Whatever your view might be on global warming or climate change, there’s no denying that there have been some fascinating sustainability innovations in recent years. If we were to show any of these to our younger selves a decade ago, you’d think we were mad.

Whichever way you look at it, change is coming as many innovators and businesses are moving toward building a greener future. With that, here are our top eight sustainability innovations that could make a significant impact on our environment.

Zéphyr Solar Autonomous Balloon

Zéphyr is a photovoltaic balloon that acts as an eco-friendly generator. Karen Assaraf, Julie Dautel and Cédric Tomissi from France-based start-up EONEF designed and developed this remarkable innovation.  This helium balloon is autonomous and can operate individually or as part of an aerial observation network. These solar-powered balloons can be deployed in under an hour and have 30 days flying time. It can withstand winds of 43 mph (70 kph) and capable of flying at great altitudes.

The EONEF balloons are ideal for several sustainability initiatives, including:

  • Observe wildlife
  • Measure the air quality in certain areas
  • Promote coordination during a disaster

The Green Building Initiative

The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is a non-profit organisation that promotes the adoption of ‘greener’ building practices. It’s all about constructing more sustainable buildings that are more resource-efficient, healthier and environmentally-friendly. They offer certification for commercial buildings that adhere to their environmentally-friendly vision.

Their primary goal is to establish a global standard of best practices for green buildings and provide third-party assessment tools for sustainability requirements. As competition drives innovation and demand increases for green buildings, there will be significantly larger benefits to society and the environment when achieving the desired outcomes.

The B-Droid Robotic Bees

Whether it’s from environmental pollution, fungi, viruses or parasites, bee populations across the globe are dwindling and something needed to be done. Researchers from the Warsaw University of Technology have done just that with the robotic B-Droid.

They’ve been working on an automated pollination system for over four years. First, it was a mobile version with wheels but now they’ve introduced the flying B-Droid that has generated considerable interest beyond Poland.

The B-Droid is one of many efforts to create robotic bees that can pollinate crops as effectively as the real thing. The platform will manage swarms of autonomous and semi-autonomous robots with the ability to identify and pollinate crops effectively. This is certainly one of those innovations you’d expect from a sci-fi novel but it is real and an exciting prospect.

Groasis Waterboxx Can Grow Trees In The Desert

Created by Dutch flower exporter, Pieter Hoff, the Groasis Waterboxx is one of the most fascinating sustainability innovations using anti-desertification technology. It’s a planting device that enables you to successfully (and sustainably) grow crops in the desert using 90% less water.

The Groasis Waterboxx has an “intelligent bucket” made from recycled paper where it germinates seeds, incubate saplings and water plants. Considering it requires such little water compared to traditional growing methods, you can use it in even the most extreme climates.

Sustainability Innovations Aplenty With AirCarbon

Newlight Technologies, Inc., a biotechnology company from Southern California developed one of the most promising sustainability innovations called AirCarbon. They are an independent organisation dedicated to producing materials that will help improve the environment. Their mission is to accelerate the move to a more sustainable, low carbon economy.

AirCarbon is made from carbon emissions that would otherwise be released into the air with many potential applications. It’s a verified carbon-negative material which means the entire production process is fully green and sustainable. As it’s not made from oil like many other plastics, AirCarbon is a great cost-effective alternative to synthetic materials.

Green Energy Innovations With Solar Glass

Solar power has been a big talking point for some time now and one of the latest sustainability innovations is Solar Glass. This concept could revolutionise the construction industry in the way companies build homes and commercial buildings.

Researchers at the University of Michigan is working on Solar Glass, a sustainable engineering project that has many pundits beaming with excitement. Solar Glass is designed to capture and store solar energy and it can do so in spades as it can cover large parts of a building.

With an eye on the US, researchers have determined that there are 5 to 7 billion square meters of usable window space. That means Solar Glass can generate enough power to fulfil 40% of the country’s energy needs.

Recommended: ‘What Is Concentrated Solar Power?

Cleaning The Oceans Safely With The Seabin

The Seabin is a product of two Australian surfers, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski. Like many others, they wanted to clean up the world’s oceans but in a sustainable way. It’s essentially a “floating debris interception device” that uses an underwater pump to suck rubbish from the surface of the water. Before you show any concern, it doesn’t catch fish as they don’t swim close enough to the surface.

The Seabin can filter out plastic waste, detergents and oil, allowing clean water to flow back out. Inside you’ll find a catch bag that traps floating debris which only has to be emptied once a month. This innovation could make a massive impact on water pollution in ports and harbours across the world. Once again, this shows the true power and potential of sustainability engineering!

The Veganbottle Is A Natural Alternative to Plastic

Created by LYSPACKAGING, the Veganbottle is non-toxic at end of life as it doesn’t contain oil and it helps fight plastic bottle pollution. It’s made from an all-natural bioplastic that could indefinitely replace plastic bottles which makes it one of our favourite sustainability innovations.

The entire Veganbottle is 100% biodegradable including the cap and the wrapper. It uses patented technologies in the field of processing sugar extraction from sugar cane and plant combinations. Considering sugar cane requires much less water than other crops, the manufacturing process of the bottle uses far less energy than conventional methods.

Other Interesting Sustainability Innovations

There are countless other innovations aimed at providing a greener future but we wanted to highlight our top eight. Here’s the original article from Interesting Engineering highlighting all 21 sustainability innovations.

  • Fairphone – the world’s first ethical smartphone
  • ENGIE Insight – a sustainable resource management initiative
  • Demetra – an all-natural treatment for food preservation
  • Café – method of transforming coffee grounds into wearable textiles
  • Sundrop Farms cultivates sustainable agricultural technologies
  • PowWow Energy – an app that helps reduce water waste and improve crop yield
  • Eka 1 and Eka 2 Seeds – a potential solution to deforestation
  • CloudFisher converts fog into drinking water
  • Waitrose Delivery vans fuelled by food waste
  • Bakey’s – edible cutlery available in three different flavours – plain, sweet, and savoury
  • Outerwall EcoATM gives cash for your old electronics
  • In-store herb gardens to combat waste

Celebrating Tomorrow’s Sustainability Innovations

Looking at the current technology trends and that of green energy, it’s important that companies continue their research and development. It will help develop new ways of making environmentally sustainable initiatives accessible to everyday users now, and in the future.

These eight sustainability innovations make it to the top of our list but many others deserve accolades. Congratulations to all of those companies leading the way in sustainability engineering and let’s hope for a future as promising as these innovations.

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