Better Energy by Design is the latest of design competitions developed by philanthropic initiative BE OPEN. These competitions are open to students, graduates and young professionals in the fields of art, design, architecture and media. The programme aims to encourage creation of innovative solutions by younger creatives, for a more prosperous and sustainable future. The focus of the latest competition is the United Nations SDG7: Affordable and Clean Energy.
Since 2015 a number of specialized institutions and initiatives on SDG7 and climate change have been launched under the aegis of the United Nations. UN also keeps encouraging governments, businesses, financial institutions, centres of innovation and non-profit organizations like BE OPEN to take a joint action to come up with new technologies and accelerate the shift towards low-carbon energy infrastructure.
Just earlier this month UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for immediate action in transition to clean energy: ”Renewable energy technologies must be treated as essential and freely-available global public goods. Removing obstacles to knowledge sharing and technological transfer is crucial for a rapid and fair renewable energy transition. I am therefore calling for a global coalition to fast-track innovation and deployment.”
BE OPEN strongly believes that creativity is integral in the shift to sustainable existence. Design has a crucial role to play as an instrument or vehicle for the implementation of the UN SDGs. Achievement of SDG7 is impossible without ensuring that a growing number of households, communities and production companies use green energy technologies.
Therefore young creatives were asked to reflect on “What can be done to prompt breakthrough of clean energy technologies into our lives?” Whether to make those more affordable, more efficient or more appealing to energy users – that was their call.
Elena Baturina, Founder of BE OPEN on the finalization of the project: “I am certain that involving young creative people to developing solutions centred on the SDG agenda is a very wholesome way of raising awareness of sustainability principles and encouraging development of promising innovative ideas able to contribute to achieving them.
We are continuously impressed by the level of submissions we receive every year for the SDG-focused competitions. They demonstrate not just the hard work, commitment and creativity, but actual ability to research and develop solutions that can make a real difference and inspire change for a more sustainable future for all of us.”
The project received submissions from students and graduates of universities from all over the world. The winners of the First, Second and Third Prizes have been selected by the international jury out of all submissions over the categories of Powered by Renewables, Save More Energy, Reducing Energy Gap.
The First prize of €5,000 goes to Miguel Acebron, a young architect graduate from the University of Navarra in Spain, for the prototype of BOTIJO: a fridge that works with water and wind, a new well-researched take on a traditional Spanish porous clay vessel used to cool water. Miguel’s prototype allows cooling the contents of the Botijo below 5ºC by boosting the drying of the outer surface with an air flow, the chimney effect creates a current of air that speeds the water evaporation rate and therefore the clay fridge cooling. The BOTIJO is the first passive fridge that preserves medicines and fresh food (meat, fish, dairy products, greens, vegetables, etc.) and offers stable thermal conditions in the areas and conditions where energy is scarce or insecure.
The Second prize of €3,000 is awarded to Qin Zhou from School of Design, Zhejiang Sci-tech University, China, for Engershe: Let Heartbeats Generate Electricity. The project researches the feasibility of transforming human kinetic energy into usable electric energy by using the piezoelectric effect of 2D material nanofibers such as MoS2 in clothing, storing it in lithium-ion batteries which also serve as buttons, and further using the resultant electric energy, for example, for wirelessly charging mobile devices in pockets.
The Third prize of €2,000 goes to Naama Nicotra, an industrial designer and a recent BA graduate in industrial design from the Holon Institute of Technology, Israel. Naama’s NakedPak is a concept series of “naked” food dishes without any packaging, born from her concern for the climate crisis and love for food. It proposes using natural soluble algae-based bioplastic that could function as a packaging material and could be eaten with its contents, becoming part of the recipe: spices and sauces can be incorporated into the NakedPak natural material, thus producing flavoured packaging that dissolves in boiling water. This solution is meant not only to reduce levels of plastic pollution, but save energy on home cooking and public food services, as well as recycling of packaging, etc.
The Founder’s Choice prize (€3,000) will soon be allocated by the Founder of BE OPEN Elena Baturina, and the fate of the Public Vote prize (€2,000) will be decided by the ongoing online vote.