Tag Archives: Natural Resources Defense Council

Sustainable Idea – Going Down Under

The last time I went into a cement & glass in-cased tomb called a corporate head-quarter in Mumbai, I remember that no one was looking out of the window.

The reason for that were several

1. Nothing worth viewing 2. Glass was too dirty to be viewed through 3. Files covered half the window for clear sight 4. Curtains were drawn, which had a hint of cob-web indicating that they are never opened.

Although Cement is one of the most carbon-intensive industries and in 2020 will account for as much as 5 Gigatons of CO2 emissions. The manufacturing of glass is also not less energy intensive.

The fact of the matter is building industry the consumer of all that is produced across sectors is the most energy guzzling sector. And finding new ways may perhaps help us avert the calamities to some extent, although the time to avoid the Armageddon is long past.

Therefore coming back to the opening remarks of this article, I propose that the next batch of buildings we build should go vertically underground. There are many simple reasons for this.

We can begin with trying to be a little more resource efficient in this fast resource depleting Planet.

Almost all  the glass ensconced office towers in India are hermetically sealed tomb from which none peep out, or breath the fresh (polluted) air. In the process we draw upon huge amount of energy to cool a  glass building. A glass building in a sunny climate while looking very European or American also acts as a green house in the classical sense. It simply traps the heat and increases the heat surrounding the building by up-to 19%, in case of Mumbai. (NEERI report 2012) – Subterranean Hotel London-Green-Belt

By building underground,(going completely underground although possible; we have examples of defence organizations; would need new science to reduce cost of waste discharge which I am not sure we have  mastered.) the least we could do is cut the cooling needs for  the HVAC and thus also save on water. It would also saving a huge amount of sand, sodium carbonate, calcium oxide, lead oxide, sulphur and sodium sulphate / sodium chloride or antimony oxide  the basic ingredients to make glass.

These materials too need to be mined / extracted / processed which need a lot of energy.  One would be surprised at the mind boggling GHG the above materials produce in there own life-cycle analysis before they help make glass.  2300°C of energy is required to melt the silica to make glass.

Now to look for the second simple reason to go underground.

Selgas Cano Architecture’s Subterranean Work Space

It is a well known fact that Climate change will bring about food crisis, unparalleled in recent history. Therefore must turn to solutions which till now have only been considered as novel ideas. Ideas which have not been practical or possible to accomplish in large scale. Even though examples of such construction is around us within the very modern cities we live.

Imagine having a  HQ deep below while young and earnest farmhands toil away on the roof-top of the building which is situated right at the proposed city centre of the future.

Thus in a single master stroke we could eliminate the plight of the street children and their parents who mostly are landless farmers; at-least in case of India. Moreover cities around the world are facing food shortages as it pushes farmlands away from the city centre in its mad rush to grow bigger and bigger. Roof-top or vertical farming can not achieve the scale of a farmland produce.

Sustainable Homes –

Every-time we build a city, we destroy a village. Along with it the farmlands and natural landscapes. But if we still wish to partially mitigate the effects then we must find ways for both to co-exist. Bio-diversity may well be our last hope to reduce the impact of what is fast approaching.

Coexistence of a City-Village is a must.

We must build more  communities  as the one shown in the image.  Make it mandatory via the UNEP-SBCI for any further development in the still remaining untouched fringes of mega-cities which will get gobbled up by concrete in the next 10 years. This is the perhaps one way through which we can avert the disasters we keep inviting upon ourselves.

Humans always knew how to live in harmony with nature. Somewhere down the line we lost that art. Its time we find it again.

If my readers finds the last image endearing enough for them to think even for a fraction of a second, to wish living in something similar….it proves that Humans are yet to disconnect the umbilical cord from what is Natural.


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A clarion Call to Sustainable Living

A couple of days ago, I was giving a presentation as how through my firm I can provide Solar Photo Voltaic system to all Commercial and Infrastructure projects which require large amount of energy to operate.  And that too in an OPEX format, by that I mean I have investor backing who would want to become RESCO. Presently it is  on roof-top model. So Hospitals, Hotels, Malls, Commercial Complexes and Airports, Rail-stations etc, which have large roof-top can have power. It would obviously lower Diesel consumption, which is generally used for back-up.

The idea as I have mentioned in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy. is becoming popular but when we want to scale, its facing the biggest road block of subsidised tariff on fossil fuel. Even when my concept of Solar OPEX is ready to handover ownership on the 10th -15th year, and only charging discounted tariff on generation, due to heavy subsidy in the industrial sector the idea just can not germinate under the intense competition from the subsidy. We can provide power to all at about INR 8.50/- but all arguments fall flat when the industry and in some states even commercial power is at INR 4.50 – 6.00/-.

Recently there has been an article which says that a lobby consisting of industry captains, NGO‘s and common persons are petitioning the UNFCCC meet at Rio, to come out with strong laws which would abolish subsidy on fossil fuel. And to be honest, this would give birth to the best Green Business Idea of this century.

Long there has been talk of how one must charge the true value of water, only then the waste of it can be limited. Longer has been the demand to remove subsidy from fossil fuel. Granted it is a political hot-potato, but if one shows a slight more maturity and instead of short-sighted goal explain to the people the farsightedness of this measure, I am sure people would understand. Unfortunately, mostly vote bank politics and corporate greed drive policy.That we have finite resources must be advertised with all the collective forces we can gather and impart that knowledge to all.

We must now begin to evolve an universal law. Not laws which govern different countries. Constitution of each country is different. What is crime for one can be heroism for another. How then we are the United Nations?Let there be diversity in approach to a solution but let laws that govern the sustainability of Earth be one. To be adopted by every member nation. It is only then we can have prosperity. It is not a tall task to achieve because, when 134 Nations can come together to force a recalcitrant Nation to subjugate, it can as well be applied to save the Earth from disaster.

