This week at TreeHugger: A roving TreeHugger sends a dispatch from Wired's NextFest, with a report on the "future of green." We sure like digital media, but what should you do when it comes time to get rid of your original Doom CD? We investigate some green options. No need for a roof when you can build solar panels right into the glass, as with this building in Hong Kong. Lastly, the time has (almost) come for our cars to finally teach us how to get better mileage, thanks to Toyota's "Eco Drive Indicator."
The third annual WIRED NextFest wrapped up this past weekend, and we were happy to see that this year's event showcased numerous green technologies located at the Future of Green Pavilion. Although many of the technologies were impressive, two products designed by the Interactive Institute stuck out as being particularly unique and ingenious. The first was a lamp designed to promote energy awareness. Dubbed the Flower Lamp, this product opens and closes its metallic petals based on the overall energy consumption in your house. The lamp will only open its petals when household energy consumption is low, therefore creating a constant reminder of electricity use. The second was a power strip called the Power-Aware Cord that lights up to indicate how much energy an appliance is consuming. The cord emits a blue glow that becomes more or less intense according to the amount of electricity flowing through it. Can't wait to see 'em on shelves!
A dear reader wrote in last week, wondering: "I have a bunch of old CDs I need to throw away. They're internet promos, old PC reinstall discs, etc.: nothing that I can sell at a CD recycle shop. I've searched the internet and your site but haven't come up with anything. Any ideas?" We came up with a few, including a crafty, subversive bike project, a place to rest your drink, and a disco ball. If none of those do it for you, there's always the stirling engine option, or you could just recycle 'em.
See any solar panels in this picture? Take a closer look — they're incorporated right into the glass, in the panes that are a darker shade of blue. Solar glass is a kind of solar installation called BIPV or Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics, and is a kind of solar cell that can be incorporated into a house or building in a virtually seamless way, so you don't have to advertise that you're a big hippie to get some free energy.
Lastly, real-time fuel economy and efficiency is an idea we've been waiting for, for a long time. When you stop to think about it, it's pretty obvious what causes good or bad fuel economy, but that's exactly the problem: Most people don't stop to think about it, or at least not while they are driving. They need constant reminders, and that's where this little gadget comes in. Toyota's "Eco Drive Indicator" lights up when the vehicle is being operated in a fuel-efficient manner, cluing the driver in to their driving habits, fuel-efficient or not.
TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.