ESG Investing Made Easy

  1. With respect to civic engagement, there is both a lack of awareness and trust in the financial system to generate returns and a positive impact on the environment and other relevant social issues. The burden is currently on individuals to find and source mechanisms of positively engaging with the markets to generate a return while positively impacting areas of interest.
    This article is describing a company based out of the UK called Tickr which is focused on impact investing. The company utilizes two main mechanisms for enacting this sort of engagement with customers and investors. First is a focus on ESG linked ETFs (exchange traded funds) which are composites of companies pooled within a similar sector (in this case sustainability, renewable energy, impact, etc.). Second, is providing easy access to investing in carbon offsets. The company provides and directly demonstrates the impact an individuals’ investments have (the carbon reducing impact, the projects an individual is investing in, etc.).
  3. The main stakeholder is the public, specifically the financially engaged public that are otherwise investing with more mainstream applications like Fidelity, Vanguard, and Robin Hood. The technology is only effective, both from a company POV and an impact POV, if there is a large scale adoption among the public.
  4. In order to deploy the technology, the company needs to attract an engaged customer base interested in having their investments actively and visually demonstrate an environmental and social impact. Second, this impact needs to be visible and significant enough for individuals to sacrifice a possible higher return in favor of ESG-linked affect. Finally, the technology needs to be user-friendly and facilitate trading in as similar a mechanism and with the same ease as competitors. At the end of the day, consumers want a product that is easy to use and can achieve the same utility as competitors while generating an additional impact above and beyond the competitor space.

Solar Tree

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 4.35.30 PM

Sustainable Problem: Energy, Public Space

The Solar tree is designed to promote awareness of sustainability within the community. It is a public facility with high-speed WiFi internet. The solar tree can provide clean energy and has a high educational value for the community.

Sustainable Technology:

– Qualification for wind speeds up to 175 MPH
– Flexible configuration and orientation
– High-performance powder coat in over 200 colors
– Integration with beautiful, efficient Lumos solar modules
– Assembly in one day or less

Stakeholders Involved: Community Authorities, Utility Companies, Solar Panel Companies, General Public

Steps in Deploying the Technology:

  1. Mapping areas where the Solar Trees could be deployed
  2. Partnership with existing tech company to develop the technology
  3. Working with designers to design the solar tree
  4. Contract with local communities to implement the solar trees


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UNI: QS2162

Public Rooms + Tech (week 11)

Problem: People are not using public spaces.

People are tired of government initiatives trying to improve public spaces by only adding more soccer fields or parks.  Human Center Desing of public spaces led Solar4Revolution to create public smart rooms built under vulnerable people’s need (the real ones). While parks and soccer fields are crucial in providing public spaces for relaxing and to use it unlimited and free-advertising areas, the new approach looks for building public spaces to provide complementary areas for vulnerable people restricted at home to live comfortable.

Imagine a kid at 7 p.m. It is time for working on the school assignment. A single mother, after working 9 hours in downtown coming back to home and look at the kid ready to a) watch TV or b) work on the assignments. Watching TV sometimes is simple because is a matter of turning a device on. Doing homework relies on having a comfortable space, lighted enough, warm enough during summer and cool enough during winter, having tool for researching online (wifi), a computer, etc. This is an example of how to use the public smart rooms to provide a small family from a vulnerable zone a space for doing what they would do at home but in a public space.

The public smart room model requires a couple of them per street at each block in vulnerable areas. It has a registering process, first come first serve, but limited for purposes. The rooms are energized by the use of solar technology, batteries to work until 11 p.m. It has a transparent shape and it has responsive features to provide a space that address people’s needs. For seniors, it provides one service, for young people too, as well as for adults. The key is to be flexible and responsive enough to provide all the people living in vulnerable areas a comfortable space that invite to navigate the neighborhood at night. Figure 1 shows 2 models analyzed to be deployed.

model 1

Figure 1: Architecture for public rooms.

