Archive for January, 2012
Sustainable Architecture For A Sustained Future
Sustainable architecture is simply means that environmentally friendly design techniques in the field of architecture, Sustainable Architecture shows systems approach to design and construction in which the various components such as alternative power recourses (passive solar techniques, wind power, geothermal energy etc), proper use of site, proper use of materials, earth air conditioning, vapor-permeable ceilings, and cellulose insulation, health and safety, aesthetic appearance, contextual responsiveness etc, operate wisely to achieve environmental goals
Why Need Of Sustainable Architecture
Different countries have different cultures and way of designing buildings are in relevance with their cultures, in early days constructions were link with nature and most of the time materials, that used for constructions, were selections of the nature, at that time there were not any environmental problem or any material problem owing to those buildings (domestic houses ) were tally with the environment and the material also was renewable however with the time this has been changed and in present situation cultural oriented and environmentally friendly houses, buildings are being disappearing.
In the present day early situation has been drastically changed and terms like cost management, resources management, safety, optimum use of energy, environmental impact etc, are arising and it has create a negative impact on the survival of people and the industry.
Sustainable architecture seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by enhancing efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, resources and development space
It is our responsibility
We need to live more lightly on the earth, because the degeneration of our environment is affecting not only our survival, but the survival of other living beings on the planet. We can not ignore the impact we have on the earth’s ecosystems. The way of people are living, the choices of them providing for their needs, will have an enormous influence on the quality of life of every living being. Now is the time to take responsibility for the consequences of our life styles, we are the people who are representing the construction industry, therefore it is our responsibility to show the correct path to people
Areas where it is possible to use Sustainable Architecture
Sustainable architecture is a profound subject and use of this subject in the field is also cover very large area, therefore it is difficult to discuss all the subject matters and there practice in the field, using a report like this. However this is most sought after topic to discuss, therefore it has been selected few major areas where sustainable architecture is necessary to use.
1. Sustainable Architecture with Site , Climate and Size and Shape of the building
1.1. Respect for site
In earlier days when it is being needed to prepare a site for a house or any kind of building it was doing with the help of the labors and they didn’t do a considerable change to the site and they just construct their buildings in respect to the site that means they construct their building according to the site conditions there for the stability, aesthetic and contextual response was great for those buildings, however today this site preparation procedure is doing with heavy machinery and drilling , blasting also can be taken a place when it is necessary, today what the people doing is they are preparing the site according to their need, this procedure may loose the stability, aesthetic and contextual response of the building
Respect for site means to respect for the nature therefore it is need to concentrate on following factors before constrictions is taking a place
Will any natural spaces or wilderness be developed?
Will buildings be expanded into protected natural areas?
Is an Environmental Impact Assessment needed and has it been prepared?
What steps have been taken to protect natural spaces, habitats or species?
What restorative or rehabilitative measures will be taken?
Will any habitat or species be harmed or eliminated so that it cannot be remedied?
Will any significant cultural site be affected?
What steps have been taken to protect such cultural site(s)?
Have energy and water conservation technologies, waste management measures and energy-efficient principles and building technology guided the design process in a meaningful way?
2. Energy conservation and use of renewable energy resources
Under the sustainable architecture it is being discussed a need of constructing a house which need least possible power specially through (fossil fuels) to heat or cool the interior. When designing energy conserving house the following fact must be considered
The use and cost of energy in buildings on a long-term basis,
The climatic characteristics in terms of solar radiation, temperature, humidity and wind
Thermal comfort of the occupants
Architectural guidelines for effective solar design
The building envelope: Mass, glazing, day lighting, insulation, ventilation and systems.
User control mechanisms
The incorporation of renewable fuels into building design
Good design can greatly reduce our energy problems. Use correct building orientation, appropriate amount of glass, window placement, size of roof overhang, etc, insulated homes: insulated walls, ceilings, floors and foundations, energy-efficient windows, insulated window coverings, window shades, insulated doors, insulated hot water lines, weather sealing
Energy-efficient appliances and fixtures such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, proper hot water heaters, energy-efficient heating systems, fans, including whole-house fans, air-to-air exchangers, And proper use of these things is the way of energy conservation
2.1. Alternative energy and their use
Some techniques of using alternative energy are very simple and those are well-proven solutions, most of which are totally simple to implement, but it is a fact to be really surprised because no country has been given a substantial consideration about this
2.1.1. Solar Heating
Solar heating is a good and reliable way of providing sustainable electricity for any use. Sun is being a place where it generates power without diminutive and most of the places in the world having direct sun light which is enough to generate power by using photovoltaic panels this must be the best way of generating power. Roofs are often angled toward the sun to allow photovoltaic panels to collect at maximum efficiency, electricity gain through the photovoltaic panels can be used for any usage, water heating is one of the major power consume procedure in the house, this solar heating can be used to water heating for zero cost therefore it will be a good practice if people can use solar heating to at least to heat water
2.1.2. Wind Power
Wind is another kind of power generating source we can use free of charge, if the building site situated in a area where it is normally having good wind conditions we can use this system, under the sustainable architecture here it will be discussed how this is been operate cheaply, because actually if a domestic user select this system sometimes this may not cheep system to gain electricity for him, advantages and disadvantages are common to this system also and under any circumstances the user cant operate a system like this
This report is providing the information about what are the eligible places to operate a system like this and, it will be discussed the advantages and disadvantages
2.1.3. Geothermal energy
This is also another way of having power specially this systems can be used to water heating, normally temperature of in side of the earth is high, under this procedure that temperature will be collect and used
3. Sustainable Architecture and Construction
Here it will be discussed about creating a healthy built environment using resource efficient
