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Tag Archives: World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Who is VVIP – the Planet or a President? Why Trump Must Go!


As an Indian citizen, who would never immigrate to any other Country come what may, it makes no difference who becomes the next President or Prime Minister of another country.

Global governance expert decries ‘snub’ of Patricia Espinosa as Trump administration considers whether to pull out of Paris climate deal

Global governance expert decries ‘snub’ of Patricia Espinosa as Trump administration considers whether to pull out of Paris climate deal. Patricia Espinosa has been unable to obtain a meeting with the US state department. Photograph: Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images

But, when an Executive decision made by a man could endanger the lives of my family & friends due to that man’s personal belief that Climate Change is a Chinese Hoax! Then it becomes a cause for worry!

If the article in the Guardian – UN climate chief unable to secure meeting with US state department is true then the World is in grave danger and while there is nothing a foreign Nation can do to intervene in their Constitution I guess the member countries of UNFCCC should show some spine and do what Uncle SAM has been doing since long!

IMPOSE TRADE SANCTIONS!

I’m sure the Capitalists around the world would snort at this, and some may even think of the choicest abuse! For, the USA is the single largest market in the world which makes economies move….

They should pause for a while and ask not as some Banker or Financial Analyst, but as a simple Human …..

Is it the Planet they live in gives them their next meal Or It is the economic and foreign policy of Nations?

It took more than 20 years, to just arrive at some concessions that the Planet is first! And in less than 20 months we are going to see all that has been achieved unravel? Because, some man who has been given some imaginary powers by some group of citizens written is a piece of paper, which is called the Constitution?

That paper, ink and even the hands that wrote and signed on it are but the product of this Planet.

Just how far are we to sink before sanity returns? Are we willing to let the Small Island Nations drown under the sea while shedding crocodile tears at the UNGA podium?

Let War ravage Nations, as it did in Syria?  Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian War, Study Says – National Geographic

Would at least the British, the closest ally of the USA come forward and put some sense, will their King to be, who believes it to be so?  Is the Syrian conflict linked to climate change? -CNN interview, set sail to America and knock some sense into the erstwhile subject?

To those who fear that all will be lost, if we do not side with this President of the USA! I would within my humble limits point to a few things he has already said and done. He wants America First. That means what is indigenous to America, should be made and consumed in America first. This makes an excellent case for all other Nations around the World to follow suit. And if one looks closely it would actually HELP in saving the Planet.

Say for example Mangoes. This fruit is not indigenous to the USA. Therefore it should not be sold there at all. Likewise, all fruits and vegetables & allied goods and services should not reach the shores of the USA, as the first option. And before economists and government officials throw a fit, here is the argument.

For too long, Politicians and Economists have stood somberly at various forums including Davos and spoken about how to uplift the poor and the downtrodden. Here is the golden chance to be triumphantly victorious at that.When we start to sell our home grown produce first to our own citizens, the cost will go down. There will be less waste due to transportation and it would also reduce the GHG emissions. It would spur growth and prosperity and also create jobs. Is this not what all the pundit profess? Prosperity for all.

But then the argument would be looking at the SENSEX. But why should I? Why should something cost me a 100 when it can be produced at 10 and sold at 30? Do we really need to follow the laws of Economics as it has been taught to us? That we are following a failed model can be best explained by the expert in the video below. And I would request all readers to listen to it.

The Third Curve by Mansoor Khan.

Economics as we know it has helped destroy this planet. And as has been so eloquently explained in the talk that nature follows a bell curve, let’s there for rest assure us that the idiocy which we see unfolding in the USA foreign policy with regards to climate change will end when the correct measures are taken by the World at large.

 

 

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Sustainable Business – The Genesis lies in understanding the basics of livelihood.


Modern society is disconnecting from Nature. Where the processed has become more important than the produce, chances of building a Smart society, which is essential step towards building a Smart City, is difficult.

And by not building towards a Smart City the Modern Business Houses are heading more and more towards extinction, due to acute resource depletion which is already manifest in certain sectors.While the top of the ladder corporate, either by omission or commission are realizing the benefits of Sustainable Business practice. The mindset of the modern manager is too stuffed in old style economics to understand the changes in the ground rules for making a perfect profit making business.

We need Business to evolve or it would perish as is the Darwinian law.

The reason for this is our mindset; we love to remain within familiar comfort zones. Essentially we are still an Agrarian Society, although we have wrapped ourselves in the modern avatar of an industrialized state.

FOOD – CLOTH – SHELTER are the three main things around which all the modern societies revolve. Everything modern human does is essentially to satisfy the three fundamental needs highlighted. The birth of Industrial revolution or modern business as we know today was essentially to speed up and increase in production of the three basic needs of human. And the final goal of Business even now is to attain just these three things. Therefore the word “business-man can be replaced by “human”.

