Top 5 Eco Innovations of 2011

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Biome Terrarium

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Being green is still a relatively new philosophy; so much so, that there is still ample opportunity to both create new and improve upon existing home, lifestyle, style and technology products that focus on environmentally-smart form and function.

Throughout 2011 we saw industry and innovation that turned up the aesthetic and performance notches on basic eco concepts, making a greener lifestyle more accessible to more people, more easily.

Here are five of the most exciting eco innovations of 2011:


1. Space-Saver Homes

The concept of “domestic transformer” apartments have not been lost on both the eco and the urban communities, who face issues of space, cost and smart planning to satisfy life needs. One man and architect in Hong Kong’s tightly packed city center has designed an amazing modern and functional 330 sq.ft apartment with sliding walls that transform the space into 24 different room combinations.


2. Biome Terrarium

Bridging the gap between technology and nature, a London-based designer created the Biome Terrarium:
a living, breathing “Tamagotchi” of the new millennium.  Controlled by your iPad or smartphone, this innovative  product allowing you to adjust lighting levels, climate conditions and water from your device to help nurture the plants inside.

Biome Terrarium

3. Vertical Forest

Milan is currently under construction—and about to become host to the world’s first vertical forest.

The city is currently erecting a 27-story structure whose immense integrated structuring of forest and plant life will produce humidity and oxygen, absorb CO2 and dust particles and protect the building from radiation and acoustic pollution, not only improving the quality of the living spaces, but allowing for dramatic energy savings.

Bosco Verticale

4. Indoor Composting

Another great innovation in home design is this Parasite Farm –a product with a gross name but a cool function, allowing for even the smallest of kitchens to incorporate smart composing into its waste system.  The Farm includes several planter beds with grow lights, and a compost bin with a chopping board lid that can be mounted on any kitchen table.

Parasite Farm

5. Fuel Cells

Finally, some rest for that laptop charger pack! Apple recently put a patent on fuel cell technology, in an attempt to curb the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. Hydrogen fuel cells not only boast longer life than batteries, but are also capable of running on one charge for weeks without requiring a re-up. The company is putting big bucks into the research of this relatively new concept under guidance of their Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool.




2 thoughts on “Top 5 Eco Innovations of 2011”

  1. Jessica,

    Keep up the excellent work. Some of the five innovations remind me of others that I have heard of in the past and some of which appear to be being used in Vancouver as well. I will get to them in order

    1) eco-home saver is something which without a doubt the Chinese as well as the Japanese along with many other people and families in various parts of the world had/have to traditionally use because of population density something that we have taken for granted but currently look to in order to better utilize our own space. For example, our downtown core as in most places around the world have become densely packed and populated that we have smaller living space mostly that of condos and high rises which in turn require smart internal design and usage–anything from less furniture (including things like futons that double as couch/bed etc.) to shelving units which utilize upward wall space that would otherwise be empty air has likely been inspired by those who had to live in tight living quarters making very good use of every square inch.

    2) bio-terrarium seems to be a new take on the old voice controlled activation one of various devices and I guess something for the 21st century although honestly speaking I prefer the old voice activated ones. Nevertheless, it is really cool to see that climate control to nurture plants is also included =)

    3) vertical forest in Milan reminds me of the times when ancient civilizations such as Greece, Babylon etc. had incorporated the love for nature into their surrounding structures. When I see the vertical forests of Milan I immediately think of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which I believe is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I also think about many of the temples and places in India, Vietnam, China etc., not to mention more closer to home those apartment buildings along English Bay that are covered with leaves and which look absolutely beautiful running along the exterior.

    4) indoor composting definitely looks new to me although it may or may not have been with us from the past. Without a doubt if used properly it can be very constructive and can help us green our lives.

    5) laptop fuel cells are going to be a very interesting and an extremely costly pioneering adventure. Some of the difficulties with fuel cell technology as to my knowledge are: compressibility and portability, volatility and stability. Currently, fuel cells are fairly large and being able to compress and make them portable is going to take some more time and research. The big problem with fuel cells are that they can be somewhat risky in that hydrogen being a noble gas is also fairly volatile and combustible, something which needs to be handled carefully. Hydrogen, at least the type to power fuel cells generally needs to be brought up from the Earth’s crust (as to my knowledge and understanding) which is actually extremely costly to do, both in terms of finances as well as to the environment. Unless companies find a way to produce enough hydrogen (say through water vapors–electrolysis–but that is costly too both ways) fuel cells are still quite some time away from being viable. Nevertheless, it is a worthy endeavor.


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