Innovation: The Shape of Things to Come

Nanotechnology will turn everyday objects into tools for harnessing the sun’s vast energy.

In the future, simply making products more energy efficient will not be enough. Designers must rethink how the things they create integrate into our lives. The old model of tacking photovoltaic (PV) cells onto roofs is practically obsolete (even before its widespread adoption). In a world of scarce and costly fossil fuels and looming climate disaster, innovative ways of producing power will become ­essential. Fortunately, new nano­technologies (the emerging science of creating materials and machines at the molecular level) should make it possible for just about any physical object that receives sunlight to generate energy. Here’s a scenario of what that future world might look like, as seen through the offerings of Craigslist…

7 Steps in the Lifecycle of a Green Product

1. Innovation: The Shape of Things to Come

2. The Right Materials: The Vinyl Question

3. Clean & Green Production: Balancing Act

4. Efficient Distribution: Delivering the Goods

5. Low-Impact Use: A New Standard

6. Made to Last: The Chair

7. Avoiding the Landfill: Afterlife

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