Last month’s GreenBuild in Philadelphia – the annual meeting of the U.S. Green Building Council – revealed dozens of nifty products that are new or will soon be released. Here are our top 4 picks:
- Refridgerator Magnets Save $$$– A new material that cools when demagnetized, expected to hit the market in about five years, could revolutionize the world of fridges and air conditioners by replacing the decades-old use of refrigerants. “This technology has the potential to be more efficient by 25 percent to 30 percent,” says Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, director of advanced technologies for GE Appliances, which has patents pending for the material. He says it’s ready now, but General Electric is working to lower costs.
- Need a Showerhead? Print It! – GE expects the home of 2025 could have under-cabinet 3-D printers. Personal 3-D printers may sound like a pricey luxury or a niche product for geeks, but soon they could become a household appliance that saves consumers thousands of dollars a year on the purchase of common household objects. A recent study found a shower head costs $2.53 to make on a 3-D printer (3 cents for electricity, $2.50 for plastic). A comparable model showerhead costs anywhere from $8 to $437 at a store.
- Solar, Solar Everywhere – Everyone can be off the grid with all the new innovations in solar energy. Quebec-based Renewz plans to begin selling residential Solar Charging Carports for about $30,000, says company CEO Sass Peress. The carport generates solar power that can be used to charge an electric vehicle or to supplement a home’s energy. Princeton-based NG Energy will begin selling the gazebo-like Solar Canopy, which has solar panels on top. Once assembled, the modular kits could enable homes to go off grid or, by storing energy in batteries, provide backup power in case the grid goes down (e.g. hurricane). United Technologies is making solar-powered elevators so it seems the skies the limit for solar (he, he, he).
- Now That’s Smart – Smartphone apps will allow home owners to perform all types of activities. Apps will integrate with your home’s smart meter to provide real time adjustments. “We can measure and control everything – every outlet, every light switch, every mechanical system and every fixture,” says David Gottfried, founder of the U.S. Green Building Council. He estimates monitoring can help consumers save 30 percent to 50 percent of energy and water. Homeowners will use smart apps to control window glare & heat gain. View (formerly Soladigm), began selling windows with thin-film electrochromic material between the panes. When a low-voltage current is applied, the material can reflect or absorb light and change the glass’ color. This is something we Floridians would appreciate!
Some of these ideas may seem far-fetched, but recent breakthroughs and consumer demand will drive these innovations to become standard in every home.