We invented the modern mills which could churn more flour from the wheat, to provide for the ever growing population of human. To produce more wheat which is primarily the ingredient for flour, one needed to have better harvesting and tilling method; thus grew an industry which starting producing the basic tools. To have more tools in the hands of farmers, one needed more Metal Ore to be mined and to mine more efficiently an industry spawned to cater to that need.

As the demand and supply graph multiplied so did the specialization in the fields, which slowly drifted so far apart that the basic….the farmlands became far and distant from the precincts of modern Industry.

For Representation Purpose only.

The fruits now grow on a super-market shelf. That is the notion many a modern child, never having seen a mango tree, carry. Haute couture usually showcases the most non-wearable clothing. But is a billion dollar industry!

Building no more reflects the spirit of human triumph over nature’s vagaries, to provide comfort & safety and most importantly a home to live in. But as a reflection of the human ego. So, we built tall buildings, shrouded in Glass & Steel, with no thought to the vernacular design & climatic conditions.

When there is so much disconnect from the original needs of a vibrant and organic society. How could we have not ruptured the skin of sustainability? Global Warming and Climate Change are nothing but by-products of unsustainable living. But, the World today can see the dangers, which manifests itself with increasing intensity & periodicity of storms and unpredictable drought & flood cycle.

And how does it affect Business?

“What we’re finding all over the world is that when people are having trouble with the weather, it affects food and income,” said Koko Warner, an expert on environmental migration based at the United Nations University. Climate change doesn’t just mean stronger typhoons. It also means sea-level rise, desertification, unpredictability of rain for crops, drought and other problems that tend to result in fewer news reports than a crushing storm like Haiyan. Many of the resulting losses are difficult to categorize and count in terms of money. It’s the emotional burden of leaving a family grave behind, of moving from ancestral lands, of kids giving up the ability to go to school. But global financial losses, even just those tabulated from major disasters, have also been rising through the last few decades. Annual estimates are now at just under $200 billion (€146 billion), according to a report released by the World Bank . That’s up from about $50 billion each year through the 1980s. (Excerpts from – Warsaw Mechanism: A Move Forward in Climate Change Debate; Der Spiegel. November 27, 2013) The above paragraphs sum up beautifully the moot reason as to why Business must adopt the sustainable approach. The Building & Construction Sector is perhaps the single largest sector which is the consumer of almost all the Industrial sector known to modern business. Be it Agri-product, Minerals, Forest or Animal Husbandry, Iron & Steel, Cement or Textile, Chemical & Fertilizers some or other form of the product is utilized in the building industry. And many buildings built within the same geographical area is called – A City.

Which also houses the Business Barons.

Thus, if we take care of a city and make them Climate Resilient. We would be able to change the mind-set of the people, which in turn would make the world believe in Sustainable Business a bit more.

So how does one approach this? As per The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, below are some interesting thoughts –

THE BUILDING SECTOR

The building sector can be viewed as being comprised of two broad elements: Residential buildings — housing the population; and Commercial buildings — housing a range of activities including retail trade, accommodation, business services, government and government agencies, recreation and cultural services and industry, which represents around two thirds of national employment. The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:

1. The amount of energy consumed; [inclusive of embodied energy in materials] 2. The mix of fuels used; 3. The average greenhouse gas emissions from the different fuels (electricity is treated as a fuel); and 4. Upstream emissions from transmission and other activities.

The electricity consumed within a building is only a part of the energy used to support that demand. A large amount of electricity and greenhouse gas emissions is also involved in distribution, transmission and generation. When reducing demand for electricity it is practical to eliminate the need for this upstream energy use and GHG emissions. The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economic basis. Economic in this context means that the initial costs would be offset — and in many cases be more than offset — by subsequent energy savings over time.

In the residential sector changes can be achieved through: 1. Substitution for more energy efficient light fittings; 2. Greater use of natural light; 3. Substitution for more efficient refrigeration; 4. Adoption of more efficient hot water appliances with solar where possible; 5. Adoption of appliances with a low standby energy use; 6. The introduction of more efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems; and better insulation. 7. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

In commercial buildings substantial savings to both costs and greenhouse gas emissions could be generated by: 1. Improving air conditioning systems efficiency and including ‘economy’ cycles; 2. Use of natural ventilation where possible; 3. The use of more efficient office appliances; 4. Better insulation; 5. Improved heating and ventilation; 6. The use of efficient light fixtures; 7. Upgrading to more efficient water heating systems;

There are already many consultancy firms which are advising on energy efficiency. The one which are on the top of the ladder are doing the following three elements: 1. Use less energy – cut buildings’ energy demand by improved design, using insulation and equipment that is more energy efficient.

2. Make more energy locally – produce energy locally from renewable and otherwise wasted energy resources.

3. Share energy – create buildings that can generate surplus energy and feed it into an intelligent grid infrastructure to balance the energy needs of other buildings.

And those which excel in the above are also taking up the challenge of creating a low water use facility. As without water there is no food and thus no life.

