10 Easy Projects To Get YOU Started
About this report
This report includes a list of 10 promising and relatively affordable projects that have already been implemented in a few places around the world. As such, it could help you launch similar initiatives in your own municipality, aiding your business and/or career along the way.
There is a takeaway (summary) for every project, along with links to relevant parties.
It is our hope that this list will provide you with a few ideas to make your city a better place while also helping your own goals. Also, we would like to see you becoming our paid member. There is a free trial, so you have nothing to lose.
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Why sign-up for Sustainable Avenue?
We have created Sustainable Avenue after realizing that many (local) government officials are out of time. Just remember Mark Zuckerberg's Senate hearing -- some senators didn't have an idea how Facebook is working and making money. And, mind you, we're talking about one of the most valuable companies in the world.
The situation is similarly dire in many local jurisdictions all around the world, and this isn't the problem only developing countries are facing. The sad truth is that clueless politicians are everywhere.
On the other hand, it is getting hard for businesses of all sizes to keep up with today's novelties. Simply put - there's a lot going on in the world.
It is our goal to serve both groups - individuals working for local governments and businesses trying to sell new ideas to the municipalities they serve.
In that sense, by signing-up for Sustainable Avenue - you get ahead of others all while helping your community grow.
The following 10 projects present a snapshot of what you can expect from the full-blown membership.
There are a few differences, though. For one thing, we haven't included our action points as well as time and money estimates in this report. It's free after all -- but we're also sure you'll get the idea for yourself. And we also want you to become our paid member so we could support further research and analysis.
So take your time to go through these projects and please consider becoming a paid member. You can try us for free. 😉
Table of Contents
- Solar panel bench with built-in phone chargers
- This machine crushes beer bottles into sand for construction
- These stairs can become an elevator to help the disabled
- This inflatable dam protects against floods
- This revolving toilet automatically sanitizes itself after each user
- Modular box turns a standard parking slot into a bicycle park for 12 bikes
- Swapping plastic bottles for metro rides
- This Ashtray Encourages Public Engagement, Keeps Streets Clean From Cigarette Butts
- This smart trashcan can recognize and automatically categorize recycling litter
- Smart green walls clean urban air
It could be that their aesthetics may not fit every surroundings or it could be that many city officials are not aware of them at all. Nevertheless, in some cities, we have seen solar benches turning into neat, little social spaces.
These benches (obviously) get their power from the sun; the energy is stored in a big battery and made available to people 24/7, who could then use it to charge their mobile devices — as well as electric bikes and scooters — using either wireless chargers (for phones) or USB ports. The best part is that some of these benches also include temperature control and can't get warmer than 30 degrees Celsius.
According to Dutch company InfraMarks — which was one of the first to introduce solar benches to the public — this sort of street furniture is perfect for an upgrade of pretty much any area. And it says that from the experience, having installed more than 150 solar benches worldwide.
In addition to basic device charging capabilities, InfraMarks' smart benches can be equipped with fast 4G internet and air quality sensors.
The company's products are said to be resistant to vandalism and need only to be checked once a year.
The company's smart benches are said to be resistant to vandalism and need only to be checked once a year. Combined, those features helped it deliver more than 150 installations across the world.
Perhaps the most interesting part is that the sand from crushed bottles is better than the ordinary sand because of its high silica content, which holds better with bricks and concrete.
The company had a relatively modest success in New Zealand, where it managed to sell about 300 machines to local businesses — though part of that has something to do with the muted economic conditions of the past few years
The real growth has been overseas, with export markets including island resorts in the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Maldives.
Expleco is also working to supply its glass-crushing machines to 50 hotels in New York City, and to supply 40 bars in a Texas football stadium.
Also, it is helping the Glass2Sand project in India, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of non-recycled glass bottles. Said initiative aims to reduce glass waste by collecting discarded glass bottles and crushing them into sand.
However, we would think Expleco's most interesting project is with New Zealand beer company DB Breweries, which installed fancy-looking bottle crushing machines to turn their DB Export Beer bottles into usable sand.
Another obvious benefit of this machine is that it protects the environment, making sure those glass bottles don't end up in a landfill.
Expleco has managed to bring its fancy machine to many parts of the world, including New York, Houston, India and other places.
And so, Danish company Liftup created FlexStep, conventional stairs that turn into an elevator at the push of a button — with its railing and steps making it indistinguishable from any other stairs.
But the best part is that FlexStep does not require more space than conventional stairs. It can be placed on any stairwell, both indoors and outdoors, allowing people in a wheelchair to use it without any help — which improves their autonomy and independence. They do not have to ask for help every time they want to enter or leave the house/building.
This smart staircase/elevator is completely modular and available in configurations of 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 stairs.
