Archive for July, 2011
ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
A unavoidable need of the Day
By JITENDRA CHITNIS (B.E., Ph.D.)
Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of quality which permits a life of dignity and bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the present and future generations.
-Principle I, Stockholm Conference,
The purpose of development should not be to develop things, but to develop man.
The environmental crisis is global and has assumed staggering proportions. Each year 17500 species of plants and animals are ravaged into extinction. Destabillisation of the ozone layer has caused devastate coastal areas half could devastate coastal areas where half world’s population lives.
The agrochemical industry has convinced the most farmers and distributors that chemicals are the only solution. Unless the short term interests of the financial and political lobbies are averted, poisoning and death of the environment and human beings will be the scenario. (Take example of Punjab farmers who are dyeing due to cancer like deceases due to pesticides they use.)
Thanks to new video clipping issued in public interest on television channels which advises to test the soil and then use only prescribed quantity of fertilizers for farming.
A survey of vegetables in Kenya reveals that 40% of vegetables examined contained pesticide residues above the official acceptable level. Livestock feed made from cotton seeds is found with contamination of Aldrin and Dieldrin.
The situation in India is not very different and environmental degradation is becoming worse by the day. In India 70 % of the water available is polluted. Even the high altitude lakes are dying because of pollution.
The green revolution pulls out more nutrients from the soil than it puts back. Ludhiana district which records the highest yields of many crops, now also records the highest deficiencies of plant micronutrients in its soils. Many farmers have already started applying zinc, iron, copper and manganese deficiencies.
The environmental crisis which is threatening the survival of present and future generation is a result of short term gains, domination and exploitation of nature and human communities. This leads to-
Consumption of natural resources beyond their regenerative limits.
Contamination of resources beyond their absorptive limits.
Destruction of life so as to irreparable damage to natural eco-system.
Sustainability is much more than reducing water, air or vehicular pollution or discovering new technologies to solve environmental problems.
Brundtland Commission defined Sustainable Development as –An Approach towards meeting the needs and aspiration of the present and future generations without compromising the ability to meet their needs.
It requires political reforms access to knowledge and resources, and a more just and equitable distribution of wealth within and between nations.
Justice and Conservation
The concept of justice has to be dealt with three main points-
Intra Generational Justice
Every individual in any part of the world has right to need based access of natural resources at any given time. In this context, sustainability contests the North-South dilemma, the question of rich an poor, the inequitqble distribution of resources and various other questions of social and economic justice.
Inter Generational Justice
The central tenet of intergenerational equity is the right of each generation of human beings to benefit from the cultural and natural inheritance from past generations as well as the obligation to preserve such heritage for future generations. It requires conserving diversity and biological resources.
Inter Special Justice
Sustainability recognizes the right of every living organism and species to survival and their natural habitat. The different species have their unique role in the eco-system has to be understood and respected.
The development process followed in India is largely responsible for the environmental and social crisis and therefore we need to opt for a developmental model best suite for our country.
In the context of sustainable policy for India, it was the late professor E. F. Schumachar who had stated in 1960 that there is no salvation for India except through trees.
According to T. N. Khoshoo this would have distinct environmental, social and will help in the following ways:
a) Conservation and improvement of soil and water
b) Cotrol of foods
c) Better micro climate
d) Stabilisation of catchment areas
e) Better quality of life
f) Decentralised economy
g) Creation of asthetic and pleasing landscapes.
h) Halting the influx of rural population into urban areas.
Rosencranz, Divan- Environmental Law and Policy In India, Oxford India Paperback, Second Ed., 2008
Dr. Vijay Chitnis, Environmental Protection and Law, Rajmudra, Mumbai-4, 1995
Sustainable Development- Global Perspectives, Ed. Trivedi Publishers, New Delhi-2, p.1
T. N. Khoshoo, Perspectives in Environmental Management, Oxford and IBH pub. New Delhi
Silver, Ruth Simon, One Earth One Future, National Academy of sciences, East West Press, New Delhi.
Tags: agrochemical industry, altitude lakes, political lobbies, staggering proportions, stockholm declaration
Sustainable supply chains are an integral part of a rapidly growing trend that is transforming businesses around the world. Supply chains are critical links that connect an organisation’s inputs to its outputs. The increasing environmental costs of these networks and growing consumer pressure for eco-friendly products has led many organisations to look at supply chain sustainability as a new measure of profitable logistics management.
