Smog Filtering Tower




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.


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:


5. Sources:

Solar roadways and clean energy


Sustainability Problem: Roadways (city streets, highways, driveways, parking lots, etc.) as we know them today are made of miles of concrete that absorb heat and do not contribute to the grid. Moreover, these roadways are often outdated and not well-maintained, resulting in unsafe and inefficient surfaces for transport and storage of vehicles.

Technology: Solar roadways are intelligent and modular solar panels that can work on any road surface. This technology pays for itself through clean energy generation. The solar roadways are heated to keep roads ice / snow free, pressure sensitivity for safety, and multi-colored with lighting. Every panel has series of LED panels that enables programming of various markings (whether that’s a sports court or a roadway dividing line) and facilitates safety guidance. In the future, the technology will also allow for charging vehicles through mutual induction. Overall, the technology allows increased use of clean energy and re-use of existing non-efficient and outdated infrastructure.

Solar Roadways on Indiegogo

Solar Roadways on Youtube

Stakeholders: Consumers, Governments, Federal Highway Administration, Parking

Implementation: (1) Research and development on scalable technology to support this mission, including identifying high potential use cases. (2) Raise funding to begin manufacturing and testing, particularly for hardware. (3) Begin pilot work with Federal Highway Administration on selected road surface types (highway, parking lot, etc.) and collect data on improvement opportunities with the technology. (4) Launch pilot program and evaluate scaling needs.

class june 23, 2016 – uni mst2135

Biology Inspired Cooling Technology

Solar-powered Mistbox slashes summer cooling costs

by Katie Medlock, Published 5/22/2016 on inhabitat at

1. Sustainability Problem: Energy

Rising temperatures increase energy demand for air cooling methods. The hotter it gets, the more energy it takes for condenser units to produce cold air.

2. Technology: Mistbox

  • Using the concept of human perspiration-evaporation cooling method, Mistbox created an affordable and easy to install device to mist any style AC unit
  • Self-manages to determine when your AC unit needs some help and will emit mist to cool the air around the unit and in-turn increase the cooling capacity of the system and use less energy
  • Completely solar powered, and qualifies for a tax credit
  • Saves 30% or more on monthly energy bills and comes with an app to track your savings, pays for itself within on summer!

3. Stakeholders

  • Cooling system manufacturers
  • Mistbox investors and employees
  • Energy companies
  • Potential, future and current AC unit owners

4. Deployment

  • Distribute to large and popular home improvement and home good stores
  • Increase awareness of Mistbox technology, savings, and tax credits
  • Teach people how to install the technology to existing units


Office Thermostat Wars: Any way to keep the peace?

1. Sustainability Problem

Controllability of Systems – Thermal Comfort

In summer air-conditioning season, nothing is more divisive than when and where to set the temperature in workplaces. Some employees control the thermostat and it’s a daily battle of, “I’m cold. I’m hot. Turn it off. Turn it up.” Thermal comfort impacts worker productivity and company’s triple bottom line. New information and office productivity technologies are a driving force for innovation.

2. Technology Article Summary

An article from the Wall Street Journal: Cold War Over the Office Thermostat

By Sue Shellenbarger

Updated June 8, 2016 12:47 p.m. ET

  • People dress to stay cool on the commute but freeze inside the office. Some wear sweaters or coat at work, while others strip down to a T-shirt and sandals.
  • Some employees tamper with the thermostat without asking colleagues.  According to a survey by the International Facility Management Association, many devise tactics to get the temperature they want inside offices.
  • Building managers maintain temperatures in a range between 68 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit—comfort levels for most people.
  • To placate complainers, some facility managers install dummy thermostats to give occupants an illusion of control, although with no connection to the air-conditioning system.
  • Dummy thermostats make office workers happier because of the sense of control over the temperature. Office workers perform best when they have control over their physical environment.
  • Many variables affect individuals’ basal body temperatures:
    • Different circadian rhythms
    • Diet and exercise
    • Clothing
    • Activity
    • Gender
  • People are using high tech approach to manage thermostat disputes:
    • Comfy, a smartphone app that allows occupants to request one of the following: Warm My Space, Cool My Space, or I’m Comfy. It then sends a blast of hot or cool air to their area.
    • View Dynamic Glass, a smart window that enables smartphone-app users to lighten or darken the shading to heat or cool the interior, without blocking the view of outdoors.
    • Vector Occupant, an app that allows occupants use their smartphones to register complaints about the temperature with the building’s control system.
    • CrowdComfort, a crowd-sourcing app that enables office occupants to send complaints via smartphone to the building manager; about 30% to 40% are from people who are either too hot or too cold.
  • Using CrowdComfort app, facility managers quickly adjust temperatures that are out of the target range, or fix problems.
  • By building a network of human sensors, CrowdComfort allows users to capture data related to the human sensory experience. With this data, people can influence comfort, safety, and operations, and collaborate to make a building’s environment more efficient and more effective.
  • CrowdComfort’s Human Sensor Network platform leverages crowd-sourced occupant feedback to improve safety and operations in workplaces, unlock efficiencies in facilities management and preventative maintenance, increase employee productivity, and more.1
  1. Organizational Stakeholders
  • Building Occupants
  • Business Owners/Employers
  • Management Executives: CEOs, CFOs, COOs
  • Office Managers
  • Office Workers
  • Building/Operations Managers
  • Manufacturers
  1. Deployment

          How it works? 2

  • Sign-up for CrowdComfort’s Software-as-a-Service (Saas) cloud platform – no hardware required.
  • Install QR codes in rooms and assets throughout building.
  • Customize what information you receive and where it goes; integrate with existing building’s system.
  • Collect site-specific feedback in real time to fix problems before they escalate.
  • Analyze building and team performance to improve operations, increase productivity, and reduce costs.

Other references: