Posts Tagged ‘Resource’

What’s your carbon Handprint?

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on July 5th, 2013

Source: FastCo.Exist

handprinter
Screenshot from the Handprinter video.

From the article ‘An App That Measures Your Positive Impact on The Planet‘ by Ben Schiller:

Greg Norris has worked in the field of lifecycle assessments–what you and I know as “footprints”–for many years. And, not long ago, he started to feel depressed about it. Everything seemed to be in a negative direction, impact-wise. “From the footprint perspective, all you see is bad news,” he says. “I ended up feeling like the Earth would be better off without me.”

So, Norris came up with what he calls “the mirror image of footprints”. Handprints are the positive things we do to reduce damage we inevitably cause from driving, buying stuff, and so on. It’s a form of offsetting. But instead of paying someone to plant a tree in Malawi, you have to take care of the corresponding action yourself. “I asked myself: How can I make it possible that there would be less pollution because of me? The answer is to stimulate change for the better,” he says.

You can create a handprint in three ways. First, you simply cut your footprint: say, by cycling to work, rather than driving. Second, you can champion an action suggested on the platform (carpooling, say). Or, third, you can come up with a completely new idea. In each case, Handprinter calculates the benefit and your part in bringing it about. If, for example, you share a link and someone clicks on it, you get credited with that action. Everything is subtracted from your footprint, which you calculate at the beginning. […]

Norris sees the platform as a way of inspiring positive behavior. If he can get enough people using the app, he hopes to create a virtuous circle of people proposing and rewarding action. As an example, he points to an initiative in Maine that Handprinter has been involved with. Owens Corning has donated 300 water heater blankets, which schools are giving away to residents in return for nine months’ worth of energy savings. The schools will spend the money on new blankets, setting up a positive cycle. (Students can follow the ripple effects on the Handprinter app). […]

>>> You can read the original article here.
>>> You can learn more about Handprinter on their website or try the beta version of the app.


(Em)Powering Communities: SolarKiosk

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on February 15th, 2013

 Source: TransitionsFF

CIMG0790
Photo from SolarKiosk.

From ‘SolarKiosk: mobile modular power for really remote areas” on Good.is

For those who’ve grown up constantly plugged into the power grid, it’s almost impossible to think of life without an endless supply of outlets, power cords, and technology. But for an estimated 1.5 billion people around the world, power—from cutting and burning firewood to lighting kerosene lamps, paraffin, and candles—doesn’t come easy. According to the United Nations Foundation, almost 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, about 1.5 billion have no access to electricity, and 1 billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. Smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills nearly two million people a year and causes a range of chronic illnesses and other health impacts.

In an effort to tackle health and development-related obstacles in developing countries, a company based in Germany and Ethiopia is bringing clean energy to “off-grid areas” around the world. Housed in a metal hut topped with a solar panel-filled roof, the designers have named their creation a “SolarKiosk,” a small-scale power source for communities without electricity. Each SolarKiosk is expected to provide enough power for villagers to charge their mobile phones and car batteries, run a computer, or power up a solar fridge. Goods sold from the Kiosk include solar lanterns, mobile phones, and cards to top-up cellular devices. Considering that the Kiosk’s fridge may be the community’s only one, it could be used to house everything from medication to chilled drinks. The kiosk could also provide television, music, and internet depending on the locale. The creators project that a larger-size SolarKiosk could even produce enough energy to run a telecom tower reliably, while also providing security and maintenance. It will even be possible to connect multiple kiosks to create a local grid.

The world’s first SolarKiosk set up shop on July 15 [2012] near Lake Langana in Ethiopia. Designed by Graft Architects, the project not only provides clean energy solutions to “off-grid” countries, but once installed, becomes a power-generating shop and business hub, providing jobs to community members and education on how solar products work. It also becomes a glowing, solar-powered light source at night. Each kiosk comes in a lightweight, DIY kit, making it is easy to transport and build a kiosk in off-road, rural areas—the package could even be carried to its target location on the back of a donkey. With the exception of pre-manufactured electrical components, the kiosk’s parts can be constructed from a range of local materials including bamboo, wood, adobe, stone, metal, or even recycled goods. Post-assembly, the entire structure is firmly anchored in the ground. […]

NB. The second SolarKiosk was installed in Teppi, Ethiopia, in November last year. – [JB]

>>> You can read the full article on Good.is.
>>> You can learn more about SolarKiosk on their website.


Risk maps facilitate innovative water solutions

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on January 17th, 2013

Source: Circle of Blue via AWA

Aquaduct's mexico_water_risk_map
Image from Aquaduct.

