Amazing eco-tech innovations from Singapore Green Building Week

Eco-tech Innovations | Singapore

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.

GraviPlants

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

iTree Systems Get Smart in Urban Forestry

Citygreen - iTree Systems Get Smart in Urban Forestry

iTree Systems Get Smart in Urban Forestry:

Think back to a time that you forgot to water one of your houseplants. Now think about the time and energy it takes to remember and organize the maintenance of an entire community’s forest, that is, every tree. Since the USDA Forest Service introduced this suite of technology in 2006, iTree has been making it possible for communities and their supporting infrastructure to get smart with their urban landscaping efforts, and make the most of their valuable resources, the trees.

“Whether it be a residential home with a single tree or a larger area, such as a neighborhood, city or county, with a large population of trees…” the suite of technologies offered by iTree help build accuracy in inventory of trees, as well as an analysis and benefits over the course of the tree’s lifetimes. This accurate snapshot of the urban canopy not only gives the information needed to know how best to maintain the forestry, but it also helps quantify the value in investing into the quality of a community’s urban forestry, both in dollars and scientifically. One of the best parts, is this technology is available to download for free.

“When an i-Tree project is completed, reports are provided to inform users how neighborhood trees contribute to carbon sequestration, building energy savings (through shading and/or blocking wind), air quality improvements, and stormwater interception, “ as stated on the USDA webpage.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been successful in implementing the iTree software for nineteen communities thus far.Tracy Salisbury, urban forestry coordinator for the Natural Resources Department in the northeast region said, “Our goal was to use i-Tree to create fact sheets so that decision-makers — mayors and city councilors — can see the value of their trees…We want to show them the value in a new light.”

As the program further develops, partnerships have been made with the Forest Service, Davey Tree Expert Company, National Arbor Day Foundation, Society of Municipal Arborists, International Society of Arboriculture, and Casey Trees to provide technical support.

Including iTree Hydro, which is still in the beta stage, iTree system boasts a total of six applications also including i-Tree Eco, i-Tree Streets, i-Tree Vue, i-Tree Canopy and i-Tree Design.

The New Zealand Tree Project Captures Last Forest Frontier

Citygreen - The New Zealand Tree Project Captures Last Forest Frontier

The New Zealand Tree Project Captures Last Forest Frontier:

The New Zealand Tree Project is an innovative film and photography venture that captures imagery of majestic New Zealand trees and native podocarp forests from viewpoints not experienced from the forest floor. The project was formed by four passionate tree lovers: Catherine Kirby (University of Waikato Science and Research Support Officer), Jen Sanger (Plant Ecologist), Steven Pearce (Photographer), and Andrew Harrison (Climber, Technician, and Tree Climbing Instructor at Wintec).

Together, with the help of sponsors who provided funds, climbing ropes, and camera equipment, the group captured the Pureora Forest, northwest of Lake Taupo, chosen for its rich history and amazing trees. By using innovative mediums such as time-lapse, hyper-lapse and 3D video, coupled with custom built camera rigs, drones and 50m long cable cameras, the group was able to create one-of-a-kind footage of the forest from groundbreaking new angles.

Jen Sanger said, “The centrepiece of the project is a tree portrait of an ancient and beautiful rimu. A custom made camera rig that ran the entire 40m vertical height of the rimu was painstaking installed by suspending a platform from two adjacent trees. This allowed for the camera rig containing two Canon 5D MkIII cameras to be slowly lowered with a series of photos taken every 50cm. The photos were then stitched together using Photoshop to produce an image from a level viewpoint without distortion. This method allows for a super high resolution image that captures the true glory of the tree, rather than a distorted and incomplete view that is so common when we are limited to photography from the forest floor. This is never seen before stuff. The project will also feature documentary-style interviews with iwi, scientists, bird-watchers, hunters, and even loggers.”

Set to launch officially at the end of this year in Hamilton, New Zealand, the project team is working to create an exhibition for museums around New Zealand and is looking for donations or sponsorship.

In 2016, the group will set its sight on Tasmania, with a similar project planned for southern Tasmania. The Tasmanian Tree Project will capture a portrait of the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), the tallest hardwood tree species in the entire world, and second tallest tree species after the Californian Redwood.

For more information, visit The New Zealand Tree Project or The Tasmanian Tree Project.

photo credit: Tasmania Mount Field Russell Falls . wikipedia commons

Curtin University Awarded $500,000 to Research Green Innovation in the Built Environment

Citygreen - Curtin University Green Innovation Built Environment

Curtin University Awarded $500,000 to Research Green Innovation in the Built Environment:

Western Australia’s Curtin University has been awarded $500,000 by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living for research into green innovation in the built environment. The grant will fund five PhD research scholarships focused on the university’s Master Plan – which was awarded Australia’s first 5 Star Green Star – Communities rating earlier this year.

Curtin’s Vice Chancellor, Deborah Terry, said, “The Greater Curtin Master Plan aims to rebuild the Curtin campus as a city of innovation. Central to this is the notion of it being a model of low carbon development as well as enabling research and development into every feature of the building process.”

The project will be led by Curtin’s Sustainability Policy Institute’s Professor, Peter Newman, in partnership with Curtin’s planners, the private sector, local and state government, the local community, and staff and students. Mr Newman said, “The vision of the node is to extend Curtin’s work in low carbon living through a focus on regenerative cities and regions. The application of these tools will help other precinct-scale developments to use the latest innovations in low carbon, high-performance buildings, infrastructure, and land development processes.”

The Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRCLC), which has awarded the grant, is a, ‘national research and innovation hub that seeks to enable a globally competitive low carbon build environment sector.” The Centre brings together, “property, planning, engineering and policy organisations with leading Australian researchers”, to develop, “…new social, technological and policy tools for facilitating the development of low carbon products and services to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment.”

For more information on Curtin University’s Master Plan, watch this video.

image curteousy of Curtin University.

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