Until we are able to pollute less – Smog Filtering Towers can help clean the air



  1. Sustainability Problem: Air pollution in cities causes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as premature death. Category: Health
  2. Possible tech solution: Smog Filtering Tower.


  • The City of Rotterdam in the Netherlands was the first in the world to open a smog-free tower.
  • The vacuum-cleaner like structure is seven meters high. It sucks in dirty air, filters it using Ion technology, and return clean air into the atmosphere.
  • Every hour, the tower can clean 30,000 cubic meters of air.
  • Verification tests have shown that the tower improves outdoor air quality by up to 60%, and indoor air quality (such as in parking garages) by up to 70%.
  1. Organizational Stakeholders: Citizens in highly polluted cities, local environmental organizations, private Genentech companies, municipal departments of environmental protection, local political leaders.
  2. Steps in deploying the technology:
    • Obtain political buy in from local stakeholders
    • Secure financial support (can be PPP that brings together local public and private organizations)
    • Design smog filtering tower that meets specific needs of the interested city (size, aesthetics, location, etc.)
  3. Comment on “Elevated bike path concept to fight congestion” by Pablo Mandiola

The proposed technology does not make cycling safer, as mentioned in your post. In fact, regular bicycles would not be welcomed on the proposed elevated lane network, as it is designed to accommodate electric bikes, scooters and other two-wheelers that BMW manufactures.

While the idea is interesting, if the ultimate goal is to reduce GHG emissions and promote low carbon transportation methods – we should be reducing paved road miles and not increasing them. Rather than building an additional road network, I would propose re-purposing vehicle lanes into bike and public transportation lanes, which would reduce the need and convenience of private vehicles on roads and reduce emissions from transportation.


Dynamic Buildings for a Sustainable Future


  1. Sustainability Problem: Energy.

As the world’s population continues to become more and more urbanized, cities are bearing most of the global energy burden, with buildings often being one of main energy consumers. In New York City for example, buildings are responsible for approximately 75% of the city’s GHG emissions, mainly due to energy use.

  1. http://www.dynamicarchitecture.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=37&Itemid=10&lang=eng


Dynamic Architecture has developed a revolutionary building idea that can help make the built environment more modern and sustainable.

  • In Dynamic’s building, each floor can rotate separately (upon demand), adjusting to the sun and wind directions to allow for enhanced natural temperature control.
  • Except for a concrete core, the entire building is made of prefabricated units. This allows for shorter onsite construction time and lower labor costs.
  • There is a wind turbine between each rotating building floor and solar ink on the roof surfaces, allowing for the building to be energy self-sufficient and potentially generate enough energy to power five additional buildings (this calculation is based on a building site in Dubai, different locations may have different energy generation potential).
  1. Organizational Stakeholders:

Local Government building and energy departments, utility companies, local real estate developers and investors.

  1. To deploy this technology, the first step is to get political buy in from top city officials to help cut through red tape in building permit approvals. Next, dynamic architecture should develop a partnership with a local real estate developer to help design a Dynamic building that meets a specific city’s needs. Lastly, a site and financing need to be secured before starting construction.


  1. Comment on post by mk3263: Energy Generating Walkway: No Footstep Wasted.

According to the article, this smart flooring solution can leverage pedestrian steps to generate enough energy to power public lighting. This made me wonder if with additional R&D, these “smart tiles” can be used to pave roads, allowing for moving vehicles on roads to generate renewable energy in a similar way. If prioritized for use in high traffic areas, perhaps this can produce enough energy not only to power street lighting but even entire cities. This would be an interesting opportunity to look into, as so much of our surfaces are covered by asphalt roads that provide no additional benefits to society.

Sustainable cement technology reduces energy and water consumption



  1. Sustainability category: Energy, Water

The cement industry accounts for approximately 5-7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the traditional cement curing process is highly water intensive. As cement is the second most utilized product in the world (after water), improving its manufacturing processes can have a significant impact on global sustainability.

  1. Sustainable Cement: http://solidiatech.com/
  • Solidia technologies has developed a new way to produce concrete and cement that reduces the material’s carbon footprint by up to 70%, and water consumption by 60-80%.
  • The technology uses a lower kiln temperature for manufacturing of cement, which reduces energy consumption, GHG emissions, and costs.
  • The concrete is cured with cO2 rather than the traditional curing process using water, reducing the process’s water use.
  • The resulting material is not only more durable and higher performing than traditional concrete, it is also less expensive to produce.
  1. Stakeholders:
  • Building and contracting companies
  • Local Departments of Building
  • Private developers and homeowners (building new buildings/homes)
  1. The first 3 steps in deploying technology:
  • Insert Solidia cement into local building codes as a mandatory material (banning traditional cement).
  • Seek investments to build additional factories and ramp up production capabilities.
  • Create licensing deals and training programs with existing cement companies, allowing them to produce Solidia Cement.
  1. Comment on “The Compost Professor: A Smart Composting System” by JM4202

As someone who tried home composting for a while (on the roof of my building), I think this is a very good idea, but still has some issues, especially for composting in urban areas.

