Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Never pay an Electricity Bill again? Sounds pretty good to me.

Posted in Models, Movements, Sustainable Cities, Visions by emma.gerard on August 21st, 2013

Source: Climate progress

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photo from: Habitat for Humanity of washington DC

From the article Why Habitat For Humanity’s Newest Homeowner Might Never Pay An Electricity Bill by JOANNA M. FOSTER

Lakiya’s new home is the first super energy-efficient passive house in D.C. It also just happens to be a Habitat for Humanity home.

The house doesn’t look like a futuristic spaceship, but it is different from the other small pre-fab houses along the street. It is a two home duplex with a big wooden porch in front and, of course, solar panels on the roof.

Lakiya’s house started out two years ago as an entry in the Department of Energy’s biannual Solar Decathlon. Dubbed “Empowerhouse” for the competition, it was an ambitious concept brought to life by engineering and architecture students from Stevens Institute of TechnologyParsons The New School for Design and Milano School for International Affairs, management and Urban Policy, many of whom had never even wielded a hammer before attempting this elaborate construction project. The team’s dream was to build a solar-powered house that could not only compete with the most cutting-edge technologies out there, but was actually affordable and something ordinary people would want to live in.

According to Josh Layrea, one of the Stevens engineers, the winning entry from a German team two years before cost over two million dollars. “It was an impressive piece of engineering,” Laryea concedes. “But made for exhibit, not habitation. The entire outside of the house was covered in solar panels.” Laryea and his teammates had a different goal. In a way, they were in a competition of their own, in which they were competing against themselves to see if they could create something that Habitat for Humanity could use not only as a home for a low-income family in the Deanwood area of D.C. but also as an affordable housing prototype for Habitat going forward. The Stevens-Parson-Milano house won the top prize for cost-effectiveness at the Solar Decathlon.

Lakiya’s house was built based on passive house design principles. The basic concept of passive house is to lower energy consumption by being super-insulated and practically airtight. Empowerhouse has 12-inch thick walls and triple-glazed windows and, as a result, uses up to 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than an ordinary house. Such low energy consumption enabled Empowerhouse to have one of the smallest solar panel arrays in the competition, which helps keep construction and maintenance costs down.

As anyone who worked on Empowerhouse hoped, Lakiya’s home is not the end of the dream. Habitat is gearing up to build six more passive houses in Ivy City, a short drive from Deanwood. They’ll look a bit different from Empowerhouse, more townhouses than duplex, but they’ll cost about the same and hopefully pass on the same savings.

“As much as we can afford, we would like to have the highest standard of energy efficiency available for our homeowners,” said Susanne Slater, President and CEO of D.C. Habitat for Humanity. “Our whole mission is to provide affordable housing to low income families, and if homeowners pay less in energy costs, that helps us reach that goal.”

“I really believe that with the mounting cost of electricity, passive houses with solar panels are going to take off,” said Slater. “And our homeowners are going to be out in front of the movement.”

>>> You can read the original article on Climate Progress


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.


“City Semester”: Learning about climate change and sustainability in the city

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 25th, 2012

Source: The Atlantic Cities

From “The High School Curriculum Every Urban Planner Wishes They’d Had” by Nate Berg:

[…]

City Semester is an immersive, city-focused course that combines classwork and field studies for juniors at Fieldston. It’s like other semester away programs run by the school, but instead of sending kids out to the Rocky Mountains or the Maine coast, students in the City Semester program turn their attention to their own neighborhood and city. Meyers has compiled a broad range of teachers from the school to participate, including teachers focusing on history, ethics, language, theater, literature, film, photography and music.

The program is divided into four main sections: sustainability, immigration and difference, power and conflict, and neighborhood and community renewal. This last section is centered around the Bronx River, located a couple miles from the school.

“We wanted to talk about neighborhood formation, and chronologically to talk about the recovery of the Bronx,” Meyers says. “We use the Bronx River as a means of discussing both human and non-human communities.”

One of the main parts of this section of the program consists of a two-day canoe trip down the river. The students collect scientific data about the water and the ecology and make presentations about both the history of the neighborhoods and the development of the river habitats. Meyers says this approach pulls in what the students are learning and relates it to things they see in their day-to-day experiences and the neighborhoods around them.

