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Green Business Ideas : Virtual World Design can save the real world losses.


In today’s News paper I read that a project conceived in 2003 in Mumbai has not been able to take off till date. The funding from World Bank has been suspended. The reasons are several, design issues, red-tape, encroachment etcetera. Going through the archives, I found several similar problems over diverse types of projects. I also recollected that there has been a few projects which we were supposed to do but the developer got cold feet due to lack of credible data, as to whether the project would be a success and what would work in the era post A.D 2008.

Could there be a hidden Green Business Idea in this ? Can one’s problem, be another’s opportunity? Rather could the opportunity of the other solve the problem of the former ? Its time our capitalistic opportunism mentality move towards, what I said in my previous article – Benefit Corporation. Presenting a very radical idea; which if polished to its potential would definitely create a green revolution, warming the hearts of UNFCCC honchos.

Large infrastructural projects, in India typically face problems. From conception to implementation, the variable being so many, the scope for “information asymmetry ” or ” leakage” ( plain speak – scope for corruption and wasteful expenditure ) is very high. To arrest these problems and prevent the situation from arising in the first place, a few diverse tools already existing could perhaps be combined.

Virtual world is nothing new to gamers and professionals using computer simulation as design tool.  And “Second Life”; “SIM City” are iconic. But it is the IT-industry which enabled its creation. What if they all were to combined ? What would be the benefits, lets discuss in brief-

Say for example in SIM city there is a game simulation called;  – Rio de Janeiro, 2047 – Coastal flooding resulted from global warming rages through the city. The mayor must control the problem and rebuild. …  With Climate change a reality, if this becomes the basic tool on which the Builders have to submit their plans for permissions to build; they along with the architects would have a near first hand experience of what  should not be attempted.   Thereby should lets hypothetically say – “Bangkok  floods”  again, the combined economic and human loss will be negligible.

Although, no person in her/his right senses would like to invite any disaster, be it the Tsunami that hit coastal India or Japan…that it will happen again because we are on the path to 3.5° C  global temperature rise, is almost certain; if you go by what the experts say.  Therefore the faster we bring all the ‘stake-holder’ into the  ‘game’ the better it would be for the World at large.

Using AI ( artificial intelligence ) based on data collected on the demography of a place, behaviour of the populace over time on Urban planning can be mapped. While having a 100% accuracy would take time, even with a 40% predictability of how the  populace of certain culture / social background would behave over say a 5 year period, could help immensely both Public and Private entities to take measures. Such measures can reduce the impact to the economy and create better infrastructure which is more able to meet up to the challenges of the future, which could not have been predicted otherwise.

Sure there are many institution and think tanks doing exactly the same. But if we still are facing the problems which they are predicting, what good does that do? By bringing the tool to the desktop of common persons – architects, developers and local administration. Taking their inputs form the data they create, a more inclusive people to people development program can be mooted which over time would be successful.

Now having understood through simulation of what should not be done, to conform with the overall Sustainable Town-planning, the Developer and his architect would face the question on ‘ what would work ‘.  Architects are by class – service providers. And more often than not, they need to depend on the commission they would get from investors – ie; home owners, builders or industrialist who have the money to have something built for them. Therefore it is much easier for them to design what their client want rather than impose her / his ideas. And with huge sums of money riding on the project, investors don’t really like to take chances. Therefore good designs most of the time gets sacrificed to popular perception. This overtime leads to wrong Urban planning.

This can be arrested by applying the “second life” concept. Say the architect creates a design and does a 3-D rendering. Then gives it to some company like Second Life, which has mapped the exact town / location  in virtual reality before-hand and allows it to be ‘built’ there ? The builder /developer pays for it off-course. Then he could pay to the advertisers both electronic and print to ask prospective customers to visit the ‘town and live in the residential building, built there’. A virtual assistant could walk along with the “avatar” of the client within the virtual world and explain all the features. Once the client likes a particular property, booking can be made and legal terms set. And once the real building comes up, everything is exactly like it was experienced in the Virtual World.