The IPCC – the United Nations Body which is headed by Dr. Pachauri and is under the UNFCCC has warned that unless we are able to completely abolish use of fossil fuel for generation of electricity the world would be facing much more severe storms, the likes of Hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Hudhud, devastating Nations economy and putting enormous strain in its recovery.

Innovations for smart cities are already happening all around the World. From creating Solar Roads, as indicated in the image to having tiles which produce their own power when one steps on it are already ready for commercial applications. It is opening up new job opportunities and at the same time instilling the practice of clean living.

Real Project

The world is waking up to the fact that we have to create Sustainable Business.

And in order to achieve that India too must join with its resource pool of young and brilliant minds. Lest the opportunity, to become an advanced and progressive Business Nation is lost. While innovative products are good and it would be some time for them to become main-stream. India has the unique distinction of already possessing the vernacular knowledge of building with an extremely low carbon-foot print. A visit to any turn of the century residence would prove that.

Add to that the restless energy of the young entrepreneurs, who are willing to take the risk of bucking the conventional business model, while at the same time ushering in the high-technology Renewable Energy at the door steps of common persons.

The idea is to provide Roof-top solar at zero capital cost to the end-user while the recovery of the investments comes via the novel way of collecting the electrical tariff, over a period of time. As all are used to pay their electricity bills every month, the idea to have solar power which in time would become free of cost to the user is finding traction. Especially in areas where the traditional grid power is inconsistent leading to the use of diesel generators, which spikes the electrical tariff to an astronomical ₹ -15 to 20 /KW unit.

As in every solution there are challenges. Captive Renewable Energy, especially Solar & Wind require certain amount of conducive space and geography to perform optimally. Many commercial business such as Hospitals, Hotels & Resorts, Malls & Multiplex, while willing to utilize the RE in BOOT model; find that the generation compared to demand is wanting. Because of lack of roof-top space.

Here too the pioneers have met the challenge head-on, by providing Energy Efficient Measures to the existing or upcoming building within the matrix of a Green Building ie; by working with Architects and Interior designers who not only concentrate on the aesthetic appeal of a building but have the knowledge of how to utilize daylight controls and energy modeling measures to synchronize with the colour of the paint, or the colour of the light or even the reflective and absorption capacity of materials. Which ultimately adds up in a complex dance of synergy to either heat up or cool a room. By understanding this along with having deep knowledge of HVAC, building electrical & heat loads are optimized.

This in turn reduces the overall draw of electricity required, without any compromise to the functions of a modern living/working space. Today, coming up in a suburb of Bangalore; there are more than 500 residence comprising of 300o ft2 to 5000 ft2 bungalows which could aim to be completely off-grid both in terms of water and electricity. A perfect 4.5KW connected load with innovative roof-top and “Solar Tree” which also act as street lights would be powering the township. While 5 layer water harvesting system would eliminate any need for municipal water to the colony. A good spell of normal monsoon season would suffice. Smart Cities are the final frontiers for new business. We must all strive to achieve this. A perfect blend of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations –

Profit – People – Planet.

 

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The Midas Touch – Vanishing the air & water; a supreme feat by mankind.


Montreux, Switzerland, April 15, 2013 – A changing climate with more frequent extreme weather events requires today’s businesses to plan for an unpredictable and inconsistent water supply via more sophisticated water management practices, according to a new report released today by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Water bubble

Water bubble (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The report, Sharing Water: Engaging Business, emphasizes the crucial role of business in ensuring responsible management of water resources and encourages greater collaboration across sectors. The report finds that leading companies have begun shifting their perspective beyond merely managing operational water use to becoming more conscious of how corporate actions impact local and regional water resources and, conversely, how water resources and watersheds impact business.

“Increasing global demand and the impacts of climate change are placing unprecedented strain on freshwater resources,” said WBCSD President Peter Bakker. “In order to ensure a viable business future, companies are calling for collective management and collaboration at the watershed level to ensure continued access to water supplies among competing demands.”

The report cites alarming findings from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that, under business as usual, water demand will increase by 55 percent globally by 2050, leaving little scope to meet increasing water demands while respecting the needs of ecosystems. With no improvement in the management and use of freshwater resources, the world could face a 40 percent supply gap by 2030.

With a figure of at least 14,027 in 2011, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the total number of farm suicides since 1995 has touched 2,70, 940. The State of Maharashtra shows a rise in numbers yet again, logging 3,337 against 3,141 farmers’ suicides the previous year (and 2,872 in 2009)… more.

Now such reports are rarely read by those who stoop low to deliver a macabre joke at the expense of dying farmers. And it is not a singular person who is responsible. The people we choose are the reflection of our own failing. In India, it is the ruling and thriving mindset of almost all.

The reason for this lies in three simple words – Business As Usual.

How does it affect the CEO of a Company ( Nation )  who is also a Citizen of a Country, if the drought and famine which the WBCSD, UNFCCC and the rest keep talking about.  If at the ground level, his/her daughter can still go out to a Water-Kingdom and have a swim, and that too under huge arc-lights in a warm summer night, while the  CEO attends a conference on Resource depletion due to Climate Change in air conditioned comfort ?

