Green Technology in Action The United Arab Emirates (UAE

Green Technology in Action
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) intends to construct the world’s first carbon-neutral city using
on solar, wind and other renewable energy resources. Scheduled for completion in 2016, Masdar
City will use 70 per cent less electricity and 60 per cent less water than a conventional city. The
UAE intends that this city will be a global clean technology hub.
Green technology adopts the philosophy of “green thinking,” which looks at every object in
nature and understands its value and role in maintaining a healthy planet. It requires transitioning
into sustainable development pathways that meet the present needs of society, without
compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. According to, green technology often incorporates ideas such as “creating products that can be
fully reclaimed or re-used; reducing waste and pollution by changing patterns of production and
consumption; developing alternatives to technologies harmful to health and the environment
such as fossil fuel or chemical intensive agriculture; and creating economic opportunities around
technologies and products that benefit the environment”.
Today there are various fields where green technology is applicable. The most notable is the
energy sector where the development of alternatives to fossil fuels and increasing energy
efficiency are treated with a great sense of urgency. One such alternative is renewable energy,
which is rapidly being deployed in various geographic locations across the world, primarily in
the areas of solar, wind, hydro, biofuels and biomass. Renewable energy has resulted in energy
security for the future, economic benefits, and climate change mitigation. According to the
Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, renewable energy provided an estimated 19 percent of
global final energy consumption in 2012, and continued to grow in 2013. Worldwide
investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$ 214 billion in 2013, with
countries like China and the United States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels.
The report also alluded to the economic burdens of fossil fuel subsidies, with estimates for the
global cost ranging from USD 544 billion to USD 1.9 trillion-several times higher than those for
renewable energy. Renewable energy resources are certainly making significant strides in the
energy sector, and this will be explored in next week’s article.
Green technology in the construction sector is also an area of keen interest. This involves
incorporating environmentally responsible practices in the designing of commercial and
residential properties, resulting in high-energy efficiency. In Trinidad and Tobago, there is a
Green Building Council dedicated to fostering green building practices through business and
public awareness initiatives. Some aspects of green building techniques frequently applied
include using solar energy to generate electricity through the installation of solar panels on the
roof; reducing rain water run-off by using plants and trees as “green roofs” and rain gardens;
using low-impact building materials such as lumber from forests that have been certified to a
third-party forest standard, rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo and straw, recyclable
stone or products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable; using energy
efficient appliances, LED lights, and water conserving fixtures such as ultra-low flush toilets and
low-flow shower heads. These “green” options have led to an increased preference for energy
efficient products among consumers, which marketing executives use as leverage for increased
sales. Many consumers in the United States for example look out for that iconic “Energy Star”
rating on appliances before purchasing.
In terms of commercial buildings, many businesses also monitor operation and maintenance staff
to ensure that waste reduction and energy efficiency are practiced on a daily basis. Several
companies are now implementing paper, electricity and water-use audits to track how their
organisation utilises these resources, as well as developing and practising green operating
policies accordingly.
Green technology also extends into the field of applied sciences including chemistry. According
to the American Chemistry Society, green chemistry “creates a new reality for chemistry and
engineering by asking chemists and engineers to design chemicals, chemical processes and
commercial products in a way that, at the very least, avoids the creation of toxics and waste”.
Furthermore, the scope of green chemistry principles goes beyond concerns over hazards from
chemical toxicity and includes energy conservation, waste reduction, and life cycle
considerations such as designing for end of life or the final disposal of the product. This has
resulted in many companies designing a range of non-toxic, environmentally-friendly items from
household cleaning products, to organic skin care cosmetics. The packaging of regular consumer
items such as plastic bottles is also being redesigned to incorporate more biodegradable
Green technology has affirmed its presence on the global market today and more energy efficient
solutions are constantly being sought after each day. Engineers, scientists, manufacturers,
policymakers and the ordinary individual are trying to restore and maintain a balance between
development and the laws of nature, and the philosophy of “green thinking” is becoming more
intertwined in our path to progression.
If you have any comments or would like to contribute to this column please send us an email at
[email protected]