Transforming a house to become more sustainable is a step in the direction of a more eco-friendly way of life, due in part to the savings that often come with such alternatives. Innovations like radiant heating can take the cumulative costs that come with warming a house during the cold months and provide a solution that saves money compared to conventional heating systems. As more buildings become green, the prospect of complete self-sufficiency has never been more possible. Radiant heaters are just a few among the arsenal of tools being developed to allow people all over the world to reach true sustainability.
An independent island
While it may be some time before whole cities convert to technologies and lifestyles that lead them to sustainability, a Spanish island in the Canary Islands with a population of 10,000 is on its way to becoming the first island in the world to rely solely upon its own energy produced, according to Inhabitat. Despite being the smallest island in the chain, El Hierro has plans to go off the power grid for good in exchange for renewable energy sources.
El Hierro already has a water turbine with the potential to supply all of the island's power needs for its residents, but a new wind farm may take their energy independence even further. Five wind turbines have been built on one of the island's cliffs overlooking the Atlantic as a measure that will ensure El Hierro not only has just enough power for daily life, but extra to run its water desalination plants, as well. The wind farm will produce 11.5 megawatts of electricity, reported The Daily Mail. By utilizing both wind and water power, El Hierro ensures that even on days with no wind, there will be plenty of electricity to go around.
The island currently needs to import 40,000 barrels of oil for fuel, but these alternative sources of energy allow it to remove itself permanently from the outside power network. Even though it won't need to rely on oil anymore, El Hierro will still maintain a power station that runs on the fuel in case of emergencies.
Protecting its environment
Around 60 percent of the island has been declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, so the switch to renewable energy will guarantee the area remains protected. The move will reduce carbon emissions by 18,700 tons, which will not only benefit the island, but the world as a whole, too.
El Hierro is only the beginning in what could be a shift towards fully sustainable communities. Its project has generated interest at other islands who also look to gear themselves toward clean energy. Islands in Denmark, Japan and Indonesia, as well as Aruba and Hawaii, have all been watching the development with interest.
Though El Hierro has made great strides of progress in its sustainability quest, the island is expecting to do even more. By 2020, El Hierro plans to substitute all of its 6,000 vehicles for ones that run on electricity.