How does it affect the CEO that there are villages which are not getting enough water to wash their clothes daily and even have to ration water for drinking;  if his car is getting a wash early in the morning, to keep that shine ?

When one can choose between the dual buttons to flush the toilet, can the embarrassment of not able to maintain personal hygiene for days cross ones mind ?

 Why is not there a single event held on Climate Change right at GROUND ZERO. If Solidarity must be shown then it must be lead from the front. And lets not talk about the NGO’s here.

King  Ashoka the Great lead  the Kalinga war from the front. He witnessed the result of his decision with his own eyes. A destruction so great, a havoc so large that the changes he brought about in his style of rule still flutters with pride  as the emblem of modern India’s National flag.

A man who was born in 232 BCE and a sage who still lives on.

Can the modern CEO, compare ? For is it not his/her wish to see their Empire rule ? What changes can they make if the empathy that is the need of the hour is missing ?

Flickering images of pain and hunger on the silver screen are just that. They fade from the memory of most as quick-silver. What remains in the lopsided, badly mauled and in need of a serious overhaul – the Business As Usual . The By the profit – For the profit – Of the profit policy we have been so diligently following.

It is time for us to sit back like the child we once were and be brave enough to cry -“the King is naked” instead of passing platitudes to peaking of stock market indexes of a Country/ Countries which are going (natural) resource and morally bankrupt. While following catch up with the demons of the past.

While it can be argued that the failings can not be attributed to the élite alone; the premise of such argument is flawed. For there were always two kinds of men.

Those who lead & those who follow. The learned & the literate.

When the leader considers it as BAU to loot the exchequer of tax-payers money; the tax-payer considers non-payment of tax as a sublime and smart way to do business.

Thus infrastructure suffers and sustainable practice become costly.

When a leader stops the traffic while his cavalcade passes by, whilst causing delay even death to citizens, the motorist disregards the traffic signal.

Thus traffic snarl occur, increasing the noxious fumes.

When a leader builds a memorial for those who are long dead by capturing land meant for public good, the follower leaves the poor only with memories of loved ones buried under ill-legal construction.

Thus toxic waste leach the very land we live.

While watching the annual migration at the Serengeti, the regeneration of the ecosystem as it has been doing from time immemorial makes one feel almost like moving in a time capsule back in time. For each generation of the wildebeest have behaved in the same manner as its ancestors before them, and each stake-holder in the game has remained true to the whole picture. Ever-changing yet constant and sustainable. Completing and complementing the Earth natural Ecosystem.

It is all Business -As – Usual. But it is beautiful.

Why can not human, who pride themselves to be in the apex of the animal kingdom not create a system which can be sustainable ?

The answer is simple. We don’t go out there any more.

When you don’t look at the reflection of the Sun over the flowing water of a river every-time you go out to take a bath;

When you don’t look at the tranquil image of the Moon with every sip of water you drink to quench your thirst on a hot day;

When the whispering trees in the breeze does not cool the body of your baby when it goes to sleep; …….

When you stop living and loving Nature –

You end up brushing your teeth with the tap water flowing down the drain. Cook your fresh food till every drop of water it contained ( and thus looked fresh ) has evaporated, adding a little more GHG into the air. Both water-vapour and petroleum vapour.

Wherever we go, we lay waste the Land. The water and even the Air.

We indeed do have the Midas Touch.

 

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Water Kills ! – Drought & Food Crises are effect of Climate Change


 

I begin this article with another excerpt from the WRI blog – The unsustainable use of water and the risks it creates is on the minds of many of the thousands of water experts from the corporate, NGO, and government worlds who convened in Stockholm last week for World Water Week. Teams from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Resources Institute (WRI), and Water Footprint Network (WFN) convened a seminar called “Towards Sustainability: Harmonising Water Tools for Better Water Governance”.

My thoughts turn towards Cities. A lot has been written about Sustainable cities and how almost all great cities of the World  have originated around the banks of rivers. Mumbai too grew around rivers, and continued to do so till the turn of the Century when we finally turned the Mithi River into a stinking clogged drain and in 2005, she in protest inundated Mumbai. The famous Mumbai floods of 26/7/2005 would forever haunt those who suffered its wrath.

And seven years after the incident, India has learnt nothing. In fact we still alternate between drought and flood every year in some city or other.

The erratic monsoon has led to pest attacks and fungal infestation on as much as 50% of the cotton, soya and paddy crop, aggravating Vidarbha’s agrarian crisis. A fallout of this is a rise in farmer suicides, including five in the last 72 hours, taking the toll to 50 deaths in August alone and 526 in 2012 so far. Report by Yogesh Pawar DNA Newapaper

To those who wonder how the draught in Vidarbha region effects Mumbai, the megalopolis the connection is simple.You see, as a Green Building consultant by profession,I do not have any idea of how to grow grain, pulses or vegetables. Which is laid on the dining table of millions like me. Professionals who only have the power of purchase, but not the skill to survive a single day, should the Farmers perish!  The story is not about a single region but all of rural India which alternates between drought and flood with regular monotony, every year for the past 60 years of Independence ! Water & Food are closely interrelated. And presently it a danger looming large on the face of the civilized World.

