Top 10 Eco-Trends in 2010

As another year comes to an end, we have a perfect opportunity to review our planet's progress as well as our shortcomings.  In April, China saw a 6.9 magnitude earthquake, killing at least 2,000 and injuring over 10,000 people.  In that same month volcanic ash from an icecap in Iceland devastated air traffic throughout Europe.  And the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing eleven workers and resulting in one of the largest oil spills in history.  Mind you, these are just three environmental disasters occuring in the month of April alone.  A monsoon caused widespread flooding in Pakistan, repeated eruptions of Mt. Merapi in Indonesia killed at least 240 people, a landslide killed seven people in Mexico, and an earthquake and consequent tsunami in Indonesia killed over 400 people.  Our planet is at times a rather dangerous place to reside.

However, it hasn't all been bad news for Earth in 2010.  On January 15th the longest annular solar eclipse of the 3rd millennium occurred.   The first 24-hour, solar-powered flight took place via the European "Solar Impulse."  NASA recently announced the discovery of arsenic-based life-form.  And early Christmas Eve morning we witnessed the first, total lunar eclipse to coincide with the northern winter solstice/southern summer solstice since 1638.  

But what advances have we humans made in regards to the conservation and protection of our planet?  In that respect, 2010 has been a very progressive year for green efforts.  Thus, I've compiled a list of what I believe are the top 10 eco-trends of 2010.

10. Sustainable Streetlights

Eco-Trend #10: Sustainable Street LampsEco-Trend #10: Sustainable Street Lamps

More frequently referred to as "Solar Trees," sustainable streetlamps are growing in popularity around the world.  Similar to those pictured here (by Vinaccia Integral Designs), such streetlights charge during the day catching rays from the sun to power the lights by night.  What about cloudy days?  Well most solar streetlamps of this nature can accumulate enough power to last for several days.

9. Art and Designs From Reused Items

Eco-Trend #9: Art and Design from Resued Items, such as this "Tub Couch"Eco-Trend #9: Art and Design from Resued Items, such as this "Tub Couch"

From this couch made out of a an old, claw-foot tub (by Ruff House Art) to wedding gowns made out of garbage bags, creating the new from the old is becoming not only a trendy but an eco-conscious form of art and design. These commodities can be a fun DIY project that you do or a green purchase you make for yourself or a friend.  Many of these innovations can be found on Etsy.com.

8. Floating Eco-Homes

Eco-Trend #8: Floating Eco-HomesEco-Trend #8: Floating Eco-Homes

Green boat homes are another eco-trend that is rapidly gaining popularity.  I covered one of these concepts in my post, "TrendHunter's Top 10 Eco Trends of November."  The one pictured here is the "Houseboat" by Rost Niderehe Architects of Germany.  It combines all the elements of an on-ground home with the concept of a floating houseboat.  Other architects and designers are hopping on board this eco-trend, including Robert Harvey Oshatz with his Fennel Residence and Joanna Borek-Clement with her Tafoni Floating House.

7. Zero-Energy Homes

Eco-Trend #7: Zero-Energy HomesEco-Trend #7: Zero-Energy Homes

The goal of zero-energy homes is not to consume zero energy but to produce the same amount of energy as they consume.  Pictured here is the concept for "The Ribbon" by Fab-Homes, which "focuses on connecting with the outdoors [and] extending the natural living space onto the green roof garden patio."  This is just one example of a "two-way passive house" that claims to not just conserve energy consumption, but essentially neutralize it.

6. Green Roofing

Eco-Trend #6: Green RoofingEco-Trend #6: Green Roofing

This is another trend that has been cropping up in many of my posts, especially during my segment on green building wherein I covered green alternatives to traditional roofing.  Conventional roofing doesn't absorb heat or water, but green roofs take care of both.  Generally used in urban areas that have limited space for heat and water absorption, green roofs, aka "rooftop gardens," are planted on existing roof structures and also help reduce indoor temperatures, filter pollution, lessen pressure on sewer systems, and reduce the "heat island effect," a phenomenon that occurs in metropolitan areas causing them to be much warmer than surrounding areas.

