Two Cambridge spin-outs named top sustainable solutions at Rio+20

University of Cambridge spin-outs Eight19 and Breathing Buildings were named to the Sustainia100 list of solutions for building sustainable societies. The announcement was made at the Rio+20 Earth summit earlier this week.

Gathered from 56 countries spread over six continents, Sustainia100 is a complete guide to innovative and scalable solutions instrumental in creating sustainable societies. Building on ready and available solutions only, Sustainia100 is as a tangible tool for sustainability professionals – from politicians to CEOs – dedicated to create desirable and sustainable societies.

Individually, the 100 solutions represent sustainable innovation in areas such as city planning, energy, fashion, water and waste management, high-tech and transportation. Collectively, they provide a guide of the building blocks available for transforming societies.

I am very excited and inspired by this as it makes it absolutely clear that our mission is possible. That we do have the ammunition we need to tackle this challenge. That we have what it takes to create fun and attractive societies without destroying our planet.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

By combining mobile and solar technology, Eight19’s Indigo solution provides the benefits of solar with the affordability of pay-as-you-go phones delivering energy, health and economic benefits for rural communities in developing countries.

Indigo pay-as-you-go solar is a residential solar system paid for with scratchcards through a service model. Users receive eight hours of smoke-free lighting for two rooms and mobile phone charging, while cutting their weekly energy expenses by 50% or more. Customers can progressively upgrade to larger systems over time, to access more electricity and ultimately reach full home electrification. This “pay-as-you-grow” business model assists users to earn their way out of poverty without handouts or charity.

Breathing Buildings’ e-stack system ensures optimal indoor climate is achieved with minimal energy consumption. Using the principles of natural mixing ventilation in winter and natural upward displacement ventilation in the summer, Breathing Buildings offers a cost-effective and energy-efficient alternative to traditional ventilation systems.

The e-stack system is controlled by a device that responds to variations in temperature and CO2 levels. The system also includes low-energy fans, which may be used to enhance the flow in extreme conditions and thereby provide a reliable, engineered low-energy ventilation system.

Developed by world-leading companies, organisations and experts in close collaboration with UN Global Compact and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s initiative Regions20, Sustainia is the first holistic introduction to the attractive sustainable future.

Sustainia100 solutions are nominees for the Sustainia Award, which honours outstanding performance within sustainability. The winner will be announced at a ceremony later this year in Copenhagen.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Honorary Chair of Sustainia said: “I am very excited and inspired by this as it makes it absolutely clear that our mission is possible. That we do have the ammunition we need to tackle this challenge. That we have what it takes to create fun and attractive societies without destroying our planet.”

Eight19’s CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said: “Eight19 is delighted to be included in the first Sustania100 list of innovative and scalable solutions for building sustainable societies. The Indigo pay-as-you-go solar solution is providing affordable power in Africa, where still 4 out of 5 people lack access to mains electricity, instead relying on expensive and potentially dangerous candles or kerosene for light. Indigo is currently available in Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and South Sudan and will extend to other countries in Africa later in 2012.”

The full list can be downloaded at http://www.sustainia.me/solutions/

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