Amazing eco-tech innovations from Singapore Green Building Week

During Singapore Green Building Week 2018, more than 12,000 policy makers and professionals from 31 countries gathered for the Build Eco Xpo. The purpose of the event was to showcase solutions to help the built environment withstand rising challenges – like congestion, air pollution, rising temperatures, flooding and insecurity.

With Asia’s annual urban growth rate of 2.7% per year being nearly 27% greater than the global average, technology was a key focus of the event. Innovators showcased groundbreaking technologies that will help Asia’s built environment to thrive in a future shaped by climate change. Here are two of the best technologies that caught the eye of urban experts.


GraviPlant horizontal trees

Sideways-growing trees that appear to cheat gravity were a talking point at the Build Eco Xpo. Biologist Dr Alina Schick, managing director of Visioverdis, the German firm behind GraviPlant, explained how the trees are planted in pots clamped to the sides of buildings. The pots rotate, ‘tricking’ the trees into growing sideways.

Because they are continuously revolving, Visioverdis’ trees are exposed to more sunlight than ordinary trees. As a result, they are much bushier, with double the biomass of regular trees. That means they can filter more pollutants from the air, fix more carbon and produce more oxygen. They also have a cooling effect. In fact, according to Schick, a building adorned with greenery is about twice as cool as a concrete surface.

In terms of energy expenditure, you might think these trees would be expensive. However, Schick explains how the benefits offset the costs. “A single unit uses 30 watts of power from a computer that automates rotation, irrigation and lighting. But that’s offset by the cooling effect of the trees”, Schick says.


The PHI 1080 – A solar-powered sustainable canopy

The PHI 1080 is a multi-purpose sustainable canopy developed by Indian entrepreneurs Priya Vakil Choksi and Samit Choksi. The canopy not only provides shade and solar-powered lighting, it also harvests rainwater and even charges your phone while you sit under it.

The canopy’s mast contains USB ports for charging, but its main function is as a filter for cleaning rainwater that funnels down. The mast is linked to an underground plumbing network, which can draw on the rainwater when needed. It features intelligent controls that automatically adjust the lighting levels, depending on the time of the day, plus a window that allows passers-by to view the rainwater harvesting process.

Yap Su Chii, director of food-saving non-government group ZeroWaste Food, said “The PHI 1080 canopy looks deceivingly simple. But it incorporates sustainable design elements such as harnessing solar and rainwater. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, it is functional and can be easily installed anywhere and everywhere.”

Singapore’s futuristic horticulture park will be the first place outside of India that will feature the PHI 1080.

PHI 1080 canopy