Environmental technology refers to the field of science concerned with reducing the human impact on the environment through technological advances or improvements. Some common applications of environmental technology deal with reducing energy consumption, limiting man-made damage to the physical environment, and reducing waste. Areas of research in the field may involve cleaner energy sources, improved energy efficiency in transportation and buildings, and methods that decrease or prevent pollution. This is a broad field that draws on many sciences, some of which include chemistry, ecology, and biology. Innovation and advances in environmental science may have commercial applications, save money, or be designed to meet government regulations.
One focus of environmental technology is on finding, using, and developing clean sources of energy that have a limited impact on the natural environment. The use of fossil fuels in electricity production transportation is not only responsible for releasing particulate matter known as smog, but also for emitting carbon dioxide. According to the United States government and others, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and pollutant with the potential to harm human health through climate change. So-called alternative energy sources could reduce pollution, including air pollutants like carbon dioxide.
Other applications of environmental science may deal with other aspects of electricity generation. This may include improving the efficiency, capacity, or availability of newer power sources, such as wind turbines or solar panels. It may also involve developing relatively newer sources of energy like wave power or hydrogen fuel cells.
Basic economic factors are often a spur to advances in environmental technology. This is due in part to the fact that cost-saving solutions are usually the most efficient. Cost increases of fuels such as gasoline, for instance, have led to technology aimed at reducing fuel consumption. Advances in automobile fuel efficiency lower fuel costs while reducing harmful emissions. Many countries have vehicle efficiency regulations that were originally developed to conserve energy and keep fuel prices low but also help combat pollution problems like smog.
Various ways of making buildings more energy efficient have also been a focus of the science. This could include reducing energy costs related to lighting, heating and cooling, and water use. So-called sustainable or green design refers to the planned use of environmental technology in constructing new buildings that have minimal environmental impact. Environmental science also deals with diverse topics related to human and environmental health, such as waste management, toxicology, and wildlife protection.