Archive for the ‘Environment Article’ Category

One of the common queries or comments I receive when presenting on sustainability is the matter of costs.

“What will it cost me”?

“Is it cost effective”?

“What is the pay back period”?

“It is a waste of money”

“It will cost too much!”

All of these are valid questions and statements, especially as costs are the base for any business.

But there is obviously a lot of fear around the subject.

If sustainability is not cost effective, no one will use it; no person, no company will implement it. Irrespective of how much they are concerned about the environment.
I have good news though.

Sustainability is definitely cost effective.

In order to appeal to the CEO who is concerned about value, about life cycle costings, Return on Investment etc, sustainability must be practical, cost effective and have measurable outcomes.

It is interesting though, when one analyses a business from a sustainable perspective we usually find a massive amount of waste being generated by that business that is uncosted; yet it is an exact measurable cost against the bottom line of that business. Those costs of Natural Capital (Water, Energy, Waste etc) should be on the ledger.
Then we would take more notice of them as a cost
Conversely, quite often, it is the businesses that are concerned about the cost of implementing a sustainable philosophy that are the biggest wasters. And therefore we find outstanding opportunities for improvement, for benefit, for profit, for these businesses that are often the sceptical ones. Not to mention the environmental benefits!!

In all businesses we review there is waste in areas such as power, water, resource management including staff, loss of productivity, inefficient operational practices etc. Most of the business premises are inappropriately designed for their location, function and climate.

Yet these same businesses are run by the same people who will ask the question about cost, detailed above.
“No business makes money if it is inefficient” (World Business Council for Sustainable Development)
Sustainability is about, in broad terms, improving efficiencies.
It is about improving your profitability while at the same time improving your environmental outcomes.

Sustainability is not just about adding a water tank to your premises or changing light globes. It is a science and it needs to be integrated wherever possible right through your business operations, from the management philosophy right through to your built environment.

All businesses do have a connection to the built environmental whether it is through their offices, their production facilities, their operational facilities etc.
The biggest financial investment most businesses make is usually their built environment.
Therefore, it stands to reason that a lot of the inefficiencies that occur with running your business can be found in the built environment.

It is these inefficiencies, whether it be the design, the construction or the operations of your building where, with appropriate sustainable manage expertise, you can make the most improvement to those inefficiencies.
These include reducing wastage, while also at the same time providing the improved profitability opportunity while minimising the environmental loads currently produced by your business.

As we are all aware, the current climate change issues are now being linked to the waste of our Natural Capital. This Natural Capital is currently ridiculously undervalued, especially as it is a resource that we cannot reproduce in any way. We cannot produce water or air or earth or nature. The list goes on. Yet we consume them unabated, propelled by the massive cheapness of these integral components that are necessary for our survival, as well as the rampant belief that these resources will always be there for our use.
In addition we have a core belief that we have a right to use them as we wish, relatively free of charge.

How long can these beliefs sustain us?

But this is not a doom and gloom story.
The application of sustainable practice to your project is relatively cheap and has many benefits.

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) (Cost of Green Buildings 2004) has done significant research on this issue and has found that if there is any cost up front for a sustainable building it is usually around .6% -2% of total project cost. Sometimes there is no increased construction cost.

It has also identified that these costs are usually recoverable 10 times over within 20 years just through reduced energy useage.
Yet there is much more benefit to be found in defining a sustainable outcome from your business. This applies to new or refurbished built projects.
The earlier in a project you identify a sustainable outcome requirement, the greater these outcomes will be.

When deciding to take a sustainable approach, many options and benefits arise.
The design of your structure becomes suited to the local climate; the occupant comfortability is significantly improved, resulting in reduced absenteeism (25%, USGBC) of staff while increasing productivity.
Internal environment quality is greatly improved; resulting in improved occupant and staff health .The EPA (USA) has identified ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ as one of the top 5 health issues facing the world today!

A sustainable approach will significantly reduce that risk.
There is no need to be fearful of a sustainable approach. It is the way of the future.
It will measurably increase your profit while improving your environmental outcomes. These two features have for years been considered mutually exclusive. Sustainability changes all that.

