Green technology is sometimes referred to as environmental technology, sustainable technology or clean technology.
It is basically the application of environmental science and knowledge, with the aim of conserving the environment and reducing man’s impact on it.
The applications of environmental technology are widespread (though some may argue that it is still not enough) in our lives and society today. The applications can range from simple appliances (like the energy saving lightings that you install in your house) to highly complex and specialized systems (e.g. recycling facilities and systems, climate monitoring systems, air filtering devices and systems etc).
The driving force
In turn, the driving force behind green technology is sustainable development.
Sustainable development IS
the future of our society. We urgently need to find new and cleaner ways to create the energy, materials and resources that our communities and society need to operate, without further destruction to the environment (e.g. pollution
) or depleting nature’s resources beyond its natural rate of regeneration.
This is because our very well-being is highly dependent on the well-being of our environment. If our environment goes, so too will our future and the future of our people.
Besides environmental conservation, sustainable development is also important to secure a continuous supply of resources for the functioning of our world’s community. If we do not find more sustainable alternatives and instead continue to use up the earth’s natural resources at such rapid rates, in no time, there would be none left to sustain life on this planet.
Aspects of green technology
Today, green technology is one of the fastest growing employment sectors and it is not just a passing trend. There are so many different areas, and people are needed to serve in different aspects of the sector (e.g. recycling jobs, green energy jobs, conservation jobs, etc), including the “not-so-green-job” jobs like human resource, finance and marketing. Read about the different types of eco jobs.
Some of the broad aspects of sustainable technology are listed below. Some of the areas are not absolutely distinct from the others and there might be some overlaps. For example, aspects of green manufacturing that design products for post-consumer recycling overlap with recycling efforts.
- Green energy -- One of the most commonly known aspect of green technology, this area looks into the development of alternative, renewable, cleaner and sustainable sources of energy (e.g. solar energy, biomass energy, wind power energy, etc) to replace non-renewable energies (e.g. petroleum and coal) in meeting the world’s energy needs. Efforts include searching for new sources of sustainable green energy, improving the conversion of the energy sources to electricity, as well as the design and production of technologies (e.g. eco vehicles, power generation plants) that are able to make use of the alternative energy sources in performing the required functions.
This area also looks into improving efficiency in our use of energy, such as through the design and production of energy efficient appliances and the introduction of energy efficiency standards like the Energy Star.
- Green manufacturing -- This area of green technology looks into the design and production of goods whose entire life-cycle leaves the smallest possible impact on the environment. In turn, the life-cycle of goods (e.g. food, household items, electrical appliances, clothes and accessories, cars, etc) includes the production stage, the consumption stage as well as the disposal stage.
This area could include the very farming or mining processes to derive the eco friendly or organic raw materials (e.g. organic cotton) for the production process, transporting the raw materials to the production facilities, the design of the products (to ensure minimal harmful contents, minimal pre-consumer and post-consumer waste, etc), the actual production process, the distribution of the goods to retailers, and even the collection of the post-consumer goods for safe disposal or recycling.
- Recycling -- This area looks into carrying out the actual recycling process for the various recyclable materials found in post-consumer or post-industrial waste, as well as constantly finding ways to improve recycling rates and efficiency at the various stages of the recycling process, etc.
Besides the downstream recycling process, some in this area also work upstream in designing products that are recyclable, finding demands for recycled materials, or finding ways to recycle materials that are conventionally not recycled.
- Green buildings and urban planning -- This area of green technology looks into the design and construction of eco friendly buildings and urban cities, so as to minimize the impact that these man-made structures have on the natural environment.
Efforts in green building could include the design and construction of buildings that are energy efficient, make use of eco friendly materials and minimize wastage in the construction process, etc. Read more about eco friendly buildings.
In turn, sustainable urban planning efforts could include planning for an effective and low-emission public transport system so as to reduce need for private transport, measures to counter the “heat island effect” so as to reduce the need for air-conditioning, increasing the ability of the city to power itself using renewable energy sources so as to reduce reliance on non-renewable energies, etc.
- Pollution control -- This area of green technology looks into addressing the pollution problems in the world today. Efforts could include clearing up currently polluted areas (like the Oceanic Garbage Patches, polluted rivers and landfill lands, etc), as well as the design and production of technologies and standards that will help reduce pollution (such as filters for the exhaust gas leaving power stations and vehicles, effective treatment systems for sewage and waste, etc), etc.
- Conservation -- This area looks into conservation of the various natural resources, such as (fresh) water conservation, land and energy conservation. Efforts also include conservation of wildlife and forestland conservation.
Impressive advances in green technology have been made during the past few decades. It has greatly benefited from overall developments in electronics, biotechnology, materials sciences and other areas of technology. For example, the development of fuel cells for the space travel program created the possibility for the use of hydrogen (H2) as a non polluting transport fuel.
In fact, much technological advancement in areas not related to the environmental sciences actually present promising opportunities for the development of green technology. The challenge is knowing where and how to tap on these new technologies for application to solve some of the world’s pressing environmental problems.
The Best Of Eco Technology & Innovations
Read about the eco technologies and innovations that our readers think have made major impact on the environmental scene.
And share with us your thoughts on what qualifies for the Best of Eco Innovations.
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