“Adolescents are at a place in their lives where understanding the relevance of what they’re learning can make an enormous difference in terms of their engagement,” Meyers says.

The program looks broadly at the city as a subject, even looking into the policies and politics that are driving change in New York. Meyers took the class to meet with officials from the city’s Department of Transportation to hear about the planning and implementation of bike lanes throughout the city. Then they rented bikes and rode the lanes. Meyers says this hands-on approach helps students to see the various ways what they’re learning can be applied in real-life situations.

And if delving into city politics isn’t enough to add a little more stress to high schoolers’ lives, one of the sections of the course had students role-playing and problem-solving their way through some not-too-far-off disaster scenarios brought on as a result of climate change. Rising sea levels create a flood in lower Manhattan that causes a blackout, in this scenario. During the power outage, a rumored hostage situation at the United Nations causes the whole subway system to shut down. Students had to imagine they were stuck in their school for 3 days – and to cope with all the logistical and psychological impacts such a situation would cause. They even engaged in community design charrettes to come up with feasible retrofit ideas that can help communities handle the potential threats they’ll face as the climate continues to change.

This section of the course was taught earlier this year by Alec Appelbaum, a journalist who’s covered urban planning for years. He says that high schoolers are maybe the ideal audience for this sort of lesson.

“They’re going to be living with the consequences of the misdirected debate that’s gone on about climate change,” says Appelbaum. “The carbon overload in the atmosphere is something that young people didn’t particularly cause and will have to survive.”

[…]

Read the full article by Nate Berg.


Social-Ecological Innovation: Steering away from multiple earth-system thresholds

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 10th, 2012

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre


Photo by Stephen Cummings via flickr CC

“Many economic and technological solutions that address sustainability are ecologically illiterate and too linear and single-problem oriented.”

 

From “Time for social-ecological innovations” by Sturle Hauge Simonsen:

Humanity is now influencing every aspect of the Earth on a scale akin to the great forces of nature. If we are to stay within the planetary boundaries, major transformations are needed in the human-environment interactions. This includes innovations that can increase human well-being and at the same time enhance the capacity of ecosystems to produce services.

In a new book entitled “Social Innovation — Blurring Boundaries to Reconfigure Markets“, [Stockholm Resilience] centre researchers Per Olsson and Victor Galaz provide the first comprehensive description of the concept ‘social-ecological innovation’.

They define social-ecological innovation as “social innovation, including new technology, strategies, concepts, ideas, institutions, and organizations that enhance the capacity of ecosystems to generate services and help steer away from multiple earth-system thresholds”.

The chapter is part of a book edited by Alex Nicholls of the University of Oxford and Alex Murdock from London South Bank University. The book focuses on new innovations “that can grapple with the central real-world challenges of our time”.

“We need to move away from quick technological fixes and foster new types of social-ecological innovation,” argue Per Olsson and Victor Galaz.  “Many economic and technological solutions that address sustainability are ecologically illiterate and too linear and single-problem oriented. To solve the many complex and interconnected human-environment challenges of today we need a change of mindset.“

Olsson and Galaz point out that there are numerous examples of major socio-technological advances that have improved human life. The flipside is that too many of them have degraded the life-supporting ecosystems on which human well-being ultimately depends. Current large-scale transformations in areas like information technology, biotechnology and energy systems have huge potential to improve our lives in a sustainable way. However, this can only happen if we start working with, instead of against, nature. “Too often our societies change without improving the capacity to learn from, respond to, and manage environmental feedbacks. For example, a systemic shift to biofuels might slow climate change but lead to destructive land-use change and biodiversity loss,” Per Olsson explains.

Olsson and Galaz also warn about the tendency to apply single, technological solutions to complex problems. “This enhances the self-reinforcing feedback that keeps us on unsustainable pathways. Social-ecological innovation focuses on the interactions among a multitude of innovations that together can break current lock-ins and lead to systemic change.”

As a scientific approach, social-ecological innovation links research on social innovation and institutional entrepreneurship with resilience thinking and research on social-ecological systems.