Profit + Environment = Sustainability

John Brodie is a sustainability consultant with over thirty years experience in construction design and project management. He has authored numerous articles on sustainability for a range of magazines and journals.He has presented on sustainability at conferences and universities all around Australia and provides cost effective sustainable solutions to his clients.

If you would like further information on how John can improve your home or business through sustainable practice please visit his website. http://www.vim.net.au

Saving the environment seems such a mommoth task. It simply leaves people immobile. Where does one begin?

Some things are easy. Don’t litter. Don’t damage. Don’t waste resources. But what exactly does this involve? What does the common person do to be saving the environment? Not everyone can research. Not everyone can make it the calling of their lives. Not everyone even knows what to do.

Yet, we have a huge number of people available, who would, if pointed out, definitely be happy to make small adjustments that together can result in massive change. The key is in identifying exact things, that are quick to do and watch out for, once people know.

If it doesn’t take too much time, doesn’t involve a great deal of effort, a large number of people will happily walk the path to feel a little more secure about the state of the world tomorrow.

I find that like any other dauntingly huge task, this one seems much more doable when we break it up into bits.

First, make a not of the words/issues that occur on the subject of saving the environment: plastic, paper, forest reserves, trees, water, energy, pollution, fuel, awareness……… We can keep adding to these as and when new words occur.

Let’s take each aspect and brainstorm on it (follow links, or subsequent articles). If you have ideas, please let me know, and I’ll add them in, so that we have a ready resource of stuff that is really easy to incorporate into our lives and has the potential to make a huge difference.

Plastic

Ouch. That’s a tough first one. Plastic is very useful to us and very harmful to the environment. What can be done to find a compromise my comfort and conscience can live with? Keep the necessity, use thoroughly, discard carefully and avoid as far as possible.

We’ll need to keep the plastic bags for packing stuff on treks and monsoon hikes, but use them carefully and reuse them as much as possible, rather than using fresh ones each time.

Using a biggish purse/whatever bags men use, avoiding accepting the minor carry bags is no issue. Adding a small cloth bag for emergencies would avoid asking for a fresh one while shopping. We can make sure to carry a shopping bag when going out for shopping for sure.

Loads of plastic can be recycled. Rather than throw it into the dustbin, we can sell it to the recycle shops – kabadiwallahs, bhangarwallas, raddiwallahs, etc. That money can be put to good use, or simply into a box to donate to organizations that work for the environment.

Spending some time a day at the end of picnics, hikes or on treks to make the places we visit cleaner. A quick 15 minutes effort by a group can make quick work of the plastic lying around in a natural environment and inspire the people watching them into similar acts.

Annual get-togethers for outdoor groups can be held in places that need efforts like this and a huge gang of members can make their love for the outdoors far more concrete through a spectacular and quick clean up of the place.

Remember, the plastic that gets through human efforts will lie around defacing the place for over 500 years!

Paper:

Using the paper you have, before buying excessive quantities. Old printouts, and other unwanted paper can be stapled together for a quick notepad to scribble notes on, rather than use good paper sheets.

Passing schoolbooks to other needy students helps support their educational expenses as well as decreases the number of new books brought into use. Old notebooks at the end of the year can be stripped of unused pages to be bound together to make cheap notebooks for rough work.

Use electronic media for mailing purposes, e-greetings, and storing information. It’s faster, more efficient and cheaper too. Unsubscribe from all publications you receive, but don’t bother to read. Try to subscribe to electronic versions where suitable for the ones you do read. Promote your email address more than your mailing address for contact.

Coloured newspaper makes for very interesting looking gift wrapping and some very interesting effects can be achieved through selecting the right page to use. A friend of mine marks news items and codes letters in the newsprint for special secret messages on the gift. Any old water colour works well for colouring the paper.

Printouts can be taken on both sides of a paper. This shrinks the size of the paper stack when stored or taken along, saves on ink costs, and uses the paper with maximum efficiency.

Washing hands keeps them cleaner than using tissue paper. Old fashioned reusable cloth diapers are far more light and comfortable for babies for use at home in warm climates. Plus they are cheaper.

Use recycled paper. It looks great for special purposes and creates a responsible image for you.

Remember, we are losing trees because of our very real need for paper.

