Its striking how seldom we talk about literal greenery here in the “green space” – especially when it comes to new technology. However, at “The Future of Green” pavilion at the Wired NextFest We found a few eco-innovations that are actually green.
Ironically, one of the biggest innovations in western green building design is the green roof. This “technology” has been around for an extremely long time and is finally making a come-back in a big way here in the West. Benefits of green roofs include storm water management, decreased air conditioning and heating costs, oxygen production, sound insulation, wind insulation, aesthetic value, bio diversity. Sedum is the ideal green roof material, as it is light weight, wind, frost and drought resistant. The company Xero Flor cultivates prefab sedum green roofs for the practical (read: lazy) environmentalist. Delivered as a complete system – on pallets or by crane – just unroll the sedum and voila, you’ve got a green roof!
Switchgrass a native species of the American Great Plains transforms sunlight into sugar faster than corn and entirely without fertilizers or pesticides. Edenspace Systems Corporation is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop switchgrass and other new crop plants for ethanol production. The company also grows bio-sensing turf, a system of plants that makes removal of poisonous yet ubiquitous heavy metals such as lead and arsenic simple as cutting the grass or harvesting and disposing of ferns after they have done their soil cleaning duty.
Also on display from Edenspace is calcium and potassium enhanced lettuce, hydroponically grown in a nutrient solution. In the future, veggies will likely be grown in this manner either locally in your home or in vertical food growing facilities, many of which might be located in urban areas.
Others focusing on vegetables are the non-profit group The Growing Connection. Their 2.5-foot-long EarthBox is a low-cost and highly water-efficient food-growing tool. Made out of recycled plastic, the boxes feature a simple internal irrigation system that allows for fool proof growing using local inputs. Consuming one-fifth of the water of in-ground drip irrigation, the EarthBox is particularly well suited for underdeveloped areas that lack water but is also great for anyone who want to be responsible and conserve despite abundance.