5 Environmental Designs and Ideas Spearheaded By Today’s Youth

Image by T Lindenbaum / Creative Commons

Companies, governments and individuals all across the world are searching for ways to lower our carbon footprint, improve sustainability, and turn towards a more environmentally-friendly way of life. Thus it is no surprise that the youth of today are not only getting in on the “green movement”, but are beginning to spearhead certain aspects of environmental design and in all honesty, inspire the rest of us to do more.

Take a look:

This design came from a 13-year-old boy who, while walking through the woods in upstate New York, noticed an interesting feature in the trees around him. After further investigation, his observation inspired him to design a solar array based on the Fibonacci design of the oak tree. Turns out his design was 50% more effective than a standard row of solar panels (as often seen on the roofs of homes).

The next design was also inspired by nature. It is the snail-inspired green building that won the Biomimicry Student Design Competition. Designed by a team of architectural and business students, this building uses self-shading, insulation and surface reflection to make a more naturally-livable habitat.

Ever wonder what it means to be a sustainable business? Well, just ask these middle school students from the Birmingham Covington School in Michigan, who after a year-long project and a lot of hard work, developed a green business rating system for businesses in and around their community.

Then there is the young Muslin man who designed an eco-friendly, bio-gas furnace for a local Hindu crematorium. Each cremation done with the bio-gas furnace saves approximately 200 kgs of wood and it costs less to operate as well. Where does the bio-gas come from you may ask? A well was dug to store cow and buffalo dung, which is then used to generate the bio-gas.

This last one is another design inspired by nature for the Biomimicry Institute’s Student Design Challenge. It is an eco-friendly hand dryer, for use in public washrooms, which is designed to cut down on excessive energy and paper waste. A Norwegian team of students got together and used, of all things, an animal’s natural instinct of shaking to remove excess water from their body as the basis for their design. Pretty smart, don’t you think?

Of course I’d be remiss if I failed to mention teensturninggreen.org, an inspirational group of young people who “stand for environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices…”. These youth work to not only initiate change in their local communities, but inspire other youth to do the same.

Then to further teach kids about going green, sustainability and protecting the environment, the architects at Sherman Carter Barnhart have worked with schools throughout the state of Kentucky to build the first Net Zero Energy School in the U.S. and to build Net Zero Ready Schools throughout the state. The schools they design serve not only to dramatically cut down on energy costs, but to educate the students and inspire them as well.

The above are just a sample of the environmental designs and eco inventions that are being spearheaded both by and for today’s youth. I look forward to seeing what the future holds.


  • David Leonhardt

    The tree-inspired solar array makes sense. Trees grow in whatever array is most efficient for catching the sun’s rays. I am sure our solar panels will be “obsolete” long before their useful life ends.

    • Tara

      Agreed David. That’s one of the things these innovative ideas cannot do…evolve and adapt to the ever-changing world. Nature does have that advantage.

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