The technological aspects of public rooms are the challenges of how smart we can make them. Technology for public smart rooms follows three steps. First, using technology for data collection and therefore understand people’demands. Second, using existent tech solutions to provide the rooms an smart sense for interacting people. Finally, once data collected is analyzed and share with experts, it is time to be creative and built or improve the rooms to be human center designed.


Find a neighborhood where people have no incentives to use public spaces.

Agree in implementing a prototype.

Raise funds for investing in the deployment of the new infrastructure.


By Gabriel Guggisberg (gg2642)

Air pollution is one of the many consequences of development citizens of newly emerging cities have to live with. Indoor air pollution is also a major problem, as it tends to be worse than outdoor air pollution (two to five times worse), raising the risk of respiratory related diseases.

The TZOA air quality monitor:

-Wearable device that constantly collects data about chemicals, particulate matter, temperature, air pressure, UV exposure, and humidity.

-Portable, highly accurate and cheap ($99-$139) way for everyday citizens to check the air quality of their surroundings daily.

-Will not improve air quality, but will provide the user with the information they need to take action.

Administrative buildings, hotels and apartment complex could include this technology in their units to get more insight when it comes to the air quality of their buildings. They can use this technology to make the necessary changes so tenants can be more comfortable.

To deploy this technology, the developers will have to provide devices to the facilities that are interested in implementing it. They will then test in in some areas of their buildings and see if the advices provided by the technology does improve their air quality. If the facilities find out that the technology is improving the quality of life of their residents, they can decide to widely deploy it through their buildings.


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Desalination 2.0

Water independence and source reliability is a very pressing issue that many communities are facing today. One of the many solutions that is being adopted today is to build desalination plants to turn sea water into drinkable water. However, building these plants and the process that is desalination can be very expensive. An average desalination plant can cost up to a billion dollars.

A new technology that could ensure cheaper desalination would be Advanced Water Recovery.

-Uses chemicals to turn salt water into drinking water and then, through proprietary process, filters the chemicals back out.

-Costs 70% less than current technologies used for desalination

-A demonstration plant is currently being built in Pennsylvania, cleaning the water used in the fracking process.

Organizational stakeholders that would need this technology would be American states that are looking to become water independent, such as California that is currently looking to build a second desalination plant, that would cost the state millions. The upcoming plant has caused a debate over the real need for such expensive technology for water production.

To deploy the technology, the firm would list and present the advantages this technology has over traditional  desalination plants (safer for marine life, cheaper), to the state government and officials who would authorize this technology to be widely used. Once their demonstration plant is complete, these officials will be able to see and experience first hand what they could be enjoying in their own state.


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Can air pollution be controlled by drones?

1) Air pollution is referred to any contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment that modifies the characteristics of the atmosphere. Although more research is required to further understand the role poor air quality and multi-pollutant exposure plays in health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together, this r4epresents 11.6% of all global deaths.

Major sources of air pollution vary from country to country and in every city, depending on their infrastructure and industrial activities, but in general, common sources include motor vehicles, household combustion devices and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities.

Pollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. (EPA)

The most relevant issue in this problem is that once the pollution has been produced it is very difficult to clean because of dispersion, and while reducing the pollution production is a relatively simple solution ( through filters and catalytic combustion, etc) once the pollution is diffused in the environment, it becomes a very complex problem to solve, mainly because of the dimension of it. In other words, it is impossible to clean all the air in the atmosphere. china-may-use-drones-to-kill-the-smog-problem

2)Nonetheless, China is investing a large quantity of money to fix this difficult problem, and many innovative solutions are being implemented, such as air purifiers the size of buildings, or mist cannons that nebulizer liquids to trap harmful particles, but still, these solutions face the great challenge of diluted pollution and large dimensions.

A novel solution that is being tried is the smog-busting drones, the idea is to use drones to spray chemicals [liquid nitrogen],  to solidify pollutants in the air and fall to the ground.

