Europe’s Best Eco-Friendly Innovations | Straight Talk


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By José de la Rubia, Policy Analyst, OECD

This article is by Featured Blogger José de la Rubia from his LinkedIn page. Republished with the author’s permission.

According to the Global Green Economy Index, nine of the world’s top 10 greenest countries are European. From eco-friendly logistics and energy saving to food security conservation and cutting-edge design, here are a few examples of Europe’s best eco-friendly innovations.

1. Smart buildings

Europe is the abode of some of the “greenest” buildings in the world.

A perfect example is Deloitte’s Amsterdam headquarters, the Edge. Designed to be the world’s most intelligent and greenest building, the Edge uses advanced information technology — 28,000 sensors that detect movement, light, temperature, moisture, and more — to monitor everything from energy use to employee experience.

The Edge knows to save power when spaces are unoccupied and allows staff to use their smartphones to brew customized cups of coffee.

Thanks to LED panels powered by the same cables that carry Internet data, the Edge produces more energy than it consumes, and boasts rainwater collection and irrigation systems, highly efficient security robots and exercise rooms that harness the power of employee workouts to fuel the building’s energy grid.

2. Electric transportation

In the international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Europe is advancing sustainable transportation. In 2015, Europe led the world in electric passenger vehicles with over 425,000 vehicles registered.

Specifically in the Netherlands, there is pending legislation to ban all new fossil-fueled vehicle sales by 2025. The Dutch are heavily supported by multinational companies and R&D as well.

In 2014, Tesla Motors introduced a fleet of 167 electric taxis to serve the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

This summer, a team of students from Eindhoven University of Technology present the STORM World Tour: an 80-day global trek showcasing the world’s first motorcycle powered by the existing electricity grid. It will cross the USA from October 3 to 25, 2016.

3. Renewable power sources

Europe continues to reduce dependency on fossil fuels through sustainable power production methods like solar, wind, hydroelectric and biomass. Germany, which has stirred plans to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, recently recorded one day of electric power from 87 percent sustainable sources, pushing consumer prices negative for the day.

Similarly, Denmark’s wind turbines have also experienced surpassing demand and are selling their excess supply. Other leaders include Italy, which ranks as one of the top five producers of cumulative photovoltaic growth in the world, and the Netherlands, which produced the world's first solar powered bicycle path and will run its entire rail network with wind energy by next year.

4. Sustainable food production

The European Union is the top exporter of agrifood products, with the Netherlands ranking as the second-largest exporter worldwide and home to over 4,150 farms to fork companies.

However, the results of a 2015 PwC survey concluded that Europe needs to implement sustainable industry changes to combat global issues like accelerated urbanism and resource scarcity.

Taking initiative, Unilever, a British-Dutch multinational corporation and one of the world’s leading suppliers of food products, committed to sustainably sourcing 100 percent of their agricultural raw materials by 2020.

This is particularly ambitious when considering that Unilever’s top-selling €3.5 billion Lipton Tea brand is only sourced from 10 percent internal supply chains, forcing Unilever to support and educate many smaller crop suppliers worldwide.

5. Circular economy

The notion that the linear take-make-waste economy is no longer sustainable given the rapid growth of world population and wealth is gaining support in Europe. Instead, businesses should make a transition to the circular economy, which is aimed at efficient use and reuse of resources and at minimizing waste.

In the Netherlands, companies like DSM and Philips have adopted circular business models, which actually can be very profitable, although they do demand a shift in mind set: For example, Philips started selling light as a service, instead of selling only light bulbs. The quest for a circular economy stimulates innovation.

Originally published on LinkedIn