The field of “green technology” encompasses a continuously evolving group of methods and materials, from techniques for generating energy to non-toxic cleaning products.
The present expectation is that this field will bring innovation and changes in daily life of similar magnitude to the “information technology” explosion over the last two decades. In these early stages, it is impossible to predict what “green technology” may eventually encompass.
The goals that inform developments in this rapidly growing field include:
Sustainability – meeting the needs of society in ways that can continue indefinitely into the future without damaging or depleting natural resources. In short, meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
“Cradle to cradle” design – ending the “cradle to grave” cycle of manufactured products, by creating products that can be fully reclaimed or re-used.
Source reduction – reducing waste and pollution by changing patterns of production and consumption.
Innovation – developing alternatives to technologies – whether fossil fuel or chemical intensive agriculture – that have been demonstrated to damage health and the environment.
Viability – creating a center of economic activity around technologies and products that benefit the environment, speeding their implementation and creating new careers that truly protect the planet.
Examples of green technology subject areas
Perhaps the most urgent issue for green technology, this includes the development of alternative fuels, new means of generating energy and energy efficiency.
Green building encompasses everything from the choice of building materials to where a building is located.
Environmentally preferred purchasing
This government innovation involves the search for products whose contents and methods of production have the smallest possible impact on the environment, and mandates that these be the preferred products for government purchasing.
The invention, design and application of chemical products and processes to reduce or to eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.
Nanotechnology involves the manipulation of materials at the scale of the nanometer, one billionth of a meter. Some scientists believe that mastery of this subject is forthcoming that will transform the way that everything in the world is manufactured. “Green nanotechnology” is the application of green chemistry and green engineering principles to this field.