Forest Reserves:

The next time you redesign your home, keep an eye out for the many very efficient and highly suitable alternatives for wood on the market and use them where suitable. Repair good furniture rather than discard.

Protest initiatives that cut forests for development unless they are a necessity. Insist that all cutting of forests also results in actions that plant trees in other areas.

Minimize use of wood products where possible, and use them carefully and sparingly where not.

Avoid campfires for fun when out in the outdoors, unless you need them for heat. The fun is in the company and what you do – not in a log of wood burning needlessly in a stiflingly hot place. Spare yourselves the smoke, spare the forests the hazard, and leave the dead wood for some needy villager to cook on. Never EVER cut a tree for your campfire. It’s not going to be dry enough to burn when you need it, and the tree will be dead by the time you realize that it will not burn. I’m telling you right now. Don’t do it. It will help neither the poor tree, nor your campfire.

Trees

Its kind of a part of the forests, but the separate mention is because trees are also in cities, villages, everywhere. Avoid cutting a tree if you can. If you know of a tree being cut needlessly, take action. Plant trees in open areas where you can.

Enjoy the trees and the pleasures they bring, rather than thinking of them as lost real estate. That well-invested real estate is helping you breathe.

Water

Hear that dripping tap? Fix it. Now. About a fifth of the people in the world don’t have access to drinking water. I’m not asking you to feel guilty about them or supply them with water, simply use what you have wisely, so that it spreads further.

Don’t leave taps running when washing, brushing, showering, cooking, washing vehicles, etc. Turn it on, use it, turn it off when its time for soap. You can always turn it on for rinsing. Its not as much hard work as it sounds, and becomes a habit.

When you use a tap, you will notice that you can turn it a little, for a less powerful stream of water, and open it full, for gushing water. Most of the time, we don’t need that flood of water and sometimes we do. So keep the flow how you need it.

Avoid the fancy car showers. Your paint will thank you and serve you better, and it really doesn’t take that much water to get a car clean.

Begin rain water harvesting in your locality. Its amazing the amount of absolutely usable, clean water you will “produce”. It’s a sense of achievement that needs to be experienced to be believed.

In the outdoors, don’t pollute water resources. Cattle and wild animals use them for drinking water. Avoid using soap in streams and pools. Draw water from the stream for washing in a separate area at a distance rather than the stream or pool itself. Keep toilet areas away from water sources.

Run your washing machine on full load. Your electricity bill will be the same for both the loads, but you will save time and water.

Energy:

That’s a big luxury and need today. In Mumbai, a powercut is rare, but in many other parts of India, uninterrupted electric supply is rare. Again, it is a matter of using what we have wisely.

Switch off lights, fans, and anything that consumes electricity when not in use. Decrease your bills by exploring solar power. Switch to lower consumption versions of appliances. Switch off all things not needed when leaving home. These measures will help extend the utility of existing power resources as well as save money on electricity bills.

When cooking, use gas wisely. A flame that extends beyond the base of that utensil is gas going waste and only charring food on the sides of the utensil. Turn it lower and save yourself some cleaning effort while you’re at it.

Keep your ingredients ready or easily accessible while cooking, so that you don’t cook food unnecessarily longer, consuming more fuel and making the food less tasty. Use pressure cookers to speed up cooking and save fuel too.

Solar cookers are great, if you live in a place where you have sunlight, and an area where you can place your cooker safely. Food cooks slowly, retains maximum nutrients, utensils are extremely easy to clean, and no bills of any sort. Sunlight is free  Solar cookers are extremely easy and inexpensive to make.

Pollution:

Keep an eye on what you are driving, and make sure you are keeping its pollution levels law. It is required by law, but its surprising how many people don’t really care.

Avoid using vehicles for going around the corner. The walk will do you good.

Use shared vehicles and public transport where possible. Use eco friendly fuels.

Keep an eye on what you are using. Many chemical products are harmful for the environment. Find out the effects of chemicals you use, and explore options that help you do your thing with minimum damage. Its probably healthier for you too.

Avoid cooking fires. Avoid campfires. Avoid all unnecessary smoke.

Don’t sit on the horn when traffic comes to a standstill. Your horn cannot physically move cars along. If it’s a jam, it’s a jam. If it looks like its going to take a while, switch off your engine, and have patience. Blaring horns only make a bad situation unbearable. Yeah call me fussy. I call it noise pollution.

