Shining through the smog of Shanghai, the new technologies being shown at this year's World Expo are almost all tinged with green. The 5.28 square kilometer site - the largest in the history of the World Expo - is brimming with all things eco friendly.
The Expo axis has been designed as a parade of so-called "sun valleys" - sunlight catchers which light the multi-level walkway and collect rainwater for use in cooling the structure.
Each pavilion has taken on the challenge in a different way.
The Shanghai Pavilion, called EcoHome, showcases a futuristic Shanghai home, with rooms for grandparents as well as children and examples of how to save one of China's most sought-after resource - water.
EcoHome's architect, Fan Yi Fei says building the model home was an exercise to show that making sustainable choices is not as tough as people might think.
"Eco-architecture doesn't have to be unattainable or very expensive. Instead it can adopt elements already existing in traditional culture."
The Finland pavilion packages sustainability in modern Finnish design.
The entire building is covered in shingles that resemble fish scales. The 25,000 shingles are a paper-plastic composite, all made from recycled industry waste. The building has been designed to have a long life cycle—or at least longer than the six month long Shanghai World Expo.
Mikko Pustinen is the deputy commissioner general of the Finland pavilion.
"I think Finns are serious about sustainability. We don't want it to be just thrown away after the Expo so we want to find a good home. Also we hope to contribute in a small but important way to sustainable principle and practices in China."
The Swiss pavilion is strikingly different, with an open structure wrapped in a net decorated with red solar cells that glint in the sunlight.
Manuel Salchli, its director, says that the design showcases the fun side of sustainability.
"The cells absorb solar energy—there's plenty of it in Shanghai, and then there are LED lights which are powered with these cells. They blink and they actually show to the visitors how much energy there is available to be used in a sustainable manner."
Richard Brubaker, professor of sustainability and responsible leadership at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) says that these concerns are important to consider, but that the educational impact of the World Expo could actually popularize sustainability around the world and in China, bringing about a faster implementation of these technologies and practices.
"If people come to Expo and take away a tangible understanding that there are existing solutions that they could put into place right now that reduce their energy footprints, therefore their carbon footprints, reduce their water footprints, reduce their waste footprints, then this Expo won't be the green washing exercise that some want to insinuate that it may be."
The 2010 World Expo runs until Oct. 31 in Shanghai.