From ‘Entrepreneurs in Mexico City Turn Water Risk into Opportunity‘ by Paul Reig.

Mexico City, the biggest metropolis in the Western hemisphere, faces significant water shortages, leaving many domestic, agricultural, and industrial users exposed to severe water-related risks. The city was built on the foundations of the Aztec capital, on the bed of Lake Texcoco. Today, centuries later, its groundwater supplies are rapidly diminishing, and it relies on a network of reservoirs and decaying infrastructure to pump in water from hundreds of miles away. Furthermore, urban growth and climate change are pushing Mexico City’s water supply to the edge. Reservoirs were dangerously low during the 2009 drought, leading the government to cut off water in some areas of the city.

While the situation in Mexico City is undeniably alarming, these risks can also create new opportunities for businesses to prosper by delivering innovative solutions to water scarcity. In 2012, four entrepreneurs in Mexico City founded Sistemas de Captación de Agua Pluvial® (SCAP®), a company providing rainwater harvesting solutions. Harvesting rainwater and storing it for later use is an increasingly popular solution to unpredictable and limited water supplies. From a backyard rain barrel for lawn watering to the massive network of rainwater storage tanks that China’s Gansu province uses to provide drinking water to 1.3 million people, rainwater harvesting is being used in a wide range of scales and geographies.

SCAP helps its clients in Mexico overcome unreliable and limited water supply by designing and installing efficient, affordable rainwater collectors. SCAP has already completed a project in Colonia Florida and is planning additional installations in El Pedregal and Mixcoac. By collecting rainwater, SCAP clients can cut back on the cost of water and store freshwater for times of shortages. To better understand water-related risks in Mexico City and how they compare to the rest of the country, SCAP used a preview version of Aqueduct’s forthcoming improved global water risk maps. Aqueduct’s granular and comprehensive maps of water scarcity, supply variability, and groundwater stress (among other indicators) helped SCAP target and inform clients in central Mexico on areas most in need of solutions. Having this up-to-date data in a widely accessible format allowed SCAP to turn water risk into business opportunities—in turn, helping Mexico’s citizens meet their water needs. […]

>>> You can read the full article on the website.
>>> You can learn more about the Aquaduct project and water maps on the World Resources Institute website.


Seed Matters: Sowing more good

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on December 12th, 2012


Screenshot from the Seed Matters website.

An initiative of the Cliff Bar Family Foundation, Seed Matters is dedicated to protecting and ameliorating organic seed, thus increasing the abundance of healthy, nutritious crops that benefit both people and the planet. Their goals are to ‘conserve crop genetic diversity, promote farmers’ roles and rights as seed innovators and stewards, and reinvigorate public seed research and education.’ The Seed Matters website tells the story of seed, about the programs aimed at achieving their goals, and how you can get involved. Oh, and the website is really quite beautiful. – [JB]

From ‘Why Seed Matters: We reap what we sow‘ on the Seed Matters site:

We probably don’t think about it when we sit down to eat our cereal in the morning or tuck the kids into cotton sheets at night, but it all starts with seed.  Seed matters. And the seed we sow affects the quality, nutrition, cost and environmental impact of all the food we eat and every fiber we wear.

It’s time we sow more good. The last several decades of industrial agriculture have developed seed that is suited to intensive chemical agriculture. While this has sometimes resulted in higher yields, it has come with very real costs. Unintended consequences include air and water pollution, increased pesticide use, greater dependence on fossil fuels, degraded soil health, and the loss of biological and genetic diversity. These are facts.

The success of diverse, regional, and resilient food systems requires a different approach to seed – an organic approach.

And yet, today’s farmers don’t have access to sufficient seed developed for organic systems. Worldwide, 95% of organic farmers rely on seed bred for conventional, high-input chemical agriculture. There’s an alternative. Organic plant breeding can increase yields, improve nutrition, and reduce usage of pesticides, fertilizer, and energy. We invite you to join us – engage and grow the work of improving organic seed systems.

>> Find out more from Seed Matters


Seasonal Calendars: learning from Indigenous ecological knowledge

Posted in Models, Research by Jessica Bird on November 14th, 2012


Seasonal calendar from the Ngan’gi language group in the Northern Territory (TRaCK)

From the SBS Podcast Indigenous weather knowledge bridges gap by Naomi Selvaratnam

Indigenous communities across northern Australia have helped to develop seasonal calendars using their environmental knowledge. The calendars detail the changes in plant and animal life across the year, and can include as many as 13 seasons.

Darwin-based CSIRO researcher, Emma Woodward says the project highlights the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge into scientific research projects. She told Naomi Selvaratnam the value of indigenous knowledge is frequently underestimated by scientists.