3.1. Minimize resource consumption – conserve and reduce use of resources.
Conservation supports the principles of sustainability; it is minimize the resource consumption, resent past years it has been used materials without any conservation usually for reasons of short-term economic advantage and to day it has led to a panic situation of shortage of material in the world and some countries have to import necessary materials from other countries for constructions hence under this ground the cost of the materials is sky rocketing therefore it is need to manage the resource consumption
3.2. Maximize resource reuse – avoid and reduce waste.
Another side of sustainability is avoid and reduce wastage whenever it is possible to reuse a building it should be considered and if the building can not be reused then it should go to refurbishment, like wise as much as possible building should be maintain and used, if the refurbishment doesn’t safe and it is not eligible to reuse then only it should go to demolition, there are building elements like windows, tile, wooden material etc, which is potential for reuse therefore it should be careful to remove those elements safely before being demolished
3.3. Use local material
In any where of this world we can find natural resources that can be used for our purposes, it is need a very little processing effort to convert them into materials that we want, most commonly found resources are, rock, sand, trees, clay, limestone are some of them actually if someone need to build a house these things are enough for it, and a house which is being made with local materials, will give a good natural and interesting look, hence before going to artificial or imported material it is wise to consider about local material which is cheap economically.
3.4. Use Natural material
A building, which is being made with naturally made materials, is better to live with. as an example a floor which is being made by using wood is very comfortable compared with cement or tile floor and just because of the resilient characteristic of the wood it would not give hurt when someone fall down on it. Also choosing natural materials will reduce the pollution often associated with their manufacture process for every ton of portland cement that is manufactured, an equal amount of carbon dioxide is released into the air. And then there is the matter of health, natural materials are much less likely to adversely affect your health
3.5. Use renewable or recyclable resources.
Using renewable material or recyclable material will reduced the necessity of reproducing and also keeping them out of the landfill, not only that producing a material means not a simple process which sometimes use heavy machinery, labor, fuel etc, reusing a product means we reserve those things to future.
3.6. Protect the natural environment.
Population is increasing day by day, and increasing population means that the increasing of the need of the people, they need food, transport, buildings, etc. Increasing these needs means that it is increasing the people’s involvement with the nature therefore we should follow a sustainable procedure to protect the natural environment.
Sustainable architecture which describe environmentally friendly design techniques and systems approach to design and construction, will be help for a sustained future, in this report it has been discussed problems which have taken a place, and related remedies that we can follow under sustainable architectureTags: aesthetic appearance, cellulose insulation, geothermal energy, negative environmental impact, sustainable architecture
Increased moral, ethical, social and political concerns about changes in the environment due to the effects of global warming have resulted in the development of increased interest in environmental education and awareness of children (Littledyke, 2002) hence, there have been many researches carried out into children’s understanding of their environment and related issues. This paper seeks to explore the extent to which children could play an important role in environmental issues. It is reasonable to suggest that catching them young is an effective way of creating environmental awareness and this may result in eco-soldiers in their later lives. It could be argued that this generation, more than any other before, will need the environmental awareness and citizenship that is instilled through the interaction and exploration of their natural environment through education.
Children represent an influential market that directs parental expenditure and the argument for their importance in decision making in all spheres of life is becoming more persuasive and more widely accepted (Strong, 1998). Strong (1998) further suggests that children are able to use information from school to choose environmentally friendly products and play a role in how their parents act. In this regard, schools play an important role in the formation of positive attitudes towards the environment in young people. It is, therefore, reasonable to suggest that lack of awareness is one of the obstacles to development. Arguably, a child who does not know what things are harmful to the environment is unlikely to respect the environment and may not, therefore, have good environmental attitudes.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA, 2009) has noted that about a quarter of the UK population are young people below 19 years of age. Children and young people, the HPA (2009) suggests, can be especially vulnerable to environmental determinants of disease and exposure to environmental hazards than adults. By the UK government putting in place strategies that focus on environmental factors that impact on young people’s health (HPA, 2009), there have been substantial improvements in the quality of the environment in the UK that have resulted in measurable improvements in children’s health. However, the HPA (2009) acknowledges that despite these advances, there are areas such as environmental awareness that can still be improved. It can be suggested that as the understanding of the connection between environmental awareness and children’s health advances, areas that need further improvements could be identified and acted upon.
