Building Green: 'Lessons in Sustainability: Avoiding 100-Year Mistakes'
From the Vancouver Sun:
Since retrofitting buildings to make them sustainable is both more expensive and less effective than building them right in the first place, we create 50- to 100-year consequences when we construct buildings without consideration for sustainability.
Such buildings are leading sources of greenhouse gases, guzzle up our natural resources and are expensive to maintain for their century-or-so-long lifespan. The encouraging news is that many of these 100-year consequences are avoidable. Next-generation green buildings can be built now with mostly off-the-shelf technology at a cost similar to equivalent conventional buildings over their life cycles (in other words, higher construction costs are offset by lower operating and capital renewal costs). The University of British Columbia’s new Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) is one such example.
CIRS captures energy from the sun, the ground and a neighbouring, less-efficient building. In doing so, it not only covers its own heating requirements, but returns energy to the less-efficient building, thus reducing the campus’ natural gas consumption. Its wood structure — much of which utilizes pine beetle-affected wood from B.C. and Alberta — sequesters more than 600 tonnes of carbon and offsets greenhouse gas emissions from other non-renewable materials used in the building’s construction. It satisfies its own water needs by collecting Vancouver’s abundant rainwater and treats it on-site, leaving it cleaner.
Why are such best practices, increasingly adopted in Europe, still not universally adopted by developers and construction companies in North America? The barriers are not technical and rarely are they purely economic. Rather, they are institutional: codes of practice, regulatory requirements, performance criteria, even job descriptions push us toward less sustainable choices. To give one example, it is very difficult institutionally to transfer the benefits of lower operating and capital renewal costs from the operating side of the ledger to the capital side. As a result, sustainable buildings that have higher capital costs but actually cost less on a total cost of ownership basis are typically not built.
Check out the rest of the article here.
(Photo credit: Inhabitat via UBC)
The tragedy of our present civilization is that it became dependent on marginal energy sources. The marginal energy sources are fossil sources, fossil resources and nuclear, based on the raw material uranium. The gigantic energy potential is the renewable energy potential always all coming from the sun, including its derivates, like wind and the photosynthetic-produced—photosynthetically produced materials, organic materials, plants, hydro-base. And the sun offers to our globe, in eight minutes, as much energy as the annual consumption of fossil and atomic energy is. That means to doubt—the doubtings if there would be enough renewable energy for the replacement of nuclear and fossil energies, this argument is ridiculous. There is by far enough.
It is a fight. This is a structural fight. It is a fight between centralization and decentralization, between energy dictatorship and energy participation in the energy democracy. And because nothing works without energy, it’s a fight between democratic value and technocratical values. And therefore, the mobilization of the society is the most important thing. And as soon as the society, most people, have recognized that the alternative are renewable energies and we must not wait for others, we can do it by our own, in our own sphere, together in cooperatives or in the cities or individually. As soon as they recognize this, they will become supporters. Other—this is the reason why we have now a 90 percent support against all the disinformation campaigns. They have much more money and possibilities to influence the public opinion, but they lost this. They lost this conflict. In the eyes of the people, they lost the conflict. They are the losers already.
A Presentation from the 2011 Eco-City World Summit: ‘Networked Urban Sustainability: Breaking the Integration Barrier’
Here is a presentation from urban sustainability researcher and planner Alex Aylett at the 2011 Eco-City World Summit. On his blog, he explains that:
This presentation is something I put together for a general audience. It’s jargon free, and aims to get across a few key points that have emerged in my research over the past four years.
It all centers around one question: “How can we go from small scale changes in urban processes, to large scale sustainability shifts that take place across a city as a whole.”
Check out more on his blog or over at Sustainable Cities.