We don't know many people who would pay a cool six grand for what essentially is a chandelier with plants growing from its base, but the Green Light—which we've previewed here before—also collects energy from a solar awning to juice up a six-watt LED lamp, beaming out at wavelengths known to catalyze and promote chlorophyll absorption. The protruding foliage from the light's base then hoovers the air for indoor pollutants, pulling them into the roots and siccing microbes on them to break those molecules down.
Developed through the xDesign Environmental at New York University, the Green Light was pioneered by Bill Wolverton, an environmental scientist and retired NASA researcher who wanted to flush out contaminants from the stale atmosphere of long-term life-support space stations. "We found that the most effective plants are the ones with high transpiration rates like palms," he tells Popular Mechanics.The Green Light, whose heft price tag includes air-quality tests and installation, is a good alternative for the homeowner who doesn't want to pay $30,000 or more to install rooftop solar panels, says Natalie Jeremijenko, an assistant professor of visual art at NYU who is heading up the Green Light project. "It's not something that you can just go out to Wal-Mart to buy. It's for people who are committed to learning about solar technologies and who might have very reasonable concerns about their indoor air quality."
While only 50 units have been manufactured to date—fun fact: the glass fixture is blown in a landfill-methane-powered kiln—Jeremijenko has plans to sell the Green Light as a twofer, so that consumers can purchase one for themselves and another at a lower price for a Hurricane Katrina evacuee living in a FEMA trailer, or what the Sierra Club's Mississippi chapter has called "toxic tin cans" because of their inordinately high volume of pollutants. ::Popular Mechanics