The UK government has also set out policies and enacted laws such as the Climate Change Act 2008 (Defra, 2008) as a measure it can use to cut the UK’s emission of greenhouse gases. Defra (2008) suggests that the government recognises the importance of schools and young people in meeting its carbon reduction commitment. It could, nevertheless, be debated that although there are such laws and acts to protect the environment, if the children are not aware of them and the benefits of a good environment, then their role will be very minimal. Furthermore, research carried out by the Green Alliance (2004) revealed that children are losing their connection with the natural environment; and that the worse a local environment looks the less the children are able to play freely. The research further suggests that children from poor environments are unlikely to develop habits and commitments that will enable them to address environmental problems adequately in the future. The Green Alliance (2004) argues that new ways need to be found that facilitate environmental education for children through out-of-school learning and green school designs.
As Green Alliance (2004) has pointed out, children are a powerful symbol of the future and hence they provide us with a compelling reason to protect the environment. With their involvement in the implementation of environmental policies as well as a prolonged and repeated interaction with the natural environment, it could be debated that children would be conditioned to develop a sense of care for the environment. It can therefore be suggested that new ways need to be found that facilitate environmental education through out-of-school learning and green school designs. The inclusion of Environmental Studies in school curriculums could result in teachers having the confidence to deliver out-of-classroom teaching which could lead to better environmental awareness and attitudes in children (Defra, 2007). Every child should be entitled to outdoor learning, such as field trips, if they are to be connected to their natural environment (Green Alliance, 2004). It could be debated that the opportunity to investigate and explore the natural environment provides children with the knowledge and understanding of how they could use their surroundings. It is reasonable to suggest that such knowledge may result in their appreciation of what they have and develop good attitudes towards the environment.
The importance of children in environmental issues has been acknowledged by the International Standards Organisation (ISO, 2003) by developing a ‘Kids’ ISO 14000 programme. ISO (2003) describes that the ‘Kids’ ISO 14000 aims to promote environmental awareness among children worldwide and enable them to take practical steps to improve the environment. It teaches them to implement environmental management based on the ISO 14000 approach in their homes and communities and also aims to encourage the formation of networks of children both locally and internationally in order for them to work together on global environmental issues. ISO (2003) contends that the Kids’ ISO 14000 is a powerful learning tool which helps children to achieve measurable environmental results on their own doorsteps and forms responsible, environmentally mature citizens with a global outlook.
It is reasonable to suggest that the Kids’ ISO 14000 has become even more relevant as communication technology has become more accessible to children than never before in the history of mankind. A comprehensive report by the London School of Economics on internet usage by young people in the 9-19 year old age range in the UK (Adam, 2009) indicates that 98% have access to the internet with 74% having access at home and 35% with access in their bedrooms. Adam (2009) highlights other researches by the charity Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG) and the media regulator ofcom which reveal that 75% of all UK children aged 7 years and older owned “at least” one mobile phone. With the internet providing social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace and YouTube and mobile phones providing text and picture messaging facilities, communication among children has never been easier. It could be debated that this technology has provided a new opportunity for children’s participation in environmental matters. Technology has offered youths opportunities to form youth groups, play schemes and other forums for them to be able to contact other children around the world and encourage them to be aware of how their actions can affect their environment. Arguably, if one child can reduce their own impacts and influence their immediate families and communities then millions of children together can make an enormous difference.
Evidence gathered by Odell (2009) suggests that children who are ‘green’ are militant and see themselves as the eco-kids bent on re-educating their parents and develop confidence to carry the eco message home. Odell (2009) states that a survey carried out in 2008 by the UK Social Investment Forum showed 24% of parents cited their children as a key green motivator and concluded that children are more powerful in getting environmental ideas across than either politicians or the media. This idea has been backed by Defra (2007) who part-fund the Eco-schools programme. Defra (2007) states that: “Children are the key to changing society’s long-term attitudes to the environment”. This is supported by research finding at Durham University (Palmer and Suggate, 2004) which showed that children as young as 4 years of age are capable of making accurate statements about the effects of environmental changes on habitats and living things; and that in some instances they reminded adults to switch off the lights when not in use. Arguably, children from all ages are capable of showing concern for caring for their environment.
Studies by Barraza and Walford (2002) in Mexico and the UK found that levels of environmental understanding amongst children are higher in schools with strong orientation in environmental studies than schools with no environmental policies. This evidence is supported by findings of the Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability (IRES, 2008) at Newcastle University which suggests that environmental awareness and participation by children are more effective in schools where environmental policies are well developed and that children from such schools are more likely to apply their knowledge in the local environment within their neighbourhoods. Conversely, the same research revealed that children taught by teachers with inadequate understanding of environmental issues show little interest in their environment.
