Green design isn’t all about the shiniest new technology. Although we love our gadgets here at Inhabitat, we believe that sometimes using nature’s proven ingenuity to assist the modern world is a better choice. One such example is found in Germany, where airports are employing beekeepers to help them test their environmental impact. Beekeepers at eight airports in Germany keep hives nearby, and the airports test their honey for toxins. It’s called biomonitoring — using nature to test for environmental conditions — and the air quality at these airports seems to be doing just fine.
At the Dusseldorf International Airport the bees have shown that air quality at the airport is well within the appropriate levels, with the honey from their hives showing about the same level of toxins as a non-industrial area. Officials at the airport note that they employ modern technology to test the air as well, but they add that the bees have proven to be a reliable source of information. The hives are kept by local beekeepers and the honey — called Dusseldorf Natural — is given away as gifts.
In recent years there have been many developments in the reduction of toxins from air travel. Officials in the industry say emissions related to pollution — like carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, smoke and nitrogen-oxide — have been reduced significantly and that airports generally aren’t large contributors to local air pollution. The public doesn’t seem convinced and German officials see the bees as a simple and easily understandable way to show the public that airports have cleaned up their act. Though we still need to work on the emissions from air travel and their impact on global warming, at least we can trust the bees to tell us if those planes are harming our lungs.