Sustainability issue: Health

Based on The American Diabete Association’s statistics, “About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes and an estimated 40,000 people will be newly diagnosed each year in the U.S.”
Type 1 Diabete is a disease that causes body not to’t produce insulin and it is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.

Scientific have been working at developing a vaccine called bacillus Calmette-Guérin. The vaccine, which is still being tested, would reverse the effects of Type 1 Diabete. The way it works is by destroying the defective white blood cells (beta cells) which are hindering the release of insulin the blood.
The vaccine showed very promising results and is being tested on humans.

Stakeholders: – Hospitals, Medical research centers, the FDA, Patients

Source : http://time.com/3911000/the-vaccine-for-type-1-diabetes-is-moving-forward/


1-Vaccine needs to be FDA-approved

2-Start manufacturing

3-Quality control



Tailend device to capture particulate matter and turn it into ink – Kaalink

1) Sustainability problem: Air pollution from particulate matter emissions of automobiles  Area: Safety and Health, Waste

  • Particulate matter emissions from automobiles can cause adverse health and environmental effects
  • Fine particles (PM2.5) are the main cause of reduced visibility (haze) in many parts of the world. They can also cause acidification of lakes, depleting nutrients in soil, damaging sensitive forests and farm crops, affecting the diversity of ecosystems and contributing to acid rain effects.
  • Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.

2)  Technology

  •  A tail end attachment device developed by Graviky Labs, named Kaalink, which captures the soot being emitted from automobiles.
  • The proprietary electrostatic filter captures pollutants from vehicles, reportedly without impacting engine performance.
  • The captured soot is then processed to remove dangerous metals and carcinogens, leaving behind carbon pigment used to manufacture what they call Air-Ink.


1) https://www.dezeen.com/2017/03/08/graviky-labs-captures-air-pollution-turns-into-ink-design-products/


3) Stakeholders

  • Local Governments
  • Automobile owners
  • Health and safety officials
  • Environmental policymakers

4) Deployment 

  • Launch a marketing campaign to increase awareness of the product
  • Partnerships with cities and other large organizations to equip fleets with the tail-end device
  • Pricing the product at a low price point to make sure its use is ubiquitous.


UNI- jv2610

Hydoponics for on-site agriculture

Over five years ago now I was on top of a brand new high school in Southern Minnesota looking over the barren roof. Modern HVAC equipment has been centralized leaving roofs pretty much empty. One option to cover the rooftops is Solar PV, but for organizations that serve food, such as schools, the best option may be to grow the food for their cafeterias on-site utilizing hydroponics.

Hydroponics allow for growing without soil, meaning crops can grow virtually anywhere, provided water, nutrients, and light. Plants get exactly the right amount of water and nutrients and, since the growing season is year-round if placed in a greenhouse, yields can be 10-20 times the amount per land area depending on the crop. Again depending on the crop, 60-90% less water is used.

Growing on-site reduces the food-mileage to zero, however that doesn’t necessarily remove the carbon-footprint. A lot of electricity is used to grow the crops and depending on distance from the normal source of food and source of electricity GHG emissions could go up, or they could go down significantly. Typically, areas in the Northeast would see a dramatic decrease in carbon-footprint.

While a school was the initial inspiration of the idea, there are a lot of vertical markets that could use hydroponics: healthcare, K-12, Universities, Stadiums, and any other vertical market served by the food service industry.

I actually started a company to do this, but didn’t have much success selling the idea. Mostly the problem was the business skills and financial backing I lacked. From trying to sell this idea for a year or so, though, there’s lots of obstacles to maneuver from the customer side. First is finding a customer that will like to be the first to do this. Next is to find one that is willing to invest immediately. I didn’t want to deal with the growing of the food, just selling the development and installation of the hydroponic systems. The payback for the customer can range from 1 to 5 years depending on the crop, location, size of system, etc. There’s other business plans that might work, though, such as leasing the system or installing on-site and contracting the food.

For me, personally, this is a dream and I took a job where I still have the possibility of promoting this idea. It’s going to be a long winding road, though!

For more reading on hydroponics, this is a great article in this months National Geographic on the tremendous work being done by the Dutch. “This Tiny Country Feeds the World.”

UNI: #bmb2189

Tags: #agriculture

Comment on “Connected Rooftop Units Learn to Maintain and Monitor Indoor Air Quality.”