There are, however, some sceptics who object to the involvement of children in environmental matters (Odell, 2009). Among the objecting voices, Odell (2009) points out, are Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent and author of ‘The End of Education’ and Professor David Uzzell at Surrey University. Odell (2009) quotes Furedi as stating that it is not right to worry children with environmental matters at an early age as they may end up just acting like ‘super-virtuous eco-bots’ without really thinking about their actions. Uzzell on-the-other-hand claims to have conducted research on children as a catalyst of environmental change in the UK, Portugal, Denmark and France (Odell, 2009). The finding of this study, as Uzzell is cited by Odell (2009), was that the use of children as shock troops for environmental change does not work and that “children coming home and proselytizing is not the answer.” Uzzell concludes that (Odell, 2009) it only works in a household which has a well-informed middle-class family where the parents were willing to play pupil and allow the child to play teacher.
It could however be contended that removing children from the environmental equation would be unwise and counterproductive since many environmental problems, such as climate change, have an impact even on future generations that do not participate in present decisions. It could be debated that the challenge should rather be to ensure that children’s involvement in decision-making on their environment is meaningful and can be translated into real and consistent consideration of their needs. Catling (2005) points out that children do not escape the vagaries, the benefits and the issues of the world at large, and that schools and communities in general have the responsibility to engage with them about it. Catling (2005) contends that schools should have high expectations of children and make them to be knowledgeable about their locality and the world at large. The Green Alliance (2004) has pointed out that children are a powerful symbol of the future and should not only play a passive role in the development and implementation of environmental policy. Arguably, encouraging them to participate in the environmental debate and decision-making could have a wider impact on environmental awareness and citizenship in the longer term. On behalf of the UK Government (Defra, 2007), the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) aims to ensure that sustainable development and environmental awareness is embedded in the core education agenda across all education and skills sectors.
It could be concluded from the above studies that the saying ‘think global, act local’ is even more valid when thinking about children’s environmental awareness. The global environmental issues, it could be debated, will continue to get more complex and the generation we are currently fostering is likely to face even tougher environmental challenges. As the Green Alliance (2004) puts it:
“This generation more than any other before will need the environmental
awareness and citizenship that is instilled through exploration of the natural
environment in childhood.”
In addition, policy makers, it could be suggested, would benefit greatly from listening more to children’s views on environmental issues and respecting their opinions and perspectives as well as taking them as key players on global environmental issues. Whichever approach is taken, it should be clear that the environmental problems being faced by humankind are real, and that if they are to be tackled, and negative trends reversed, immediate and positive action is necessary (Curran, 1998). Curran (1998) contends that every individual and organisation, large or small, can make a contribution and that every contribution is important. It is therefore reasonable to suggest that an increase in children’s awareness of both the environmental issues and the responses that can be made to them is of paramount importance now and in the future.
Adams, S. (2009). Children get first mobile phones at average age eight. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/children.html (22/12/2009).
Barraza, L., and Walford, R.A. (2002). Environmental Education: a comparison between English and Mexican School Children. Journal of Environmental Education Research, Volume 8(2), pp 171-186.
Catling, S. (2005). Children, Place and Environment. GA Annual Conference- University of Derby.
Colton, M et al. (2001). An Introduction to Working with children: A guide for Social Workers. New York: Palgrave, pp 20-45.
Curran, S. (1998). The Environmental handbook. London: The Stationary Office; pp1-10.
Defra. (2007). Advice and Support on education. Available from: http://www.defra.gov.uk/sustainable/government/advice/education.htm (06/09/2009).
Defra,. (2009). Climate change: What we are doing in the UK. Available from: defra.gov.uk/climatechange/government/information.htm.
Green Alliance. (2004). A Green Alliance/Demos report on UK children’s attitudes towards their environment and how this affects them. Available from: green-alliance.org.uk.(12/08/09).
Health Protection Agency. (2009). A Children’s Environment and Health Strategy for the UK. Available from: http: //www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb/HPAweb_A/1237889522947 (23/08/2009)
IRES. (2008). Energy and Environment at Heart of Science City Programme. Newcastle University, Institute of Research on Environment and Sustainability. Available from: http://www.rtcc.org/208/html/res-education 2.html (06/05/2009).
ISO. (2003). ‘Kids’ ISO 14000 Programme. Available from: http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm (08/05/2009).
Littledyke, M. (2002). Primary children’s views on science and environmental cognitive and moral development. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, University of Lisbon. Available from: leads.ac.uk/educol/document.htm
Odell, M. (2009). Creating environmental awareness among children. The Observer. Available from: http://www.popline.org/does/082591.html (08/05/2009).
Oldfield, F. (2005). Environmental Change Key Issues and Alternative Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp281.
Palmer, J.A. and Suggate, J. (2004). The development of children’s understanding of distant places and environmental issues: report of UK longitudinal study of the development of ideas between the ages of 4 and 10 years. Research Papers in Education, Volume 19(2), pp 205-237.
