Chicago is full of tech startups trying to make their mark on society, but not all of them better the planet in the process. These five green companies, however, are well on their way to building a more sustainable and energy-efficient future. Check out their products and progress thus far.
Architecture graduate students Anna and Andrea created LuminAID in 2010 as a project to help relief efforts following the Haiti earthquake. They developed a solar-powered, inflatable and water-resistant lantern that provides light in times of emergency or following natural disasters. The duo have appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2015 and have since grown their business internationally, with products sold in more than 70 countries for both disaster relief as well as commercial use. You can purchase several different types of lantern multipacks on their website to bring a little more energy efficient light to your world.
Goby’s team helps you run a better and more sustainable building, whether you’re an owner, manager, product or service provider. They partner with companies across the country to engineer green buildings, plan their energy strategies and offer sustainable services. Their goal is to help clients achieve EnergyStar status on their buildings and make the world a better, greener place. Goby has been named a LEED Proven Provider and recognized by the US EPA with an ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award.
When you’re printing documents, spreadsheets and web pages, you likely notice a lot of wasted white space in your printouts. Two young college graduates also noticed this problem in 2010 and developed PrintEco, a free software that rearranges your printing layouts to reduce paper waste. It can be downloaded from their website right onto your web browser or Microsoft Office application, and it takes care of the rest. If you’re interested in incorporating it into your business, their PrintEco Analytics will even track its environmental and financial impact for you.
When you use batteries, you’re powering your object with electrical energy stored within those batteries. NETenergy has taken this successful concept and developed a battery that stores thermal energy to be used during off-peak times. According to their website, when buildings use their battery to store cold energy, it will ‘save 30% or more on their energy usage and reduce carbon emissions by 50%.’ It’s an attractive and simple way to improve a building’s sustainability and save owners money on cooling costs.
The scientists at RedWave Energy came together in 2011 to create a technology that makes use of wasted heat energy. Their prototype, which is expected to release in beta within the next year, will harvest lower-temperature heat that’s given off at factories and turn it into usable electricity. The energy wasted in industrial processes will be picked up as wavelengths by RedWave’s millions of small antennas before conversion, a technological process they developed in conjunction with scientists and researchers around the country.