Greentech Extra from the Netherlands

During the Christmas Break our technology correspondent Nat Eb has been in the Netherlands – out and about in shopping centres, airports and other public spaces looking for the latest technological solutions to serve energy conscious consumers.

Broogle Signs: energy efficient semiotic solutions

In recent years consumer-focussed semiologists at Schiphol have moved away from the original Calvinistic design precepts of the airport.1 Now Schiphol boasts a riot of advertising which places great emphasis on a technology of our day: the backlit sign. Practically every single sign in the place has its own personal backlight – whether it is telling you that Life is Good2, to imagine an even better life together with a plasma telly and a gorgeous brunette, or, if you are not a great achiever, simply where the men’s loo is. A quick calculation estimated about 2 MW being expended on back-lighting of signs in Schiphol.

Avant garde Dutch technologist Pete Broogle has developed a radically new approach to signage. Instead of a sign having its own light source, like the sun, Broogle’s signs behave more like the moon: they reflect light from other sources!!!

And what better endorsement for this technology than the Dutch masters themselves. Broogle explained: “After studying the works of some of the great Dutch painters, I realised that even as far back as the sixteenth century some forward-looking chaps then were adopting a similar technique. They actually painted onto opaque surfaces using opaque colours. The projection of the image depended entirely on reflective light. Sometimes they even used common or garden sunlight to show off their pictures!!”

Broogle has put this astounding observation to good use. The adoption of his technique for sign-writing has saved thousands of megawatt hours of electricity for his clients.

Koolacan3 outdoor winter drinks coolers

At this time of year it is not just people like Pete Broogle whose thoughts turn wistfully to old-fashioned wintry scenes of jolly peasants on skates and children gambolling innocently in the snow. Take “winter entrepreneur” Henk Avercamp, for example.

He always knew that Christmas is not the same without Coca Cola. And certainly not the same without ice-chilled Coca Cola. But it always pained him to see Coca Cola drinks chillers blasting cold air out into a warm shopping centre for the benefit of a minority of culinary sophisticates.

Noticing that during winter months, the outside temperature can sometimes fall dramatically, Avercamp designed a personalised Coca Cola chiller for the porch. Branded Koolacan, this smart box can be sited by the front door or terrace of a house or flat. The box is open at the back and the front allowing the chill winter air to flow aerodynamically over the surface of the bottles, reducing the temperature of the liquid inside to that of the ambient air.

“I’ve always been a bit of a winter type,” explained Avercamp. “Down our way in the village of Kampen on the Zuider Zee, we’ve practically turned off all the fridges and freezers for the winter. We just bung the stuff in Koolacans out by the porch. Koolacan comes in Coca Cola logo version, or in the Yselmuiden range of decorative finishes depicting winter scenes from times of yore.”

Fire-Xit Low Energy Elevation Solutions by Hooch and Co.

A lot of shopping centres in the Netherlands provide escalators and lifts to take their folk from one level to the next. That’s as it should be for the elderly or disabled. But plenty of energy goes into moving them “moving stairways”, especially when you see some of the jumbos going up ‘em! Wouldn’t it be better if those folk had an alternative? Some better form of ascension or descension, perhaps something which uses nature’s own forces – your legs!

The Hooch and Co. Fire-Xit stairwell is discreetly located at the side of the shopping centre. It allows you full use of your legs and cardiovascular system – good for shedding some of the extra Christmas kilos you put on! Usually well ventilated, the Fire-Xit is also a place to get a quick fag, something harder and harder to find these days.

Try the Fire-Xit low energy elevation solution at any local shopping mall!


For previous editions of Greentech see and

1. Design Journal 1968 reviewing the new Schiphol airport: “It is designed with the overall aim that passengers may move easily and logically to where they need to go. The main departure hall, for instance, has no kiosks for the sale of magazines or confectionery, no restaurants, and no advertisements to compete with directional signs. It has no special attractions for visitors, and is therefore not unnecessarily crowded.”;=240&article;=d.240.32

2. At least for the time being

3. The original name of the product was Koolatron. It was thought that no real company could have such an absurd name as this. Ooops!

This entry was posted in Humour. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Greentech Extra from the Netherlands

  1. luis says:

    Great blog!

    If the economics don’t work, recycling efforts won’t either. blogs about innovative entrepreneurs that make money selling recycled items, provide green services or help us reduce our dependency on non renewable resources.
    These includes some very cool Green online ventures, great new technologies, startups and investments opportunities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.