Strasburger, V. C. (2006). Children, Adolescents, and Advertising. Journal of the American Academy of Paediatrics, Vol.118 (6), pp 2563-2569.
Strong, C. (1998). The impact of environmental education on children’s knowledge and awareness of environmental concerns. Journal of Marketing Intelligence and planning. Volume 16(6), pp 349-355.
Tags: effects of global warming, environmental attitudes, environmental determinants, health protection agency, positive attitudes
Assessing Utilization of Low-input Agriculture Technologies (liats) in Malawi: Adoption and Challenges for the Malawian Subsistence Farmer
There is growing concern about agricultural activities leading to environmental degradation and health risks associated with intensively produced foodstuffs. As a result interest in organic agriculture is increasing. This growing interest in sustainable and organic natural resource management and healthy eating, coupled with the increasing number of resource-poor farmers who cannot afford agrichemicals, has led to the potential for organic farming in addressing the issue of sustainable food production and livelihoods of resource-poor people in sub-Saharan Africa.
Low in-put agriculture applies to systems that rely less on external, purchased inputs and more on internal resources. However, low-inout agriculture technolgy (LIAT) has conveyed a negative impression in various agriculture circles and this is cited as a major barrier to wider adoption of low-input agriculture technologies (LIATs) in Malawi and sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.
Increasingly, it has been recognized that environmental deterioration in Africa is a central factor holding back agriculture. The disappearance of forest areas accelerates land degradation. Even on gently sloping cropland, topsoil losses have been reported to range from 25 tonnes to 250 tonnes per hectare, across the region. One study has estimated that soil degradation and erosion in Africa reduces the productivity of land about 1 per cent a year (Daberkow and Reichederfer, 1988).
According to World Bank figures (1982), some 2.9 million hectares of forest were lost each year in sub-Saharan Africa during the 1980s, mainly due to clearing by farmers and loggers. The Soil Reference and Information Centre (2007) in the Netherlands estimates that 321 million hectares of African land are moderately to extremely degraded. Since 1950, the amount of water available per person in Africa has fallen by more than half, and may plummet further to half its current level within the next 25 years.
While African governments have become more aware of the relationship between the environment and agricultural productivity, much of the impetus for concrete and more integrated action has come from the grassroots. Confronted with deteriorating environmental conditions, villagers across the continent, often with support from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), have taken the initiative to set up woodlots, terrace hillsides, conserve threatened water sources and adopt more environmentally sustainable farming methods.
Malawi is a landlocked country about 117,068 km2, with a population of about 12 million people. It is situated in southeastern Africa, where the Great Rift Valley traverses the country from north to south. In this deep trough lies Lake Malawi, the third-largest lake in Africa, comprising about 20% of Malawi’s land area. The Shire River flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 400 kilometers farther south in Mozambique. East and west of the Rift Valley, the land forms high plateaus, generally between 900 and 1,200 meters above sea level.
Malawi is a densely populated country with an economy heavily dependent on agriculture. The country has few exploitable mineral resources. Its two most important export crops are tobacco and tea. Traditionally Malawi has been self-sufficient in its staple food, maize, and during the 1980s exported substantial quantities to its drought-stricken neighbors. Agriculture represents 38.6% of the GDP, accounts for over 80% of the labour force, and represents about 80% of all exports. Nearly 90% of the population engages in subsistence farming. Smallholder farmers produce a variety of crops, including maize, beans, rice, cassava, tobacco, and groundnuts (peanuts). The agricultural sector contributes about 63.7% of total income for the rural population, 65% of manufacturing sector’s raw materials, and approximately 87% of total employment. Financial wealth is generally concentrated in the hands of a small elite.
Many Malawian subsistence farmers have unconsciously practiced LIATs since time immemorial until the advent of advanced technology and conventional farming systems aimed at producing more to food the ever-increasing population. Conventional farming system has by and by overtaken traditional low-input agriculture. However, LIATs system of farming is not receiving much attention for various reasons. There is thus need to revisit the system and identify the needs and gaps that impede adoption of LIAT system of farming. The primary objective of the research was to identify the challenges of adoption of organic agriculture that exist in the development of LIATs in Malawi and to recommend the formulation of policies that will improve sustainability in agriculture.
There are varied definitions of organic farming but the basic principles of this type of farming apply to all. The principles of organic farming as expressed in the standards document of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) are:
• To produce food of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantity
• To work with natural systems rather seeking to dominate them
• To encourage and enhance biological cycles within the farming system, involving microorganisms, soil flora and fauna, plants and animals
• To maintain and increase the long-term fertility of soils
• To use as far as possible renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems
• To avoid all forms of pollution that may result from agricultural activities
• To maintain the genetic diversity of the agricultural system and its surroundings
• To allow agricultural producers an adequate return and satisfaction from their work including a safe working environment
These principles provide the basis for day-to-day farming practice. They directly give rise to the techniques of organic farming, such as composting, the use of rotations, the avoidance of soluble fertilizers, the prohibition of intensive livestock operations, the avoidance of antibiotics and hormone stimulants, the use of mechanical methods of weed control, etc.