Approximately 70 percent of all surveyed top executives consider sustainability efforts essential to long-term profitability. For firms’ purchasing strategies, purchasing heads rank environmental efforts as most important among sustainability initiatives.
In response to overwhelming demand for sustainable supply chain expertise, educational facilities like the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University are building green supply chains into their curriculums.
The level of an organizations involvement can be catagorized into one of three general groups sometimes referred to as the three tiers of sustainability.
Tier 1) The Basics: This is the base level where companies employ simple measures such as switching lights and PCs off when left idle, recycling paper, and using greener forms of travel with the purpose of reducing the day-to-day carbon footprint. Some companies also employ self-service technologies such as centralised procurement and teleconferencing.
Tier 2) Thinking Sustainably: This is the second level, where companies begin to realise the need to embed sustainability into supply chain operations. Companies tend to achieve this level when they assess their impact across a local range of operations. In terms of the supply chain, this could involve supplier management, product design, manufacturing rationalisation, and distribution optimisation.
Tier 3) The Science of Sustainability: The third tier of supply chain sustainability uses detailed auditing and benchmarks to provide a framework for governing sustainable supply chain operations. This clarifies the environmental impact of adjustments to supply chain agility, flexibility, and cost in the supply chain network. Moving towards this level means being driven by the current climate as well as pushing emerging regulations and standards at both an industry and governmental level.
An October 2009 GTM report, titled Greening the Supply Chain: Benchmarking Sustainability Practices and Trends, indicates that green supply chain leaders are benefiting from reduced costs, increased revenue and recognition.
The report includes case studies and interviews with supply chain executives and sustainability officers. Although energy reduction in the supply chain has received a lot of attention, there are other efforts including more efficient product designs.
According to David Schatsky, one of the report’s authors, “The supply chain represents a big opportunity for firms to realize the financial, operational and strategic benefits of sustainable business practices.”
Despite its growing prominence, sustainability is not at the core of most companies’ strategic planning and although involvement is increasing, it is not yet the prime driver of supply chain agendas.
While there are many benefits to greening the supply chain, there are also impediments. Many companies cannot fully evaluate their suppliers and customers, making it difficult to assess the true environmental costs. However, as the basic standards of sustainability reporting become increasingly common it will be easier to make more accurate assessments.
Sustainable supply chain efforts are a defining feature of a serious environmental commitment. Overall the research indicates that firms that take sustainability seriously show major competitive advantages, especially with regard to production efficiency, supplier management skills and employee morale.
Supply chain sustainability reporting is a key feature of Puma’s overall sustainability strategy. At the GRI Global Conference in Amsterdam, sporting goods manufacturer Puma, in cooperation with the Global Reporting Initiative, announced its intention to expand environmental considerations and improve working conditions throughout their strategic supplier network.
Those responsible for more than two-thirds of all Puma products will receive GRI certified training on transparent measurement and reporting on their sustainability performance using the GRI G3 Guidelines – the world’s most widely-used framework for sustainability reporting. These twenty Puma suppliers are based in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries. The first sustainability reports are expected to be released in 2011/2012.
Reiner Hengstmann, Puma’s Global Head of Social and Environmental Affairs said, “Without sustainable suppliers, we will not be able to produce sustainable products or credibly report about Puma’s own sustainability initiatives.”
Puma originally joined a GRI pilot project called “Transparency in the Supply Chain” back in 2006. Under this project three South African Puma suppliers were trained on issuing sustainability reports. Managers learned how to measure sustainability concepts such as waste diversion, energy efficiency, and other performance indicators.
As the result of this training Impahla Clothing, a Puma supplier in Capetown, was the first carbon-neutral garment supplier on the African continent in 2009. Impalah’s 2009 Sustainability Reports reveals a 40% increase in production, a doubling of its permanent staff, and a 10% drop in absenteeism. The company’s bottom line improved through the cost savings gained.
Similar projects are underway in China, South Asia, Turkey, and Portugal. By engaging with its vendors and offering them further resources, PUMA has empowered these companies to proactively address the weak points in their operations, while also giving them the tools to find those improvements independently.
