Green Light-Year. Shanghai, China

Spreading a low-carbon sustainable lifestyle in each neighborhood


In China, 69% of electricity production is based on coal: the country is the largest CO2 emitter in the world.

China is also the world’s largest producer of solar panels, yet few private citizens are equipped by misunderstanding or lack of knowledge.

Green Light-Year was founded in 2016 by Helen Huan Ni with the goal of develop a variety of public environmental education programs and promote low carbon lifestyle through the cooperation with communities, schools and businesses. They organize many experiential and interactive events to make sustainable concepts and actions visible, accessible and spread them throughout the city.


  • Youth research camp, experiential courses, Consulting and Research
  • +1600 people signing up for their activities (eco tours of Ni Huan’s courtyard and local solar projects, workshops on kitchen waste composting, building DIY air filters and how to upcycle old clothes) since 2015
  • +6000 visitors from around the world since 2015
  • +20 kids trained as “little volunteer explainers”
  • Eco Innovator Award, in GGEF Women Eco Game Changer Awards 2018
  • “Social Impact Award” under “2017 Study UK Alumni Award” by British Council

Did you know?

It all started with a private project of maintaining a low-carbon and sustainable lifestyle: in 2014, Helen Huan Ni started using composters, an electric car and set up the first CIGS Solar distributed plant for civil use in mainland China. She spread the idea in her neighborhood and opened her house for visitors to come and learn. The demand became so great that in 2016 she transformed her initiative into an organization, Green Light-Year, to expand her work and cope with the ever-increasing flow of visitors.

Sustainability and Replicability

To develop private solar panels, China has developed a policy supportive of the renewable sector: the state subsidies to spur the implantation of distributed solar rooftop installations. Besides, many cities offer additional subsidies.
Helen’s installation meets 90% of her household electricity needs and helps power her hybrid vehicle.

Lessons learned

It only takes one person initiating a movement and communicating about it to spread a sustainable lifestyle: triggering a ripple effect from one person to a community, a neighborhood, and slowly but surely to a whole city.

Take action

Get informed about Green Light-Year and be inspired to replicate this initiative in your house, your community, your neighbourhood and finally your whole city.

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