For heating up the dream of a smart home. The Nest 2.0, a sleeker iteration of the automated thermostat, is now compatible with 95% of U.S. homes (up from 75% with the first Nest). The startup is also signing deals with energy companies and pushing for expansion into Western Europe.
For building the waterless toilet of the future. The founder, Henry Wu, has installed more than 10,000 of his toilets across China and sells almost $7 million worth of them a year, making Landwasher a worldwide leader in environmental sanitation.
For saving Brazil’s biofuels industry, by rolling out sensory and GPS software that monitors seeding and irrigation, leading to a richer crop for farmers.
For turning tablets and keyboards into photosynthesizing plants. The company’s dye-sensitized, photoelectric cell technology gives gadgets the ability to self-power through whatever ambient light is available in the room.
For morphing our garbage into useful, cost-effective biofuels. The Pennsylvania-based company relies on a simple technology that requires only water and pressure.
For redefining the power plant. BrightSource uses thousands of mirrors to transform the sun’s heat into electricity, and then safely stores the power. To satisfy an expanding client roster that includes Google, Chevron, and Southern California Edison, BrightSource plans to build 14 plants by 2017.
8_Ocean Renewable Power Company
For reining in the power of the ocean current to launch the first tidal energy project in the United States. Thanks to an investment from the DOE, the project will initially power between 75 and 100 homes, and soon expand to 1,000 households.
For shining on a smarter light on third world countries. The GravityLight lamp gets power from—surprise—gravity. Lighting up the device is as simple as just picking it up.
For cutting German trains’ energy use and carbon emissions by 25%. The idea: harness regenerative braking to push high-speed rail efficiency even further.[Image: Flickr user Phil]