Clean Tech Israel Conference 2014

By Samantha Hulkower

It seems like we're always writing about another innovating conference being held in Israel. Whether it's the newest breakthroughs in water technology, renewable energy, or political ideas, Israel attracts the top minds and movers from around the world to speak at these events. One of the earliest of the annual and semi-annual conferences is CleanTech - now in its 18th year - showcasing the latest technologies across all industries. This year it is being held February 18-19 in Airport City (near Ben Gurion Airport). Interestingly, there is an entire page about the conference in Chinese - showing the conference's international appeal, as well as Israel's high standing for innovative thinking in the eyes of the international community.

Often, when people hear the word 'cleantech' it can conjure images of solar panels, wind mills, and other renewable energy technologies. But, cleantech is so much more than that! The term can really be applied to any sort of technology that strives to reduce our impact on the environment or even clean up our act. In simple terms - technology that reduces the pollution that is put into the environment as a result of our every day activities, or even remove what we've already created. The exhibitors at the conference show that there is room to 'clean up' our act in every sector of our lives:

  • Diaper material that is biodegradable. This is potentially game changing concept for diapers as they are designed to only be used once (there is no repurposing a dirty diaper!) and fill 1.4% of landfill space world wide - a huge amount for one type of product! 
  • A new way to fight treetop forest fires. Forest fires can spread in one of two ways - on the ground, or from the canopy of trees. This technology proposes to halt the spread of treetop fires and move the conflagration to the ground where it is easier, and less costly, for fire fighters to contain and hopefully extinguish.
The theme of this year's conference is 'Smarter Cities of Tomorrow'. According the the WHO in the early 1900s only 20% of the world lived in a city, today that has soared to more than half of all people, and the percentage is only projected to grow. This knowledge provides us with the opportunity to plan for this growth in a more sustainable way. Transportation infrastructure can be designed to promote walkable and bikable cities, although with a greater emphasis on public transportation and less on personal automobiles. New buildings to house future citizens can be designed to incorporate passive solar energy, reducing heating needs in the winter, and with green roofs that will keep the buildings cooler in the summer, not to mention provide an urban oasis for people and wildlife.  

Most conferences of this type focus mostly on panel discussions, breakout sessions, and other types of lectures and brainstorming to bring out new ideas and advance existing ones. CleanTech is different in that the main focus of the event is the exhibition. Over 60,000 people came out last year to see the different technologies being developed and implemented. Local and federal government workers from all over the world, in addition to private industry and academics, will be mixing and mingling to see the latest breakthroughs on water purification and treatment, green building, agriculture, waste management and recycling, and air pollution

Samantha Hulkower is an Olah Chadasha, living in Jerusalem. She enjoys trying to speak Hebrew, finding the humor in every situation (especially dating), and is looking forward to the day she can successfully argue b'Ivrit. You can also view her blogs Curls of Wisdom on life in Israel, and ToBuildAndToKeep on environmental issues in Israel.

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