13 June 2013 — From turning discarded fruit and vegetables into chutneys and jams, peer-to-peer car sharing, and even kites used to propel cargo ships, the Denmark-based Sustainia100 has launched its 2013 guide to the top 100 innovative solutions from around the world.

Sustainia received more than 500 submissions from 79 countries for this year’s guide.

Each submission had to meet at least two of the three triple bottom lines of environmental performance, social and economic performance.

That is how the solution benefits the environment such as limiting CO2 emissions and chemical use, how the solution improves well-being and quality of life and why it has a positive economic impact.

Sectors include buildings, food, fashion, IT, education, transportation, energy, health, cities and resources.

The 10 building projects are:

Wood-Hybrid Building System up to 30 Stories

The LifeCycle Tower is a sustainable building system for wood-hybrid, multi-storey construction up to 100 meters and 30 stories. The Cree timber building system, LifeCycle Tower, is based on achieving sustainability through material selection. The unenclosed wood structure provides a comfortable living and working environment, saves resources, and promotes health. According to Cree, buildings can reach 30 stories and construction times are cut in half. Building layout, outside façades, surfaces, and interiors are individually planned by architects, while system components such as slabs, columns, inside façade, and building services ensure the building’s quality and functionality. The technology is open source in order to scale the solution globally.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

The concept is a new development and state-of-the-art building system for urban sustainable architecture because of its resource efficiency, with an exposed wood load-bearing structure, system approach and off-site prefabrication of system elements. An eight-story office building in Austria shows the technological, ecological, and economic advantages of the hybrid-timber construction system.

Wind Energy-Generating Skyscraper

The Pearl River Tower, located in the city of Guangzhou, China, is one of the world’s most energy-efficient high-rise structures. The 309-meter Pearl River Tower’s sculpted body directs wind to a pair of openings at its mechanical floors, where turbines generate energy for the building. Integrated solar panels, a double skin curtain wall, a chilled ceiling system, under-floor ventilation, and daylight harvesting are additional technologies that contribute to the building’s energy efficiency. The tower’s integrated design approach results in a substantial decrease in the amount of electrical power required to operate the building’s cooling, heating, dehumidification, ventilation, and lighting systems. Full implementation of Pearl River Tower’s sustainability strategies will result in overall energy savings of approximately 50 per cent compared to China’s baseline energy code.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

Energy efficiency coupled with onsite renewable energy generation reduces the need for electricity from fossil-fuel power plants, lowering energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. The Pearl River Tower addresses the difficult task of constructing sustainable high rises.

Bringing Sunlight into Every Room

The Parans system captures the rays of the sun and brings it deep into buildings, creating a skylight even four floors down. Parans’ solar lighting system brings sunlight into the indoor environments where we work, learn, and live. Natural light confers health benefits that cannot be substituted by artificial light. The technology uses fibre optic cables to transport sunlight far into buildings, which reduces the electricity used for illumination and cooling. The thin and flexible cables make it simple to install in new buildings or retrofit into existing buildings.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

Many of today’s buildings are designed so that artificial light is needed throughout the day. Parans’ solution allows buildings to use sunlight directly for illumination, enhancing the quality of our indoor environments, as we need sunlight for good health.

Solar AirConditioning with Energy Storage

ClimateWell’s CoolStore technology powers solar airconditioning systems with integrated energy storage to provide heating during winter, cooling during summer, and hot water every day. ClimateWell has developed a triple-state absorption technology that converts and stores solar energy into heating and cooling without need of electricity. The high-density integrated energy storage in a “dry” salt has no moving parts, is fully scalable, and cost effective. The ClimateWell CoolStore component (essentially a glass tube) is directly integrated into a solar collector, making installation easy, with no need for external equipment. The technology can be applied in single-family homes and commercial buildings alike, and can even be used for heat-driven airconditioning for heavy-duty vehicles and trucks.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

According to ClimateWell, 25 per cent of the world’s energy consumption is used for heating and cooling of buildings, with the largest part of this energy coming from fossil fuel-powered space heaters and electrically driven chillers. As the world’s first solar collector with combined heating, cooling, and energy storage, this solution delivers twice as much energy compared to today’s state-of-the-art solar collectors, increasing energy savings and reducing Co2 emissions.

Generating Energy from Water in Pipelines

Lucid Energy provides a new way for industries to generate renewable energy around the clock from the water in their pipelines. The LucidPipe is an in-conduit hydropower technology that enables water-intensive industrial, municipal, and agricultural users to produce carbon-free, low-cost electricity from water pipelines and effluent streams. The technology recaptures energy embedded in fast-flowing water inside of large-diameter, gravity-fed pipelines without disrupting pipeline operations. The LucidPipe spherical turbines spin as water passes through them, producing a consistent and non-weather-dependent source of energy. A market study recently completed by Navigant Consulting sizes the opportunity for sales of Lucid Energy’s in-pipe hydropower product at US$5-6 billion in the USA alone.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

The US EPA estimates that US$633 billion in water infrastructure upgrades are needed to replace aging pipelines and to satisfy new demand over the next 20 years. By incorporating LucidPipe turbines into new and upgraded pipelines, millions of megawatt-hours of carbon-free, low-cost electricity can be generated.

