15 ‘Green’ Tech Innovations And Practices That Can Help Protect The Environment
In recent years, both companies and consumers have become more focused on what global societies—and individuals—can do to better protect the environment. The impressive advances made by the tech industry in areas ranging from remote work to healthcare to transportation and more have led many to hope technology can play a significant role in helping us generate “green” energy, manage pollution and reduce waste.
While technology experts caution that there’s no “silver bullet” solution for global environmental issues, they are optimistic about several focused technology innovations and practices that could play a significant role in helping to protect our planet. Below, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council discuss technology advances and practices they believe have real promise in shrinking humankind’s carbon footprint.
While green technology (such as solar and wind power and electric vehicles) is moving in the right direction, we also have to focus on reversing the impact of decades of neglect. Advances in carbon capture and storage are showing promise and providing hope of a cost-effective and safe means of actually achieving carbon-negative emissions and a reversal of our current trajectory. – Neil Lampton, TIAG
“Green hydrogen” is a hot topic and is quickly becoming a major component of the world’s clean energy mix. The challenges to date have been the high cost and serious safety issues associated with producing hydrogen energy. Advances in electrolyzer and fuel cell technology are narrowing the gap on the cost issue. Plus, new sensor technology is making it safer to produce, transport and use hydrogen energy in either combustion or electrochemical processes. – Nick Newsom, Ytel Communications.
The need for computing in the public cloud is increasing, and the requirement for cloud computing will grow even more as we bring in applications such as augmented reality. While we are introducing green technology in multiple areas and moving toward edge data centers, as software vendors, we all have to be good tenants of the cloud infrastructure and write energy-efficient software that uses less energy in computing. – Kaitki Agarwal, A5G Networks, Inc.
3. Green-Focused Data Collection
Moving forward, technology that collects data on energy consumption and carbon emissions has the potential to make a huge impact, as according to the Environmental Protection Agency, electricity accounts for the second-largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. The bottom line is, data will be paramount when it comes to fighting climate change, and technology that collects data needs to be embraced. – Steve Van Till, Brivo
Geothermal Energy/Lithium Recovery
I’m extremely excited about what Controlled Thermal Resources is doing near my home in Palm Springs, California. They are combining geothermal energy with lithium salt extraction, turning the salty Salton Sea Geothermal Field into a huge resource for renewable energy and battery materials at the same time! – Miles Ward, SADA
Mobile Apps For Conservation Management
To achieve global “30 by 30” conservation goals—conserving 30% of the earth’s land and water by 2030—the New Zealand Department of Conservation is using mobile apps to more effectively manage their conservation process. Simple but effective tools such as these are critical for governments to consider as we all work together to achieve our global conservation goals. – Andreas Sulejewski, Neptune Software
3D printing is a green technology because there is less waste. Instead of starting with a block of material, you begin from scratch, using only the absolute minimum necessary resources to make an object. Today, 3D printing is transforming the manufacturing industry, turning manufacturing into 1s and 0s. This is the kind of future that converging exponential technologies enable. – Margarita Simonova, ILoveMyQA
Through optimization, technology is making a big, sustainable impact on the transportation and logistics industry. Continued optimization of route efficiency helps reduce idle time. Predictive maintenance helps keep trucks running at optimal efficiency. There are many new industry developments at varying stages of maturity that will help protect the environment. – Daragh Mahon, Werner Enterprises
While technology is solving significant challenges in many aspects of protecting the environment, we have a strong opportunity closer to home. Technology reuse is a great opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of hours of compute energy. There are millions of libraries of code available to the public that can be reused to build digital solutions while reducing IT energy demands. – Ashok Balasubramanian, Open Weaver Inc.
Consultations/Training Via Mixed Reality
When it comes to “green” solutions, there’s a giant role to be played by technologies related to mixed reality and communication. Research in laboratories often requires expert supervision. But instead of traveling halfway across the world, it will soon be enough to put on mixed reality goggles. This technology can also be used during complex surgical procedures: Disparate specialists from all the world can meet in one operating room without leaving home. – Robert Strzelecki, TenderHut
A traditional “wet” signature requires printing, signing, scanning and returning on both ends. The blockchain can replace conventional contracting methods between entities and allow for a seamless, accurate agreement record. Additionally, adopting this approach will both eliminate waste and re-create job sectors that have traditionally been driven by paper and signatures. – Sean Barker, cloudEQ
There are many amazing innovations happening now, from harvesting rare earth materials to the development of iron-based batteries to capturing the heat of Earth’s core. One major opportunity is in carbon-negative building materials such as carbon-negative concrete. Buildings account for 40% of all carbon emissions, and concrete is the world’s most used building material. There’s an opportunity to even reverse building emissions’ impact on the climate. – Maciej Kranz, KONE
Smart Temperature Control/Management
Historically, heating and cooling have accounted for more than half of the total residential energy bill in the U.S., although this share has dropped in recent years. We’ve already seen the potential, and there’s more we can do. Further tech advancements related to regulating inside temperatures can reduce electricity use and help protect the environment. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor
I have strong hopes for waste-to-energy technologies that generate energy from garbage. Several companies are already developing waste-treatment solutions that generate energy in the form of steam, hot water or electricity that can later be used for internal processes. These technologies solve two problems at once, so we can predict their development at twice the speed. – Vasily Voropaev, Smartbrain.io
Intelligent agriculture is the next big “green” technology. Recent supply chain strains, together with the waste of food, are driving innovations in smart, greener agriculture. While we produce enough crops to feed Earth’s population, roughly 30% is lost or wasted—it’s food that never gets consumed. Intelligent farming allows us to grow produce based on supply/demand needs, global requirements and regional farming capabilities. – Spiros Liolis, Micro Focus
Previously published on Forbes.