One of the biggest problems I faced was lack of dry material to add to the compost. In suburbs, homeowners usually have lots of dry leaves they can use from their yards, but that is usually not the case in cities. It seems that this technology is geared towards suburban dwellers, it would be interesting to find a technological solution for home composting in cities.

Innovative Municipal Car Sharing


  1. Sustainability Problem: Energy, Transportation

The ubiquity of private vehicles creates several problems, including energy related GHG emissions and air pollution (from car manufacturing as well as fuel consumption), traffic congestion, and parking shortages in cities.

  1. Tel Aviv Unveils Car-sharing Plan


TELOTO: Tel Aviv Municipal Car Sharing Will Be Launched In 2017


  • A technology that can help address some of these problems is car sharing.
  • Tel Aviv is currently piloting a new municipal car sharing program, different from many existing programs such as zipcar due to the ability to pick up and drop off a vehicle in different locations throughout the city, similar to existing municipal bike sharing programs.
  • The initial launch includes a fleet of 260 vehicles and 520 reserved parking spaces across the city.
  • Users will pay a flat monthly fee and an additional hourly use charge to use the service.
  • The program’s app shows a city map with available vehicles as well as available parking space locations.

This type of technology is better than most existing car sharing programs, as it can solve the “last mile” problem for public transportation that many cities around the world face. If designed and distributed properly, this type of program can allow people to enter the city with public transportation, and use a shared vehicle to arrive to their final destination without having to return it to its original spot. As cities are forced to manage higher and higher population densities, the app can be used to match commuters with similar routes and offer lower prices for carpooling to further alleviate traffic congestion.

  1. Stakeholders: Municipal governments and transportation departments, public transportation companies, car manufacturers, city residents.
  2. In order to successfully deploy this technology, a city must:
  • Research transportation patterns to help decide where vehicles and parking spots are most needed.
  • Develop a public awareness campaign to help residents understand the merits of the program.
  • Create financial incentives for residents who are willing to give up their private vehicles.
  1. Comment on post by Haley Mole “Don’t Waste Water: here is the smart way to keep your lawns Green!”

The Rachio app can help calculate how long the sprinkler system should run based on manually entered data about the type of vegetation and soil, sun exposure, and slope of the land. It can also take into consideration local weather conditions (rain, moisture, temperature) to either ramp up or ramp down the watering schedule.

Not a Plastic Bag


  1. Sustainability Problem: Waste

Single use plastic bags are among the greatest contributors to land and water pollution. They are normally used for just minutes, but take can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, polluting land, air and water, and killing wildlife in the process.

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/16/world/cassava-plastic/index.html
  • Avani Eco, an Indonesia based company, has created a 100% plant based, non-toxic and biodegradable material that can replace plastic bags.
  • The material is made primarily from the cassava root, a very common and inexpensive vegetable in Indonesia.
  • The material is harmless to animals and humans if ingested, and breaks down in months.
  • The bio-based plastic bags still cost about twice as much as conventional plastic bags.
  1. Stakeholders for this technology include municipal governments/sanitation departments, large retail stores and supermarkets (who are increasingly facing plastic bag bans), as well as environmental advocacy groups and non-profit organizations dedicated to waste and pollution reduction.
  2. The first steps for deploying this technology on a large scale:
  • Invest in R&D to help reduce the cost of the bio-based plastic bags, making them more competitive with traditional plastic bags.
  • Ban the use of single use plastic bags in local municipalities
  • Partner with a large national retailer (such as Walmart, Target, or Wholefoods to gain widespread recognition and prove market viability.
  1. Comment on post “Smart Transportation & Smart Waste Management” by sn2754:

While I think technology is a great idea for optimizing waste management, there would be a huge hurdle to implement this in NYC, as commercial waste (from stores, offices, restaurants, etc.) is not managed by the city. Each business has a contract with a private waste hauling company, which causes garbage routes to be extremely inefficient and redundant. In order to implement a “smarter” waste management system as described in the post, legislation would first have to change the status quo in commercial waste contracts.