Changes to the design, remodelling a particular flat post finishing to suit the taste of a discerning client, who wants something different, all could be done within the walls of virtual reality, at nominal cost and without waste of precious materials in the process. Moreover the developer/ architect can ‘exhibit’ any modern thought,  different from the mundane and check for real response with minimal risk.

Authorities too can maintain a vigil by visiting many a ‘site’ to see if the designs are adhering to norms and guidelines. Imagine the building inspectors – civil, fire and safety, structural and the municipal architect together sitting in municipal  office  which is equipped with simulators. There they all sit in front of a console with wrap-around 3-D simulator glasses and then join up with ‘avatar’ clients or other experts to inspect a ‘site’. The details are loaded up into the computer by the developer who carries them on a portable hard-drive. Every detail from the PHE / MEP to the design norms can be discussed and recorded. Changes suggested and a revisit organised to see that the building has come as per the sanctioned norms.

All this without a single ‘make & break’ routine the building industry routinely follows. Sometime due to changes in market dynamics which necessitates changes to the built space mid-way or due to misinterpretation of certain by-laws enshrined in the building code of the state. One must remember that 40% of GHG is building related and 60% of waste too comes from building related activities. So when almost all parameters of the building is completely understood before hand, chances of error could be minimized to a great extent. Thus creating an Environment which truly aims to be zero-emission.

Before I end, one may ask why I mentioned the IT industry in the beginning of the article.That  is because, all the tools mentioned are already existing but not all common persons / builders can afford or operate such hi-tech solutions.The Indian IT is the best place for out-sourcing. Cheaper and more efficient than most, our boys would never be out of jobs, which ever way the market plays. All that is needed is to adapt and adopt Sustainable living.

 

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Green Business Ideas : P.M.Manmohan Singh’s idea of Terminal Market Complex is a superb Green Idea which needs to be implemented


The Prime Minister of India 2012

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was released by the Prime Minister of India on 30th June 2008.It outlines a national strategy that aims to enable the country adapt to climate change and enhances the ecological sustainability of India‘s development path. It stresses that maintaining a high growth rate is essential for increasing living standards of the majority of people of India and reducing their vulnerability of the impacts of climate change.

During that time he also reinforced the idea of Terminal Market Complex – to combat food waste due to transportation & storage problems. The detailed report must have been read and perhaps being implemented too. But in this I found a Green Business Idea which perhaps can bring a sea-change in the thoughts of Climate Resilient Cities we need to build.

The idea of Terminal Market Complex conforms to Agenda 21 and the C40 cities program if we can design it right in the heart of a city. Yes, it is possible. It is very similar to a  concept which I found in a recent article, published by NDRC blog and tagged under urban farming, an old building was transformed into a public garden. The concept of Multileveled Vertical Urban Allotments, has been designed by Aspiring interior designer Lucie Sadakova, and another addition to superlative concepts many other Architects and Designers world over, are coming up with. The combination of each idea together I hope, would help rid the problems all Urban areas in the World are facing. It is a super step towards creating the Climate Resilient Cities.

Most Indian urban centers, especially cities like Mumbai, India; face severe shortage of space.This lead to shrinking of open spaces, trees and green patch in general. Making do with a few potted plants, hanging out of tiny windows or narrow flower-beds never can compare to a beautiful park in full bloom and surrounded with shady trees. The absence or shortage of open green spaces is harmful to the health of citizens; it raises the overall temperature of the city, which is known as heat island effect and both physical & psychological problems arise due to such unplanned development. What is more worrying is the rapid pace at which urban centers in the Emerging economies like India are growing. With slow or zero pace of reforms initiated by the policy makers, we are heading towards disaster which the PM and his Planning commission has been able to see, but not been able to address as it should have. The main reason behind the government not being able to have a sound Urban Development rule, is more political than administrative. And I strongly believe that should one take an issue which is important for the well-being of the citizens to the citizens directly, it would get mass support. And in a Democracy, mass support is the best driver for implementation of good governance.

