As the understanding of the impact of humans on the earth’s limited natural resources continues to develop, green technology strives to answer questions about how we can respond in a responsible manner. Green technology, or sustainable technology, is simply the practical application of taking what we know and using it to bring innovation for what we want to see in the future.
Even over the last few decades, our awareness of the ways in which human population growth, use of natural resources, and carbon footprint has spurred technological developments. But the story of environmentally sound innovations has been telling itself for over a century. As far back as the late 1800s, innovators were creating and putting into use windmills for irrigation in the prairies, solar panels for water heating in California, and electric cars–specifically taxi cabs–in New York City.
A more recent history of sustainable living projects in the United States began in the 1970s during the OPEC energy crisis when “Going Green” and Earth Day became popular. However, Americans didn’t like that the cost of sustainable energy might be higher on the front end, even if it would save money (and the earth!) in the long run. This led to virtual abandonment of such innovative projects such a solar homes or solar powered water heaters. Instead, cheap fossil fuels became the go-to plan, which has led to a more deeply imbedded struggle today.
Current Sustainable Trends
However, things have been looking up for green technology as large companies seek to implement cost-saving and eco-friendly practices into their regular routines. The larger scale impact of simple sustainable changes such as timed thermostats, photo sensitive lighting, and green energy building has led to more participation among high dollar businesses. In addition, many consumers are becoming more discriminating by insisting on doing business with green-focused companies, which further motivates those systems.
Benefits of Green Technology
Some of the benefits of the application of green technology are obvious, such as reducing waste and increasing the sustainability of the earth’s future. However, other “side effects” may prove to be just as beneficial as green businesses are growing. An increased job market for green leaders, expanded diversity of employees in the field, economically sound business practices, and cost savings are just some of the ways that businesses and individuals can benefit from practicing sustainability.
As environmental technology continues to evolve, it will be exciting to see what types of advances will develop within this ever-important arena.