As we move forward together to create a more sustainable world, I find it very gratifying when new innovations just make perfect sense. The ones that really grab my attention are the ideas that expand the usefulness of products that we already need and use globally. Thus the new products are not introduced for complete new uses, but rather new innovations are applied to existing frameworks of need that are already widely used and in demand.
So we don’t have to sell the use of a new widget, we just sell the extended benefits of something we already need and want. That’s a great idea.
For instance, in the energy conservation sector, I recently read about some of the solar innovations that the company Onyx Solar has developed. “Onyx Solar is a global company developing smart solar solutions for Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). The solutions replace conventional materials such as glass or ceramics for a constructive material with photovoltaic properties in ventilated façades and roofs, curtain walls, skylights, walkable roof, etc. The idea is to incorporate photovoltaic properties to building envelopes to allow to them to produce clean and free energy from the sun from an aesthetical and feasible point of view.”
I love these types of ideas! Not only do they meet the current structural and aesthetic designs with transparency, but they incorporate active and passive benefits, as well. The active capacity for generating electricity can be used for self-consumption, or connected to the power grid and sold back to a power company.
The passive elements enhance thermal insulation reducing the need for more energy. Of course they can provide UV protection as well. If the life cycles of these products from resource management, material selection, and energy conservation in manufacturing to end of life and recyclability also incorporate sustainability, then they are truly on target. These practices are not so transparent.
The initial target markets for this technology are the architects and developers of larger-scale public buildings. This is the perfect market right now. However, Onyx Solar has applications at the consumer level, too, and it’s only a matter of time before sustainability practices in the value chain create savings that make the technology more affordable for budget conscious consumers, as well. The technology will keep advancing if you support solar energy.
I envision in the future garage doors with stylish windows that create their own power to open and close, beautifully designed skylights that provide the power to warm and cool our homes, car windows that charge electric batteries and protect against harmful UVs, and power companies that redistribute energy rather than just provide it. I hope that in the near future, all transparent materials will incorporate self-powering capabilities and windows as we know them will all be recycled and obsolete.
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