“When liquid nitrogen is dispersed in air, it readily absorbs heat from the surrounding atmosphere, causing water vapor to instantly condense. The condensate would drag down particulate matter along with it as it falls to earth” Emily Carino-postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering with a PhD from the University of Texas

The chief executive of the company, Ma Yongsheng, he explained that drones have a reach of 5km and can carry 700 kg of smog-clearing chemicals, and have conducted over 100 hours of testing flight. [South China Morning Post]

Nonetheless, there is a big international opposition to this approach of geoengineering, mainly because of two postures, exposed by Emily Carino, from the University of Texas.

The first one is the effect that this chemical rain can have on citizens. “Used improperly, liquid nitrogen is dangerous: It can cause severe cold burns if it comes in contact with skin, and items cooled by liquid nitrogen can stick fast to human skin when touched.”

And the second is the risk of the unintended consequences of such chemical reaction, not only because the reaction occurs so quickly, but also because nitrogen outperforms all other agents during the reaction.

3) This technology is mainly to be deployed by the government since air pollution or air quality is a public good.

4) The steps to deploy this technology are to run a pilot and have an important and solid baseline to compare the improvements as well as the unintended consequences.

Nonetheless, I am very skeptical about the impact of this technology application due to the unintended consequences, and most importantly it is important to point out the irrational thinking of creating rain from pollutants, instead of deploying filters and air pollution control systems in the industry and combustion vehicles.


Images sources: Image 1, Image 2

A Bay Area Startup Spins Lab-Grown Silk


silk1. Sustainability Problem: Climate Change (Carbon Intensity of Production) 

The apparel industry is one of the most unsustainable in the world, requiring heavy use of raw materials (water, land,etc.) and chemicals (dyes, coatings, finishes) , while also generating excessive waste because clothes are not made to be recycled. The production of polyester, a fabric made from petroleum/plastic, has increased almost sixfold from 1980 to 2007, and is incredibly carbon intensive.

 2. Solution

  • Bolt Threads, a startup out of the University of California San Francisco, studied spiders to understand how they produce webs, and has essentially used bio-mimicry to develop a newer, more sustainable way of producing fabric.
  • The main input is sugar from plants that are grown, harvested, and replanted. They have the same chemistry as silk from spiders/silkworms, but are man made
  • They studied silk proteins found in nature, develop proteins inspired by the natural silks by putting genes into yeast, and then produce the proteins in large quantities through fermentation. Bolt then takes the silk proteins and spins it into fibers, and the fibers into fabrics and garments

 3. Stakeholders

  • Bolt Threads
  • Investors
  • Manufacturer & procurement partners
  • 3rd party fabric users

 4 .Implementation Steps

  • Understand clothing pieces (i.e. athletic-wear, mens suits, etc?) that will be the most natural fit for this fabric
  • Produce the garments, set up direct to consumer marketplace
  • Partner with companies trying to be more sustainable who are interested in using fabric at a larger scale



Comment on: World’s First 100% Compostable Water Bottle, Cap, & Label | This is a good innovation that can help the situation we are in. The bottle  technology has been around for a little while, the but company needed to develop the cap, as that was a roadblock for many industrial composters to start accepting the item.

As a frequent composter, I would like to know more about how the company expects to differentiate these bottles from others that are green – i.e Sprite, as to  not confuse those who are not careful about where they put their trash. Additionally, would be great to understand the ideal compost conditions for the 85 day compost time. If we start to get more and more ‘plastics’ and less organics in the compost, will that increase?



Remote Controlled Beach Lifeguard

Issues: health, safety, mobility, public administration service

Solution: This Remote Controlled Beach Lifeguard is designed to assist beach lifeguards in their task of beach and water surveillance. It was positioned on a patrol tower and stands higher than the beach crowd to get a clear overview of the area. When employed, it flies overhead for ground patrol and serves as co-rescue equipment when swimmers, surfers, and other water sports participants are in danger. This charging patrol tower can also be installed on the back of the lifeguard’s pick-up truck. It can recharge itself at the patrol tower, as well as by solar power. When hazard happens, the lifeguard and the remote-controlled assistant will make their way to the victim’s location, and the assistant serves as a surfboard. The lifeguard can control the board to pull the victim back to the coast.