Organic farming has also been defined as “a farming system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives”. To the maximum extent possible, organic farming systems rely on crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, and aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients and to control insects, weeds and other pests.
The definitions and principles of organic farming underlie the notion of low input agriculture, which emphasizes use of internal inputs and not external inputs. Internal inputs are generally much cheaper and affordable compared to external inputs.
Low In-put Agriculture Technology (LIAT)
This is a production activity that uses synthetic fertilizers or pesticides below rates commonly recommended. It does not mean elimination of these materials or inputs. Yields are maintained through greater emphasis on cultural practices, integrated pest management (IPM), and utilization of on-farm resources and management. LIAT has also been termed “low input and sustainable agriculture, LISA)” by other schools of agriculture. The term in both cases applies to those systems that rely less on external, purchased inputs and more on internal resources, while sustaining the natural resources.
Sustainable agriculture is an important element of the overall effort to make human activities compatible with the demands of the earth’s eco-system. Thus, an understanding of the different approaches to ecological agriculture is necessary if we want to utilise the planet’s resources wisely.
While sustainable agriculture is based on long-term goals and not a specific set of farming practices, it is usually accompanied by a reduction of purchased inputs in favor of managing on-farm resources. A good example is reliance on biologically-fixed nitrogen from legumes as versus manufactured nitrogen fertilizers. Low-input agriculture is one of several alternative farming systems whose methods are adaptable to sustainable agriculture.
The research on organic farming and LIAT was done using interviews of key-informants from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and those who practice organic farming as a strategy of LIAT. Four visits to fifteen different key-informants were made. The farmers (key-informants) were purposefully selected on the merit of known cases of LIA and organic farming in Malawi. An interview questionnaire was administered at each visit to solicit information related to the research questions “what are the challenges of adoption of organic farming faced by farmers in Malawi?” and “what LIATs are currently practiced in Malawi?” Internet search was also used to get more literature on organic farming and LIAT in sub-Sahara Africa and Malawi. The search words used were low-input agricultute, organic farming, Malawi, sub-Sahara Africa, subsistence agriculture.
Views of Malawi Organic Growers Association (MOGA)
Africa is the only continent in which food production has failed to keep up with the growth in population. In Malawi, where there is a shortage of the staple food, maize, hunger and malnutrition result in high infant mortality. Here, some farmers are experimenting with organic farming systems – which do not rely on man-made chemicals – and their techniques are being observed by farmer groups from other countries. The methods being used involve a combination of irrigation, companion planting, composting and soil conservation. Currently there are 2,400 smallholder farmers in fourteen farmer clubs that practice organic farming in Malawi. These are closely supervised by the Malawi Organic Growers Association (MOGA), whose objective is to promote organic farming on a national level so that it contributes to poverty reduction, food security and natural resources management through training of its members. The objective of MOGA will be achieved through the following activities;
• Promoting and protecting the interests of organic producers
• Selecting suitable crops and coordinating and monitoring production among members
• Setting rules for standardization and certification of organic products which are accepted nationally and internationally
• Assisting farmer members increase their production levels, crop diversification and food security
• Establishing contacts for marketing at national, regional and international levels
• Informing and training members in post-harvest processing to add value to products
MOGA has also established a demonstration and training centre for organic farming in Dzalanyama, Lilongwe. It is also promoting a project (permaculture) to protect ecosysytems where farmers used to cut down trees for shifting cultivation. Permaculture is largely promoted at one of the farmers who practice organic farming. His farm is called “Freedom Gardens” and it acts as a demonstration garden for other potential farmers who go to learn permaculture and other strategies of organic farming
Interview with Agriculture Expert (key-informant)
Experts from the MOGA gave their views on LIA and organic agriculture. The discussion with the researcher (RS) and Agriculture Expert (AE) went as follows;
RS. What are the advantages of turning to organic agriculture?
AE: It’s difficult to generalize, because examples of successful organic farming systems can be found in many different conditions. A major advantage of course is that it stops environmental degradation. Organic techniques are used to regenerate degraded areas. A second advantage is that, because of diversification, it offers farmers a much more secure income than when they rely on only one or two outputs. The consumption of byproducts improves the health of the farm family.
Thirdly, farmers maintain nutrient balances in the soil through locally available organic materials or recycled farm wastes. Soil nutritional status is thus better maintained in areas where access to synthetic inputs is limited or where they are too expensive.
Finally, health hazards posed by pesticides and herbicides fall are significantly reduced through organic farming.
RS: Exactly what is low-external-input agriculture; what are its principles?