Olsson and Galaz list a number of criteria for the kind of solutions they view as social-ecological innovations. In summary such innovations should:

  • Integrate both social and ecological (and economic) aspects.
  • Improve human life without degrading the life-supporting ecosystems (preferably even strengthening ecosystems) on which we ultimately depend.
  • Deal with multiple social and environmental challenges simultaneously (be sensitive to the fact that solving one problem often creates new ones, there are no ultimate solutions).
  • Work more directly for social justice, poverty alleviation, environmental sustain- ability and democracy than profits for individuals.
  • Break and/or help avoid lock-ins and create social-ecological feedbacks that help us stay within the safe operating space for humanity as defined by the planetary boundaries.
  • Include the creativity and ingenuity of users, workers, consumers, citizens, activists, farmers and businesses etc.
  • Utilise the power of social networks and organizations nested across scales (from local to national to regional to global) to enable systemic change at larger scales.
Read the original article by Sturle Hauge Simonsen


Breathing Architecture: Exhibition

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on January 24th, 2012

WOHA – BUILDING FOR VERTICAL GARDEN CITIES

Some of their structures remind us of bold visions of the future, in which plants reclaim nature for themselves. WOHA realize the permeation of buildings and landscape, of interiors and exteriors in projects such as the Singapore School of the Arts and the seminal residential high-rise The Met in Bangkok, which received the International Highrise Award 2010.

WOHA is represented by Mun Summ Wong and Richard Hassell as directors of the architectural office based in Singapore. They made their name in Asia in the late 1990s with open, single-family dwellings suitable for the tropics. Today they mainly design high-rises and large structures: a mega residential park in India, office and hotel towers in Singapore that lend a new, vertical dimension to green landscapes. Air-conditioning is merely an additional feature for these open structures, because the building structure itself provides the cooling. Natural lighting is standard, solar modules harvest energy for use in the buildings; water for domestic purposes and rainwater are reused.

Topics such as creating value added through communal areas and permeability for climate and nature will be presented in WOHA’s first monographic exhibition using examples of open tropical family homes, green high-rises and projects still in the completion phase.

The exhibition, split in the four chapters Permeable Houses, Open School and Community Buildings, Porous Towers and Perforated Hotels and Resorts, showcases 19 of WOHA’s most important projects in large-format photos and plans, project texts, digital images and models.

WOHA’s permeable architecture is influenced by South-East Asian culture and the location of their office in the city state of Singapore; 130 kilo metres north of the Equator, where temperatures all the year round are about 32°c, falling at night to 23°c, and where particularly heavy rain falls during the monsoon months.

Exhibition Details:

2 December 2011 – 29 April 2012
Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM
Schaumaninkai 43, Frankfurt am Main

If, like me, you can’t get there, check out some of the images on the DAM site.

 

 


Working Together Towards a Sustainable World: Call for Papers

Posted in Events, Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on November 7th, 2011

The International Academic Forum in conjunction with its global partners is proud to announce the Second Annual Asian Conference on Sustainability, Energy and the Environment, to be held from May 3-6 2012, at the Ramada Osaka, Osaka, Japan.

CONFERENCE THEME: “Working Together Towards a Sustainable World”

Sustainability has emerged as the most important global issue for business, industry, government, and academia, and yet to begin with sustainability was associated only with environmental concerns such as energy and global warming. It is now recognized that the concept of sustainability is applicable to all areas of human society, for example in terms of social/economic justice, or responsible business practice. Issues such as poverty, hunger, education, health care, and access to markets should be a part of the evolution of any comprehensive sustainability paradigm as we work together to achieve a sustainable future.

ACSEE 2012 will address these various dimensions of human sustainability as we invite scholars from around the world to address questions and search for solutions to the complex issues surrounding sustainability in a forum encouraging serious and thoughtful exchange between academics, members of the global business community, and practitioners in the fields of human endeavor that link these.

We call on scientists from around the globe to meet and share our respective outlooks and collective wisdom on a critical issue of common concern: the pursuit of a sustainable world. It is a sincere hope that attendees will use this time together, not just for intellectual discovery and discourse, but to establish a common vision and to motivate each other to do our part in the creation of a better world. We greatly appreciate your attendance and encourage your active engagement throughout the conference.

Call for Papers Now Open: Abstract Submissions Deadline February 1 2012

Visit the website for more information.