5.  High-Speed, Electric Cars

Eco-Trend #5: High-Speed, Electric CarsEco-Trend #5: High-Speed, Electric Cars

Electric cars were once categorized as both eco-friendly and unfortunately slow.  However,  "slow" is no longer going to be an applicable description of electric cars as advances are steadily being made to bring such cars up to speeds comparable to that of their gasoline-powered counterparts.  Pictured here is Ecotriciy's "Nemesis," a car a featured in this November posting.  Here's a car that is not only electric, but also wind-powered and can top speeds of the Ferrari V12.  Reaching speeds up to 170-mph, the Nemesis also goes from 0-100 in 8.5 seconds.  Slow electric cars are steadily becoming a thing of the past as this eco-trend gains staying power.

4. LEED Building Certification

Eco-Trend #4: LEED CertificationEco-Trend #4: LEED Certification

While LEED Certification is not exactly an innovation of 2010, it has become increasingly more desirable.  This year LEED made several advancements.  They officially launched a pilot program, "LEED for Retail," which claims to encourage "forward-thinking retailers to integrate green building design, construction and operation into ground-up construction, retail interior, and build-out products."  Furthermore, the "LEED Volume Program," is aimed at making LEED certification easier and cheaper for large-scale property developers.  Beyond that, LEED is also offering programs for new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, schools, health-care, homes, and a pilot neighborhood development program.  Clearly, the LEED certification program is the forerunner of green building in 2010.

3. Wind-Powered Everything

Eco-Trend #3: Wind-Powered EverythingEco-Trend #3: Wind-Powered Everything

Pictured here is the iFan, a wind-powered iPhone charger concept, covered in this recent post by Gloria Campos over at "Gloria's Green" for InventorSpot.  I've covered the previously mentioned wind-powered, electric car, the "Nemesis," and 2010 has brought us countless other wind-powered inventions and innovations.  This year, we've seen advancements such as the "Wind Cube," a wind-powered home generator; the "Agro E. Sustenable Generator," a portable, agricultural wind turbine; the "Revolutionair," a small-scale wind turbine for the home by Philipp Starck; as well as the "LIGHT WIND," a wind-powered, Dutch outdoor lighting system.  Could wind power potentially outdo solar power?

2. Energy Harvesting

Eco-Trend #2: Energy HarvestingEco-Trend #2: Energy Harvesting

Also referred to as "power harvesting" or "energy scavenging," energy harvesting has gained increased popularity over the last year.  Energy harvesting is the process used to collect energy from the surrounding environment (referred to as "ambient energy") and then convert it to electricity.  Recently, this is being done in rather innovative ways.  Pictured here is the "Hybrid Generator" by Fujitsu, a power generator that uses both thermoelectric (heat) and photovoltaic (light) sources to harvest energy for generating electricity.  Another innovative method of energy harvesting is used in the "Airenergy," a gadget charger that uses Wi-Fi radio frequencies in the surrounding environment to supply its power.

1. Alternative Fuel Sources

Eco-Trend #1: Alternative Fuel SourcesEco-Trend #1: Alternative Fuel Sources

From Bio-Diesel to hydrogen alternative fuel, traditional fossil fuels are rapidly becoming less in demand as alternative fuel sources gain popularity.  As can be seen by Precer's wood pellet-powered "Bioracer," biofuel is a comparable alternative to environmentally unfriendly and non-sustainable sources.  After the devastation of the Gulf Coast this past spring, we need alternative fuel sources now more than ever.  With advancements of this eco-trend growing at a rapid pace, 2011 is looking greener than ever.

Sources: TrendHunter's Top 100 Eco Trends and TrendHunter's 32 Small-Scale Wind-Driven Devices and Wikipedia and EcoHome