AE: Low-external-input farming reduces as much as possible the use of external inputs like pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers and replaces them with internal inputs. The basic principle is that farming is seen as both agro- and ecosystem management. The farmer is managing a farm with coherent diversity. The important concepts are diversification of crops and animals, crop rotation, and organic matter cycles. Low-external-input agriculture does not prohibit synthetic inputs. It’s just that when the principles are applied, the need for synthetics disappears. Mixed cropping, green manuring, composting, use of local organic materials, reduced tillage and biodynamic preparations are also included. These things are little more than common sense. Developing these skills with the farmer is the biggest problem.
RS: How accepted is organic agriculture today?
AE: Organic farming isn’t exactly new. Many so-called traditional systems have worked for a long time without external inputs and chemicals – and are still working. The best proof that organic farming can work is that it has worked for a long time. This doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. It certainly has to be. But to improve it, it’s not necessary to use external inputs. There are other ways. Here I feel FAO is weak. The Organization feels that agricultural improvement means putting in chemicals. That’s a one-sided view. In some cases, that approach is viable, but in others it’s not. And I feel we have a role to play in developing traditional systems that are still low-external-input without chemicals. The means to do this involves the concept of nutrient balances including organic matter. Science today has a lot more information about what is happening with soil resources, and with these data many traditional systems can be improved without chemicals.
RS: Most districts in Malawi have very high population densities, how can low-external-input agriculture work in places like these?
AE: The fact is that very often systems are being degraded because the external inputs are not properly used. In organic farming, the need for external inputs is reduced through nutrient cycling and an input like labour. When other external inputs are necessary, they are organic materials. You can make biologically intensive production systems with above average yields, employing more people, using renewable, organic resources.
Admittedly, you have to balance population pressures to some degree as well. If you have degraded soils, you need to build up soil fertility, and when the fertility is there you have to try to maintain it. The problem at the moment is that people have tried for too long to use the soil as something to extract from, without trying to recycle things back into it.
The intensification of an agricultural system need not mean automatically putting in more chemicals. There are different ways – intercropping, green manuring, recycling of manure, and planting crops at different times, so as to maximize the potential of a piece of land. You can use cropping systems so that you have a diversity of crop species that complement each other. You can plant crop combinations that are less susceptible to pest attacks, so that you don’t have to keep relying on the pesticides used with monocultures.
RS. Can you give an overview of organic farming in Malawi?
AE. Compared to the population of Malawi (about 12 million people), those practicing organic farming in Malawi are few although there is an untapped demand for organic produce within and outside Malawi. The question is therefore how to go into this market by encouraging farmers to grow organic produce and forming links between potential farmers and the market. This is because marketing is the major impediment in the adoption of organic farming.
There are currently no standards for organic farming in the country which control the production of organic goods and there is also little awareness by the potential farmers of the benefits of organic farming.
RS. What are the low-input technologies that are currently used in Malawi?
AE. Many subsistence farmers in Malawi practice LIA albeit unconsciously. Due to unaffordability of external agriculture inputs farmers have always produced crops using on-farm inputs. Some of the strategies which are currently practiced by subsistence farmers are;
There are many different irrigation systems available to suit particular conditions. The one commonly used in Malawi is that which is traditionally used in many parts of the world – the irrigation water is carried to the fields along channels at the highest edge of the land and then along smaller channels made between the rows of plants. The water then soaks into the ground around the plants.
A technique used by the farmers interviewed to help to control pests is to plant together different kinds of crop which help each other to survive and grow successfully. One of the reasons “companion plants” help each other is because one may deter the pest of its neighbour. For example, many pests avoid garlic so this can be used very effectively for companion planting with many crops.
In some cases, it is possible to use a plant which is more attractive to the pest than the crop plant itself. This idea is used in parts of Africa where farmers have found that milkweed planted among vegetables reduces the number of aphids on their crops – simply because the aphids prefer the milkweed to the vegetables.
In a similar way to companion planting, plants can be used to attract predators which will then eat the pests. Bushes and trees left around crop fields provide cover for many useful insects and birds. There are many plants whose flowers will attract predators and encourage them to lay more eggs, so increasing the number of insects which will attack the pests.
If the soil is to continue to provide the nourishment needed by crop plants, it must be kept in good condition and its natural nutrients replaced. Artificial, chemical fertizers can not do this because they only supply the short-term needs of the plant but do not feed the soil itself – so feeding of the next crop with more, expensive chemicals becomes necessary. By returning natural wastes and animal manure to the soil, as well as feeding the plants, the farmer can also improve the structure of the soil so that it retains water more effectively.
A very effective way of using vegetable wastes in this way is by making it into compost. This is made up of plant and animal residues which have been broken down by bacteria. Since this is a natural process, compost is very easy and inexpensive to make and is an effective and long-lasting way of improving soil and crop quality. If the process is well managed, the heat produced as the materials rot will often be enough to kill weed seeds and plant diseases.
