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This article is the latest in our series #Art4Climate, a joint initiative by the UNFCCC secretariat and Julie’s Bicycle on the work of artists who make the issue of climate change more accessible and understandable by featuring it in their work. It was inspired by a session at the Salzburg Global Seminar in early 2017.

Are you a fun-loving person in need of inspiration ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn in November? Try this: a great technology developed in the Netherlands dubbed Sustainable Dance Floors transforms club goers from energy consumers into clean energy producers.

It all started in 2008. One night, The Netherlands-native Stef van Dongen was out clubbing. As he watched his friends dancing so enthusiastically and having fun, he thought to himself: “What if we could capture this energy and turn it into electricity?”

Not longer after that, the world’s first dance floor that converts kinetic energy from people’s movements to electricity was born. Developed by Dutch company Energy Floors, the Sustainable Dance Floor has since been used in public spaces, exhibits, music festivals and sport events across the world, such as Earth Hour and Coachella, Super Bowl and the Berlin, London and Madrid Marathons.

The first place to feature the initiate was the Club WATT, in hometown Rotterdam. “The club shared our ideal of transforming the city into a more sustainable place”, recounts Michel Smit, CEO of Energy Floors. The first sustainable dance club in the world, Club WATT was in line with the City of Rotterdam’s own goals: to cut CO2 emissions 50% below 1990 levels by 2025.

Energy Floors Director of Marketing and Communications, Sylvia Meijer-Villafane says that the public is often amazed by the floors. “People love the Sustainable Dance Floor. Who doesn’t like to dance, and how cool is it to generate power with your own dance moves?”

Accolades keep pouring in. At the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in 2015 Paris, David Nussbaum, CEO of WWF UK, called the dance floor a ‘symbol of what we need towards a low carbon future’. On the other side of the world, the exhibition manager of the Australian Museum in Sydney ‘the dance floor was – without a doubt – the most popular exhibit, with kids and adults’. “The Sustainable Dance Floor literally energizes people”, says Sylvia.

 

The Sustainable Dance Floor engages people from all different ages and backgrounds (Credit: Anneke Hymmen)

 

Climate Action in the current context

The Netherlands is among the European countries that are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. One third of the country lies below sea level, which means melting polar ice caps can cause extensive flooding. “We are experts in water management, but combating climate change to prevent rising sea-levels is still of major importance to us”, says Sylvia.

Michel Smit argues that a global shift to renewable energy is a must to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. “We need to speed up the transition to clean power. Despite international climate agreements, cheaper technology, and companies and cities committing to 100% renewable, the transition to a carbon neutral or even carbon negative society is still not going fast enough”, says the company’s CEO.

To Sylvia, it all starts with building awareness. “The technology, knowledge and means to create a sustainable world are all there, we only need to convince people it is necessary to make the change and ‘go green’”, she says.

Energy Floors aims to do just that by engaging people in a fun way. “People need to experience they can be involved in making a change. Only this way they will change their mindsets”, adds the Director of Marketing and Communications.

Energy Floors message to the international community? “Want to stop climate change? Get on it”

The Sustainable Dance Floor was present at the Heineken House at the 2016 Coachella music festival in California, USA (Credit: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA)

 

#Art4Climate is a joint initiative by the UNFCCC and Julie’s Bicycle to spot and propose super recent and new works in this broad field, but we also want to hear from you! Please send any proposals for showcasing to newsroom@unfccc.int or Chiara@juliesbicycle.com.
Please amplify our web posts with Twitter hashtag #Art4Climate and #COP23!

 

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