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

“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.

After road-testing his technology at major sporting events including the Paris Marathon and the London 2012 Olympic Games, Kemball-Cooke installed them at Langton and a dozen other schools across the UK; as of last week, Pavegen’s multi-award-winning technology has now come Stateside to Riverdale Country School in New York City.

Every time a Pavegen tile is stepped on, kinetic energy is converted into electricity, which lights an LED on the surface of the tile, as well as helping to light the area. Pavegen’s technology is also being used to help students to better engage with subjects such as Science, as well as assisting in the teaching of sustainability modules for Design & Technology.

“Pavegen addresses so many of the issues that are important to young people today — such as innovation, sustainability, energy. It’s today’s school -leavers that will be tasked with keeping the lights on in a world less reliant on fossil fuels. Pavegen challenges us all to consider energy and how it’s sourced in a completely new way.”

During peak footfall periods, Pavegen expects to generate an output of 100 watts of power; each tile is expected to generated 4 watts of power with each step. In one year, the floor tiles should generate enough energy to:

  • Fully charge 853 mobile phones
  • Keep an LED light bulb illuminated for over two months
  • Power an electric car for 7 miles

Kemball-Cooke says the school installations are designed to engage the surrounding communities and organizations with a tangible, people-powered solution, and help them recognize the opportunities for an innovative, off-grid energy technology within high-traffic areas, regardless of weather. The CEO says he hopes the installations will help to spread the word that a smart, low-carbon future is within our grasp, and that the disruptive technologies we need to make this a reality are already available.

“If the students spend a year walking over the Pavegen tiles, they'll know about sustainability,” Kemball-Cooke told FastCoExist earlier this month. “Our aim is to take the same price as normal flooring. And then it can be in every normal floor in the world. It can be seamlessly linked to data, to your home, to your school.”

Game-changing innovations such as Pavegen's are a perfect example of what Accenture, Business in the Community and Marks & Spencer recently posited could have the potential to secure £100 billion (nearly $156 billion USD) in annual productivity gains for the UK.

The installation at Riverdale Country School is the latest initiative that could help NYC achieve its PlaNYC goal of reducing its GHG emissions by 30 percent by 2017: Late last month, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway announced a pilot program that will convert the thousands of pounds of food waste currently shipped to out-of-state landfills into biogas, which will heat up to 5,200 homes throughout the city and help curb roughly 90,000 metric tons of the state’s annual GHG emissions.

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