Climate change is affecting our world every single day, which is why we need new, green technology to help.
Here are some of the impacts we’re seeing:
Increasing frequency and intensity of droughts, storms, and heat waves
Rising sea levels that wreak havoc on people’s livelihoods and communities
Melting glaciers and warming oceans that can directly harm humans and animals
As we struggle to address the above, green technology is a set of innovations that are helping us combat these changes.
Here’s what green technology is and how it’s taking shape in our lives.
1. What is green technology?
Green technology is technology that’s intended to mitigate or reverse the effects of human activity on the environment.
This is an umbrella term that describes the use of technology and science to create products and services that are environmentally friendly.
Green tech is also related to cleantech.
2. What is cleantech?
Cleantech are products or services that improve operational performance while also reducing costs, energy consumption, waste, or negative effects on the environment.
3. What is the history of green technology?
Green technology is becoming increasingly popular, but some of these practices have been in use since the Industrial Revolution.
For example, in the early 19th century, scientists observed the ecological impacts of coal-burning industrial plants.
Since then, manufacturers have sought to reduce their negative environmental externalities by modifying their production processes.
They’ve done this hoping to produce less soot or waste byproducts.
An important milestone for green technology was the Second World War.
To reduce consumption and waste, over 400,000 volunteers began collecting metal, paper, rubber, and other materials for the war effort.
After the war, scientists like Rachel Carson began warning of the environmental consequences that the U.S. would see from chemical pesticides.
Likewise, doctors abroad reported mysterious illnesses associated with nuclear radiation.
For many, this was the beginning of the ecological movement that intended to preserve ecosystems and resources.
The movement also helped raise awareness of the consequences of runaway technology.
As the government began to realize the importance of protecting environmental resources, programs like curbside recycling emerged over the next few decades.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1970 and set firm requirements on pollution and waste.
It also established mandates for coal scrubbers and other clean technologies.
4. What are the different types of green technology?
Remember, green technology is simply an umbrella term that encompasses several types of environmental remediation.
Here are the different types of green technology you should know about.
This type of technology looks to find viable alternatives to fossil fuels to avoid generating atmospheric carbon.
The EPA reports that nearly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gases are released by transportation activities.
To reduce automotive emissions, manufacturers are exploring ways to design fuel-efficient engines and shift to electrical power.
Both farming and livestock have a significant “footprint” and impact on the environment due to the high costs of land and water usage.
There are also ecological consequences to pesticides, fertilizers, and animal waste.
For this reason, there are numerous opportunities for green technology in the agricultural industry.
Recycling looks to conserve scarce resources.
When you reuse materials or find sustainable substitutes, you reduce waste.
For the most part, plastic, glass, paper, and metal waste are the most common forms of recycling.
This term refers to a group of experimental technologies that seek to remove and sequester greenhouse gases — either at the point of combustion or from the atmosphere.
While this technology has been heavily promoted by the fossil fuel industry, the research about whether it works isn’t there yet.
Currently, the largest carbon capture facility can absorb 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
When you look at this number compared to total greenhouse gas emissions, it’s barely scratching the surface.
5. What is the cheapest form of green energy?
Currently, the cheapest form of green energy is solar power.
It’s consistently cheaper than new coal or gas-fired power plants in most countries.
Solar projects now offer some of the lowest-cost electricity ever seen.
6. What are the advantages of green technology?
Here are the benefits it provides to the environment.
- It doesn’t emit anything harmful to the environment
- It requires less maintenance
- It has a reduced operating cost
- It uses renewable natural resources which means it’ll never run out of vital resources like sun and wind
- It slows down the impacts of climate change because of the reduction in CO2 emissions
7. What are the disadvantages of green technology?
Despite its benefits, green technology still has its drawbacks.
Here’s what you should know about green technology before investing.
- Its initial investment cost is still very high
- It’s an unfamiliar technology to many people which means adoption will still take a long time for most of the population
- It’s still evolving and many of the products are at the R&D stage, thus people are unaware of performance results
- It requires skilled human resources to install and implement, which isn’t always available
- It doesn’t have a policy infrastructure in most countries
8. What are the seven types of green technology that’ll change the world?
Here are the seven types of green technology that are in the works.
You may have heard of some of these green technologies while others are still in the demonstration phase, meaning they aren’t highly visible.
That said, understanding what’s being developed will give you a glimpse of what’s in a low-carbon future.
We talk a lot about the plastic sitting in landfills and floating in our oceans.
Finding a way to reuse this plastic is essential if we’re going to curb climate change.
One idea is to use that plastic to maintain our road infrastructure in the form of “plastic roads.”
There are two options when it comes to plastic roads.
These roads can either be made entirely of plastic or mixed with asphalt.
The former is the most common.
A 100 percent plastic road consists of prefabricated, hollow, modular elements made from consumer waste plastics.
There’s no asphalt involved, but the product is still in the demo phase.
Monitoring of this product is also still ongoing to understand the long-term impact on the local environment.
If plastic roads are successful, then it’s thought that they can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of traditional road construction by 50 to 70 percent thanks to longer lifespans and reduction of transport movements involve in construction.
Solar flowers are solar panel systems mounted on the ground in the shape of a flower.
The commercial brand of this invention is called SmartFlower.
The system consists of 12 petals that open at the beginning of the day with the sun and close with the sunset.
Unlike solar panels that require installation, solar flowers are entirely portable and ready-to-plug-in.
The system is also self-cleaning.
This makes it low maintenance for owners, especially those who have never invested in solar power before.