Today our civilisation is in a cusp. It is time we move away from the era of Capitalist consumerism. Human history had many epoch – the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age. And Human Civilisation did thrive. Excellence was achieved. So much so that they still stand testimony in the name of Arayabhatta, Chanakiya,Confucius, Aristotle. In great monuments like the Pyramids in the Americas and West Asia, the monuments in Macedonia and Greece, the Great Wall and many more. They stand testimony to time. Sustainable thoughts & deeds and also sustainable buildings. Sadly today we can not be as advanced in thoughts as our ancestors, the reason is complete disconnect from Nature.

Though I do not advocate any religion, yet in paganism which was followed around the globe once, there was a direct connect to Nature. We must evolve ourselves into a collective which can rise above religion and creed, greed and short-sightedness to evolve a solution which is the NEXT CIVILISATION. An era where B-Crop are norm then exception and Sustainable is not a catch phrase but a human and corporate agenda.


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Green Business Ideas : How about taking the polluting industries to Moon ?

Sometime during the era of USA President Ronald Regan, a since-fiction became reality. It was called the Biosphere 2. Around the same time we had our Sky-lab and in a book by Erich Von Danikën an artist impression of a Space City Although this article is not about God or Space travel, reading Von Danikën  has given me a futuristic Green Business Idea relevant for the present but perhaps a mission which could become a reality in the near future.

What if we take all our mining activities to the Moon ? And the heavy engineering and production activities too? ISRO has already mapped various minerals found in the moon. And this was not done by the International Space and Scientific community because they wanted to spend some idle time they had between their regular work. Both Moon and Mars are possible destinations for us to find the minerals we need with Moon being more possible in the near future. And the sooner we recognise the matter the better it would be for Earth.

We all know that Colonising the Moon and Mars is simply not possible. At least not with the present technology and understanding we have of it, but having a mining station on the Moon is another matter altogether. Something which can rest under similar hermetically sealed cities like the Biosphere 2. The technology is available to us. All we require is to pause form the silly wars we like to fight with each other and spend our energy into something constructive. Perhaps the war-mongers who make their business form sale of war materials would find changing their vocation to space pursuits more profitable.

We had begun well in the era between 1968 – 1986  but somewhere down the line we simply forgot about it. Fortunately it began again a few years ago when Virgin started  thinking of passenger space ship, and the Virgin Galactic Space Hotel. What if we can have Space stations which could act as Mid-way between Earth & Moon for  (Space) Shipping ?  Imagine if the CIICESD and other such institutions come together and in the Rio+20 UNFCCC summit, and WBCSD review on their cornerstone Vision 2050 report, which calls for a new agenda for business laying out a pathway to a world in which nine billion people can live well, and within the planet’s resources, by mid-century. The report is a consensus piece that was compiled by 29 leading global companies from 14 industries and is the result of an 18 month long combined effort between CEOs and experts, and dialogues with more than 200 companies and external stakeholders in some 20 countries.

That modern human can not live its present high-carbon economy life-style, without raising the Global temperature to 3.5°C leading to catastrophic Climate Change is a given. It is also a given, that no amount of persuasion would turn the people,  me included; to  live a frugal life-style which is truly carbon negative. Centuries of industrialisation has programmed us to live in a certain fashion; we  fancy that we can make do without many things, but its wise to recognise that even the tools which we use for protest and raise awareness about climate change is in itself a product of the very same GHG producing industry and life-style. Therefore while we should be concerned about those who do not want to do ‘their bit’ we must also understand their concerns and try to work things from their perspective too.

Imagine, if the USA & Canada the non-signatories of Kyoto Protocol and the fence sitters like Russia & Japan who do not want to ratify KP2  agree to pool in their collective resources taking along the support of the BASIC Nations, to speed up the Vision 2050. The fear and uncertainty which the leading Nations face about  losing out their numero uno position would ease, because whether one likes it or not, when it comes to cutting edge science the USA still has the edge with other Developed Nations close behind. And therefore we must pamper its ego ( with some financial backing & negotiations ) to devise ways as how soon we can remove all GHG producing manufacturing units form the planet Earth.

It would not solve the energy problem though. There is no way we can produce energy in space and transport them back to Earth. For that the combination of Renewable Energy & Alternate Energy must be explored in tandem and improved upon.

But by being able to stop Mining for minerals we would perhaps be able to save the Forests. Also if we produce steel in 1/6th the gravity we could perhaps have a better product and less Smog. Thus only finished products need to be made on Earth while the smelting and mining activities taken up on the Moon. Moreover, should Nations gear up for the idea, immediate employment opportunities would arise. People would  not only require Astronauts / Cosmonauts /Vyomanauts ( Indian) who are high-end engineers and doctors but also maintenance  technicians, janitors and other services. As in the initial days the best of the best would be drawn upon, it would create more employment opportunities for those who are unemployed at present. And even on terra firma ancillary and support would itself generate more work opportunities.

Lastly, the question that is fundamental is where would we get the money for this  adventure ? Strangely, very few question the same when Nations allocate funds to their War coffers or Bale-out packages or Grants /Loans given to other Countries for vested interest. Where does that money come from? If World Leaders are able to produce and justify the source, surely they can re-allocate some for advancement of Science. Moreover its their job to create more employment and business opportunities. With present economies plateauing, new avenues must get explored.

A futuristic Green Idea for sure…but to insure we do have a future in this only living planet ..we must look beyond the obvious. And perhaps OASIS, ALBA and LDC  should do a Tharir Square   on the UNSC to have a mindset regime change. For they are going to face the brunt of Climate Change, should nothing gets done.


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