Greenisms is primarily about ideas that strive to make positive impacts, and sharing innovations with others that are fascinating and important. In some cases these ideas have become life-changing or culture dividing to the extreme.
Some of the technologies that are discussed in this blog are emerging and have incredible growth opportunities on the horizon; while others are for the purpose of looking back to see how far we have come as humanity. We are one people from my point of view. We are all on earth together, and the more we can do to make positive changes in our communities, the wider that change will be.
Other ways to inspire and lead change come from our decisions and our wallets. With calculated interest and research, investors can make big adjustments with big money to green-light projects driven by some of the world’s cutting-edge innovators. The catch is that often these innovations are designed without a great deal of consideration for the environment.
This is not to say that environmentally friendly innovation doesn't happen however. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the biggest changes and challenges to come, and identify some companies or organizations that are making major efforts to integrate environmental concerns with engineering concerns. On a large scale, there are several emerging sustainable technologies that can help reduce impacts from urban interfaces, which refer to the areas where urban development meets natural or rural landscapes. These technologies aim to mitigate environmental impacts, improve resource efficiency, and enhance the resilience of urban areas. Here are a few examples:
Green infrastructure involves incorporating natural elements into urban design to manage stormwater, reduce heat island effects, improve air quality, and provide habitat for wildlife. Examples include green roofs, living walls, urban forests, and permeable pavements.
While there are companies that work on the smaller scale, installing green walls or gardens like Harvest to Home for generally aesthetic purposes, and otherwise providing direct services through connections to garden spaces, some companies make incredible leaps and bounds in the sustainability industry by creating new technologies. There are many mental, physical, and financial benefits to incorporating green architecture and living infrastructure into a lifestyle.
Who doesn’t like fresh produce and safe structures?
Here are 5 companies making huge innovative leaps in the green infrastructure industry.
Tesla: Tesla, led by Elon Musk, is known for its electric vehicles, but the company is also heavily invested in green infrastructure. They produce energy storage solutions like the Powerwall and Powerpack, which allow for efficient energy management and utilization of renewable energy sources.
Siemens: Siemens is a global conglomerate that focuses on various sectors, including energy, transportation, and healthcare. The company has made significant contributions to green infrastructure, particularly in the field of renewable energy. Siemens is involved in manufacturing wind turbines, developing smart grid technologies, and implementing sustainable transportation systems.
Vestas: Vestas is a Danish company and one of the world's leading manufacturers of wind turbines. They specialize in the design, production, installation, and maintenance of onshore and offshore wind power systems. Vestas continually strives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of wind turbines, driving the adoption of renewable energy worldwide.
Schneider Electric: Schneider Electric is a multinational corporation specializing in energy management and automation solutions. The company provides a wide range of products and services related to sustainable energy management, including energy-efficient buildings, microgrids, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Bloom Energy: Bloom Energy focuses on developing and manufacturing solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that generate clean and efficient electricity. Their fuel cell technology enables the production of electricity from natural gas or biogas with reduced carbon emissions. Bloom Energy's products find applications in various sectors, such as data centers, hospitals, and commercial buildings.
In other cases, some of the most effective methods for ensuring sustainability come from management of existing resources like Energy or our existing technology through optimization. These methods are equally important for ensuring sustainable futures. Although it is never good to be wasteful, some of these enhancements in our day to day life can make for very positive change, and save us lots of money in the process. These next two categories are very similar, but are equally important.
Smart Grids and Energy Management Systems
Smart grids integrate advanced sensors, communication networks, and automation to optimize energy distribution and consumption. These systems can enhance the integration of renewable energy sources, enable demand response programs, and improve overall energy efficiency in urban areas. This is important because many of our existing energy sources include fossil fuels and other potentially damaging resources. Although the most effective ways currently call for the use of many fossil or natural gas-based fuels, alternative energies in tandem with grids can optimize our energy use and reduce it simultaneously.
All of this is to ensure that the public is provided with clean and constant electricity.
Microgrids and Distributed Energy Systems
Microgrids are localized energy distribution networks that can operate independently or in conjunction with the main power grid. They often incorporate renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, along with energy storage systems. Microgrids can improve energy resilience, reduce transmission losses, and provide power during emergencies. Microgrids manage power in a specific space. Generally, a home or an office building may have a microgrid. These systems can incorporate batteries and other energy storage methods to provide efficient on-site operations.
I once had the opportunity to perform air sampling at an “on-call” natural gas fired power generating plant with a capacity of over 7 MW, enough for a few neighborhoods of single family homes. This plant was used when electricity was needed in a hot region for short periods of the day. They would fire it up, burn natural gas at a huge rate for a short time and use it to create energy that would be supplied to the local power company at a higher rate. I measured the emissions from these power plants and estimated the amount of pollution emitted during the times where the unit was up and running. This helps the company estimate how many carbon credits or what pollution permits need to be held.
With smart grids, all of that work could almost be reduced to a few scripts and a few connected smart machines located in homes or communities. The flex would be getting the response time and all of the sensors connected together and in a manner that matches the expected draw rate. Over time, these innovations may change the way we work, and what we work on.
So-long power company…. Hello Renewable Smart Grid.
Here are five companies that are actively performing work in the smart grid and renewable energy management and distribution markets.
GridPoint - GridPoint is a company that provides intelligent energy management solutions for commercial and industrial customers. They offer comprehensive energy management platforms that include smart grid technology, energy analytics, and demand response capabilities. GridPoint's innovations enable organizations to optimize energy usage, reduce costs, and achieve sustainability goals.
