As the world’s leading economies struggle to confront the threat of climate change by reducing emissions and investing in renewable, carbon-neutral energy sources, efficiency has become a key concept for industries around the world.
While a fully carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative future is still a long way, off, reducing the amount of energy required for a variety of industrial applications is on the most important short-term developments that can buy time and curb climate change’s worst impacts.
Technological innovations that improve energy capture and efficiency have been an essential part of this process, and here are just a few ways that green technology is helping to make industries better able to conserve and recycle energy.
- Cool Roofs
Most traditional construction techniques use asphalt roofing or shingles to keep the water out. But these dark colours suck up huge amounts of heat, which in turn drives up cooling costs in the building itself.
Cool roofs use lighter shades of shingle or roofing material to make the roofs themselves more reflective, so the roof retains less heat and the house stays naturally cooler. Given that many factories and plants occupy huge square footages, have vast roofs, and require careful climate controls, cool roofs are a cheap way for manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Smart Glass
Windows are designed to let in heat and light during the colder months, but in the heat of summer, glass’s ability to conduct heat, light, and radiation becomes a drawback. Blinds, awnings, and shades are used to keep light out, but these solutions are often imperfect.
Smart glass is designed to automatically “dim” the amount of light being let in. Experts suggest that smart glass coated skyscrapers could require twenty-five percent less heating, ventilation, and air conditioning energy than skyscrapers using conventional glass.
- Energy Capture
Heating and cooling are essential aspects of just about every industrial process, and these functions both require significant energy in-puts, but also produce significant energy outputs. Unsurprisingly, a major concern for companies looking to make their processes as efficient as possible is making sure that as little of this energy as possible is wasted.
There are a variety of cutting-edge technologies designed to help capture and store waste energy so that it can be recycled for other uses, and these technologies are now being used around the world to reduce overall energy use and to make efficiency more practical (you can learn more from Solex Thermal about how this technology works).
While environmentalism and the economy are often positioned as opposing and incommensurate goods, the truth is that most businesspeople understand that waste is bad for the bottom line. The push to reduce emissions is in no way incompatible with the profit motive.
As breakthroughs in green technology make industry more efficient, they also underscore that an energy-efficient business also has a competitive edge over its less efficient rivals — after all, using less energy is a great way to reduce overhead.
While the climate picture still looks dire, as more and more industries become aware of the financial incentives involved in using more efficient technologies and switching to sustainable energy sources, this may spur the kind of large-scale action needed to prevent the worst case scenario of climate change.