With the new year rapidly approaching, now is a great time to stop and reflect on 2007. Looking back on the past year, and forward to the new one, we at Inhabitat are excited to see such great progress made in sustainable design and innovation. Here are our top 10 green design stories of 2007- what we think were the most important and exciting stories of the past year. We can only hope next year will see even more progress and exciting developments in the field of sustainable design.
10. PLASTIC BAGS GET THE BOOT
This year cities started joining the anti-plastic bag bandwagon, banning their use in establishments like grocery stores and supermarkets. San Francisco took the lead, with Hong Kong, Melbourne, and even many countries in Africa taking similar strides. Plus, the canvas shopping bag and particularly the I Am Not A Plastic Bag became supremely popular as goods-toting alternatives. Inhabitat even launched our own supremely sexy eco-tote to aid in this movement, and we still have a few left, for those who want some.
9. LEDS GET COOLER AND COOLER
While LEDs aren’t necessarily a new story for 2007, the super-efficient light-emitting diodes are popping up everywhere and becoming much more widely available to consumers these days, grabbing market share in Christmas lights, lightbulbs, traffic lights, and even in luxury home decor. We’re hoping 2008 will be the year of the LED, and that the uber-green light devices will become even more practical and widely accepted.
8. SOLAR POWER BEEFS UP
No longer is solar power limited to big clunky panels- the sun’s energy is now able to be harnessed and utilized through a series of cutting-edge technologies like NanoSolar super-thin films and even roll-up panels, making solar power infinitely more flexible and practical. Massive solar power stations are popping up around the world (like the impressive one we reported on in Seville, Spain), and rental programs like CitizenRe’s ReNu are trying to make solar power accessible to more homeowners, by taking the initial installation costs out of the equation.
7. SUSTAINABLE CARS GET SEXY (aka the year of Tesla)
After years of heel dragging and false starts, car companies seem to be seeing the light of the Prius and are finally realizing that going green can make green. Now that every car company on the planet is trying to go green, we have to applaud Tesla Motors for taking a risk and launching the sexiest and most stunning electric vehicle to date. Though the Tesla Electric Roadster, is probably out of most of our price ranges, we love that it is helping to give sustainability sex-appeal and helping spread the word that good design and environmental friendliness are not mutually exclusive. It even raises the bar on sports car performance and design! We can’t wait to see what Tesla has on tap for 2008.
6. INCANDESCENT LIGHTBULBS KICK THE BUCKET
As CFL’s and LEDs become more and more commonplace, and the disadvantages of the archaic incandescents bulbs become more widely known, cities, states and even countries are stepping up and banning the old style bulbs altogether. First Australia banned the bulb, then Ireland stepped up, and last we heard even the slow moving U.S of A. just passed a law to ban sales of incandescents by 2012. In 2008 we’re hoping to see many more countries will follow suit.
5. FASHION GOES GREEN
From organic cotton going mainstream, hitting the racks at H&M, Neiman Marcus and the Gap, to awesome eco fashion shows hitting the runways in New York City, London and Paris, and new wearable lines like SheBible and Ekovarahuset, we’re thrilled that the past year has seen a serious dose of style added to sustainability. Consumers are more conscious of where what they wear comes from, and fashion designers are looking to green materials and production methods to enhance their designs rather than limit them.
4. RENEWABLE ENERGY GETS INNOVATIVE
No longer content to just look to solar and wind for renewable energy, tons of companies are getting creative and exploring alternative energy sources from lightning to human movement as a potential source of energy generation. Energy is embedded in everything, so it obviously makes sense to look for new energy potential in a wide variety of sources, ranging from poo power to underwater turbines to waves and even algae. This past year energy news may have sounded like headlines from the Enquirer, but we’re excited to see the search for viable renewable energies expanding beyond wind and solar.
3. ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD LEADS THE WAY IN SUSTAINABLE GADGETRY
One of our favorite examples of a great green gadget for the greater good, the One Laptop Per Child is getting all kinds of attention and is now widely available for purchase. Also known as the $100 laptop, the cute and socially innovative computer will be one of the topics of discussion at our upcoming Greener Gadgets conference.
2. GREEN PREFAB CONQUER THE WORLD
After the success last year of Steve Glen’s and Ray Kappe’s Living Home eco prefab, we were not surprised to see the worlds of green building and prefab construction coming together in 2007. This year, prefab designer extraordinaire Michelle Kaufman took green prefab to new heights by debuting her zero energy mkLotus design at West Coast Green in September. The compact home doesn’t compromise style or energy efficiency, using solar panels, recycled materials, LED lights, a green roof, water recycling system, green landscaping and even a plug for your electric vehicle!
1. AL GORE WINS THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE!
Though An Inconvenient Truth was technically last year’s news, Al Gore scoring the Nobel Peace Prize was a 2007 feat, and we are so excited that environmental issues are finally starting to get taken seriously. Along with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the former vice-president won the prize for his efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it.