Safer and Better Performing Energy Storage Technologies


  1. Sustainability Problem: Rising energy demand and the need for incorporating more renewable energy in the electric grid is increasing the need for higher performing and safer energy storage devices. Category: Energy, Safety and Health
  1. Spinning a lighter, safer electrode


  • A group of researchers from Drexel University have created new fabric-like material electrode, intended to help energy storage devices such as cell phone batteries have better performance and reduce their inherent health and safety risks associated with the toxic and flammable electrolyte fluid they contain.
  • To get rid of this dangerous liquid, the team designed an energy storage device that consists of a thick ion-rich gel electrolyte absorbed in a fabric-like material made of carbon nanofibers, thus eliminating the risk of the device exploding or catching fire (as was recently demonstrated in Samsung Galaxy Note devices).
  • The technology also allows for lighter, more durable, and better performing energy storage devices, due to the lack of binding agents needed and ability to operate safely at extremely high temperatures (up to 300 degrees Celsius).

Additional ways this technology can be utilized

  • Energy storage in the built environment is one the largest barriers to the proliferation of renewable energy due to the intrinsic intermittency of solar and wind power technologies. In NYC, fire safety codes have been a limiting factor for the deployment of lithium-ion batteries in buildings. (see: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/fire-safety-issues-dog-battery-storage-growth-in-new-york-city-slowing-dep/438290/)
  • If the energy storage device created by the scientist team from Drexel University can be proven effective on a larger scale, not just in mobile device batteries, it can potentially help solve the fire safety issues of battery storage in buildings and support proliferation of renewable energy in the built environment.
  1. Stakeholders: Renewable energy companies, local government bodies regulating energy and buildings (i.e. NYSERDA, NYC DOT, FDNY), Building owners.
  2. Next Steps:
  • Research applicability of large-scale of liquid-free energy storage technology and develop energy storage devices using the technology.
  • Update building and fire codes to allow for the deployment of these devices in the built environment.
  • Provide subsidies for large scale liquid-free batteries to building owners and builders.
  1. Comment on post by js5079 – How Internet-of-Things technology can assist with Urban Rainfall and Stormwater Management Systems:


The sensors can also trace chemicals present in stormwater, and help determine how well the existing green infrastructure is performing. For example, if rainwater is prevented from entering the sewer system, or which green infrastructure designs are more appropriate for which types of precipitation (heavy vs. light rain, etc.).


Vacuum Glazed Windows for Energy Efficiency



  1. Sustainability Problem: Heat loss through windows in buildings. Category: Energy

Buildings are one of the highest sources of energy consumption and GHG emissions. In NYC, buildings account for over 75% of the city’s emissions, making them the largest contributors to the city’s carbon footprint.

  1.  “Vacuum Glazing: Windows that are Energy Efficient AND Cost Effective”


  • Approximately 40% of heat loss from buildings occurs due to poorly insulated walls, floors and windows, making building envelope improvements an effective way to decrease energy bills and reduce a building’s carbon footprint.
  • Vacuum glazing is an innovative window technology that can greatly improve window insulation performance and reduce heat loss from windows.
  • Vacuum glazed windows are similar to regular double paned windows. The difference is that here air is removed from between the two panes of glass. This process reduces the conduction and convection abilities of the window, allowing less heat to leak out.
  • While they are still fairly expensive, the energy savings from installing vacuum glazed windows reduces the payback period to approximately 14 years.
  • The effectiveness of the technology may be reduced in regions with extreme temperature fluctuations.
  1. Organizational stakeholders for this technology include green building companies, utility companies, and local governments looking for ways to reduce energy consumption in their regions.
  2. The first three steps for deploying this technology:
  • Increase research funding to improve the technology and allow for use in extreme climate regions.
  • Increase competition to reduce cost and make the technology competitive with standard windows.
  • Offer local grants and/or loans to help businesses and homeowners finance new window installations.

Carbon Negative Anaerobic Digestion


1. The Problem: Methane Emissions from Organic Waste in Landfills

(Categories: Waste, Energy)

Organic waste disposed of in landfills does not decompose properly and emits methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. The emission of methane into the atmosphere not only contributes to global warming, it also wastes a valuable potential source of energy.

2. “Carbon Negative” Anaerobic Digestion Biogas Upgrading Plant Opened in Italy

Accessed from: Waste Management World


  • Tecno Project Industriale, a Milan based company, has recently completed the first “carbon negative” anaerobic digestion plant in Italy.
  • Using only the organic portion of municipal solid waste, the plant produces carbon dioxide and methane.
  • The carbon dioxide will be used in industrial processes and the methane will be added to the national natural gas system.
  • As the new plant is the first of its kind in Italy to emit less CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere than it takes out of it, it marks an important step towards a more sustainable, less carbon intense economy.

3. Stakeholders

Main stakeholders for this technology are local and municipal governments, specifically waste and sanitation departments. Private businesses and investors can also create innovative public-private partnerships and business structures to make this a viable investment opportunity.

4. The First Three Steps for Deploying this Technology:

  • Finding a suitable site
  • Financing the project
  • Creating a municipal organic waste collection program to ensure long term reliable feedstock to the plant