Many companies can learn from PUMA’s leadership. PUMA has added value to its offering by changing its corporate mission from the most ‘desirable’ sporting brand, to ‘desirable AND sustainable.’ Once accused of having low labor standards, Puma is now emphasizing transparency and using supply chain reporting as a central part of its strategy to become the most sustainable sport-lifestyle company in the world. Walmart and HP are also leveraging their buying power to increase sustainability throughout their supply chains. Wal-Mart has launched a number of sustainable supply chain programs, including its Sustainability Value Network which directly involves its suppliers in a number of green initiatives. Wal-mart also implemented a supplier packaging scorecard, that formally rates suppliers on their progress toward developing sustainable packaging, as well as their ability to help Wal-Mart reach the company’s sustainability goals to reduce waste, use renewable energy and sell sustainable products.
In 2008, HP published a set of guidelines to make their supply chain more sustainable. The guidelines help multinationals to better equip their suppliers. This initiative focuses on assisting small and medium-sized business to effectively compete in the global market while improving environmental standards. Research funded by the European Supply Chain Institute (ESCI) indicates that IT supply chains afford significant opportunities for carbon reduction.
The ESCI is a member-driven organization that researches all areas that will have a direct, positive impact within the supply chain. Last September, ESCI formed a new group called the Supply Chain Carbon Council to research issues related to carbon emissions in the supply chain and make recommendations.
According to the Supply Chain Carbon Council, “Businesses need to focus less on how IT contributes to their environmental impact and more on how IT can help lessen the environmental impact of their supply chain operations. While making IT more green must remains a concern, there are areas where deploying more IT can significantly contribute to making an organization’s supply chain activities more environmentally sustainable.”
There’s a mounting evidence to indicate that by leveraging their supply chains companies can multiply environmental benefits. Although there are barriers that need to be overcome, sustainable supply chains are part of a world changing trend that is sure to continue.Tags: eco friendly products, recycling paper, supply chain operations, sustainability efforts, sustainability initiatives
The UK has an abundant supply of aggregates for use in building materials and construction projects but as the shift towards sustainability gathers pace, interest in recycled sources has increased.
Across the UK the demand for aggregates stands at approximately 275 million tonnes per year. Most of this is used in the manufacture of concrete or concrete products, such as blocks and railway sleepers and for asphalt. Other uses include drainage, bedding for pipework and decorative landscaping as well as bases for roads, paths and other surfaced areas.
Primary aggregates are drawn from 1,300 extraction sites on land or from offshore dredging. In many cases the haulages distances are thus relatively short. Nevertheless, recycled aggregate often has a double advantage of being processed close to the building site where it can be used and its re-use avoids the need for landfill, with its attendant transport cost and environmental impact.
In addition to recycled aggregate, secondary aggregates are also widely used, especially in concrete manufacture. These resources include waste materials such as slag from the steel industry and pulverised fuel ash (PFA) from coal fired power stations. CEMEX, the leading building materials provider, is in the forefront of these developments, creating carefully formulated blends for high performance concrete.
The company is also pioneering the regular use of recycled concrete in its full range of concrete mixes. For example, at the Gorton plant in Manchester, 10% of crushed, recycled concrete is used on a routine basis and customers are increasingly requesting details on this significant saving in primary aggregates. Indeed, it was an important factor in the supply of concrete to G & J Seddon for the construction of the new Glendining Primary School for Salford City Council. In this case 800m3 of concrete was supplied; the recycled element representing the equivalent of 13 concrete mixer trucks worth of material.
CEMEX is actively involved in increasing the supply of all forms of recycled aggregate, from china clay waste in Cornwall to crushed glass and construction and demolition waste across the UK. At quarries in the Bristol area, for instance, CEMEX produces high quality recycled aggregate (Type 1) – which can be used in creating the base layer for roads and concrete surfaces – along with a range of other recycled aggregates for use as a ‘Fill Material’.
At present 25% of the demand for aggregate is met through the use of recycled and secondary materials. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that the proportion of recycled aggregates can be increased to 30% by 2011 and the government gave this target further impetus in the 2009 budget with an annual increase in the landfill tax of £8 per tonne from 2011 to 2013. In addition, the levy on primary aggregates was increased to £2 per tonne.
Increasingly, public projects require a set percentage of recycled material to be used. In some instances this can be a substantial proportion, such as the in the ‘Church Village Bypass’ in South Wales where the Welsh Assembly has imposed a requirement for 45% recycled aggregate.
Despite the excellent progress being made, barriers to using sustainable aggregates remain. For example, the quality of crushed and graded rubble from building sites can vary between samples, making engineers cautious about using any form of recycled material where defined standards must be met. Confusion or inadequate understanding of cements produced from recycled materials can also restrict uptake of secondary aggregates.
