In 2023,green technology can feel like the new kid on the block. But the world of sustainable innovation has a long history you probably didn’t know about.
Take geothermal heating, a popular trend in energy-efficient homes and buildings. Using heat energy from below the earth’s surface dates back to Paleolithic times, when early humans bathed in hot springs and built homes from lava. Or take wind energy — as early as 5000 B.C., our ancestors were using wind energy to move boats down the River Nile. By 2000 B.C., wind power was pumping water and grinding grains. And solar power? Humans were harnessing the sun’s energy in the 7th century B.C. to light fires from magnifying glass. And although battery-powered vehicles might seem like a new trend, 90% of New York City taxis at the turn of the 19th century were electric vehicles.
So humans have been working on sustainable solutions for everyday needs for a long time. But today, innovative solutions to our environmental problems is now more popular — and more necessary — than ever.
So what does green technology actually mean?
In a nutshell, green technology is any technology designed to reduce the negative impact of human activity on the environment.
Green technology: a few examples
There’s more to green tech than solar panels and wind turbines. Here’s a list of some popular planet-saving innovations you might not have heard of:
Meanwhile, climate tech tackles problems specifically associated with human-induced climate change — basically, any technology focused on mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, while water treatment and waste management are considered clean tech,they don’t qualify as climate tech.
Low-carbon buildings are designed to emit little to no carbon across their lifespan. They require minimal heating and cooling, produce very little waste and pollution, and are made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo and hemp. They generally produce their own energy, often through rooftop solar panels. With the demand for construction higher than ever, low-carbon buildings are crucial for a green future.
Carbon capture and storage
Carbon offsets are a necessary step towards reversing global warming, but on their own, they can’t keep global temperature increase to less than 1.5°C. For that, we’ll need to physically remove existing carbon from the atmosphere.
Carbon capture and storage technology pulls carbon from the atmosphere and uses it to make synthetic fuel. Right now, it’s expensive and relatively small-scale, but a study by Stanford University predicts that the costs of this technology could even be reduced by a multiple of six, making it much more scalable.
Innovative companies around the world, including Aquion Energy, Malta (Google X) and Highview Power, are developing unique long-term storage solutions for the power generated by renewable energy sources. Fossil fuels are out, renewables are in, and the demand for storage technology will follow.
You’re already familiar with battery-powered electric vehicles, but there’s another kind of electrical vehicle, and it’s known as a fuel cell electric vehicle. These cars don’t run on batteries — they run on hydrogen. This makes them far more efficient than combustion-powered vehicles, and they also don’t produce any harmful emissions.
Some people predict that by 2050, hydrogen will eventually power over 400 million cars, up to 20 million buses, and more than 20% of passenger ships. Hydrogen fuel is still expensive, but hydrogen-powered vehicles are already being purchased in many parts of the world, and could become crucial for cutting transport emissions from fossil fuels.
Upcycling (circular waste management)
Upcycling — turning waste into new, usable materials or products — has never been more popular. Innovative companies and organizations around the world are finding ways to upcycle existing waste into everything from fuel and fertilizer to clothes and bicycles.
👉 Upcycling is part of the circular economy, a model where ‘waste’ doesn’t exist — it simply becomes the raw material for something new.
7 ways to become an eco-friendly business
Even if you’re not a green tech company (let’s face it, we can’t all be that cool!), there are plenty of ways your company can become an eco-friendly business.
Track your carbon footprint
The biggest problem our planet faces right now is global warming due to the presence of greenhouse gasses (mainly carbon dioxide) in our atmosphere.
The private sector is one of the biggest carbon dioxide producers, which means the best (and fastest) way your company become environmentally friendly is by tracking your carbon footprint. Only once you’ve got a clear picture of your impact can you then make plans for reducing it.
Conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA)
No matter what kind of products or services you provide, you can conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) on each of your products or services.
Reduce your carbon footprint
After you’ve put tracking in place and/or conducted a life cycle assessment, now you can start to reduce your carbon footprintreduce your carbon footprint. You might start with cutting down on business travel, switching to clean energy providers, installing LED light bulbs to improve your energy efficiency, and engaging with environmentally friendly suppliers.
Overview of Greenly's interface for carbon footprint
Offset your emissions
Go carbon neutral or net zero by first reducing your carbon output as much as you can, and then purchasing offsets or removal credits to compensate for the impact of your essential emissions.
Assess your company’s waste and commit to zero waste business principles. Recycle as much as possible, carefully consider new products and procedures, and purchase used and recycled items where you can.
Report on ESG
Although many companies around the world aren’t yet legally required to publish ESG reports, doing so can help you measure and reduce your environmental impact, set targets, stay accountable, and communicate your environmental commitment both internally and externally.
Consider donating to environmental initiatives, either locally or internationally. Many projects need help getting off the ground or require continued support from donations.
Although we often talk about environmental impact in terms of reductionand mitigation, donating to worthy projects is a great way to go beyond simply minimizing your negative impact, by making a positive environmental impact. And if you don’t have the cash for it, consider giving employees paid time off to volunteer for an environment-related cause. Here are some important environmental organizations you can donate to today.
How can your company benefit from green technology?
Even if you don’t plan on building any green technology of your own, your company can still benefit from the advances being made in this area.
Join the global push for sustainability
Green tech providers can help you reduce your business’s carbon footprint, minimize waste, capitalize on renewable resources, and deliver products and services that are better for our world. In the push towards a greener future, there’s room for everyone.
Somewhere along the line, green alternatives got a reputation for being expensive, but in practice, they’re anything but. Most of the time, efficiency improvements in one area (say, electricity) lead to efficiency gains in other areas (financial savings). In addition to the tax credits often available for green tech investments, companies find that investments like solar power can significantly reduce their energy consumption (and therefore energy costs) over the long-term, and finding eco-conscious suppliers can also lead to savings.
Two things happen when your company commits to going green. Firstly, analyzing your operations reveals efficiency opportunities you might not have found otherwise, and secondly, employees become happier and more satisfied at work. And both of these (surprise, surprise!) lead to better productivity.
Taking an ecological stance is one way to improve your brand’s image in the eyes of customers, suppliers, and investors.
👉 70% of shoppers believe brands should be sustainable and environmentally responsible, which poses a fantastic opportunity for brands willing to make the switch.
Talk to Greenly
Not all green businesses need to be technology-based. With the right business model, you can make most products and services environmentally friendly. Take the first step towards reducing your carbon footprint by requesting a free and non-binding demo with one of our experts today and finding the solution that best fits your business needs.
We’ve helped hundreds of businesses reduce their environmental impact, and we can do the same for you, whether you're a green technology business, or not.
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