There’s an awesome, awesome list up on one of my favorite sites, Ecofriend. In their words, “The rise in the demand for energy and the decline in its supply have made product manufacturers and designers come up with sustainable alternatives that help save energy or run on renewable sources of energy. The street lighting industry has also witnessed the change with many manufacturers unveiling next-gen solar-powered street lights and designers coming up with even better lighting solutions for the future. Boosting this green trend, here are 20 sustainable street lighting systems that can make streets green and safe.”
This is the kind of innovation that really appeals to me. All of the designs incorporate some combination of solar panels, wind turbines, LED lights, and other elements of sustainable energy. Here are the ones that especially caught my attention:
The Invisible Streetlight (upper right) by Johgoh Lee integrates double injection silicon, aluminum and a photo capacitor into a lovely organic leaf design, ideal for wooded roads. It is designed to be invisible during the day and to glow all night long. My main concern? It’s hard to tell from just the pictures, but they don’t seem to be secured in any clear way, so I’d worry about roving thugs stealing these fixtures. But maybe I’m just projecting my own desire to have one of these pretty lamps in my home.
The Trash Powered Street Lamp (at left) serves the dual purpose of illuminating the streets at night and composting! Designed by Haneum Lee, it composts organic waste that users throw into a wastebasket and then uses the methane which is released as a byproduct to fuel the lights. Unfortunately, this also strikes me as a “Only in a perfect world” kind of innovation. How many times have you seen random garbage tossed into an inappropriate recycling bin? Again, I kind of just want this for my house. This would save me a walk from the kitchen to the compost heap in my backyard on a nightly basis. (Though I suppose I do need the exercise.) And with energy-efficient LED lights, it wouldn’t require a whole lot of garbage to run itself. Also compost lamppost is just so much fun to say.
Finally, here’s possibly the most functional of my faves: the Light Tree by designer Omar I. Huerta Cardoso (at right). Its tree-like body is lined with nanotube solar cells and aqueducts leading from the water-filled base to seeds at the top. In addition to feeding plant life, the water conducts light from high-intensity LEDs stationed near the bottom. I have to say, the appearance of the tree kind of bothers me (it looks like EVE from Wall-E did it with a tree) but the dual functionality of sustainable LED street lighting and oxygen-providing plant life really wins the package for me.
There are a few more streetlights that I could go on about, but I highly recommend checking out the rest of the list for yourself. I’m not involved in civil engineering, but the possibility of seeing these eco-friendly designs on our streets in the near future is kind of putting me in my happy place.