Both Drought & Flood are adverse situations, with the potentially destructive power to Kill. The former can suck out the last drop of the precious liquid from any life form by its absence and its over presence can drown and wash away the very existence of civilization.

Global Warming & Climate Change is just about that – the revenge of Water on Civilization. A Civilization which is so callously hurtling itself towards self invited doom, by setting the Global temperature rise by 3.5°C. created by the high-carbon life-style of the Peoples. And it is well understood by the Government of India, which has a detailed study on linking climate change & drought.

It is therefore important for Cities around the Globe to adapt and if still possible mitigate the apocalypse. And among many measures, some of the best are those which the C40 Cities program present ( Mumbai & Delhi are signatories ). Each city in the C40 is unique in its infrastructure and progress in addressing climate change. To the uninitiated; C40 works to empower cities to connect with each other and share technical expertise on best practices. C40 is a network of the world’s mega-cities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With a unique set of assets, the C40 works with participating cities to address climate risks and impacts locally and globally.

We all are aware of the Mumbai Floods of 26th July 2005. There were severe drought in parts of India between the period 2002-2005. Large tracts of India are prone to droughts. 68 percent of India’s land mass is drought-prone to varying degrees, of which about 50 percent is chronically drought-prone. As per Government of India’s estimate, there are one or two years of droughts every five years in semi-arid and arid regions of India.

If one reads the report on Mumbai water requirement, it would be adequately clear that as the City expands the fresh-water requirement of the city is going to be woe-fully short. While I have commented on water in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Sell water at the price of petrol – and reap the ‘fringe’ benefits.The idea there was to increase the conservation of water in Rural India.  Now, as the Nation grows, the existing Cities would be under tremendous strain to expand and accommodate, while the second tier cities and towns would be looked at by policy makers to develop as alternate destination to over saturated Megalopolis.  And when we speak of development, in terms of Cities we are talking of expanding the foot-print of the Urban Concrete Jungle. To understand the situation below is a report.

A World Bank report says –  Temperatures have soared in India this summer. The scanty monsoon rains have been unable to replenish reservoirs or recharge diminishing groundwater. Much of the country is reeling under acute water shortages. In water-starved cities like Delhi, those who can afford it pay large sums to private suppliers to fill up household tanks. India’s burgeoning cities, already bursting at the seams, are struggling to provide their residents with basic services. No Indian city receives piped water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Raw sewage often overflows into open drains, polluting ponds, rivers, and groundwater. Although cities like Delhi receive with 220 liters of water per person per day – much more than Paris, for instance – some 40-70% of this water is lost due to physical and financial leakages.  Consumers bear the brunt of these inefficiencies……There is a clear need to revamp the system. No time can be lost, as India is in the throes of an unprecedented urbanization, the second in the world after China, with a further 10 million people expected to move into the urban areas each year. …… There is a growing realization that creating infrastructure alone will not solve the problem; the management of urban water supply services will also need to be addressed to arrive at a sustainable solution.

The C40 City program, water sustainability has been in the agenda, with some great ideas on containing waste, the case study of Emfuleni, South Africa is a interesting read.

In this article, we shall explore some unusual ways to save the most precious and limited resource – Water. Especially in the Urban setting of Mumbai. My suggestion would be to look at Water a little more closely and with a different perspective. I hope the idea would also be able to attract some thought for the future cities the world is building to house the incoming horde of 9 Million humans by 2050.

Every mega-city which is built has a net-work of services, and among the various services, is the storm water drain. Ideally the town-planners design the drain to discharge the water into the sea, or river.

Ideally there should not have been any human induced Climate Change and Water Crises!

Now that we have established the situation to be dire, how about channelling the storm water back into the under-ground reservoirs?

Aug 9, 2010, DNA Newspaper report –

Geologists expressed serious concern over the unregulated withdrawal of groundwater.

“Indiscriminate and unplanned extraction of groundwater could lead to wells yielding saline water for some time and then drying up,” V Subramanyan, a former geology professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), said. “Even the surface streams may lose their water.” It was imperative, said Subramanyan, for a coastal city like Mumbai to retain the state of already existing equilibrium between freshwater and saline water. “Excessive pumping of wells or heavy withdrawal of water through several wells located near each other can disturb this balance,” Subramanyan said. “In either case, the underlying saline water encroaches upon the fresh water column and contaminates it.” SK Gupta, former deputy director of groundwater survey and development agency (GSDA), Konkan Region, said it was important to improve the groundwater levels through rainwater harvesting. Gupta said that preference should be given to ring wells instead of borewells to improve the quality of groundwater. Subramanyan said that recharge ponds should be built to tackle the crisis……

Imagine building a new City where  a network of pipes would be laid, in such a fashion that the surface run-off  ( as in Rainwater Harvesting )  or the excess water which falls on to the streets, pavements and other public places, get collected through a net work of drainage system which instead of discharging the fresh water right back into the sea or river gets collected at the city fringe into artificial lakes  or holding ponds, which then percolates deep into the water table below. The world over fracking is being done in search of gas, for once we can use the technology to replenish ground water and re-charge dried out water table. And this fracking along with holding ponds perhaps can be created around and in the low lying areas of some of the existing cities too, to a certain extent, to stem off emergency situations.