For an added safety, when the transformation from stairs to an elevator begins, a door appears from the ground that prevents it from being used from the other side. The last step becomes a ramp so that the chair can go up or down comfortably; the ascent is very slow to avoid falls or dizziness.
Liftup has managed to install FlexStep in many public buildings and homes across Europe.
FlexStep has many configurations and installation options, making it easy to integrate into the existing surroundings. It gives easy access between levels and is particularly useful where space is tight when there is no room to install both a lift and a flight of stairs.
Designed by the Danish company Liftup, FlexStep has already been installed in many public buildings and homes across Europe.
One of these solutions, made by Canadian company MegaSecur, is called Water-Gate dam and it is a self-locking water barrier that can be used as an alternative to hundreds of sandbags.
The Water-Gate provides protection up to 60 inches (1.5 m) and it is possible to join multiple barriers together to widen the field of intervention. The barrier has a high resilience capacity, which allows it to absorb impacts from objects without affecting its integrity.
The portable dam comes as a PVC roll and is reusable for quick flood control to stop or limit the flow of water or redirect it elsewhere. It works against the water pressure, which unfolds the barrier and uses the water weight to hold the water back.
Aside from flood protection, the Water-Gate could also be used for urban stormwater deviation, hazmat/oil spill response, temporary cofferdams and water supply for firefighters — with its lightweight design allowing for timely intervention in remote or hard‑to‑access environments.
According to MegaSecur, the dam also requires very little manpower for deployment and its lifespan is between 20 and 25 years.
Compared to other competing products, the Water-Gate barrier offers ease of use in terms of deployment, uninstallation and handling stages, thus saving time and money.
As of October 2020, over 55 km of MegaSecur's water barriers have been deployed in around 30 countries — including Canada, the United States, France, Chile, Australia, Japan, Belgium, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Singapore and others.
Sanitronics' Revolving Toilet goes even further, consisting of two revolving (rotating) toilets where one is sanitized while the other is in use. Each and every time a visitor uses a public restroom, one of the two toilets is cleaned inside and out.
Also, because the company has more than 20 years of experience in public toilets, the system has been designed around topics such as vandalism, sustainability and comfort.
That self-cleaning part also includes under the seat washing under high pressure (70 bar) using biodegradable soap. And at the end of each cleaning session, the cleaned seat will pass an airblade connected to a large airpump, making sure the toilet is always completely dry before the next use.
In addition, the Revolving Toilet also cleans the floor, with the dirt being collected in a gutter behind the unit. That cleaning part, however, only happens when the system (using multiple sensors) detects that the unit is vacant.
Equipped with multiple sensors that detect if there is anyone in the restroom, the toilet's rotation system will not start until the space is vacant. Using high-pressure cleaning with biodegradable soap, the toilet that's rotating into the technical area will be thoroughly cleaned and dried out — making it ready for the next visitor.
As the demand for bicycle parking spots increases, the company believes its approach is the right one. This is because Bike2Box's solution doesn't require any special permits and the installation is rather simple, requiring no drilling or cables.
The bike parking solution is especially interesting in many cities that have been promoting the use of bikes in recent years. As a result of that increased demand, people have started complaining about the lack of available parking for their bicycles.
"It is a good time to think about the role bicycles have in our lives and cities," said founder Radosław Kozubski. "I hope that our activity will allow us to have an input in increasing the number of bicycles in cities."
The modular bicycle parking boxes can be ordered on the Bike2Box website or can be rented for as long as required.
Among the company's clients are such big corporations as Capgemini and Credit Agricole.
Polish company Bike2Box has a solution for this problem that turns a regular car parking space into a box accommodating 12 bicycles. It is easy to install and doesn't require any mounting. Those interested in getting Bike2box's solution can either buy it from the company's website or rent it for as long as needed.
Rome is one of those cities, which has been testing the program called "Ricicli + Viaggi," or Recycle + Travel, at three subway stations — including the Cipro station on Line A, Piramide on Line B, and San Giovanni on Line C.
Under the scheme, commuters can deposit plastic bottles in return for five euro cents each, which can be used toward the cost of a ride on the metro. Those cents can be accrued on the metro app until they hit the price of a metro ticket, which is currently €1.50. In other words, for every 30 bottles you bring, you get a free metro ride.
Environment Minister Sergio Costa liked the program but added that the ideal thing would be to "consume less single-use plastic and opt for reusable bottles." And he has a point since Italians drink more bottled water than any other European nation, at 188 litres per person, making recycling empty bottles a major issue.
Rome is by no means the only city trying to tackle the plastic pollution problem with free metro rides. A similar scheme was launched in Beijing in 2014, and in Istanbul plastic bottles can help pay for both tram and subway trips.
