The Daily Green was thrilled to attend the Earth Awards Gala this week, where the ecoStyle Project (founded by the Malaysian government) recognized 10 innovators working to improve environmental conditions around the world.
The event, swarming with IMG Fashion models, punctuated by modern dance performances, hosted by PBS's Charlie Rose, and populated with some deep-pocketed guests, was a thought-provoking and nutritious affair. (Let's hope those delicious oysters were sustainably harvested; the foie gras was an disappointingly incongruous choice for such an event.)
The gala was by turns uplifting and sobering. After all, you can be awe-struck by the simplicity of a barrel-type device known as a R.O.S.S. (Reverse Osmosis Sanitation System, created by Amanda Jones and James Brown, of Glasgow, Scotland). Third world residents without access to clean water could fill it at the nearest stream or lake, and the process of rolling it back to their home filters the water of disease-causing pathogens. It's a wonderful invention that would not only prevent diseases like cholera, but save millions of people time by allowing them to transport more water per visit. The depressing part: That so many millions are in need of this kind of technology, and yet only a handful have been built.
That scenario -- brilliant ideas, and a need for money to implement them in the real world -- was the rule of the evening. And, ultimately, it was uplifting, as venture capitalists met with the do-gooder entrepreneurs... and hopefully struck some deals.
Here's a look at the nominees, with the deserving winner first:
The brainchild of Neri Oxman, an MIT researcher, FAB.REcology aims to establish new forms of experimental design.
FAB.REcology "offers an ecological approach to fabrication by optimizing material use and deposition in the design and construction of the built environment. The fundamental concept is a first-generation rapid manufacturing technology for depositing material with gradually varying physical properties per unit volume. In building scales this method offers construction without assemblies such that mechanical properties vary locally to accommodate for structural and environmental requirements. This technology promotes significant reductions in energy usage and material waste in building construction. We dream up and make achievable the process of 3-D material deposition as continuous artificial tissue not unlike the construction of organic matter."
A project of Bill Browning, Christopher Pyke, Dana Bourland, Amy Davidsen, & Benjamin Feldman in New York, N.Y. and Alexandria, Va., Engaged Offsets aims to channel carbon offset spending into local projects to support community-based solutions to global warming:
"As an alternative to conventional carbon offsets, which tend to fund projects at a great distance from the purchaser, Engaged Offsets work by identifying and implementing an offset project that is linked to a local target population. Offset money is used as marginal financing for energy efficiency measures or renewable energy systems for non-profit organizations, schools, low-income housing, and institutional buildings, which otherwise could not afford the upfront costs but can benefit from the energy savings. These offsets therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a local, measureable, and verifiable way while addressing the concerns for permanence and additionality that plague conventional carbon offsets. Engaged Offsets offer solutions that connect the global issue of climate change with local actions and social justice."
A project of Bryan Garcia & Kerry ONeill in Hartford, Conn., Earth Markets aims to make mainstream America more energy efficient:
"Earth Markets provides households with easy, measurable, and affordable solutions to global warming. Its mission it to accelerate the diffusion of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies into the under-served residential sector by combining community-based marketing and social networking strategies with environmental markets and finance. Earth Markets develops and finances residential energy efficiency projects that provide cost savings to consumers, reduce energy usage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
The brainchild of Jakob Rutqvist in Boston, Mass., 12 Climate Entrepreneurs strives to bring together thinkers on global warming so they maximize their benefit, and reduce redundancy:
"The 12 Climate Entrepreneurs initiative was started because systems of sustainable innovations need to be presented together in order to raise capital effectively, create market confidence and gain political support. By carefully putting together 12 complimentary low-carbon innovations that form a system of sustainable technology, and present them together, the project has succeeded in making Swedish customers, investors and politicians believe that it's actually possible to achieve sustainability. The innovations cover areas such as transportation, energy production and use, construction and efficiency technologies."
