Products and Design

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Grass-Powered Mower Could Be Game-Changer for Suburban Lawns, Developing Nations Alike

Mowing the grass results in a lot of wasted biomass that could probably be put to better use. EcoMow is a small, self-fueled mower and grass pellet harvester that uses freshly cut grass as fuel and processes the biomass that it doesn’t use into a dried pellet form that can be used for other applications such as heating or power generation.

Beyond Omega-3s: How Systems Thinking Helped Organic Valley Yield a Host of Sustainability Benefits

Organic milk comes with a dose of healthful omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease and are linked to additional health benefits. Normally associated with seafood or dietary supplements, these valuable nutrients can also come from some dairy products, according to research published last month in PLOS ONE. The study included milk from Organic Valley, the nation’s largest farmer-owned cooperative, which has been on the path to understanding the fatty acid profile of its products since 2009.

New Apple Patent Could Yield Solar-Powered Mac Books

Solar-powered Mac Books? Apple recently was granted a patent for an “electronic device display module” that could make the idea a reality.The patent essentially is for a dual-sided laptop display: The front of the lid would house a common LCD, and the backside would be constructed from electrochromic glass atop photovoltaic cells and touch sensors — a fancy way of saying “solar panels.”The lid would absorb energy from the sun to charge the laptop and/or offer longer battery life, according to the patent filing. The light energy gathered also could be used to illuminate the logo, and the rear of the lid could be used for touch input commands such as media controls, pass codes and other uses.

Smart Syringe, Refugee Housing, Clean Cookstove Announced as Finalists for World Design Impact Prize

The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) announced today that the following projects have been chosen as the three finalists for the World Design Impact Prize 2013-2014: A Behaviour Changing (ABC) Syringe, BioLite HomeStove and the Refugee Housing Unit.

Business Resilience Comes from Working with Nature

Hurricane Sandy ranks as the second-costliest hurricane in American history, causing an estimated $68 billion in damages. One year later, the most powerful storm ever recorded to hit land devastated the Philippines.

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Energy-Generating Floor Tiles Make US Debut at NYC Prep School

Cross-Posted from Cleantech. “Imagine if children running, playing and walking could help power the lights in their school corridors or the applications in their classrooms. This is the first step towards Pavegen’s vision of a more sustainable tomorrow.”So said Pavegen CEO and founder Laurence Kemball-Cooke in September, upon installing his innovative, energy-harnessing floor tiles at his alma mater, the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Kent — where 24 tiles, covering 12 meters of a corridor, now harness and convert kinetic energy from students’ footsteps into a sustainable energy source.

Generating Buzz: BioLite's Co-Founder on Ending Poverty Through Parallel Innovation

BioLite is one of Brooklyn’s most innovative startups with far-reaching impact. Selling energy products such as the CampStove for camping and outdoor adventure, the company uses revenues to incubate products for emerging markets, most prominently the HomeStove. BioLite’s technology is a market-based approach to poverty, one that generates self-sustaining energy access as well as health- and time-saving benefits. We spoke with co-founder Jonathan Cedar to learn about the company’s pilot programs in Uganda, Ghana and India and the impacts HomeStove is having in those markets.

New Mac Pro Consumes 68% Less Power

The latest iteration of the Mac Pro desktop consumes 68 percent less power in idle mode and its packaging consumes 82 percent less volume than the previous-generation computer, according to Apple’s recent Mac Pro Environmental Report.In the report, Apple highlights the computer’s sustainability performance in relation to climate change, energy efficiency, material efficiency and restricted substances.Most (65 percent) of the Mac Pro’s greenhouse gas emissions come from its production process, while the second highest percentage (33 percent) comes from customer use. The Mac Pro’s emissions total 940 kg CO2e, the company says.

Whole Foods' Brooklyn Flagship Store to Use 60% Less Energy Than Typical U.S. Grocery

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced the completion of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn store, which it is heralding as a model of energy efficiency and the company’s commitment to protecting the environment. The 56,000-square-foot supermarket was constructed on a former brownfield site restored for the purpose by Whole Foods.

Charting a Course for Sustainable Design

I left art school in the mid ‘90s with a Masters in Product Design, a passion for sustainability and a desire not to fill the world with more meaningless stuff. Despite my youthful energy and enthusiasm, I wasn’t actually able or confident to do a ‘real’ project for at least three years afterwards. The challenges of sustainability just seemed so monumental to me that I was left feeling paralyzed and lost. The need to redesign and rethink pretty much everything meant that no single intervention ever seemed enough.

