Everything you need to know about green technology in 2022

Everyone’s talking about green tech, but what does it actually mean? Here, we talk about the top 5 green tech trends to watch in 2022.

Green building

In 2022, green technology can feel like the new kid on the block. But the world of sustainable innovation has a long history you probably didn’t know about.

Take geothermal heating, a popular trend in energy-efficient homes and buildings. Using heat energy from below the earth’s surface dates back to Paleolithic times, when early humans bathed in hot springs and built homes from lava. Or take wind energy — as early as 5000 B.C., our ancestors were using wind energy to move boats down the River Nile. By 2000 B.C., wind power was pumping water and grinding grains. And solar power? Humans were harnessing the sun’s energy in the 7th century B.C. to light fires from magnifying glass. And although battery-powered vehicles might seem newly popular, 90% of New York City taxis at the turn of the 19th century were electric vehicles.

So humans have been working on sustainable solutions to everyday needs for a long time. But today, innovating our way out of environmental problems is now more popular — and more necessary — than ever.

📖 So what does green technology actually mean?

In a nutshell, green technology is any technology designed to reduce the negative impact of human activity on the environment.

Green technology: a few examples 👉

There’s more to green tech than solar panels and wind turbines. Here’s a list of some popular planet-saving innovations you might not have heard of:

  • Wastewater treatment and water purification (recycling water to make it drinkable, or clean enough for other purposes)
  • Waste management and recycling (minimizing landfill and its impact)
  • Waste-to-energy (burning landfill to generate electricity)
  • Electric transport (electric cars, trucks, buses, scooters — you name it)
  • Programmable thermostats (programming temperatures to save energy when you’re not home)
  • Self-sufficient buildings (buildings that produce enough energy to power themselves, generally through solar panels)
  • Low carbon construction (developing energy-efficient buildings made with green materials and smaller footprints)
  • Carbon capture and storage (capturing and removing carbon from the atmosphere)
  • LED lighting (ultra-energy-efficient light bulbs)
  • Vertical farming (uses less land, less water, and can be set up in cities)
  • Composting (turning food waste into fertilizer)
  • Wave energy (using ocean waves to generate electricity)
  • Batteries (energy storage is crucial in the transition to renewables)
  • Green materials (local, renewable materials like bamboo, hemp and straw)
  • Carbon tracking software (yep, that’s us — software that calculates your company’s carbon emissions)

Green tech, clean tech, climate tech: what’s the difference? 🔍

Green technology or environmental technology means using science and technology to protect the world’s natural resources and mitigate the negative environmental impact of human activity.

Clean tech is a broad category that encompasses solutions that improve the performance and efficiency of production, while also reducing negative environmental impact of any kind. So clean technologies include innovations like clean energy, wastewater treatment, waste management, and more.

Meanwhile, climate tech tackles problems specifically associated with human-induced climate change — basically, any technology focused on mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. So, as an example, while water treatment and waste management are considered clean tech, they don’t qualify as climate tech.

👀 5 green tech trends to watch in 2022

Low-carbon construction 🏡

Smart, sustainable buildings are popping up everywhere, and for good reason. Traditional buildings and construction account for 38% of greenhouse gas emissions around the world. Low-carbon buildings are designed to emit no or little carbon across their lifespan. They require minimal heating and cooling, produce very little waste and pollution, and are made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo and hemp. They generally produce their own energy, often through rooftop solar panels. With the demand for construction higher than ever, low-carbon buildings are crucial for a green future.

Carbon capture and storage 🌌

Carbon offsets are a necessary step towards reversing global warming, but on their own, they can’t keep global temperature rises to less than 1.5°C. For that, we’ll need to physically remove existing carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage technology pulls carbon from the atmosphere and uses it to make synthetic fuel. Right now, it’s expensive and relatively small-scale, but a study by Stanford University predicts that the costs of this technology could come down by a multiple of six, making it much more scalable.

Renewable energy storage ⚡

In the transition to renewables, one key problem is working out how to make clean energy available consistently, even when the sun has been hidden by clouds for days on end, or wind hasn’t spun turbines in weeks. To do this, we’ll need to be able to store large amounts of energy for long periods of time, at little cost. Innovative companies around the world, including Aquion Energy, Malta (Google X) and Highview Power, are developing unique long-term storage solutions for the power generated by renewable energy sources. Fossil fuels are out, renewables are in, and the demand for storage technology will follow.

