This week at TreeHugger: The early returns on Ross Lovegrove's Solar Trees are in, and the word on the sun-powered streetlights recently unveiled in Vienna are amazingly positive. Plasma TVs suck (electricity), as the old efficiency paradox — as prices drop for big screen TVs, people don't save money on the smaller, more efficient units but go for the biggest one they can afford — kicks in and big TVs are all the rage.
The Greener Gadgets Conference and Design Competition are coming, and with them, a chance to both design and learn about all the ways to make our gadgets greener. Lastly, from the "we can't make this stuff up" file: check out the Energy Tower, an invention that will be able to rid the world of greenhouses gases, and produce clean energy and fresh water, all at the same time.
Ross Lovegrove's Solar Trees, installed in Vienna late last year, made waves for their sexy design and slick concept before they ever actually did anything; now, after a couple of months, the reviews are coming back; the verdict: solar really works! Even when the sun doesn't shine down on Vienna, the lights are sucking up enough solar to keep the streets basking in solar's warm glowing warming glow. Ahhh.
Plasma TV's suck (energy). It is the old efficiency paradox: as prices drop for big screen TVs, people don't save money on the smaller, more efficient units but go for the biggest one they can afford. According to the Wall Street Journal, a 42-inch plasma set can consume more electricity than a full-size refrigerator — even when that TV is used only a few hours a day (though when was the last time anybody gathered around the fridge for an evening of entertainment). Still, powering a fancy TV and full-on entertainment system ain't cheap; including set-top boxes, game consoles, speakers, DVDs and digital video recorders can together add nearly $200 to a family's annual energy bill.
The Greener Gadgets Conference is coming to NYC in February; the one-day event all about big-picture topics like design for sustainability, product life cycle management, take-back and recycling programs, energy efficiency, greener materials, and green lifestyle and product marketing. As part of the conference, there's also a design competition that seeks to help make gadgets as green as they are fun; if you've got ideas, they've got the platform.
Lastly, coming directly from the "too-odd-to-make-this-shiz-up" category is is the Energy Tower invention of Professor Dan Zaslavsky from the Technion in Israel. About a half-mile in height and nearly half as wide, Zaslavsky s tower will be able to rid the world of greenhouses gases, and produce clean energy and fresh water all at the same time. Piece of cake, right?
TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday in Gizmodo.