Sustainable Restaurant Association (UK): Network for Restaurants, Suppliers & Diners

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 6th, 2011

Via Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)

The Sustainable Restaurant Association is a not for profit membership organisation helping restaurants become more sustainable and diners make more sustainable choices when dining out. We help our member restaurants source food more sustainably, manage resources more efficiently and work more closely with their community. Our independently verified star rating system means diners can choose a restaurant that matches their sustainability priorities. We recognise restaurants as one, two or three star sustainability champions depending on how they rate against a wide range of criteria covering 14 areas of sustainability. So, whether a diner’s main concern is animal welfare or carbon reduction, the SRA and its members are committed to a change for the better. We also help keep sustainability on the news agenda at a local and national level, running campaigns on issues such as finding more sustainable fish supplies, food waste and energy efficiency.

Ways in which we’ve helped restaurants be more sustainable.

Since our launch in March 2010 we’ve provided restaurants with hundreds of practical, cost saving, sustainable solutions across our three sustainable categories. Here are just a few examples of the varied ways in which the SRA has helped our members:

  • Society – Ping Pong, with 12 sites in London, wanted to engage with a local charity working with homeless people – we put them in touch with St Mungo’s and now they are working together. [UPDATE Feb 29, 2012: Ping Pong ended up working with a different charity, according to a St Mungo’s rep who contacted SCN.]
  • Environment – Quo Vadis, in Soho, asked to us solve their waste problem. The restaurant recognised it was sending too much to landfill. We introduced them to Harrow Waste. Now nothing goes to landfill, they have installed a glass crusher, cardboard and glass is separated from the rest and they are starting to recycle paper and plastic, saving thousands of pounds in the process.
  • Sourcing – In early 2011 all 11 Leon restaurants introduced a new item on its menu – the fish finger wrap and wanted to be sure that the cod was from a sustainable source. Our extensive research proved positive and now the wrap is Leon’s bestseller – making it sustainable in every sense.
www.thesra.org/

Well worth reading the SRA 2010 Report for more detail on the way it’s been working. KA


CERES: Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 2nd, 2011


Image: avlxyz via flickr CC

CERES – Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies, is an award winning, not-for-profit, environment and education centre and urban farm located by the Merri Creek in East Brunswick, Melbourne, Australia. Built on a decommissioned municipal tip that was once a landfill and wasteland, today CERES is a thriving, vibrant community. Over 300,000 people visit CERES each year. Many more connect with us through our innovative program taking sustainable education directly to schools across the State.

CERES is recognised as an international leader in community and environmental practice. CERES Organic Farm, Market, Shop, Co-ops and Café and Permaculture and Bushfood Nursery are unique social enterprises that offer new solutions and ways to combat climate change. Community groups such as the Bike Shed, Community Gardens and Chook Group that call CERES home are also vital to CERES culture.

All waste and water on the site is recycled and much of the site is powered by renewable energy such as wind and solar. CERES is now working towards making the site completely carbon neutral by 2012. CERES is a model for a possible future where innovation, sustainability, equity and connectedness are valued. Both as a place and a community, CERES is striving to create a new way of being.

Watch a video about CERES here or visit the website to explore the enormous range of projects, enterprises and opportunities CERES supports: www.ceres.org.au


It’s Not Easy Being Green: Impressions From Curitiba

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 27th, 2011

Source: Core 77


Photo: It’s Not Easy Being Green “waste” paper materials workshop in Curitiba

From “It’s Not Easy Being Green: Brazil” by Aart van Bezooyen and Paula Raché:

“Last Monday, our Brazilian friend Claudia offered to drive us to the airport…until she realized that Monday was her “car-free day.” Cars in São Paulo have to stay off the road one day a week, a regulation that was introduced to reduce the city’s heavy traffic. Even the city’s own mayor uses a helicopter in order to be on time for his meetings. Of course it’s a pity that we lost our ride to the airport but somehow we appreciated the sustainable sound of this solution to reduce heavy traffic in a city where traffic is a monster. That is, until our friend explained that this “sustainable idea” resulted in most people buying two cars allowing them to (again) drive all week long. It’s not easy being green.” –Observations on São Paulo, on our way to Argentina

Two designers, six months and a dozen countries. São Paulo’s traffic rule is just one the everyday discoveries for the It’s Not Easy Being Green project, an initiative by two designers exploring sustainability in materials and design around the world.