Let’s take the case of Mumbai, the pace in which unplanned Urban development is happening; thanks to a few corrupt builder- politician-bureaucrat nexus. If disaster strikes, either natural or man-made most of Mumbai is not geared in any  manner to bear a long haul situation. What would happen if  we have an earth-quake and the water-pipelines which are feeding Mumbai with water, rupture extensively and compounded with massive sedimentation of the feeder lakes, which may render the waters temporarily harmful for consumption?  In such a situation Mumbai would face unprecedented water crisis.

And the beauty of official apathy and ignorance of the Political class can’t be better summed up than the following report  on the same subject on Aug 12, 2010 DNA News report

….. The water table in south Mumbai is shallow. A rainfall above 500mm is sufficient to fill it to capacity,” Gupta said. The area has already seen rainfall in excess of 2,200mm. “The additional water received in the form of rain is being rejected by the ground. This is causing the run-off,” Gupta added…. The hydraulic department, meanwhile, has begun planning ways to stem the surface run-off. “We will have to ensure that the ground water table declines,” a senior engineer said. One of the measures being discussed is digging an open well near Metro Cinema. “This will help extract 50,000 litres of groundwater daily. As the water table decreases, the aquifer will begin accepting rainwater again,” the engineer said…..

That there was ground-water reject also inversely means that, when there is scant rain-fall the water table gets dry. Therefore as Climate change would be bringing in more drought than rain-fall, the posh South Mumbai, would need to depend on the water being pumped from the lakes 100KM away from Mumbai. Therefore we must think of ideas to recharge and also divert the excess, from the South to the North of the City where water crisis is an everyday struggle. And also create holding ponds, which not only would beautify the city but perhaps assuage  Mumbai by feeding water from within the city limits. And in one brilliant stroke give the villages around the six lakes the first right of use of the water. (Six lakes in and around Mumbai supply water to the city.) Which is dined to them to quench the insatiable needs of Mumbai.

The thought is there, the process are known. It is the implementation that matters. As an old proverb goes – ” A stitch in time saves nine”; so would action taken on ground in an immediate basis would perhaps save many a City from civil commotion in the absence of  Water in the future.

Because, water is saviour when respected but extracts a terrible vengeance if mocked.

Courtesy: http://vidarbha.webs.com/ , http://www.c40cities.org/about, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.dnaindia.com

 

 

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Sustainable Development Goals – the grassroot barriers


With all the talk we do about environment protection, safe deposing of toxic substance and circular economy, this recent advertisement actually shows us how shallow the words on environment protection are and how the Corporate world would still love teach the “developing” countries and the “third world” countries what it knows best – Destruction.

This Kohler-Co-Boom-Crash-Bang advertisement makes me cry out in despair. And another by the scooter manufacturer Hero, in their latest product Hero Maestro, proudly displays the IQ of the advertisement company, whose creative could think of the story board  where a parody is made out of a rare bird watching (connecting to nature) and bringing it down to the frivolous. While the former advert is a complete anti-thesis to all  talk about austerity and balanced consumption. It is a slap on the face of the  authors and followers of the Sustainable Development, Millennium Development and the Inclusive Wealth Report. While a free world has a right to express itself and  individuals should live a life-style of their own choosing; the time for vulgar extravagance which directly impacts nature must be curbed.

That such large companies who should know better the impact of visual medium on the minds of the audience is a telling report on the rot of the human race and the failure of us collectively to educate our children and ourselves on the dangers of Climate Change and the impact of Global Warming. Before the Rio+20 summit of the UNFCCC, I had made an appeal in form on an article that the United Nations, CAN International, Green Peace International and other Climate change forums like the CIICESD, WBCSD should create advertisements to create awareness. –UNFCCC – A Little Advertisement can help save Earth.

In three days time I would be using my printer for the last time. The reason is that Lexmark the company could not create a mark of its own in India. An absolutely perfect, 5-in-one printer is junk for want of ink cartridges!  The manufacturers do not have a mechanism in place to take back goods for recycle. And with all the hype on  the mechanism for Reuse – Recycle – Renew  is just as nascent as it was when the concept dawned. No company likes to standardize products such as ink of a printer, because they want only to sell their own goods. And the government too is a mute spectator to this tamasha!