Next, if the idea could have the possibility of generating income, its popularity would rise faster. Let us in this article explore a few ideas and see if sound, innovative and transparent policy and public will & participation can make them popular for all those cities which need to return to sustainable growth.

Mumbai, is the commercial hub of India. Here we have people who have wealth which could buy them a palace in many other urban centers around the world, but here they make do with a high-rise apartment due to severe lack of space. And almost all the financially well-off  citizens, have a second home. Locations at a distance of 100 KM to 150 KM from the city center are most popular. There you would find beautiful bungalows, with lawns in front and kitchen garden at the back; vast farm-houses fenced and barricaded. These houses lie vacant for most of the year and those of the super-rich, for years; because they have other similar abode near other cities .So  most are left in care of  a man-servant and his family who also double up as the gardener, housekeeping and guard. While I have absolutely no issues, if poor underprivileged villagers are provided with a decent shelter and employment, I do have strong reservations on this type of growth of ‘second homes’ which usually come up on, especially near Mumbai; ecologically sensitive western ghats. The primary reason for this type of growth is because the rich citizen of Mumbai want to ‘get away’ form all the heat and dust of everyday living.This is the pulse, which the Developers and the Urban Development Ministry failing to cash on. A bold and unusual  Green Business Idea, which if implemented and  made a success, could change the way people live in Cities.

If say, we can provide lush-green abode at the heart of the city along with the option of fresh food terminals which reduce food waste and generate employment we are able to create a super sustainable city program. And the best part would be it would reduce the heat-island effect. Limit the horizontal growth of a city, which we call an Urban sprawl, which eats up more and more green field areas, pushing the farm lands further away from the city center, this creating logistical problems for storage and transportation of  fresh food. Further a direct connect with nature would insure that the future generations would not be divorced form sustainable living practices as we are in the present.

Terrace garden are nothing new. But if with policy support from the government the free FSI / FAR  is tweaked to help the developers who are able to build high-rise, with a kitchen – garden along with lawns & flower beds, imagine the result. It would be like living in a bungalow in the clouds! The hanging gardens of Babylon coming back to life. True, the kitchen garden would not be able to supply the demand required. But that is not the point. The point is it would be an extra support to the terminal market complex we could be building, which is additional to the thought given by the ministry and similar to the hollowed out building shown alongside. And where is the space one would ask ? Just look at any of the large Bus Depots in Mumbai, and imagine having 20 stories of light-weight structure made of Thermo-Polymerized rock  , say 12 meters wide floor plate stacked one over the other at distances and design which allow for sunlight. Not only would such roof-top or terrace fields help in the agribusiness, it would save the fertile topsoil of farmlands from being destroyed by the ever growing foot-print of the concrete jungle.

What a relief it would be for a  tired office goer to alight from the bus which are parked under the shade of this bus-terminal-cum-food-terminal, go to the co-operative vegetable mart and buy vegetables before heading home. And all those vegetable sellers, blocking the foot-path along the suburban rail stations and over-bridges could be shifted and even provided with space perhaps at the first floor level, to do what they do best. Sell and grow vegetables. The marginalized farmer who having lost his land need no more live a life of indignity by begging but instead, work under a government aided program to farm and perhaps even get employment with private city center farms, as explained below.

Malls usually have huge floor plate and therefore huge roof area, which get super hot during the summer, requiring a lot of energy for air-conditioning. Mall roofs too could be designed to have vegetable gardens similar to the image shown.  It is a logical idea, as these usually also have the supermarket where people go to buy their grocery. While I concede that all the ideas are Utopian, I believe that someday somewhere I would be able to make a township with these very ideas and more. In 2009 during the Vishwa Show in Mumbai, I had got a whole three-minute to speak with my hero, the past President of India, Shri A.P.J Abdul Kalam. I spoke to him about my idea of building a CDM complaint township, adopting my idea from another Great Leader of India, Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gram Swaraj or village self-rule, was a pivotal concept in Mahatama Gandhi’s thinking. I happened to read his ideas and was so mesmerized by his thinking that today the concept I have visualized is nothing but pure inspiration. All Dr. Kalam said  post hearing me out was, as it is a Gandhian idea, it would be a success!

