Trees make a huge contribution to the green infrastructure of our towns and cities, both in carbon sequestration and aesthetics, yet the economical value of them is often forgotten leading them to be undervalued or seen as a nuisance. The i-Tree tool aims to change the way people see trees – it is a freely available software suite from the US Forest Service which provides analysis, benefit-calculations and assessment tools to quantify the contribution made by trees in the urban environment to allow communities to understand the economic benefit of protecting our urban forests.
Just under a year ago we reported on a method to clean polluted water and soil by infusing them with pressurized ozone gas microbubbles
. The process was developed by Andy Hong at the University of Utah and has now moved out of the lab and is being put the test in a demonstration project in eastern China. If all goes to plan the process has the potential to boost a wide range of environmental cleanup efforts around the world.
Chinese electronics giant Haier was showcasing its green credentials at IFA 2010
with this human powered washing machine. An exercise bike with a lithium-ion battery that collects energy as you pedal is hard wired to the front loading machine. When you pedal, you power the machine. Twenty minutes effort is said to give you one cold cycle wash without drawing power from the grid. It's an idea we've seen elsewhere in fledgling form
– and its a good one. We'd love to see it get beyond prototype stage.
Two thousand years ago Jesus may have walked on water, but soon we
may be walking on food. In a bid to become more environmentally sustainable, scientists have unveiled a new "green" alternative to commonly used petroleum-based wood adhesives. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Products Laboratory in Wisconsin, speaking at this week's 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, talked about the development of a soy-based glue. The substance is derived from food products such as soy milk and tofu, and could mean a new generation of eco-friendly flooring, furniture, cabinets and other wood products.
A vegetarian diet, according to its proponents, has a lighter ecological footprint, reduced resource impacts, and lower carbon emissions than the non-vegetarian equivalent. A new fast-casual vegetarian restaurant chain, however, is taking “eating green” to a whole new level. Otarian, which already has locations in New York and opens in London this Friday, is the first global chain to carbon footprint all of its menu items according to the internationally recognized PAS 2050 standard. Not only can diners see the carbon figures for each item listed on the menu, but foods that generate too large of a footprint are simply not offered. The restaurant is also testing out the World Resources Institute's new product carbon foot printing standard, which Otarian claims “will help diners to understand the environmental impact of their food choices in a highly measurable and quantifiable way.”
Fouling of hulls is a major problem for world shipping – for private leisure craft as well as large cargo ships – with barnacles being a major culprit. It reduces the performance of vessels and increases their fuel requirements. Medetomidine has proved effective in preventing fouling of ship bottoms and now researchers attempting to develop new, environmentally friendly methods to limit marine fouling have identified the gene that causes barnacles to react to the substance, opening up the possibility of an antifouling paint that is gentle to both barnacles and the environment.
You've had a party and your garbage bin is overflowing but the regular collection is still several days away. Imagine being able to make a call and have your rubbish collected at a time that suits you. For 100 households in Peccioli, Italy it's a reality. They are part of a two month trial of DustCart
, a robot that provides an on-demand garbage collection service - just make a call and DustCart will soon arrive at your door to take away the trash.
Many of the exhibitors we encountered at the Paris Green Air Show
were showing off aircraft that ran on electricity, alternative fuels, or that reduced the consumption of fossil fuels. One booth, however, was displaying a different sort of green aviation product – a low-impact, natural cork composite called AEROCORK, intended to replace PVC foam and other petroleum-based building materials in aircraft. It is the result of a collaboration between three Portuguese tech companies.
Whether it's reaching orbit
, landing on the moon
, building more efficient cars
or speeding up human genome sequencing
, the X PRIZE has become synonymous with driving innovation. Now there's another scenario that's crying out for the kind of radical breakthrough theses prizes are designed to achieve – the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. The X PRIZE Foundation is planning to answer this call with a new prize aimed at incentivizing privately-funded methods to quickly clean up crude oil from the ocean and coastlines around the spill.
How would you like your body to be disposed of when you shuffle off this mortal coil? Burial or cremation have long been the only legal options in many parts of the Western world, however neither is particularly environmentally friendly. But greener alternatives that let you make a final environmental statement are on the rise. Two examples are ecological burial (or corpse composting) which uses a form of cryogenics and freeze drying, and resomation, which uses alkaline hydrolysis to break down the body. The end result of both processes is a fine powder, similar to cremation, and each claims to lessen the impact on the environment. However, they may make some traditionalists turn in their graves...