Hydrogen 🚗

You’re already familiar with battery-powered electric vehicles, but there’s another kind of electrical vehicle, and it’s known as a fuel cell electric vehicle. These cars don’t run on batteries — they run on hydrogen. This makes them far more efficient than combustion-powered vehicles, and they also don’t produce any harmful emissions. Some people predict that by 2050, hydrogen will eventually power over 400 million cars, up to 20 million buses, and more than 20% of passenger ships. Hydrogen fuel is still expensive, but hydrogen-powered vehicles are already being purchased in many parts of the world, and could become crucial for cutting transport emissions from fossil fuels.

Upcycling (circular waste management) ♻

Upcycling — turning waste into new, usable materials or products — has never been more popular. Innovative companies and organizations around the world are finding ways to upcycle existing waste into everything from fuel and fertilizer to clothes and bicycles. Upcycling is part of the circular economy, a model where ‘waste’ doesn’t exist — it simply becomes the raw material for something new.

🌳 7 ways to become an eco-friendly business 

Even if you’re not a green tech company (let’s face it, we can’t all be that cool!), there are plenty of ways your company can become an eco-friendly business.

Track your carbon footprint 💨

The biggest problem our planet faces right now is global warming due to the presence of greenhouse gasses (mainly carbon dioxide) in our atmosphere. The private sector is one of the biggest carbon dioxide producers, which means the best thing your company can do to become environmentally friendly (and fast) is track your carbon footprint. Only once you’ve got a clear picture of your impact can you then make plans for reducing it.

Conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) 📝

No matter what kind of products or services you provide, you can conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) on each of your offerings.

Reduce your carbon footprint 📉

After you’ve put tracking in place and/or conducted a life cycle assessment, now you can start to reduce your carbon footprint. You might start with cutting down on business travel, switching to clean energy providers, installing LED light bulbs to improve your energy efficiency, and engaging with environmentally friendly suppliers.

Offset your emissions 💪

Go carbon neutral or net zero by first reducing your carbon output as much as you can, and then purchasing offsets or removal credits to compensate for the impact of your essential emissions.

Go zero-waste 💚

Assess your company’s waste and commit to zero waste business principles. Recycle as much as possible, carefully consider new products and procedures, and purchase used and recycled items where you can.

Report on ESG 📰

Although many companies around the world aren’t yet legally required to publish ESG reports, doing so can help you measure and reduce your environmental impact, set targets, stay accountable, and communicate your environmental commitment both internally and externally. Plus, companies with better ESG scores have higher ROI, lower risk, and better resilience in crises.

Fund environmental projects 🚀

Consider donating to environmental initiatives, either locally, or further afield. Many projects need help getting off the ground or require continued support from donations. Although we often talk about environmental impact in terms of reduction and mitigation, donating to worthy projects is a great way to go beyond simply minimizing your negative impact, and make a positive environmental impact. And if you don’t have the cash for it, consider giving employees paid time off to volunteer for an environment-related cause. Here are some important environmental organizations you can donate to today.

😎 How can your company benefit from green technology?

Even if you don’t plan on building any green technology of your own, your company can still benefit from the advances being made in this area.

Join the global push for sustainability 👊

Green tech providers can help you reduce your business’s carbon footprint, minimize waste, capitalize on renewable resources, and deliver products and services that are better for our world. In the push towards a greener future, there’s room for everyone.

Save money 💵

Somewhere along the line, green alternatives got a reputation for being expensive, but in practice, they’re anything but. Most of the time, efficiency improvements in one area (say, electricity) lead to efficiency gains in other areas (financial savings). In addition to the tax credits often available for green tech investments, companies find that investments like solar power can significantly reduce their energy consumption (and therefore energy costs) over the long-term, and finding eco-conscious suppliers can also lead to savings. Making operational changes in the name of going green can also cut costs, boost profits, help you enter new markets, and raise productivity.

Improve productivity 📈

Two things happen when your company commits to going green. Firstly, analyzing your operations reveals efficiency opportunities you might not have found otherwise, and secondly, employees become happier and more satisfied at work. And both of these (surprise, surprise!) lead to better productivity.

Boost morale 🙋

When you commit to greener operations, you’ll be surprised how many of your existing staff (and potential hires) will jump on board. Studies show that value-driven companies do a much better job at retaining staff, and 83% of employees believe their companies aren’t doing enough to combat climate change.

Build a better brand 👍

Taking an ecological stance is one way to improve your brand’s image in the eyes of customers, suppliers, and investors. 70% of shoppers believe brands should be sustainable and environmentally responsible, which poses a fantastic opportunity for brands willing to make the switch.

💬 Talk to Greenly

Not all green businesses need to be technology-based. With the right business model, you can make most products and services environmentally friendly. It starts with getting a clear picture of your impact, so talk to the team at Greenly.  We’ve helped hundreds of businesses reduce their environmental impact, and we can do the same for you — whether you're a green technology business, or not — in 2022.

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