The 2010 Toyota Prius

The 2010 Toyota Prius

Toyota City, Japan, smells pretty sweet these days according to a report by Richard Blackburn at Japan's largest automaker has developed two new flower species to help offset CO2 emitted by the Prius factory there.

The leaves of one of the flowers, based on the cherry sage, absorb harmful gases in the air, while the leaves of the other flower, a variant of the gardenia, produce water vapor. The water vapor cools the facility's surroundings so less energy is required to maintain its temperature. As a result, less CO2 is emitted. Over the past 19 years, Toyota's initiatives have reduced the factory's CO2 emissions by 55 percent.

The flowers aren't doing all the work though. The factory's lawn only requires mowing once a year. Rooftop solar panels provide electricity, and special paint on the building's exterior absorbs hazardous oxides. In the summertime, the plant is kept at nearly 83-degrees to keep air conditioning costs in line. (Imagine trying to explain that thermostat setting to your significant other.)

Toyota's greening of the Prius facility ought to be commended by detractors who have argued that production of the car creates more CO2 than that of a gas vehicle. Toyota claims that their eco-friendly efforts have nothing to do with criticism of the Prius and that the benchmark hybrid makes up for that extra CO2 after the first year of driving anyway.

Touché Prius haters.