Sunday, August 7, 2011

Innovation station

I love documenting the smart, efficient, quirky, energizing, and thoughtful ways that societies operate. Australia has quite a few examples that I want to bring back to the US:

1. Train door "open" button: What's the point in train doors wasting energy by opening when no one needs to exit or enter them? Most Australian trains have a green button that you push to open only the door you'd like to pass through.

2. Dual flush toilets: These are becoming increasingly more popular in the US, but in Australia they are the norm. Water conservation is taken very seriously here and dual-flush toilets certainly help!

3. On-demand escalators: Instead of running 24/7, many escalators have motion or weight sensors that trigger the motor to run when a person steps on board. Brilliant!

4. Self-serve, refillable glass bottles of water at cafes: For water guzzlers like me, waiters never seem to keep the glasses filled long enough to slake my enormous thirst. Having self-serve bottles of water essentially solves this problem. After ordering coffee or food at a cafe, you can just help yourself to glasses and one of these refillable bottles of cold water hanging out on the counter or in a fridge. Me like!

5. Electric plug switches: Energy conservation geeks worldwide know that electrical outlets continue to leak electricity even when appliances are turned off (see vampire load). In the US, this can be avoided by plugging appliances in to power strips and switching the strips off when not in use, but in Australia there's absolutely no excuse since every outlet has its own switch.

6. Taxes: Novel concept, I know ;)

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