Countries, cities and communities are exploring new ways to protect themselves from impacts of climate change in both the short and long term. There are several trends emerging in the world unseen even decades before.
One of the trends is to generate social and environmental value by catering to low income consumers. The base of the economic pyramid is composed of four billion low income consumers who live on approximately $8 a day local purchasing power. By developing new business models tailored to the base of the pyramid, the solutions representing this trend are helping ensure sustainable development and economic growth for those who need the most.
Secondly, Businesses are responding to the economic logic of going circular and attracting more consumers by sharing financial rewards that result. In addition to significant reduction in CO2 emissions more than $1 trillion a year could be generated from 2025 from a successful transition to a more circular economy. Commodity prices are skyrocketing with prices of metals alone have increased by 176% since 2000. This increases company incentives in reuse, recycle and retaining control of resources to remain within a closed loop.
Third trend is people around the world are joining forces to build sustainable communities from bottom up. Thanks to research from fields of behavioral economics and social psychology, we are all well aware of how important social norms and a sense of group belonging are to guiding our actions. Most people are influenced by behavior of others and not by cold facts. Many cities around the world are implementing new community-mobilizing programs to achieve environmental gains.
We shall look at innovative solutions in three sectors as Part I of III articles.
- Building Sector
- Transportation Sector
- Fashion Sector
Building sector is responsible for 32% of total global energy use and 19% of energy related GHG emissions. Given current trends, energy use for buildings could double or triple by 2050. Investment in retrofitting with a payback period of less than 5 years could cut energy use for buildings by less than 40%.
Here are a few innovations in sustainability in the Building Sector:
Coating that Cools and Fights Air Pollution
This roof and façade coating creates energy savings by reflecting the rays of the sun back into space while also transforming harmful exhaust gases to harmless salts. Cities around the world face problems with harmful air pollution. If applied on all roofs and facades, this solution will substantially reduce NOx particles and mitigate climate change. According to ISO paint Nordic, the coating’s cooling effect also extends the life of treated surfaces and in cooler climates itself a study by Danish Technological Institute has shown cooling effect of 5 degree C inside the house.
Affordable floors create healthier lives
By compressing gravel and treating it with drying oil to create cheap household flooring, EarthEnable offers a sustainable solution to the environmental and health problems caused by dirt floors in developing countries.
Renewable Energy Storage for Homes
Powerwall is a compact battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels or drawn from the grid when utility rates are low and powers the home when electricity is needed.
Energy storage can make an important contribution to decoupling demand and supply, which also helps to integrate renewable energy sources.
Circular Model for Air Filter Reuse
The air filters from Delta M are 100% reused and recycled, as compared to throw away filters that create large amount of solid waste and take hundreds of years to break down.
The transportation sector represents new approaches to non-motorized and public transportation along with sharing of bikes and cars, while electric means of transportation are also heavily represented.
Peer to Peer Bicycle sharing platforms
Spinlister is a peer-to-peer platform that enables users to list and rent bikes in over 65 countries. By enabling users to loan bicycles to each other via easy to use web platform or app, we are using existing resources and capitalizing on ever growing desire to have access over ownership in cities around the world. Many bicycles sit unused on a daily basis, while other residents and tourists seek more convenient two wheeled transport.
Durable bamboo Bikes for greater mobility
The Ghana Bamboo bikes initiative manufactures high quality, multipurpose bikes out of local bamboo that are suitable for rough terrain and adapted to local needs. Bamboo resources are abundant in Ghana. The community manufactures affordable bicylces and frames. These bicycles can withstand rough terrain and inclement weather and are designed to allow local maintenance and repairs.
In the fashion sector, you will encounter solutions spanning from yarn made of old fishnets and leasing of children’s wear to a new way of dyeing fabric.
Index Driving Sustainability in Apparel Industry
The Higg Index evaluates sustainability practices and inspires collective action amongst brands, retailers and facilities in apparel and footwear and home textiles industries.
The Higg Index helps companies evaluate their environment impact and provides suggestions and improvements. It is a suite of self-assessment tools and currently 2000 facilities are using Higg Index.
Waterless CO2 Dyeing of Textiles
DyeCoo offers a CO2-based dyeing technology that eliminates water and processing chemicals from the dyeing process and reduces energy consumption. The process uses reclaimed CO2 for polyester dyeing and already has been embraced by major brands like IKEA and NIKE. In the process 85% of CO2 is recovered and returned to storage as liquid ready for reuse, which makes this a close loop technology. The result is elimination of water and chemicals and 50% reduction in energy consumption.