Stairway to (Sustainable) Heaven: Harvesting Energy from Footsteps

Pavegen tiles convert footsteps into renewable energy that can be used to power lighting.

When students walk down the halls at an elementary school in England, special tiles designed by a company called Pavegen capture their footsteps and turn the movement into energy that powers lights in the halls. Now, Pavegen is running a Kickstarter campaign to get the tiles into more schools. For the company, it's a way not just to help schools slightly lower their carbon footprints, but also a way to actively interest students in a form of renewable energy they can directly engage with.

Designer Laurence Kemball-Cook first created Pavegen tiles as an industrial design student, as he was exploring options for renewable energy in situations where wind or solar power are unreliable. Though there are other similar products, like the floor used in the Sustainable Dance Club, Pavegen says their tech is 200 times more efficient at creating power. The weatherproof tiles are made from recycled truck tires and other recycled plastic, with proprietary tech inside that captures the energy. The power can be directly connected to lights or digital signs, or can be stored in a battery.

The tiles have been installed at music festivals and malls, and can be used in any public area with heavy foot traffic. Right now, the company is focused on funding more school installations through a Kickstarter campaign.

Images courtesy of Pavegen