The following comes from the CSIRO about the most recently released seasons calendar from the Gooniyandi language group in the Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberly.

The Mingayooroo – Manyi Waranggiri Yarrangi, Gooniyandi Seasons calendar was developed by key knowledge-holders of the Gooniyandi language group from the Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberley and CSIRO, as part of a Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge project on Indigenous socio-economic values and rivers flows in northern Australia.

The seasonal cycle recorded on the calendar follows 4 main seasons: Barranga (‘very hot weather time’); Yidirla (‘wet season time when the river runs’); Ngamari (‘female cold weather time’) and Girlinggoowa (‘male cold weather time’). Gooniyandi people closely follow meteorological events, including wind speed and direction, clouds and rain types, as each event is linked to different behaviours of animals. Gooniyandi people can therefore look to the weather to tell them when it is the best time for hunting and collecting different plants and animals.

The Gooniyandi Seasons calendar represents a wealth of Indigenous ecological knowledge. The development of the calendar was driven by a community desire to document seasonal-specific knowledge of the Margaret and Fitzroy Rivers in the Kimberley, including the environmental indicators that act as cues for bush tucker collection. The calendar also addresses community concern about the loss of traditional knowledge, as older people from the language group pass away and younger people are not being exposed to Indigenous ecological knowledge.

>>> You can listen to the podcast on SBS World News Radio and download the Gooniyandi seasons calendar from CSIRO.
>>> You can also access seasonal calendars for other Indigenous groups from TRaCK (Tropical Rivers and Coast Knowledge) research hub.


Local Harvest: Metasite for organic & local food

Posted in Models, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on July 26th, 2011

From the LocalHarvest website:

LocalHarvest is America’s #1 organic and local food website. We maintain a definitive and reliable “living” public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. Our search engine helps people find products from family farms, local sources of sustainably grown food, and encourages them to establish direct contact with small farms in their local area. Our online store helps small farms develop markets for some of their products beyond their local area.

The richness, variety, and flavor of our communities, food systems, and diets is in jeopardy. The exclusive focus on economic efficiency has brought us low prices and convenience through large supermarkets chains, agribusiness and factory farms, while taking away many other aspects of our food lives, like our personal relation with our food and with the people who produce it. More and more people are realizing this and actively working to turn the tide and to preserve a food industry based on family-owned, small scale businesses. They are our best guarantee against a world of styrofoam-like long-shelf-life tomatoes and diets dictated from corporate boardrooms. The Buy Local movement is quickly taking us beyond the promise of environmental responsibility that the organic movement delivered, and awakening the US to the importance of community, variety, humane treatment of farm animals, and social and environmental responsibility in regards to our food economy.

LocalHarvest was founded in 1998, and is now the number one informational resource for the Buy Local movement and the top place on the Internet where people find information on direct marketing family farms. We now have more than 20000 members, and are growing by about 20 new members every day. Through our servers, our website and those of our partners serve about three and a half million page views per month to the public interested in buying food from family farms. LocalHarvest is located in Santa Cruz, California, and was founded by Guillermo Payet, a software engineer and activist dedicated to generating positive social change through the Internet.

www.localharvest.org

Ethical Consumer is setting up a similar resource in Melbourne, Australia, and is seeking local involvement. KA


Collaborative Consumption: Infographic

Posted in Movements, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on July 13th, 2011

Source: Fast Company‘s Co.Design


Infographic by Collaborative

From “Infographic Of The Day: A Tour Guide To Collaborative Consumption” by Morgan Clendaniel:

You might own some tools that you never use, or perhaps you have a backyard that you just don’t have the time to do anything interesting with. Until recently, those pieces of property mostly served as nagging reminders that you didn’t have enough time to do everything you wanted to do. Today, they can look like revenue streams, not wastes of money.

Ideas about ownership of property are slowly starting to change in this country. The success of Zip Car and of bike sharing programs in a few major cities are the vanguard of a host of different “collaborative consumption” services and businesses that allow people to monetize their own unused resources, or to find ways to get goods and services without purchasing them. This infographic shows some of the stuff that might be lying around your house that are just profits waiting to happen — and all the start-ups trying to help you along.

This infographic was made by the venture fund Collaborative–which invests in collaborative consumption businesses–and the Startup America Partnership in order to help illustrate the economic benefits of this idea.

Read the full article by Morgan Clendaniel to find out more about specific start-ups, including Park At My House and TaskRabbit (where you can get paid to assemble other people’s IKEA furniture).