Also, in the Indonesian city of Surabaya - buses accept plastic cups and bottles as payment for journeys. A two-hour bus ride costs 10 plastic cups, or five plastic bottles.
According to the organizers of World Earth Day, we buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute, with discarded bottles making up just part of the 275 million tonnes of plastic waste generated worldwide each year.
Called Ballot Bin, it was originally built as a one-off installation to incentivize people to correctly dispose of their cigarette butts. Commissioned by Hubbub and Westminster council as part of their wider Neat Streets campaign, the bin invites users to cast their vote on a changeable topic by inserting their cigarette butt into one of two chambers.
The idea came from noticing a trend towards polling or asking questions across social media to drive high-engagement with a brand or topic. And so the team behind what will become the Ballot Bot set to implement this trentinto a physical installation that was customizable, engaging and playful, but without any technology or moving parts, and with minimal upkeep.
Not only did the installation contribute to a reduction of litter, it also helped highlight the wider issue of cigarette butts — which is estimated to cost the city of London approximately £3.8M a year to clean. Cigarette butts make up for one-third of all litter in the UK and can be found in almost all town center streets. Retail areas have four times as many cigarette litter as main roads.
Anti-rust and weatherproof, the Ballot Bin has proven to reduce cigarette litter on busy streets by 46%.
After the success of the campaign, the bin got redesigned for manufacture at scale by Instrument PD. The new design is made from powder-coated steel and reinforced glass, and a changeable magnetic sign to allow easily updatable questions through whiteboard marker or magnetic lettering. The Ballot Bin can be mounted to a pole with the fixing provided, or even directly onto a wall. Also available are fixings to mount it onto railings.
The bin is available to buy online, which has allowed the bin to be shipped globally. Among the company's customers are such well known brands as Sky, McDonald's, Ikea, UCL and H&M.
The questions can be easily changed by the Ballot Bin operator. They can be funny, topical, provocative - or whatever works for your audience.
Smokers find the Ballot Bins much more engaging than alternative ashtrays and are more likely to use them.
One of them, Bin-e, comes from Poland and its product is a smart trashcan featuring sensors, image recognition technology and artificial intelligence. As a result, this trashcan can recognize and categorize recycling litter into one of its smaller bins faster than a human being. The litter is then compressed, so it occupies less space.
This further means spending less time sifting through and sorting various products into categories for recycling.
At Bin-e, executives believe the simplicity of recycling in this manner may mean that more of us "do our bit" for the environment, without really thinking about it.
The smart bin comes with a touchscreen with an easy-to-grasp interface that leads users through the process and informs them about the fill level. It can connect to the internet via WiFi or LAN connection.
Right now, Bin-e is available in one size, measuring 120 x 120 x 60 cm with an uncompressed capacity of 0.3m3 and compressed of 0.8m3. That is what the company calls the office version that is offered with a subscription service — available through a mobile app — to enable users to arrange specific collection services.
Going forward, Bin-e plans to create an outdoor version and later the home version.
The CityTree consists of a bench, a green wall, tools to measure the performance and environmental data, solar panels and a battery to power the automatic irrigation system. The air filters have the capacity equivalent to as much as seven thousand people to breathe freely, according to Green City Solutions.
A tufting plant called biting stonecrop or wallpepper, sedum acre, is used for the protective layer on the moss; the green wall can bind more than 80% of the fine dust in certain cases, according to some of the measurements.
The manufacturers claim one CityTree is equivalent to 275 trees. The calculations revealed the air filters take out a maximum of 240 tons of carbon dioxide per annum, but that they also save citizens from nitrogen dioxide.
The CityTree can be tailored to the specific requirements of towns, companies or the property sector. And the added value is always the same — a significant improvement in the quality of life.
The suitability of CityTree installations is being analyzed across the planet as they must fit in what is usually a limited space in the street where they are needed. All in all, the German company had more than 50 CityTree installations in over 10 countries. Among cities that got their CityTree are London, Newcastle, Berlin, Oslo, Paris, Drammen in Norway, Amsterdam, Brussels and Hong Kong.
One piece of the puzzle could be a CityTree. It can add a "dose of green" to concrete blocks of buildings, while also improving the quality of air. Plus, it's a bench, thus a meeting point for people in the area. As such, a CityTree is an instant win, with the only problem being how to make it fit its surroundings.
Congratulations! You are at the end of the free ebook, but that's just a start.
Aside from these 10, there are more projects on the Sustainable Avenue website with new ones being added on a regular basis. As the site member, you will be notified via email about all new projects that get included on the site.
It is our hope that Sustainable Avenue will help your business and/or your municipality flourish.
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To your success!
Sustainable Avenue team