Sustainability has managed to find a place at the table thanks to trends in greener policy and changing requirements from industry regulators.
They are making headway into energy-efficient appliances and home systems, eco-friendly building, harnessing solar and wind power, biodegradable materials, biofuels and encouraging individuals to track their own environmental impact.
The latest technology trends are smart appliances and smart applications.
Smart, Very Smart
Home appliances are increasingly being designed with intelligence in mind.
People want stuff to work hard and save costs at the same time, and they are getting it.
Zero energy homes are as a way of reducing carbon emissions and adding power back to the grid (aiming to effectively end on ‘zero’ net energy used in a year).
Along with solar power, wind power and shared renewable resources within eco-conscious communities, zero-energy homes are also being built to include automation of lights and water systems (like sprinklers), controlled by an app.
These smart appliance ideas are also greener than usual:
LG was one of the first to unveil their line of smart appliances, including a washing machine that could plan the heaviest washes for during downtime on the power grid, for example.
It works off a smart meter which gathers information about energy usage as it goes.
Very Smart Thermostats
It is not just the run-of-the-mill thermostat on the market anymore.
It is a learning, eco-friendly thermostat which ‘remembers’ data settings, adjusts itself with the seasons and is easily accessible via an app.
The two most popular ones are the Nest Learning Thermostat and ECOBEE4 (with remote sensors).
With new applications for smart devices being developed every day, ‘green’ apps are a dime a dozen.
Whether you are an environmentalist, a budding recycler or someone who wants to make a difference in the world, there is an app for it.
On the plus side, even if you are trying to persuade someone only mildly interested in saving the environment, most of these apps can also save time and money!
Most apps use tracking functions, like tracking habits and measuring how eco-friendly they are or tracking the carbon footprint of a daily commute.
Other apps offer advice, tips, reminders or steps to a greener home or lifestyle. Still, others give suggestions on an environmentally-sustainable building, organic produce, nearby recycling depots, and indigenous plant life.
Here are a few worth adding to the download list:
1. Sustainable Homes
This app provides a platform for updating, renovating or building an eco-friendly home. It includes tips for energy systems, design and materials.
2. Energy Consumption Analyzer (ECAS)
ECAS tracks the efficiency of utilities. Track the average usage figures for water, gas, and electricity. Available in 14 languages, which is awesome! Use this in conjunction with the Green Outlet app and estimate your carbon footprint based on this usage, too.
3. Green Charging
This app helps develop greener habits by reminding you to disconnect appliances when not in use. It makes your iPhone vibrate when fully charged, and gives estimated talk time remaining at current battery levels.
4 Light Bulb Finder
Light Bulb Finder suggests lightbulb replacements by giving you information. It logs the type of lightbulb, where you might purchase one, and which replacement bulb is recommended as the greenest option.
This app tracks your water footprint – exactly how much water you use during the course of your day. It helps to make better choices by identifying water-sapping appliances or routines and may give you ideas for making eco-friendly changes within your home.
Rippl reminds you about living green by giving you a gentle nudge in the right direction throughout the day. It offers handy tips for a greener lifestyle, and small changes to make at home or at work. Go Green app is similar in that it encourages small changes around the house by taking you through 52 steps to a greener, healthier you.
GardenAnswers is for use outside. It is an easy way to identify plants around your garden (and to check your indoor plants are save, water-saving choices).
8 Climate Counts
Climate Counts identifies large corporations and ranks them according to their eco-friendliness. You can find information about their environmental policies and contributions. Should the company rank low on the app, the aim is for environmentalists to take their business elsewhere.
TIP: If you find these apps limited to certain service providers, like Apple, don’t be discouraged. There are similar apps popping up all the time which are compatible with various devices. Take this list as a guideline so you know the type of apps to look out for on your next Play Store search.