Great Find! From my perspective, as an Energy Engineer that worked with RTUs for several years, there’s a lot of opportunity for improvement in RTU technology. Also, these units cover virtually all vertical markets and this technology can be marketed to those. The best opportunity would be to retrofit existing units with IoT controls. Again, great find!

Fashion tech: animal-free leather?

Sustainability problem:

Leather is a $100 billion global business. It is an industry tied to a complex and unreliable supply chain, challenged by price volatility and sourcing inconsistency due to the non-homogenous quality of the material. Research has shown that 20 to 30% of the raw material goes to waste.

The industry is dependent on animal skin, and is petrochemical and GHG intensive.


modernmeadow1-500x625.png Fake or real? (source: Courtesy)

Modern Meadow is a biotechnology startup fabricating leather without animal skin. The company produces a fibrous protein called collagen by fermenting a specific strain of yeast. The collagen is then assembled and tanned to create a material that is almost identical to traditional leather.


  • any company sourcing leather to manufacture its goods
  • fashion and luxury industry with high margins and a pressing need to innovate
  • traditional leather suppliers
  • NGOs


  • Raise product and technology awareness
  • Strategic B2B business development campaigns
  • Product development partnerships with clients
  • Further technology/advance to reduce the price of currently costly product and unlock mainstream markets beyond the luxury industry





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

Renewable Energy for Everyone

1. Sustainability Problem: Access to Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is a key piece of the puzzle to creating a low-carbon future. However, most people can’t personally support renewable energy for various reasons, including not being a homeowner or owning a home in a location that’s not suitable for renewable energy.

Category: Energy

2. Technology Summary

  • Technology company Arcadia Power has created an online platform that allows anyone living in the 50 states of the U.S. to support renewable energy projects when paying their utility bills (regardless of whether they buy or rent, where they live, their utility provides green energy options, etc.)
  • Customers pay their utility bills through Arcadia, who in turn pays the customer’s local utility for the energy the customer consumed. Meanwhile, Arcadia offsets (buys and retires) all of the consumed energy with certified RECs.
  • Navigating buying and retiring RECs is not something that individuals could easily do before this platform and participating in community solar projects is not available to anyone living anywhere in the U.S., as the projects tend to look for “local” subscribers.
  • Arcadia makes putting your weight behind renewable energy easy (you don’t have to switch your utility) at a reasonable cost (switching to 50% renewable energy is free, switching to 100% renewable energy costs 1.5c/kWh)
  • The customer also benefits from a streamlined analytics tool that shows how much energy the customer is using, environmental impact, and what projects the RECs are coming from.

Article: “Clean, Renewable Energy Has Never Been Easier”, San Diego Free Press (May 4, 2017): https://sandiegofreepress.org/2017/05/clean-renewable-energy-never-easier/

I also used the company’s website to clarify aspects of the technology/business model: https://www.arcadiapower.com/

Tags: #energy #renewableenergy #cleanenergy #RECs #technology #sustainability

3. Organizational Stakeholders That Will Need to Use the Technology

The company currently is targeting individuals (renters and homeowners). I could see this tool also being attractive to small- and medium-sized companies that can’t or don’t want to invest in solar panels on their roofs for similar reasons as individuals. Depending on the structure of the company, stakeholders to use the tool could be the facilities and/or finance departments.

4. Steps in Deploying This Technology

  1. Find project owners and developers to partner with to acquire their RECs
  2. Negotiate REC purchasing agreements with these partners
  3. Educate individuals and companies on renewable energy, RECs, and the platform to get them to try the free option first


Uni: gg2641


Smog Filtering Tower


Article: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/sep/19/worlds-first-smog-filtering-tower-on-tour-daan-roosegaarde-air-pollution


Architect Dan Roosegaarde and nanoparticles expert Bob Ursem created a smog filter that uses ion technology to ingest dirty air,  filter it, and return clean air through vents. The filter is installed in a  7meter high steel tower that can be easily shipped. Initially installed in Rotterdam, expansion plans include Beijing, whose pollution inspired the product’s design. The filter has the capacity to clean 30,000 cubic meters of air in an hour. The air space roughly the size of a football stadium could be filtered in 1.5 days. The tower is also energy efficient running on 14,000 kilowatts of power. In Rotterdam, it is powered by wind and will potentially be powered by solar in other cities.