A project of Ming Tang & Dihua Yang of Savannah, Ga., this project aims to use locally sourced sustainable materials to provide temporary housing during natural disaster emergencies:
"The central feature of our project is the development of a sustainable temporary shelter for the millions of homeless people after the catastrophic Earthquake in China in 2008. It is a kinetic bamboo structure that exhibits characteristics of umbrella and origami art, with the potential of arranging themselves into various contexts and dwelling requirements. We named it as Bamboo + paper House, a self reconstructive structure for instant installations, which, according to the changing internal requirements and site topography, can produce potentially infinite scenarios."
A project of Andrew Neal & Timothy Porter of Salt Point, N.Y. (also the hometown of this writer, I might add: Yeah, Salt Point!), ILLUMA is a zero-net energy, zero-carbon lighting source:
"ILLUMA is a net zero-energy, zero carbon footprint light system that delivers exceptional quality light at a fraction of the energy consumption of any conventional system. Non-toxic and durable, impact and moisture resistant, and deployable via solar, wind, or grid powered, it can be used in any country and any climate on earth, and will last a minimum of 20 years in active use. In industrialized nations it represents an enormous IP-and business-based energy and carbon offset opportunity. Such deployment could then offset funding via NGO and other nonprofit deployment in developing nations as an after dark educational tool." (Photo by Remy Chevalier.)
The brainchild of Brian O Hanlon of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Open Blue Sea Farm is a concept for a series of floating fish farms that would feed fish more natural foods, decrease stress on marine ecosystems and reduce problems associated with concentrated pollution around fish farms:
"Few people have come to grips with the projections that our worlds ocean fish supply has collapsed. Aquaculture has grown over the past two decades to meet growing demand, but current forms of aquaculture have limitations and drawbacks including limited location availability, damaging environmental and social impact, inhumane animal treatment, the need for antibiotics and steroids, stressful and unhealthy conditions for fish and other sea life. Open Blue Sea Farms raises healthy, safe seafood far from shore into the open ocean where strong currents and deep water support the biomass without impacting sensitive ecosystems. This translates into reduced environmental and social impacts, stakeholder impacts are avoided and energy consumption is reduced by building larger farm clusters closer to key infrastructure."
A project of Amanda Jones & James Brown of Glasgow, Scotland, the R.O.S.S. would supply clean water, save lives and save time for millions of third world residents:
"The Reverse Osmosis Sanitation System (ROSS) the highest specification product in a range of water transport, sanitation and storage devices designed by Red Button Design Ltd for use by communities across the developing world. The device is suitable for both relief in the case of a contaminated or disrupted water supply and, for millions of people without a local source of safe water, as an everyday appliance until a sustainable water infrastructure can be established. The user would push or pull the device to the nearest source of surface water and fill the 50 liter tank. They would then roll the unit back to the community. The rotation of the wheels drives a filtration system so that once the user has returned to the community, the water dispensed is sanitized and safe to drink."
A project of Tom Sieu & Mary Scott of San Francisco, Calif., R3 stands for Rethink/Reimagine/Reuse:
"R3: Rethink/Reimagine/Reuse is a collaborative project produced by the graphic design students at the Academy of Art University to promote sustainable design. It is a collection of product concepts that have continued to grow in thinking and refinement over the past 2 years. Each graphic design student was asked to identify an existing product and design a book that documents its lifecycle and redesign. The result is this collection of ideas that showcase each of the student's innovative thinking, design and desire for social responsibility."
A project of Young Duk Song, Yang Yoon Sun & Kim Ga Ye, all of Seoul, South Korea, Warning Bulb envisions homeowners paying for electricity with pre-paid cards so they become more conscious of their energy choices:
"To remind people of their use of electricity, we suggest a Prepaid Card System for Electricity. This system can increase awareness of electricity use and help to reduce CO2 emissions caused by wasted electric energy. Also, we have designed an Alarming Bulb that supports this system. It charges the money when the Prepaid Card is inserted. The system is very intuitive; it then displays the money charged and remaining amount so that people can be warned immediately. This eventually prevents waste of electricity."
Congratulations to all the nominees. May they find the money they need to make these ideas come to life.
For more pictures of the event, see www.remyc.com.
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