Being the LEED / GRIHA  consultant, I believe in walking the talk. Using energy-efficient products, using public transport as far as possible. In effect the Reuse – Renew – Recycle is our core practice. So I went to the store from where I had purchased it and asked if there is any exchange offer, or would they at-least take it for proper recycling. The answer was a resounding No!

Next, I went to Lamington Road, the famous electronic bazaar of Mumbai. It is from here all electronic trade for India happen. ” My friend, if you wish you can leave the printer with me”, said my friend; an electronic goods trader and repair shop owner. ” Every month I sell junk I will sell this too.” he said. However he warned me that he was doing this as a favour and I should not expect any money on it. I know he was telling the truth, I tried selling a few cellular phones I own. Having bought them at an average price of Rupees 18,000 each, the total price offered by a second sale shop was Rupees 500 ! And I bought them in the year 2010 AD!!

As you can see from my personal experience stated above, and I’m sure there would be similar resonance from like minded individuals; there is absolutely no incentive in recycling. And the rich ( who consume most) would rather destroy a perfect home to build another, rather than even pause for a minute to think about the homeless, the needy or the poor. And that is exactly why the larger corporations and the advertisement companies should all the more take the responsibility and initiative to educate the masses on the merits of recycling. And initiate actions through business forums to standardize products which is needlessly complicated.

For, example I can insert my SIM card into a tablet, a 4-G cell phone or even the 1st generation cell phone and it would work. But when it comes to brand I still choose one over the other. That perception will always stay. All said and done there is a Brand loyalty. Ask Apple or Google or Microsoft.

If Kohler is listening then here is what I would have done the advertisement –  a perfect home being dismantled and being given away to the homeless or an orphanage, while building a new one around a tap.

Yes! it’s just a tap, when one turns it provides water, and for those living in the suburbs of some of the famous megalopolis in India; foul and dirty municipal water – Not Milk and Honey. So please grow up.

And  as a LEED/ GRIHA consultant, after watching this advertisement it would be difficult to recommend the product for any Green Building project.

 

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Energy Efficient Buildings are a tribute to the Environment


It is being foretold by many experts, that it would be innovative business strategy and restructuring of the Corporate conduct which would help stop Global Warming.  The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and The CII -ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development (CIICESD) are perhaps the vanguard for abatement of Climate Change, should one agree to the statement above.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CIICESD which generates awareness & thought leadership, and builds organization capacity to achieve sustainability and the WBCSD which is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. These organisations, soon be able to convince all business to morph into what is now becoming popular in the USA and soon would encompass the World, the B-CORP . It is not only the matter of Salvation of the Earth, but deeply entwined with Earth’s fate is the survival of the Business community and thus by default the modern society itself.

Close cooperation between all stakeholders in society is essential to creating a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. And the key elements of all business revolve around 3 fundamental needs of humans – Food, Clothing and Shelter.

Se below

Se below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Sustainable village would be one which is fashioned such, that it ultimately provides near self sufficiency in most areas and excel in some; which become the  core trading with other self-sufficient towns but lacking expertise or sufficiency in those which the other has. Thus a perfect symbiosis and balance can be achieved. But the first step to obtain the desired level of sustainability and making it norm, would require us to build the new cities and retro-fit, where possible the old ones in accordance to the ideas of sustainability.  Below is an attempt to provide a very brief over-view of what should be achieved.

THE BUILDING SECTOR

The building sector can be viewed as being comprised of two broad elements:

Residential buildings — housing the population; and

Commercial buildings — housing a range of activities including retail trade, accommodation, business services, government and government agencies, recreation and cultural services and industry, which represents around two thirds of national employment.

Component parts of the building sector are noted in chart

Residential Building Commercial Building
Detached housesAttached dwellingsBuildings containing two or more sole occupancy units Wholesale tradeRetailAccommodation, cafes and restaurantsCommunication servicesFinance and insuranceProperty and business servicesGovernment administration andDefense

Education

Health and community services

Cultural and recreational services

Personal and other services

The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:
1. The amount of energy consumed; [inclusive of embodied energy in materials]
2. The mix of fuels used;
3. The average greenhouse gas emissions from the different fuels (electricity is treated as a fuel); and
4. Upstream emissions from transmission and other activities.

The electricity consumed within a building is only a part of the energy used to support that demand. A large amount of electricity and greenhouse gas emissions is also involved in distribution, transmission and generation. When reducing demand for electricity it is practical to eliminate the need for this upstream energy use and GHG emissions. A larger proportion of GHG emissions are attributable to the building sector than its share of energy use because the building sector uses greenhouse gas intensive energy. Notably the building sector energy end use is dominated by electricity consumption which is dominated by coal fired generation located at the end of long transmission networks.

Emissions from the building sector are broadly of the same scale as emissions produced by the entire transport sector.