This goes for other noise pollution stuff too. Bizarre loud celebrations in the middle of the night, loudspeakers, etc. near hospitals is a baaaaad thing to do.

Awareness:

Not only can we do things to save the environment, we can spread awareness about the environment and awareness of the choices open to people that they can easily make to create a large collective impact.

Creating awareness can be done in many ways. One of the best is actions. Do it, share it, encourage it.

Another way is sharing information and ideas. Like I’m doing out here, and in my interactions with people in relevant situations.

Another great way is to take an

Vidyut Kale is a mountaineer turned outbound facilitator and does extensive work with children through experiential learning programmes as well. Her site provides a great deal of information and support for the outdoor adventure scenario in India.

Sept. 3 — AltspaceVR founder and CEO Eric Romo was the thirteenth employee hired at SpaceX and he’s now using his background as an innovator to alter the way we socialize.

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NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has laid out a plan to transform the Sahara Desert into a lush and livable environment. The only catch? It will cost an estimated Trillion.

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Previous Episode:

Is An Urban Atmosphere Better For Survival?: https://youtu.be/muJyntC3_lI?list=PLwwOk5fvpuuJ6vrMGS_x0qBNOWzsIapUv

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Sources:

How Many People Can Earth Support?:
http://www.livescience.com/16493-people-planet-earth-support.html

“’The power of population is so superior to the power of the Earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.’ The late-18th century philosopher Thomas Malthus wrote these ominous words in an essay on what he saw as the dire future of humanity.”

Will We Ever… Live In Underwater Cities?:
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130930-can-we-build-underwater-cities

“Ian Koblick hoped the colourful seaweed samples he brought into class would impress. His marine biology professor at Stanford University commented on their beauty and asked where he had found them. Ian replied that he had collected them while exploring off the Californian coast using the Aqua-Lung, an early version of today’s scuba equipment. His tutor dismissed his innovative approach.”

Scientists Concoct A Trillion-Per-Year Plan To Geoengineer The Sahara Desert:
http://www.popsci.com/environment/article/2009-09/scientists-concoct-2-trillion-year-plan-geoengineer-sahara-desert

“Now that scientists agree that humans have profoundly changed the Earth’s climate, many have begun asking if we can use our globe-altering power to simply change it back. Geoengineering, essentially terraforming on Earth, has been floated as a cure for global warming a number of times over the past year, but now some scientists have published a plan to transform a part of the Sahara desert into a lush forest, and in the process, absorb enough carbon to offset the world’s current fossil fuel use.”

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Comprehensive coverage of a talk and panel debate at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) hosted by Article 25 exploring the contribution of the built environment to international development.

Chair – Jack Pringle (Trustee, Article 25)
Main Speaker – Tom Gunner (Government Affairs Spokesman, UKspace)

Panelists
– David Sanderson (Director, CENDEP)
– Graham Saunders (Head of Shelter, IFRC)
– Camillo Boano (Lecturer, Development Planning Unit, UCL)
– John Norton (President, Development Workshop)

Filmed and edited by Tom Christian, Poetic Licence Films
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What is the solution to stop carbon emissions and global warming? In Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009, leaders around the world gathered to find out a solution. What they came up was the Cap and Trade, a carbon emissions trading system to control polluters. It seems like a great solution until you consider that this was created by the same people that caused the dot com and recent mortages bubble crises. How does this agreement work? The devil is on the details.
This is the third video after Consumer Awareness: The Story of Bottled Water and Consumerism: The Story of Stuff

Annie Leonard is a proponent of sustainability and critic of excessive consumerism. The Story of Stuff Project was created by Annie Leonard to leverage and extend the film’s impact and amplify public discourse on a series of environmental, social and economic concerns to build a more sustainable and just world.

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Video on Article 19 of the “African Youth Charter” developed in partnership by UNESCO and the African Union.

Your State must undertake to work to achieve sustainable development and to protect the environment in order to secure good living conditions for you and for future generations. You have inherited your country’s natural heritage, and your State must protect it.

The African Youth Charter is YOUR Charter!

Copyright UNESCO and African Union