First Impressions From Curitiba, Brazil. March 5-17, 2011

On March 4th, we traveled from Rio de Janeiro to Curitiba by bus. What should have been a 12-hour bus trip turned into an 18-hour experience due to heavy traffic surrounding the Carnaval holidays. During Carnaval, thousands of people travel in two directions: while one half travels to Rio de Janeiro to party at the biggest street festival in the world, the other half escapes to the coast to relax—it seems we were caught somewhere in the middle.

Curitiba is the 8th largest city in Brazil and often recognized as the most sustainable city in Brazil. Before our journey we read articles about the city’s recycling programs and world-famous bus system that allows almost everyone to get anywhere with public transport. The city also has many parks and forests to enjoy on foot or bicycle. In other words, the city serves as an example of green urban planning.

Arriving in Curitiba we found ourselves in the middle of a city full of skyscrapers with more infamous cars than famous buses. The city center is anything but green and riding a bike downtown seemed to be a sure way to get seriously injured or killed. For a so-called “Green Capital,” we were quite disappointed. The next day, our local host took us for a drive around the city—only then did we discover the green parks of Curitiba. Unlike Central Park in New York City, Curitiba has some 30 parks and forests along the outside ring of the city. We enjoyed this green discovery and hope that the parks will be cherished since the city is rapidly expanding making the conservation of its green perimeter a significant challenge for the near future. During our stay we also learned that most of the “green” success stories including the bus system, green parks and high recycling rates originated in the early 1970’s when architect Jaime Lerner was mayor of the city. Today, many of these systems are under strain. Most young people we spoke with would prefer a car due to the unpredictable and sometimes unsafe bus system. The parks are being swallowed by the ever-expanding city of Curitiba (the population tripled in the past 20 years) making the conservation of its green surroundings a big challenge for the near future.

Curitiba’s trash bins allow separated waste disposal up to five categories: paper, plastic, metal, glass and organic waste. When we looked into the trash bins we noticed that oftentimes the waste was not separated at all. Of course separating waste is only the beginning of a sustainable system. Recycling seems to work pretty well but there are still few programs for reusing or recycling the collected waste (which became one of topics we focused on during our workshop).

Read the full article from Aart & Paula on Core 77 to find out more about their project, including materials reuse workshops in Curitiba.

—-

Aart van Bezooyen and Paula Raché are a Dutch-German design couple living and working in Hamburg, Germany. With the “It’s Not Easy Being Green” project, they are using their creative skills to give our tired planet a helping hand. Paula Raché is a Berlin-born designer with work experience in graphic, packaging and exhibition design. Aart van Bezooyen is a design teacher and founder of Material Stories where he inspires and enables the best use of materials to make design more competitive, creative and sustainable. Together they provide lectures and workshops to explore and share alternatives in materials and design that can give our world a better future.



Sustainable Intelligent Manufacturing: Conference

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on March 4th, 2011


Image: MakerBot via flickr CC

The International Conference on Sustainable Intelligent Manufacturing (SIM 2011) will be held at Leiria by the Center for Rapid and Sustainable Product Development, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Leiria, Portugal, from June 29 to July 1, 2011. The Conference aims to provide a major international forum for academics, researchers and industrial partners to exchange ideas in the field of sustainable intelligent manufacturing and related topics. The conference expects to foster networking and collaboration among participants to advance the knowledge and to identify major trends in the field.

The rise of manufacturing intelligence is fuelling innovation in processes and products considering a low environmental impact over the product’s life cycle. Sustainable intelligent manufacturing is regarded as a manufacturing paradigm for the 21st century, towards the next generation of manufacturing and processing technologies. The manufacturing industry is at a turning point of its evolution and new business opportunities are emerging.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Computer-aided green manufacturing
  • Eco-design and eco-innovation
  • Inclusive design
  • e-Manufacturing
  • Green manufacturing
  • Sustainable construction for the built environment
  • Green supply chain management
  • Green transportation
  • Renewable energy
  • Sustainable power engineering and renewable energy technologies
  • Reuse, remanufacturing, disassembly and recycling techniques
  • Sustainable packaging solutions
  • Smart manufacturing
  • Reverse logistics and product recovery
  • Smart and sustainable materials
  • Life-cycle engineering and assessment
  • Energy efficiency in manufacturing
  • Smart design for sustainability
  • Sustainable technology innovation
  • Sustainable factory planning and scheduling
  • Sustainable business models
  • Zero-waste production

Visit the conference website for more details.