Sustainability Problem:

Air pollution causes nearly 3 million deaths per year and is expected to get worse, especially in developing countries, if steps to resolve are not addressed. The filtering towers will not solve the problem completely, but it is a good concept to increase awareness of air quality conditions and encourage wider air pollution reduction measures.


  • Governments in cities/countries with poor air quality
  • Citizens in cities/countries with poor air quality
  • NGOs
  • Scientists/Engineers
  • Architects/Urban Planners
  • Investors


  • Initial funds were raised on Kickstarter
  • Plan is to implement in public parks in Beijing with leasing options available to keep costs down
  • Potential expansion to other countries that face air quality concerns such as India
  • Public-Private Partnerships would be key in implementing on larger scale and to help cities with the costs

Other Sources:



Aquaponic greenhouses, redefining urban farming



Aquaponic greenhouses on city rooftops that help grow organic greens, mushrooms, herbs and other plants with the help of waste from fish and prawns that also grow in mini-farms.

Article: https://techcrunch.com/2015/09/01/edenworks-is-building-the-future-of-food-on-urban-rooftops/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
and http://www.techinsider.io/edenworks-brooklyn-vertical-farm-2016-5

Sustainability challenge:

It doesn’t always take a major natural disaster for us to notice the urban food scarcity around us. With the growth of cities, comes the additional challenge of feeding the growing urban populations. The same old farming practices in the same old places are not sufficient anymore to cater to the increasing food demand within cities, let alone withstanding the looming threat of climate change. Reducing the distance (and cost and emissions) of food from farm to plate, and revamping our existing farming practices is crucial to tackle the urban food scarcity problem.


  • Urban dwellers
  • Urban farmers + companies
  • Urban ecosystems
  • Grocery stores/ Supermarkets/ Restaurants
  • Bioengineers (and people with the technology knowledge)

Process of implementation:

I am using the example of a successful urban farming company, Edenworks, mentioned in the above mentioned articles. This company has implemented an aquaponics system in a greenhouse on rooftops in Brooklyn, New York. This company produces organic vegetable and fish using the technology (an image explain the tech is available below). They sell this to supermarkets, restaurants and other food vendors that want locally produced organic food. They brought together the bioengineers to increase the efficiency of the process (using the right bacteria, vertical structures, environment controlled greenhouses, sensors and apps).



1. Sustainability Problem

  • Humans produce 660 billion pounds of plastic a year, and the manufacturing process creates three times as much carbon dioxide by weight as actual plastic.
  • Plastic is mostly made of crude oil, which is collected mainly by fracking in the US. Fracking is associated with water pollution, earthquakes in non-sismic areas, and methane emissions.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2014, CO2 accounted for about 80.9% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

Issues: Air Pollution, Carbon Dioxide emissions, Petroleum consumption, Fracking


2. Technology 

Typically, plastic is made by exposing hydro­carbons from fossil fuels to tremendous pressure and energy. Newlight’s first commercial plant, in California, captures methane generated by a dairy farm’s waste lagoon and transports it to a bioreactor. There, enzymes combine the gas with air to form a polymer. The resulting plastic, called AirCarbon, performs identically to most oil-based plastics but costs less—creating a market-­driven solution to global warming.

AirCarbon is able to meet the performance requirements of a wide range of applications, including applications currently using fossil fuel-based polypropylene, polyethylene, ABS, polystyrene, and TPU. AirCarbon™ can be used in extrusion, blown film, cast film, thermoforming, fiber spinning, and injection molding applications. For more information about specific functional properties, please contact Newlight.

Companies have already signed on to use AirCarbon in their products, including KI desk chairs (pictured), Dell computer packaging, and Sprint smartphone cases.


3. Stakeholders

  • Newlight Technologies (owner of the technologies)
  • Companies making plastic-based products
  • Policy-makers to promote the use of AirCarbon
  • Environmental NGOs to require policy-makers to demand sustainable plastic production processes.


4. Implementation Process

Founded in 2003, after 10 years of research, Newlight has developed, patented, and commercialized the world’s first commercially-scaled carbon capture technology able to produce high-performance thermoplastics from air and methane emissions that can match the performance of oil-based plastics and out-compete on price.

The company has already won several sustainability awards, as well as attended many environment and sustainability summits in order to spread the word and raise awareness. The list is too large to appear in this text but can be found here: http://newlight.com/news/


5. Sources: