Earth Hour: Beyond the hour and into the energy future

Earth Hour: Beyond the hour and into the energy future

For 60 minutes on March 29, millions of people around the world will turn their lights off to raise awareness of the need to reduce our environmental impact on our planet.

More importantly, Earth Hour, which takes place at 8:30 p.m. local time, is about taking a moment to reflect on environmentally friendly solutions we can implement year round, rather than for just one hour.

Raising awareness is the first baby step, and a much needed one. But the world’s proverbial crib is beginning to tip over and we’re paying for it—last year’s collection of natural disasters, winter storms and typhoons alone cost the global economy $140 billion.

Climate change is, plain and simple, not good for business. Entrepreneurship will be key to combatting our energy and environment challenges.

Protecting the planet in a meaningful, lasting way involves thinking ahead about our energy future and developing the innovations we need to reduce our environmental footprint in the long term—before we need them. Clean energy alternatives and new advanced technologies will help us literally avoid disaster.

Think water and waste. They’re not exactly sexy topics, but as global populations continue to grow and put pressure on our fresh water resources and conventional sanitation methods, the ways we treat water and waste issues will be pivotal to sustainable urban development.

Earth at night

MaRS cleantech venture Greyter Water Systems is one company that’s thinking ahead. Greyter offers smart water solutions that reduce water and waste-water demands in residential and commercial buildings. The company’s solutions recover and treat shower and bath water (that is, greywater), as well as rainwater, so that they can be reused for toilet flushing, irrigation and other purposes. It’s a clever and useful solution to a real-world problem.

Other ventures, like CarbonCure, are helping to green existing industries. CarbonCure’s technology takes waste carbon dioxide and injects it into concrete, producing limestone, a stronger and greener building material. Considering that concrete is one of the most consumed commodities in the world, changing the concrete industry provides scale that can meaningfully address climate change.

The gamut of innovation continues to expand, and the solutions are coming from companies you wouldn’t necessarily think of as cleantech ventures. JOLT graduate Cumulonimbus has created pressureNET, a platform that enables the collection of atmosphere data that can help provide highly accurate atmosphere models and forecasts, applicable to renewable energy production and storage industries. Revelo Bikes’ LIFEbike touches cleantech on the consumer level with an electric bicycle for people looking for a more eco-friendly way to move around.

There is no one magic solution for preserving our planet’s future. It will take entrepreneurial thinking and action from various sectors, industries, governments and individuals. Supporting entrepreneurs and people who have ideas about how to alleviate our climate change woes is one way our entire society can make a difference all year round.

Do more than turn your lights off on March 29. Start the next company to protect our energy future.

Feature photo credit:  Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC, Nasa Visible Earth: Earth’s City Lights. / cropped + modified