Research into the use of recycled aggregates for use in making concrete, concrete blocks and as a sub base is ongoing around the World. In the UK, pressure to develop more sustainable forms of construction is helping to accelerate the process and is creating a demand for more detailed information.
Industry initiatives, such as those led by WRAP, support ongoing research and commercial development The Aggregates Programme aims to increase the availability of sustainable aggregates by helping companies invest in reprocessing infrastructure to produce higher quality recycled aggregates to meet market demand.
Quality protocols have also been introduced to help users of recycled aggregates demonstrate that aggregate products have been fully recovered and are no longer a waste. The programme also aims to provide agreement on defined standards and specifications, thus increasing confidence in performance and providing a clear ‘duty of care’ audit trail to ensure compliance with waste management legislation.
Many of these measures are designed to break down barriers to using recycled aggregates and to encourage a positive position when tenders are drawn up and contracts assigned.
However, in order to ensure the carbon footprint for construction materials really is minimized on the building site, suitable materials must be available locally. For example, recent initiatives have made increased quantities of high quality recycled aggregate available in the London area but on rural sites, far from urban areas, primary aggregates may still be the ‘greener’ option.
Another way in which many major producers of sand, gravel, stone and other aggregates can make the industry more sustainable is through increased efficiency and improved technology. Reduction in dust during the processing stages is one area under investigation and on its many quarries and extraction sites across the UK, CEMEX is playing its part in raising standards.
Overall the UK therefore has a good track record in the use of sustainable aggregates as well as in the drive towards developing new opportunities.
Tags: concrete mixer trucks, leading building materials, railway sleepers, salford city council, secondary aggregates
In the 90s, the stress was more on core sectors like mechanical, civil, electrical, electronics, mining and metallurgy. But today robotics, Bio-Engineering, Bio-Technology, Nano Technology, life sciences and biology, energy and the environment are some of the new areas that offer ample scope of the new areas that offer ample scope of research and application.
Robotics: The study of robotics involves the science and technology of robots and their designing manufacture, and application. The future of robotic in India is closely linked with what the rest of the world does in this area and how quickly we are able to adapt to the changing scenario. Perhaps the day personal digital assistants will be replaced by personal robotic assistants is not far off. For one, believes robots will soon be a part of every home. All the IITs have some research activities in this area. Those interested can opt for a Mater’s or PhD degree in any of the associated fields such as mechanical, electrical or electronics engineering or computer science and focus on robotics-related courses and research.
Nano Technology: This field revolves around the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nano-technology deals with structures 100 nanometers or smaller, and involves developing materials or devices within that size. In the future, Nano Technology will also let us fabricate a new generation of products that are cleaner stronger, lighter and more precise and efficient. This particular discipline penetrates in to every aspect of science and engineering, and promises a new paradigm of manufacturing. In fact, it our eyes could see tiny cluster of atoms and our finger could act as tweezers able to pluck atom by atom we could produce anything and everything on our table top from a grain or rice to a motor car.
Bio-Medical Engineering/Bio Engineering: It provides scope to engineer biological system, covers areas like detection and monitoring of minute changes in cells and metabolic releases to replacement of heart valves. Today’s healthcare science is more measurement engineering than perception and medication.
Clean Fuel/Energy Technology: One of the greatest problems of sustainability is emission of oxides of carbon. Fossil fuel has evolved and remained the most viable energy source in our efforts for power generation-be it in the form of electricity or heat for cooking or horsepower for driving an automotive. Carbonaceous source used for industrial processes like metal and chemical processing also contribute significantly. Awareness driven necessity has triggered aggressive research efforts to try alternate sources as also devise methods and processes to minimize emissions leading to climatic catastrophes like global warming, Ozone layer depletion, acid rain, and so on.
The renewed thrust on the energy and the environment in today’s world is one of our biggest challenges to implement an effective energy strategy that will give us abundant, reliable and affordable energy supplies while protecting the environment. Energy use and supply is of fundamental important to society. It has made the largest impact on the environment as a result of the large scale and pervasive nature of energy-related activities. The technological and scientific aspects of energy and environment questions including energy conservation, and the interaction of energy forms and systems with the physical environment, are creating a paradigm shift in the way engineers are facing the challenges of manufacturing products that are highly energy efficient and contribute less to the emission of greenhouse gases.