Stakeholders involved: Technology companies, Beach Police, Beach users


  1. Investors raise funds to develop the technology
  2. Manufactures make mass production
  3. Contract with beach police department to deploy this product


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UNI: QS2162

The Problem of Privacy

js5079 – Josh Strake
Link: NetworkWorld

Link 2: CityMetric
Sustainability Problem: Civic Engagement, Safety

We often glide right over the fact that technologies – in order to optimize consumptive energy patterns, commutes to work, infrastructure projects, and everything else a ‘smart city’ might take on – must measure millions of individual citizens in some way or another. It may be a simple measurement, or it may be a much more personal and in-depth one, depending on if the technology is meant to serve individuals or to be a pulse for the city’s measurables. However, in either case, we must consider that some people will not want to be measured, and we must be aware that their legal right to privacy is one of two things: it is either at risk, or it is putting smart technology’s future at risk.


-The 4th amendment affords citizens to protection against unreasonable search – which is often interpreted by the courts to be a protection against an unconsented search: this is what smart cities may have trouble with, as they do not ‘say please’.

-Given the uncertainty about the future of technology, many people are already expressing concern about their eventual loss of privacy as smart technologies become ubiquitous: these feelings could give rise to policy and sentiment that endanger smart city technology.

-In a broad sense, the benefits of a truly integrated smart city would make the cost of privacy loss worth it – but this is at a large scale. At the individual level, some people are guaranteed to oppose the technology as they are not rational actors.


-Citizens that are being measured by smart city technology


-Tech producers that could see restrictions put in place

Next Steps

There arent really next steps beyond ‘wait and see’. This post isn’t so much about a technology as it is about the drawbacks and expected reactions to any given smart technology that relies on unconsenting measurement of a city’s citizenry. Sample steps to look for would be:

-Watch development of opposition sentiment to smart cities

-Look for politicians to begin to stump about privacy in a digital age with a specific focus on cities

-Assess what policy impacts may be had, should they be enacted.

Comment on another post: ‘Introducing the Internet of Water’

This is an interesting idea: another thing to add is that this database would act as a sort of ‘clearing house’ for water demand, much like already exists in regional ISOs wholesale electricity markets. It could reduce waste by assessing anticipated regional demand for water and acting to ensure the demand is met (but not overmet).


Compostable Water Bottles

Almost all developing and upcoming cities are facing problems with waste management. As areas become more urbanized and the middle class grows, waste generation levels tend to rise exponentially. Landfills are reaching capacity and many cities like Jakarta are now having to deal with the added problem of illegal burning and dumping of trash. Another problem that cities with a green objectives are facing is the waste content itself, which drives recycling down and hinders the cities’ efficiency.

Totally Green Bottles & Caps have come up with the design of a bottle that is 100% compostable. This includes the cap and label too. They are made from plant-based materials and take around 3 months to compost, adding no toxicity to the Earth. Cities can adopt these to minimize their waste, as plastic water bottles are proving to be a great challenge to address. These bottles can also potentially boost recycling levels and help cities reach their recycling objectives, while other cities that rely on incineration can take advantage of the bottles’ properties that make it incineration friendly as clean burning fuel.



  • Totally Green Bottles & Caps
  • Cities
  • Manufacturers of material used
  • Local farms that can intake compost
  • Incineration facilities
  • Water bottle users
  • Grocery stores

Next Steps
The company is starting to sell the product at a small scale. It is essential to keep records of performances and success and work on improvement using feedback from current consumers. The next step should be pitching the idea to cities and mayor offices with green initiatives like Planyc to start manufacturing and selling the product at a larger scale. Next will be to market the product and try to expand into other economies.

By: Ahmad Al Zubair (aa4098)

Resources used:

Comment on “A greenhouse that lets you produce crops and electricity simultaneously
I wonder if the technology can also include sensors that can track plant type and growth rates. This way perhaps the system can further alter the wavelength of the light and “test out” different values to find the optimum environment for these plants and share the data with other greenhouses.