ABB - ABB is a leading technology company that offers a wide range of power and automation solutions. They develop smart grid technologies such as grid control systems, energy storage solutions, and renewable integration platforms. ABB's innovations help improve the stability, reliability, and flexibility of smart grids.
General Electric (GE) - General Electric is a multinational conglomerate with a strong focus on renewable energy and smart grid solutions. They provide advanced grid management systems, energy storage solutions, and intelligent grid analytics. GE's innovations aim to optimize the operation and control of smart grids while facilitating the integration of renewable energy sources.
Cisco Systems - Cisco Systems is a global technology company known for its networking and communications solutions. They offer smart grid solutions that leverage their expertise in networking technologies, cybersecurity, and data analytics. Cisco's innovations focus on enabling reliable and secure communication networks for efficient renewable energy management in smart grids.
Enel X - Enel X is a global company specializing in energy services and products. They provide advanced smart grid solutions, including demand response systems, energy management platforms, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Enel X focuses on optimizing energy usage, integrating renewables, and promoting sustainable practices.
Urban Farming and Vertical Agriculture
When smart grids, water, and food are all put together, my mind goes to urban farming and urban gardening. Urban farming initiatives, including rooftop gardens and vertical farms, enable the production of fresh food within urban areas. These practices reduce the carbon footprint associated with transporting food over long distances and can enhance food security, reduce waste, and improve access to healthy food options. It often tastes way better to grow your own food too. There’s just something about it. Fresh potatoes pulled from the earth. The smell of tomatoes when they’re so ripe, the slightest touch causes them to fall. Zucchini growing so fast you can’t eat enough to keep up. Even just one plant can make a small difference in the case of spinach.
Smart grids, watering schedules, moisture meters, and some data from hydroponics would create an incredibly successful garden, and all we would have to do is plant a seed. Who knows, maybe this will be a thing in the future in all neighborhoods. Some places have started installing gardens like this one by Harvest to Home:
Intelligent Transportation Systems
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) use technologies like connected vehicles, real-time traffic monitoring, and smart traffic management systems to optimize transportation networks. By reducing congestion, optimizing traffic flow, and promoting the use of electric vehicles, ITS can minimize emissions, improve air quality, and enhance the efficiency of urban transportation.
Smart vehicles, smart grids, smart buildings, and smart people.
Who wants to be alternating between the gas and the brake?
Who wants to use gas at all?
Smart cars and intelligent transportation systems are incredibly valuable in the market today, but making good investment choices and choosing which company to spend effort on is challenging. Some of thes IPOs have resulted in the losses of billions of dollars in wealth. Although there are many companies that are better simply because of diversification and capital flow, here are five major projects that all involve transportation.
Waymo - Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. and focuses on developing autonomous driving technology. They specialize in building self-driving cars and developing software and hardware for autonomous vehicle systems. Waymo aims to transform transportation by making it safer and more efficient through the use of advanced AI and machine learning algorithms.
Uber - Uber is a technology company that revolutionized the transportation industry with its ride-hailing platform. While Uber offers electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid vehicle options, their focus extends beyond electric mobility. Uber is actively involved in developing autonomous driving technology and aims to integrate self-driving cars into their fleet to enhance safety and efficiency.
Lime - Lime is a company specializing in shared micro-mobility solutions. They provide electric scooters, bicycles, and electric-assist bikes for short-distance travel within cities. Lime focuses on improving last-mile transportation by providing convenient, sustainable, and cost-effective options that reduce congestion and promote greener commuting.
Mobileye - Mobileye, an Intel company, is a leader in vision-based advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). They develop technology to enhance vehicle safety, including features like forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and lane-keeping assistance. Mobileye's solutions enable vehicles to perceive their surroundings, improving safety and reducing accidents.
TransLoc - TransLoc is a technology company specializing in public transit solutions. They offer intelligent transportation systems, real-time passenger information, and demand-responsive transit platforms. TransLoc's technologies aim to improve the efficiency and accessibility of public transportation, making it more convenient and user-friendly for commuters.
Waste Management Technologies
Innovative waste management technologies, such as waste-to-energy systems, anaerobic digestion, and advanced recycling processes, can help reduce the environmental impacts of waste disposal. These technologies aim to maximize resource recovery, minimize landfill waste, and generate clean energy from organic waste materials. Every municipality that serves customers needs to have an organized waste stream. Unfortunately, often this just means get rid of it somewhere else. There is a vital and urgent need to recycle as much waste as possible, in whatever manner possible. If nothing else, we should find environmentally friendly ways to incinerate and the capture 100% of the emissions. Back to air quality we go…
Water Conservation and Management
Various technologies can help improve water conservation and management in urban areas. These include smart irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting systems, greywater recycling, and advanced leak detection systems. In some fancy homes these days, there are built-in reverse osmosis systems that fit under the sink. By optimizing water use and reducing water waste, these technologies contribute to sustainable water management.
When we begin to clean and desalinate seawater, and we have addressed the pollution that it can cause, we may find that there are incredible opportunities to rehydrate our parched landscape and find places more hospitable once we cease drinking the rivers dry. In the ideal world, all things are left unharmed. Alas, while this is impossible to achieve, we can at least focus on getting something to drink. Companies like Lifestraw are working one sip at a time.
It's worth noting that while these technologies show promise, their adoption and effectiveness may vary depending on local conditions, infrastructure, and policy support. Additionally, a holistic approach that combines multiple strategies, including urban planning, policy interventions, technology implementation, as well as community engagement is often necessary to achieve significant and lasting sustainability improvements in urban interfaces. Although these things take time, some efforts that started long ago have already shown incredible promise.
In our next article, we’ll discuss how some things change for the better, even if it takes 20 years…
Thanks for reading!