08/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's Art... It's Energy... No, It's Both

Not only do solar panels help reduce carbon emissions they can look pretty too. Dan Nosowitz of Gizmodo posted about a Solar installation in Austin, Texas. The installation consists of sunflower shaped solar collectors along a walking and biking path.

The collectors will provide shade as they collect energy to power lights along the path at night. On Inhabitant Blog, Bridgette Meinhold writes about solar and wind powered street lamps. This design updates the old drab street lamps into new stylish eco-friendly street lamps that can generate 380 watts of clean power each.


A concept for a Dubai skyscraper is the hot topic of a post by Hank Green at Ecogeek, a blog that devotes its pages to exploring the symbiosis between nature and technology. The skyscraper's design calls for a solar thermal generator built right into the top. The building would be able to produce enough energy for its own operations along with excess to feed into the grid.

These three posts are all examples of how people are integrating eco-friendly power generation into everyday objects. While individually one of these new light posts may only generate up to 380 watts of clean energy, if all the innumerous lamp posts were replaced with ones like these the combined effect could make a great difference.

While large alternative energy power generation plants will be necessary to meet the demand, we must also supplement it with lots of small scale generation. In the short term, the lower cost and time needed to use Microgeneration will help reduce the load that is currently being fed through dirty generation.

GreenMeUp is a venture I have been working on as a fellow at the PresenTense institute at the Jerusalem hub. At PresenTense I have been learning how to take GreenMeUp from a dream to a reality. Over the past few weeks I have learned a lot from mentors, speakers and traveling to places like Battery Ventures and Google Haifa. GreenMeUp is a competition that is focused on the small changes that individuals and small organizations can make that add together to make a difference. GreenMeUp participants will use meters to track their energy use and report it in real-time online. By doing this, they can see how their new energy saving habits translate into real savings. Through the GreenMeUp website (not yet up) the participants will be able to track their electric use online and also see the use of other participants.

By being able to see the energy use of others, in conjunction with the incentives to save the most, participants will feel a sense of competition. They will be competing to make the greatest relative reduction in their energy use. At the end of the competition, everyone will have benefited and learned valuable lessons on how to save energy, and they will realize the financial benefit too. While it is easy to just search the internet for suggestions on how to reduce energy, GreenMeUp not only provides suggestions but also gives further incentives to do so.