Life science and Bio-Technology : A revolution is taking place in the knowledge-base of life science and bio-technology, opening up new applications in healthcare, agriculture and food production, and environmental protection, and environmental as well as new scientific discoveries. The expansion of the knowledge base is accompanied by an unprecedented speed in transformation of frontier scientific inventions in to practical use and products. As probably the most promising of the frontier technologies, life sciences and bio-technologies, life sciences and bio technology can have a major role to play in achieving wealth generation and employment in India.Tags: ample scope, core sectors, nano technology, new paradigm, personal robotic assistants
My interest in renewable energy stems from the fact that I am planning to build a house from scratch in the very near future. As a new construction it will give me a clean slate to work with. I would like to incorporate as much renewable energy technology as I can in this house. In fact I want to have an off the grid house.
As I will be building the house from scratch I will be able to incorporate the full spectrum of renewable energy in the design of the house from the low-tech to the high-tech.
Passive energy is a “low-tech” approach. When constructing or remodeling a house, a bit of advance planning will yield a considerable amount of possibilities to use solar energy to both heat of cool your home.
The running costs of a building can be reduced if the reliance on mechanical or electrical heating, cooling and lighting can be reduced.
Passive solar energy cannot be tacked on to a building. Passive solar energy is not an addition to a house that can be added later or at the end of the building process. It is therefore essential to consider the possibilities for passive solar energy right from the start of the building process i.e. at the planning stages.
Passive solar energy system must be incorporated into and form an integral part of an energy efficient building and landscape.
The field of passive solar energy involves building design and the placement of appropriate building components to make the best use of sunlight for day lighting, passive heating and/or passive cooling. Besides saving energy, a primary benefit of passive solar is improved comfort for the occupants.
Passive solar energy is a resource that does not require machinery. If properly designed, buildings can use daylight year-round to capture the sun’s heat in the winter and minimize it in the summer. Buildings designed in such a way utilize passive solar energy to help heat, cool, or light them.
Your energy requirements can be reduced considerably through the use of passive solar design, better insulation and energy efficient appliances. The amount of energy saved will naturally vary on the architectural design of the house, the landscaping surrounding it, and the efficiency of the appliances including the illumination.
Many passive solar heating design features also provide day lighting. The use of natural sunlight to light up or brighten a building’s interior is known as day lighting. An open floor plan allows the light to reach throughout the building. This can result in substantial savings on electric bills, and not only provides a higher quality of light, but improves productivity and health. Combining natural day lighting with natural ventilation strategies can considerably reduce energy consumption, making a significant contribution to a sustainable building design.
The most common building component used in passive solar energy is the windows. Over a year, most windows loose more energy than they gain. Advanced windows systems can actually be net energy suppliers, with better net annual energy performance than the most tightly insulated wall.
Advanced windows systems use a combination of double or triple glazings, low-emissive coatings, argon or krypton gas fill, and transparent insulation. Choosing an advanced window system and placing most of them to face southwards can reduce your annual heating load considerably. Studies have shown that houses designed using such passive solar concepts can require less than half the heating energy of the same house using conventional windows with random window orientation.
In winter, when the external temperature cools down in the evening, the thermal mass will radiate that absorbed heat into the rooms. Proper design and selection of shading devices can also result in reduced cooling loads in the summer. Apart from shading devices a passive solar cooling device such as the thermal chimney can be used to help cool down a house. It is of a similar design to that of a smoke chimney but instead of smoke it vents hot air out of the house through the roof.
Another approach for getting more solar energy into your home is to build small additions, sometimes referred to as sun rooms, which are designed to maximize solar intake. If the ventilation for these additions is properly designed the incoming energy not only provide heat to the sun room itself, but can be extended via convection or forced air systems to help heat the rest of your home.
A significant challenge for the next generation of modern dwellings is the integration of advanced window technologies, superior day lighting and passive solar heating for buildings in cold climates. New technology developments, in particular with advanced windows and airtight envelopes, make many older passive solar “rules-of-thumb” obsolete, and require the use of energy performance analysis tools.
The use of environmental modelling, a new and invaluable design tool that provides a detailed computer analysis of the internal environment with predictions of temperature, airflow, CO2 concentrations and daylight levels will help in designing more energy efficient houses.
With a bit of planning, passive solar energy design can reduce your energy requirements which also reduces the amount of energy your micro-solar and wind power plant has to produce.Tags: clean slate, energy right, passive solar energy, renewable energy technology, solar energy system