Facts
• Buildings’ share of final energy consumption: 30-40%
• Global CO2 emissions from energy in buildings (2005): 9Gt
• Estimated growth by 2050 in all 6 EEB regions: 76%
• Growth in global population by 2050: 2.7 billion or 42%

Many energy efficiency projects are feasible with today’s energy costs. Building energy efficiency investments in the six EEB regions (Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan and the US) studied, totalling US$ 150 billion annually, will reduce related energy use and the corresponding carbon footprint in the range of 40% with five-year discounted paybacks for the owners. A further US$ 150 billion with paybacks between five and 10 years will add 12 percentage points and bring the total reduction to slightly more than half.
(WBCSD-2010)

THE ABATEMENT POTENTIAL

The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economic basis. Economic in this context means that the initial costs would be offset — and in many cases be more than offset — by subsequent energy savings over time.

In the residential sector changes can be achieved through:
1. Substitution for more energy efficient light fittings;
2. Greater use of natural light;
3. Substitution for more efficient refrigeration;
4. Adoption of more efficient hot water appliances with solar where possible;
5. Adoption of appliances with a low standby energy use;
6. The introduction of more efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems; and better insulation.
7. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

In commercial buildings substantial savings to both costs and greenhouse gas emissions could be generated by:
1. Improving air conditioning systems efficiency and including ‘economy’ cycles;
2. Use of natural ventilation where possible;
3. The use of more efficient office appliances;
4. Better insulation;
5. Improved heating and ventilation;
6. The use of efficient light fixtures;
7. Upgrading to more efficient water heating systems; and
8. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

Under each area, detailed topics have been sorted out according to time span to wide adoption in construction:
1. State-of the art [current situation]: technologies that are already commonly used in the industry form the baseline for future development,
2. Short term […2013]: technologies that are available and are ready for being used in construction;
3. Medium term […2020]: technologies that offer beneficial opportunities for construction but need to be adopted or further developed for construction.
4. Long term […2030]: emerging new technologies that are deemed to offer benefits to construction in ling term in applications that still need to be identified.

STATE-OF THE ART & SHORT TERM ACTIONS:

1. Design and demonstrate energy positive new building solutions:
1. RE -driven µCHCP [“combined heat, cooling, and power production”]
2. Smart & small AHU
3. Passive energy storing construction materials/design
4. LED/Induction Lighting
5. Smart glazing
6. E&C [effective daylight capture through ceiling]
2. Design and demonstrate prefabricated and modular energy retrofit solutions, like:
1. Multifunctional building envelope solutions
2. Low temperature heating and cooling solutions [ LowEX ]
3. Hybrid ventilation solutions
4. Advanced lighting solutions
5. Building and community systems
3. Develop performance indicators and criteria for sustainability, environmental impacts and GHG reductions in buildings [ low energy class, energy star , etc]
4. Develop advanced control system, sensor networks, user-interfaces and information management technology to improve energy efficiency and reduce negative environmental impacts in buildings and communities : wireless sensor/ actuator network; smart meters; dynamic heat and power grids.

Note:
End-use efficiency gains are likely to take the lion’s share of energy reductions, and in many cases will be the most economically viable option. Analysis of the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from energy shows that substantial reductions are needed both in energy generation and consumption.

There are three elements:
1. Use less energy – cut buildings’ energy demand by improved design, using insulation and equipment that is more energy efficient
2. Make more energy locally – produce energy locally from renewable and otherwise wasted energy resources
3. Share energy – create buildings that can generate surplus energy and feed it into an intelligent grid infrastructure to balance the energy needs of other buildings

MEDIUM & LONG TERM ACTIONS:

5. Design and demonstrate more solutions for energy positive buildings [new & retrofit]:
1. Vacuum frame
2. Cabrio-facades
3. Lego (retrofitting) building elements & interior furbishing
4. Compact seasonal heat/cold storages
6. Demonstrate Zero -or Plus-Energy communities
1. Intuitive, educational, self-learning E & C ms
2. HRU-bank for HHA [and waste water]
7. Develop more solutions for energy positive new buildings and retrofit:
1. Thermo-chemical material for heat storage
2. Daylight storage
3. H2produced from the sun
4. Vacuum envelope
8. Develop solutions supporting energy positive communities:
1. Energy -HUB; economic driven buildings [industry] & transport
2. DC grids
3. PV&T wipe & pipe free
4. Wireless energy exchange
9. Demonstrate Sustainable communities
1. Economic efficiency by integrated system optimization [optimal use of energy]

It is now time that all stake-holders, should enter the market, there are opportunities for architects, engineers, property developers, the finance community and others in the building sector to capitalize on energy efficiency opportunities to build the “hybrid house”.

Private Sector Jobs - April 2011

Private Sector Jobs – April 2011 (Photo credit: Leader Nancy Pelosi)

Business which are totally moribund can be revitalized with new energy and direction. Architects should be ready to take the responsibility to act as the integrator of different systems, building parts and services into a solution that fulfils the end-user’s needs. And create Buildings that are G.O.L.D (Globally Optimised Locally Designed). Instead of components or buildings, offering integrated and performance based solutions for energy efficient & environmentally friendly buildings and communities that support sustainability.

Courtesy: WBCSD

 

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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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