United Airlines’ Plan G

I am on a mission to explore the evolutionary purpose of cities for human life.  This week I am checking out one of our big cities, New York.  This is a big nest we have built for ourselves.

On my way, I am struck by United Airlines’ annual green issue: that it is mainstream enough to be in an airplane’s seat pocket, and the wicked ideas. Thanks to United Airlines for sharing the ideas and technologies that people pursue in their work.  Here are some highlights (I have flagged links to other sites if interested to follow up further on each of these):

  1. Turn sidewalks into power plants.  Britain’s PaveGen has created sidewalk tiles that convert kinetic energy of pedestrian footfalls into power.  Check them out in high-traffic areas of London at the 2012 Olympics.
  2. How about SolaRoad?  Dutch company TNO is using bike paths in the town of Krommenie in northern Holland to test glass-covered, solar cell-embedded concrete panels to generate 50 kilowatt hours of electricity per square metre.  They are aiming for 85,000 miles of road!
  3. Mass market solar shingles.  Dow Solar has expanded its Michigan plant to produce Powerhouse shingles, making them more accessible to home owners.  Solar panels are not on the roof, they are the roof.
  4. City co-farmingThe Plant, in Chicago, produces food year round in an abandoned meat-processing factory.  Aiming to solve economic environmental and nutritional problems simultaneously, the vertical hydroponic farm (greens and fish), bakery, breweries exchange ‘waste’.  I call this co-farming.
  5. Buildings that clean the air.    Aluminum producer Alcoa has a line of panels with titaniaum dioxide.  10,000 square feet will clean as much air as 80 trees.  Next one is even better….
  6. Plant upward.  The world’s first vertical forest is under construction in Milan – Bosco Verticale.  The balconies will be full of trees, shrubs and flowers.

Cities have no end of ingenuity to offer.

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