Its self-cleaning mechanism increases efficiency and durability.
The biggest difference between a solar flower and a rooftop solar panel is the sun tracker that the flower includes.
The tracker allows the flower to maximize solar energy production, producing between 4 to 6 MWh/year depending on the location.
This is enough to fulfill the average electrical needs of a European household and half the needs of an American household.
This is an ideal way to get clean energy in an environmentally-friendly way.
This vertical architectural piece is a wall with different types of plants growing on it.
These walls have living plants that feature built-in irrigation systems and other elements of smart technology like monitoring and self-irrigation.
These components help to improve its survival, aesthetic, and air-purification potential.
That said, a plant wall does require some maintenance because it has live plants.
If you invest in one, you’ll need to prune dead plants and weeds as well as fill in the gaps to keep it looking healthy.
While the plant wall is incredibly visually appealing, there are other advantages as well.
Exterior plant walls insulate buildings, capture rainfall, and provide habitats for insects.
If you choose to have an interior plant wall, then the plants’ transportation process can slightly reduce temperature and purify the air indoors as well.
Plants can also reduce stress and improve concentration, which makes them a great fixture in homes.
These textiles are a type of fabric developed with the casein found in milk.
The material is prized for softness and smoothness.
It can be used to weave socks, underwear, forms of intimate apparel, clothing typically made from wool, and household textiles.
The German company Qmilk has reinvented the process recently to make it entirely chemical-free and zero-waste.
A Dutch company Avantium has produced a plant-based plastic that’s 100 percent recyclable and degradable with superior performance properties compared to today’s petroleum-based materials.
The material is polyester but it’s entirely made from bio-based feedstocks (sugars) that are sourced from sugar beet, sugar cane, wheat, and corn as well as non-food crops like agricultural residues.
That said, food crop-based bioplastics are not as climate-friendly as you would believe.
If the production of bioplastics became widespread, it would require significant changes to land use globally.
Plant-based packaging is currently being used in the packaging, textiles, and plastic film markets.
Smartphones are a resource-intensive product.
Their climate impact amounts to 14.2 million tonnes of CO2 in Europe alone.
And everyone has and buys a new one every few years.
Think about how many phones that is.
How many smartphones — filled with lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chlorine, and bromine — do you alone have sitting in a landfill after just 3 or 4 years of use?
You may love your iPhone or Samsung, but it’s killing the planet.
We all know it.
Companies like Fairphone have been attempting to address this issue head-on for the last several years.
This social enterprise company designs and produces smartphones with a lower environmental impact and a higher sense of social responsibility.
Their goal is to design a phone that doesn’t contain conflict minerals and guarantees longer durability of each phone.
9. What are the best green technologies for building and construction?
Have you ever been told that insulation is bad for your health and the environment?
If fiberglass insulation is exposed in your home, it can be irritating to the skin, eyes, lungs, etc.
Insulation fills your walls to help make your home warmer.
Cellulose installation — also known as green insulation — is a type of wood or paper-based product that can be used in your walls instead.
This installation is often 75 to 85 percent recycled material, and it’s even better at preventing airflow than fiberglass.
If you’re looking for a way to improve the sustainability of the materials when building your home, choosing green insulation is a great way to do it!
Geothermal heating uses the Earth’s natural energy to generate power.
It’s an efficient renewable energy resource that’s more environmentally friendly than coal-powered electricity or natural gas.
In this type of heating, there are pipes buried about 10 feet below the ground.
These pipes will escape the effects of freezing temps.
The ground stays close to 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which means it’s a source of warmth in the winter and cold in the summer.
To collect thermal energy, a mixture of water and antifreeze is pumped through the pipes buried underground and then routed to a heat pump.
This takes the energy and puts it to use to heat/cool your house.
Geothermal heating does require power to heat the pump, but the efficiency of the geothermal system means that you’ll get far more energy from the pump than what you invest.
This can be a great system to invest in as a homeowner.
Installing a geothermal energy system can save homeowners up to 50 percent on their heating and cooling bills every month.
If you’re conscious of your carbon emissions, then this is a great way to cut down as well.
Heating and cooling residential and commercial buildings contribute to about 13 percent of the nation’s emissions.
Regular heat pumps
Even if you aren’t able to invest in geothermal heating, a regular old heat pump is a great way to cut down your carbon footprint.
Heat pumps are both cheaper to run than oil and gas burners, and more efficient (meaning they emit less carbon).
Thus, you can save the planet while reducing your electricity bill!
Heat pumps do have a somewhat high cost, so you will need to set aside some money to make the conversion.
However, over time, the system should pay for itself in the form of lower heating and cooling bills.
Like heat pumps, green roofs can help reduce your home energy bill while also benefiting the environment.
They can also be quite pretty!
10. How do you invest in green technology?
If you want to invest in green technology, you can purchase stock in companies that are making major bets on environmentally friendly technologies.
You can attempt to identify an individual stock or select a mutual fund, index fund, or another instrument that seeks to reflect the broader market for environmental investments.
If you choose the latter approach, you’ll have a diversified approach to the green tech industry rather than get tied to a single company.
If you want to purchase green technology for your home, solar panels are probably the easiest and safest way to start tackling your carbon footprint.
Overall, green technology is an umbrella term, and the category is so broad that it can be difficult to define.
That said, this type of technology is taking off, and it’s already experiencing wide adoption.
If you’re interested in implementing green technology in your house, check out solar panels, which are a relatively cheap and easy way to access some of the lowest-cost electricity ever.
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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.