbus/smarter-skies/powering- future-aircraft-and-infrastructure/
Protect Your Pump. (2016). PowWow Energy. Retrieved from: https://www.powwowenergy.com/
Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad, M.R. Rangaswami, Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation. (2009). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2009/09/why-sustainability-is-now-the-key-driver-of- innovation
Renewable energy capacity overtakes coal. (2016). BBC. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-37767250
The State of Consumption Today. (2016). Worldwatch Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810