Whether community cookouts or connected sidewalks – every week, we’re scenting out the most innovative visions, projects, and technologies for a more sustainable life in the city. Join us for a quick rundown of our top 10 from 2017.

Pedestrian-powered electricity

two women walking on PaveGen’s innovative pavement tiles
PaveGen’s innovative pavement tiles produce electricity.
Photo: PaveGen

A leisurely, extended walk tends to generate new ideas and perspectives. Now, it can also produce energy: This year, British clean-tech start-up PaveGen  installed a 10-square-meter stretch of connected pavement right in the heart of London. The intelligent slabs turn the kinetic energy of pedestrians’ steps into electricity – and the generated power lights the walkers’ way by feeding nearby street lights.

Artificial trees to scrub the air

Many metropolises lack green spaces. As a result, the cities’ air quality also declines. The CityTree by Berlin start-up Green City Solutions aims to change all this: Their stylized, functional tree might resemble an electronic billboard, but there is a decisive difference – its surface is covered in thick, green moss that filters dust and other pollutants from the air. The best thing about this novel artificial greenery – a single CityTree can do the air-scrubbing work of up to 275 real trees.

CityTree in the middle of a street festival
Powerful mock tree: the CityTree.
Photo: Green City Solutions

Always on track with Loud Steps

Life can be tough for the vision- and hearing-impaired – especially in the unfamiliar surroundings of a new city. This is where the Loud Steps app comes in: Thanks to features like step-by-step navigation or a sign language call center, confusing spaces like airports or shopping malls no longer pose insurmountable challenges.

four people standing in front of a building
Loud Steps makes the city more accessible for the visually and hearing impaired.
Photo: Boni Global

Tasty and healthy shared dinners with Foodisch

Anyone who loves food and cooking should make a beeline for the Foodisch website. Its US creator Simo Azzaoui designed the online portal to connect potential hosts and guests. In October 2016, he exported the idea to Berlin, called it Foodisch, and took the whole scheme online in December. Find out here how fun a balmy summer night with Foodisch can be in our feature on the scheme’s Berlin Prinzessinengärten pop-up.

two people cooking
Get cooking together with Foodisch.
Photo: Tim Adler

Get fit in – and with – nature

Rows upon rows of clunky machines and loud, pumping music: Most gyms are less than inspiring places. Biofit challenges this notion with a training concept that combines fitness and nature-inspired elements. Last year, Biofit’s founder Matt Morley even received the New Concept Awards at the renowned FIBO Global Fitness Fair for his revolutionary idea. The only caveat: To date, the close-to-nature gym experience is only available in Calgary, Canada.

man training in Biofit’s gym
Based on nature. Biofit’s gym concept.
Photo: Danilo Moroni for Biofit

Tiles against climate change

Large parts of the Netherlands are located below sea-level. So, it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that the seabound nation keeps coming up with new products and ideas designed to counter the causes and effects of climate change. Take Rain(a)way, a system of paving stones for rain water drainage created by Dutch designer Fien Decker. The slabs are designed to slot seamlessly (and elegantly) into the fabric of urban infrastructure. And the result not only saves resources, but also looks surprisingly great.

red designer tiles
Designer tiles for better drainage: Rain(a)way.
Photo: Rain(a)way

Brilliant bollards

Bollards are firm fixtures on streets and pavements, engineered to direct traffic flow and improve overall safety. Yet according to the Spanish designers at Teratoma Productions, their untapped potential also suggests plenty of other everyday uses. Uses like Plug a Seat, an aluminum attachment that transforms regular bollards into temporary street furniture ranging from benches and chairs to clever tables.

bollard with an aluminum attachment
Plug a Seat: unique street furniture from Madrid.
Photo: Teratoma Productions

Food for the environment

Whenever you throw out uneaten food, you not only produce waste, but also additional CO2. Finnish start-up ResQClub tackled this challenge – with an online platform for restaurants and delis that helps these outlets to offer surplus food at a reduced price. At the time of writing, the platform has already sold almost 300,000 meals, saving almost a million kg of CO2.

person using the ResQClub app
Order what doesn’t sell: ResQClub.
Photo: ResQClub

Fuel up at lamp posts

The future of mobility is electric – but the charging infrastructure still leaves a lot to be desired. Berlin-based start-up Ubitricity has an ingenious solution: It not only transforms regular street lights into mobile charging spots, but also lets the charging cable double as a power meter and communications module.

For its engagement in the field of electro mobility, Ubitricity took home second place at this year’s smart urban pioneers idea competition.

woman charging a smart fortwo electric drive
An easy way for charging your electric vehicle: Ubitricity.
Photo: Ubitricity

Cleaning up urban travel

Traversing the city in a fast, sustainable way that’s fun? At smart, this comes as standard. With its smart fortwo electric drive two-seater, the four-seater smart forfour electric drive, and the open-top smart cabrio electric drive, the brand is the world’s only car manufacturer to offer electric versions of its entire model range.

In other terms: locally emission-free mobility without engine noise, but with plenty of torque. For a closer peek at the electric drive models’ inner – and outer – values and assets, look here. And here. Or here.

smart electric drive model range at Potzdamer Platz
The smart electric drive model range is perfect for city cruising.
Photo: Daimler AG