Brisbane to Construct Second Landfill Gas Plant

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on May 18th, 2011


Image via UK Energy Saving

From “Willawong waste-to-power plan gets Green approval” by Karin Adams, Sarah McVeigh on QUT News:

The Greens have welcomed Brisbane City Council’s plan to turn rubbish into power, but say the council is years behind the rest of the world.

The landfill site at Willawong in the south of Brisbane will have its methane and carbon dioxide emissions turned into electricity and put into the grid. Methane gas is 21 times more environmentally damaging than carbon dioxide. Landfill Gas Industries managing director Adam Bloomer, the company building the plant, says this will tackle a huge problem for council. “Every council in Australia that owns a landfill,” she said. “Their landfill is their single biggest source of their carbon emissions.” “Generally they’re somewhere in the range of 60 to 70 per cent of their greenhouse gas emission.”

Queensland Greens spokesperson Libby Connors says Brisbane and Australia are behind the rest of the world. “Queensland and Brisbane in particular are a long way behind the (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) where at least 20 OECD countries are already using this sort of technology,” she said. She says she has been calling for the Willawong landfill gas plan for 20 years. “Australia has been really smug for many years that the easiest solution for our waste disposal is landfill because we’ve supposedly got all this space,” she said. “You know that is just completely been the wrong attitude.”

Waste Management Association of Australia Queensland president Pravin Menon says Brisbane City Council is pushing forward with good sustainability policy. “What Brisbane City Council is doing is extremely responsible from an environmental perspective…in actually utilising a resource in the ground that would otherwise add to our environmental impact,” he said. He says future waste management strategies need to avoid, reuse and divert waste. “Councils should firstly look at reducing the amount of waste that they send to landfill,” he said.

Ms Connors says Queensland is missing landfill gas plant opportunities. “It’s interesting the only two plants are here in Brisbane but there are plenty of other opportunities to develop this around the state,” she said. Mr Bloomer says the benefits of the plant are environmental but won’t stem the rising electricity prices. “I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference to electricity prices,” he said. “Renewable energy is still a premium product as far as cost is concerned.” But he says what it will do is provide power to around 1400 homes annually. The plant will be operational by June 2012.

Read this article by Karin Adams & Sarah McVeigh on QUT News.


Resilience Thinking Seminars: Free to download

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on December 20th, 2010

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre


Photo of Elinor Ostrom via US Embassy Sweden –  flickr CC

Listen to more than 50 seminars with the world’s most renowned thinkers in resilience.

The Stockholm Resilience Centre website isn’t the only place you can access the latest in resilience thinking: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all provide you with the latest videos and news on social-ecological research.  Now the most important and popular seminars and presentations that have taken place at the centre are also free to download from iTunes.

The list includes presentations by Elinor Ostrom, Will Steffen, Brian Walker, Frances Westley, Johan Rockströmand many more.

Find all the centre lectures and seminars by searching for “Stockholm Resilience Centre” in the top right corner of the iTunes page.


Could urban heat islands produce geothermal power?

Posted in Research, Sustainable Cities by Kate Archdeacon on November 3rd, 2010

Via Environmental Research Web

Urban Heat Island by dustinphilips via flickr CC license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Image: dustinphillips via flickr CC license

From Hot water to get cities out of energy trouble? by Liz Kalaugher

Cities are generally warmer than the rural land surrounding them, in a phenomenon known as the urban heat-island effect. It’s not just above-ground temperatures that rise – the soil beneath also experiences several degrees of warming. Now, researchers have found that the extra heat stored in groundwater beneath cities around the world could provide enough geothermal energy to heat urban homes.

“In most cities, with a variety of populations and climates, the large amount of geothermal energy stored in the urban local subsurface is capable of fulfilling the annual space-heating demand for years and potentially decades,” Ke Zhu of the University of Tübingen, Germany told environmentalresearchweb.

Together with colleagues from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, St Francis Xavier University, Canada, and ETH Zürich, Switzerland, Zhu measured groundwater temperatures in Cologne, Germany, and Winnipeg, Canada. Both cities had extensive underground warming, with temperatures 3–5°C higher than surrounding rural areas. Similarly, the subsurface beneath urban green spaces was cooler than that below business districts.

The urban heat-island effect arises because of factors such as buildings preventing heat from leaving the ground at night, changes in the properties of the ground surface and the absence of plants that provide cooling by evapotranspiration.

“Urban aquifers with elevated temperature are attractive shallow geothermal-energy reservoirs, and meanwhile there is high energy demand just above,” said Zhu. “In our opinion, it is important to study the geothermal potential of urban heat islands before planning large geothermal projects.”

Read the rest