Paving the Way: Power Walk

Summer 2012

Generating renewable energy a foot at a time

By Kathleen Hagan


Paving the Way: Power Walk

I magine a world in which your footsteps create the energy to power streetlights. This world exists, and you live in it.

U.K.-based Pavegen Systems has created slabs that convert kinetic energy from human footsteps into renewable electricity that can power streetlights, electric signs, outdoor lighting, advertisements and more. Surplus electricity generated by human footfall is stored in a battery within the slab itself and can be used to charge various low power devices, such as cell phones.

When stepped on, the flexible rubber surface of each Pavegen tile depresses ever so slightly, and the technology inside the slab converts this energy to electricity. To engage pedestrians in this renewable energy process, 5 percent of the electricity generated is used to light up the slab—a friendly reminder that technology is at work below the surface.

These Pavegen slabs are durable, built to withstand the outdoor elements and, of course, heavy foot traffic. The green surface layer is made of 97 percent recycled vehicle tires, and the remainder of the tile is made up of 60 percent recycled materials. By installing this technology in areas that pedestrians frequent—train and bus stations, busy sidewalks, crosswalks, shopping malls, school hallways and dance clubs—we will be able to harness the potential of the human footstep as an energy source.

Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in the UK first installed Pavegen slabs in its corridors in 2010. By September 2012, Pavegen slabs are slated to become part of the terrain at the Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre in London, one of the largest urban shopping centers in Europe.

As more spaces around the globe take advantage of renewable energy technology and products like those created by Pavegen, we are provided with an extraordinary opportunity— to reduce our carbon footprint with our actual footsteps.