Note : I thank all whose images I have found and used from the internet. None of the concepts shown are my own, and I give full credit to those who have been able to think these ideas, as they are inspirational.

 

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Green Business Ideas :Costal RE is the answer for Shipping Co’s to save on Bunker Fuel tax.


Fifty-five major European airports accounting for over half of all passenger traffic on the continent are now part of a program aimed at cutting carbon emissions, Airports Council International said Tuesday. Airports are changing airport vehicles and buses to electric or hybrid power, and installing solar panels to generate the airport’s own electricity, among other measures. Specific taxiing techniques are used to reduce fuel burn, and ground power is provided to parked airliners instead of having them leave their engines running.

A super initiative. This is how Business must be conducted. Reviving the Economy by producing jobs where there was none.  The last part of the paragraph ….ground power is provided to parked airliners … was what made me sit up and think. As I have confessed earlier, I can not invent the wheel, its for the gifted to invent. But I do get inspired to think…of a green business idea ! Would these Solar Panels be portable ? What would the plug and play system design be? How do you power those Airplanes which may not get docked near the Hub but put at the far end of the tarmac, in full capacity airports ? How do you account for drop in transmission? Or would it not be a super idea for smaller airports too around the World? Would this create jobs for smart engineers who are perhaps jobless now.  Whatever be the economic situation  in Europe or America,  unlike in India, they still have the best of invention and also the facility for growth and encouragement of new ideas (which is the reason of its success for so long) can not be denied.  And the future of newer versions of RE would also come from those who most need it.  For, Climate change would affect economies which are more developed than those which aren’t, simply because a flood, tornado or fire can not destroy property or business which has not been built!

It is imperative that USA & Europe survives the Economic stress it is going through. It is good for them it is good for us. For no Country is insular in this century. Every Nations economy is interdependent to another, one way or the other. And therefore Green Business Ideas, which may perhaps help those who are already capable but not focused, must be provided by those who can. For what good is an idea when it is not used? And no one can be an expert in all domains to implement. But many may have different ideas in various domains. Having said that let us re-explore the Renewable Energy we can harness from coastal power, while focusing on the news item pasted above.

Coastal Power is  being funded in the School of Physics and Astronomy, the University of Edinburgh by the Scottish Government. Palamis, as you would be able to see in the video  has devised a beautiful idea. An idea which needs to be instantly PROMOTED !!

Nissan’s Solar Panel-Covered Ship was already a super idea, but not all ships can have that much space, nor does the Sun shine bright and clear 24 x 7. So one can think of further innovation.  Imagine large container ships, towing in its wake a similar contraption as created by Palamis. Attach on to that another contraption, the floating solar panels, which I have shown in my article ( Green Business Ideas: Solar on Water,Wind to power Ships while Geothermal beats recession away – Future RE ) and I improve on the idea of the wind RE here. Lets add one as a mast to the ship ! A V-WAT obviously. For vertical wind axis turbine would be more practical and it would spin as the ship moves forward. All ships while moving also create a wake, and the wave RE can generate power, while when anchored off-shore in still waters, it can splay out the floating solar panels to cover a larger surface area and generate the power required.

While all Ships entering Europe would be taxed on CO2e emission on the bunker fuel, the Shipping businesses could limit that tax by simply producing some RE power ! Moreover as this idea takes root, even the luxury yachts, anchored in various marinas can be asked to adopt to RE power, while docked. Perhaps European Climate Foundation CEO, Jules Korenhorst, who spoke about bunker fuel tax way back in 2009 could see some practical idea in what I am proposing.

Who knows perhaps we would see this idea adopted and adapted before the next Cannes Film Festival by the Rich & the Famous.

 

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