Bottling the Power of the Sun

Liter of Light redesigns solar lighting for the developing world using plastic bottles. The simple design creates local jobs and teaches green skills. A Liter of Light is a plastic bottle filled with water and a bit of bleach. Inserted through the roof, each solar bottle refracts sunlight with the intensity of a 55-watt light bulb. Using simple tools and basic carpentry skills, volunteers and local entrepreneurs can light up their communities for just $2. The night-time upgrade with a solar panel retails at $10. Built by grassroots entrepreneurs and women’s groups in the Philippines, the cost of finished goods are reduced by 40 per cent. Liter of Light has grown from one home in Laguna, Philippines, to 350,000 lights in 10 countries in just 20 months. Three hundred and seventy grassroots solar entrepreneurs are trained in 20 months, with each entrepreneur servicing an average of 11,000 homes per year.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

Over 1 billion people around the world suffer from lack of access to energy, including 15 million people in the Philippines. Energy poverty will only be solved by using local materials, easily replicable technologies, and livelihood-generating enterprises. Liter of Light is helping end energy poverty one bottle at a time.

Optimal Light, Natural Air

In a Tijuana building, Guillot Arquitectos’ light and air chamber improves the health and productivity of occupants by providing natural light and air. The air light chamber developed by Guillot Arquitectos captures natural air from the base of a tubular element and redirects it to the building’s various levels, reducing the usage of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Because the chamber is made of low-E glass and perforated sheet metal, it also allows natural light to permeate. This gives occupants a more natural setting. The chamber increases worker productivity and improves health, and also helps reduce energy costs by an average of 25 per cent.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

By Mexican standards, the light and air chamber makes an unprecedented impact in energy efficiency and office comfort while still providing good design that, according to the company, stands out to locals as an inspirational glimpse into a more sustainable future.

Rainwater-Harvesting Schools

PitchAfrica has developed a school building concept for disadvantaged communities in semi-arid regions that provides clean water year round and imparts sustainability lessons. Waterbank schools are low-cost rainwater-harvesting school buildings comprising a large roof, a central underground cistern, and an integrated ceramic water filtration system providing clean water and food year round. The school buildings integrate community spaces with a wide range of school needs: classrooms, offices, dormitories, canteens, and sport-courts. The first Waterbank school, built in Kenya, captures, stores, and filters 350,000 litres of water a year. Since opening, attendance has risen by 25 per cent to 95 per cent and instances of waterborne disease have dropped to zero among pupils.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

The majority of the 345 million people in Africa without access to clean water live in regions with inadequate rainfall. The World Bank estimates that 200,000 classrooms need to be built in sub-Saharan Africa each year. Waterbank schools place a sustainable supply of clean water at the heart of the school, improving children’s health, while educating them about sustainable lifestyles and practices.

Algae Clean Energy and Wastewater Treatment

Ennesys’ biomimetic solution uses microalgae for the triple advantage of wastewater remediation, clean energy generation, and thermal insulation of buildings. In photo-bioreactors placed on building roofs or façades, microalgae growth in sunlight is enhanced by the supply of wastewater. Pollutants are assimilated and increase biomass production. After harvesting, the biomass can be transformed locally to produce power, heat, or cooling, and the water is cleaned. The functioning demonstrator in France has proven the quality of the cleaned water, suitable for irrigation or sanitation. The positioning of photo-bioreactors on the roof and façades of buildings improves their thermal behaviour, providing better insulation and user comfort.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

Combining wastewater remediation and clean energy production, Ennesys’ technology allows city districts to recycle their organic waste and produce energy to cover local consumption. The low cost of the electricity generated and the wastewater treated makes the technology scalable to other settings, particularly where decentralised water remediation is required.

A Learning

The Nest Learning Thermostat can reduce heating and cooling costs by learning the habits of its users. The Nest Learning Thermostat remembers what temperatures you like, creates a custom schedule for your home, and adjusts temperature settings when you’re away. The company says that once the Nest has learned your schedule, it can save up to 20 per cent on heating and cooling bills. The Nest can be remotely controlled via a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Nest’s System Match optimizes controls for a home’s particular heating and cooling system, while the Nest Leaf guides users to energy-efficient temperature settings. The “Energy History and Energy Report,” enables users to see how much energy they’ve used and provides tips on how to lower utility bills.

Why a Sustainia100 solution?

Nest alleviates the hassle of having to program a thermostat – just 11 per cent of homeowners program their programmable thermostats because they’re too complicated. Home heating and cooling accounts for about half of the average household’s energy bill. The Nest Learning Thermostat keeps users comfortable while helping them save energy.

The 100 list can be downloaded here.