Green isn’t a really a destination so much as a journey. When CFLs first hit the mainstream market, many folks scoffed at the higher cost, the funny shape and the inconvenience of special recycling. After all, what was the point? Traditional incandescent bulbs were doing the trick just fine.
But then we started to appreciate the true value of exploring a greener lighting option. We learned that CFLs use 75% less energy and last much longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. While switching from incandescent bulbs to CFLs may once have seemed rather radical, today CFLs come in every size and for every imaginable use in a home or office; they are easily available, more affordable and no longer seem oddly shaped. We have collectively made a gradual shift in demand, use and general awareness. And we’re all better for it.
It’s the getting there that gets to the heart of defining green, for it’s in the journey that we grow. Now CFLs are a part of our collective vocabulary. Of course, CFLs aren’t the end-all, be-all of efficient lighting technology. They will eventually be replaced in the mainstream by some other better technology. In fact, LEDs are moving in that direction. And that is also part of the journey.
Check out a few of tomorrow’s cutting-edge projects that explore a new shade of green:
- Footfalls That Create Energy: British company Pavegen has created sidewalk tiles that convert the kinetic energy from footfalls into energy that can power streetlights. Yes, walking energizes!
- Heat from Machines to Electricity: University of Minnesota Professor Richard James has devised a simple strategy to harness the heat generated by machines – from power plants to consumer electronic devices – and convert it to electricity.
- Dual-Use Paint and Shingles: Sun-Believable paint created by researchers at the University of Notre Dame converts solar energy into electricity. And that’s not the only clever green dual-purpose building material: Powerhouse solar shingles are making it easier and cheaper to capture and convert solar energy from the roof.
- Vertical Forests: Most trees grow vertically naturally, but a vertical urban forest by design requires a little more human assistance. The world’s first vertical forest is taking shape in Milan and will soon be providing residents with back-to-the-source CO2 filtration. Read more about the Bosco Verticale project.
- Hydroxyl Radicals: Just what is a hydroxyl radical? It’s an ephemeral particle that’s considered a heavy lifter for cleaning smog and pollution from the atmosphere. Scientists have recently learned how to speed up this naturally occurring cleaning process, which is a truly radical idea.
Increasing our eco-consciousness is a journey for all of us. We move at our own pace and we tackle what’s in front of us. Our perspectives may be unique, but our goal is the same. We learn as we go and as better technologies and practices are developed. Green is, after all, about growing.