Green Ideas, Companies Display Their Wares

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Stuart Hunter with the Giant Twist Freedom electric hybrid
Stuart Hunter with the Giant Twist Freedom electric hybrid

This is the second day of the three-day Summit on Sustainability and the Environment here in Columbus. Yesterday exhibitors at the Columbus Convention Center displayed their ideas on ways to achieve a greener world.

Don Hall was one of about 60 exhibitors with booths at the Columbus Convention Center Thursday. He’s the owner of a consulting and retail business.

Q: I wondered if I could talk to you about your company Watt Works. What is your company?

“Well we do energy efficiency for lighting and heating and air conditioning and we do energy analysis for homes and businesses,” Hall says. “We do consulting and we also have a retail store. We felt that we sell Watt Works. So Watt works to save you energy.”

Sustainability is the theme of this three day conference. According to the sponsor, the Mid-Ohio regional Planning Commission, the green movement is now mainstream. Again Don Hall.

“Sustainability is about using less of the non-sustainable things and using more of the sustainable,” Hall says. “So using less is the most cost effective first step. Why put in an expensive solar panel to keep up with the wasteful ways. Why not do efficiency first. And I think people are starting to get that.”

Watt works wasn’t alone. There were other companies with quirky titles such as MAD Scientist Associates.

Q: Well who are the MAD scientists? Are you a MAD scientist?

“I guess so, we’re a small company out of Westerville that does ecological and wetland consulting,” says David Strong. “We run the gamut of stream and wetland mitigation to design and construction over to floristic inventories and environmental education.”

That’s David Strong who says a floristic inventory is a catalog of plants. MAD incidentally comes from the founders initials.

Over in the back of the exhibition hall I found the ultimate in sustainable energy.

“Yeah very true we’re kind of an old idea that’s very fresh these days.”

Q: Well what is the idea?

“The idea is human power; taking a bicycle and using it not only for commuting but recreation and weaving it into your daily life.”

Stuart Hunter is the founder of Roll, a Columbus company that has an inventory of unusual bicycles. One looks something like a cargo van; a two wheeled version without the shell.

“That’s called the Surly Big Dummy. It’s an extended wheel based bicycle that’s really designed for carrying cargo and to be the SUV of bicycles,” Hunter says. “The gentleman you see riding it is Jake our GM from Easton and he commutes on that bike every day 15 miles, as well as picking his daughters up from school – they sit on the back there. Uses it for all his trips to Lowes and Home Depot and really it’s become his Bike Friday.”

It doesn’t look too comfortable for the passengers. But what does look comfortable is, according to Stuart Hunter, a true bicycle hybrid.

“It’s called the Giant Twist Freedom and is pretty unique technology in comparison to other bikes that have a throttle or push button that replace pedaling. What this bike is designed to do is supplement pedaling. So it has a torque sensor in the crank which senses how much power you’re putting into the pedals and uses an electronic brain here to send that information to the front hub and it assists you so it equals the amount of pedaling you’re doing and helps you along so it’s really a unique great new and fresh hybrid take on traditional electric technology,” Hunter says.

The Giant Twist Freedom is not completely off-the-grid. Hunter says the bike has lithium batteries that must be recharged after 80 miles. But it’s one more piece in achieving a future of sustainability.