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7 Game-Changing, Design-Centric Social Innovations Shortlisted for World Design Impact Prize

At its 28th General Assembly held November 18-19 in Montreal, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) announced the seven projects shortlisted for its World Design Impact Prize 2013-2014 cycle.Established by ICSID, the World Design Impact Prize honors and rewards industrial design-driven projects that are making a positive impact on our social, economic, cultural and/or environmental quality of life. It leverages ICSID’s vast global membership network to champion possible solutions to global issues such as poverty and the effects of industrialization and consumerism on sustainability and society.

McDonough Espouses the Power of Principled Innovation

Innovation is a hot topic. You hear daily about its democratization, globalization and acceleration. But in all the breathless wonder at our speed of progress, one question seldom gets asked: is every innovation good for us? This is where the concept of principled innovation comes in.

10 Finalists in Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge Show What’s Next in Green Building

Products from ten companies have been selected as finalists for the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Product Innovation Challenge, sponsored by the Schmidt Family Foundation and the Dutch Postcode Lottery. Three winners will be selected from this group and will share a cash prize of $250,000.The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, in partnership with Make It Right, launched its first-ever Product Innovation Challenge in November 2012. By June, over 100 products had been entered for consideration.

Sustainable Equals Beautiful: DuPont-Cushnie et Ochs Collaboration Showcases Renewable Textiles

As New York Fashion Week kicked off last week, DuPont announced a new design collaboration with women’s fashion brand Cushnie et Ochs, which showcased several of their conceptual designs made with DuPont's renewably sourced Sorona® fibers on the runway on Friday.To complement their Spring 2014 collection, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs used the versatile, easy-to-care-for and supremely wearable fabrics enhanced with Sorona to create five pieces: A sliced, one-piece swimsuit, a pale grey fitted strap jacket, a violet-purple dress, a white double-belted feather weight flare skirt and a black side-belt wide-leg pant.

Integrating Sustainable Product Design and LCA (Part 3 of 3)

Product designers seeking to create more sustainable products need tools that reflect the rapidly iterative process of product development. This is the third in a three-part series by EcoShift, a sustainability and LCA consultancy, and Carbon Design Group, a product design and development consultancy.

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Colorado Startup Taps Crowd Funding to Develop ‘Leakless’ Hose Washer

Colorado startup Seal Genie has launched a garden hose washer via crowd funding site IndieGoGo that minimizes leakage and could save over 10,000 gallons of water per household each year - enough to fill a standard swimming pool.The Seal Genie hose washer is designed to last for years and never leak, which saves consumers' water, money and energy while reducing pollution through wasted resources. The company says its aspires to become the new world standard for hose washers, which also includes washing machines, RV and marine water hookups and many others that all use the same basic washer size.

CH2M Hill Ranked Best Environmental Firm for 8th Year

CH2M Hill, a global consulting, design, construction and operations firm, was ranked the No. 1 U.S. environmental firm by the Engineering News-Record’s Top 200 Environmental Firms list.URS and Veolia Environment North America retained their 2012 spots after being ranked the No. 2 and No. 3 companies, respectively. The remaining top 10 included Tetra Tech, Bechtel, Energy Solutions, AECOM Technology, MWH Global, Golder Associates and Clean Harbors.

Unilever Taps Crowdsourcing to Develop Eco-Friendly Shower

Unilever has announced that it will harness the potential of ‘crowdsourcing’ to develop the world’s first sustainable shower.The company is asking creative individuals all over the world to submit at eYeka.com their ideas and solutions for an environmentally-friendly shower. The winner will receive a cash prize and a trip to London to develop the idea, Unilever says.Believe it or not, in-home use is responsible for a significant proportion of the carbon footprint of shower products. With water becoming increasingly scarce, there is an urgent need to develop a commercially viable sustainable shower.

Tom's of Maine Experimenting with Potato Starch Packaging

Cross-Posted from Chemistry, Materials & Packaging. This post first appeared on Earth911.com on July 10, 2013.Already topping lists of the nation’s most sustainable companies, Tom’s of Maine is looking to reduce end-of-life waste from its products even more by experimenting with biodegradable packaging made from potato starch.

Oshenite®: The Marine Mineral That Could Revolutionize Plastic Packaging

Cross-Posted from Chemistry, Materials & Packaging. Oshenite®, a bioplastic additive produced from a renewable marine mineral called oolitic aragonite, allows environmentally conscience brand owners and manufacturers to produce or use plastic packaging with reduced amounts of fossil fuel-based resins. Produced by U.S. Aragonite, Oshenite can replace these resins in a wide range of flexible and rigid applications and offers environmental and economic benefits — both without sacrificing performance or contaminating recycling streams.

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