Freedom Gardens uses the trench composting system but there are many different ways of making compost, all of which have been devised to suit various waste materials and the climates in which they are used. It is essential in all methods, however, to have a mixture of different kinds of materials – some young, living material and some older, dead material – so that the final product has a good balance of natural carbon and nitrogen which the crop plants will need.
In order to retain the soil and avoid its loss through erosion by the wind or rain, it helps to grow plants which bind it together. Banana plants and vetiver grass are used for this at farmers’ gardens. Both of these have the additional benefit of providing either a food crop (banana) or a useful farm material in the form of mulch or animal feed (vetiver). Vetiver grass has been used very successfully in more than 50 countries for soil and water conservation. When fully established, a vetiver hedge will hold back surface water and trap any soil which is already being carried in the water.
Other methods of retaining soil include building terraces on steep slopes or using the gentler contours of the land to make flat areas in which rain water will rest until it has soaked naturally into the ground instead of running swiftly down the slope, carrying away the surface soil.
Due to land pressure farmers maximize production by planting two or more crops in a single field. This has the added advantage of reducing pests’ attack through reduced apparency of crops in a mixed stand. Intercropping with legumes is also beneficial in soil nitrogen enrichment by the nitrogen fixing bacteria in the root nodules of legume crops.
This technology has great potential for soil fertility improvement, fruit tree domestication, sustainable tree seed systems and fodder for livestock production. Various leguminous tree species are used in agroforestry in Malawi. An example is Gliricidia sepium which is a preferred species of tree used in this technology. Its leaves are rich in nitrogen (N), sometimes up to 4% of the leaf biomass. A second quality is that the leaves provide organic matter, which help to improve the soil’s fertility and structure. Research at Makoka and application of the technology at nearby farms has shown that Gliricidia intercropping helps to rejuvenate the soil and to improve soil fertility, without the use of fertiliser.
Results indicate a definite increase in the maize crop yield using the simultaneous intercropping with Gliricidia. The farmer can obtain yields of up to 3-4 tonnes.
Permaculture is about designing ecological human habitats and food production systems. It is a land use and community building movement which strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, climate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities.
A central theme in permaculture is the design of ecological landscapes that produce food. Emphasis is placed on multi-use plants, cultural practices such as sheet mulching and trellising, and the integration of animals to recycle nutrients and graze weeds.
Permaculture can be applied to create productive ecosystems from the human- use standpoint or to help degraded ecosystems recover health and wildness. Permaculture can be applied in any ecosystem, no matter how degraded it may be.
Permaculture demonstration sites in Malawi have short-term objectives all of which are aimed at demonstrating to local subsistence farmers the achievements of organic agriculture. Some of the activities which are aimed at food production and income generating are;
• Vegetable growing for: money, food, chicken food, compost manure, fish ponds;
• Poultry farming for: money, food, manure for vegetables, manure for fish ponds;
• Fish farming for: money, food, fish pond manure for vegetable growing;
• Woodlot for: money, timber, fuel;
• Cattle farming for: food, money (to fatten and sell), manure for vegetables and fish ponds;
• Crops (intercropping), one ridge having maize, beans and potatoes which are companion plants. This method is used for a number of reasons:
o It increases long lasting fertility;
o It is a cheaper way of farming;
o It avoids soil and water chemical contamination.
Water infiltration depends on there being sufficient porosity in the surface soil for rainfall to infiltrate, and in the subsoil and parent material (if shallow) for rainwater to percolate. The overriding approach should be to instill in society, and in farmers, extensionists and researchers in particular, the will to create and sustain soil conditions that encourage the infiltration of rainfall where it falls, and to counteract the causes of runoff. This implies that the porosity of the soil must be at least maintained, or increased.
Low-input agriculture has emerged as an important issue as its popularity is motivated and supported by growing evidence of environmental and health risks from agrichemicals. The drop in commodity prices and farm equity value which occurred in 1981-87 has rekindled interest in developing cost-reducing technologies.
Sub-Saharan Africa agricultural production is currently challenged by many constraints faced by farmers across Africa. While some areas offer high productivity and have been intensively cultivated, others are plagued by low soil fertility, poor access to resources such as water, infrastructure and markets. Organic farming offers potential for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihood both through increased yield and access to markets. However, it is not as easy to embark on organic farming and new levels of organization and investment are required from government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and households.
In Malawi over 90% of the population is engaged in Agricultural production which contributes 38.6% of the national gross domestic product, 80% of the export earnings and employs 80% of the labour force (A Guide to Agricultural Production and Natural Resources Management, 2005). According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the main Agriculture sub-sectors include crops contributing about 80%, livestock contributing 13% and fisheries contributing about 6%. Over 95% of the farmers are smallholders with landholdings ranging from 0.5 to 1.0 acres. The majority of these smallholder farmers have rich indigenous knowledge that has sustained their livelihoods, food security as well as land productivity for hundreds of years with very little or no use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and veterinary drugs. However they have limited capital.
Malawi is among the least users of artificial fertilizers and other agrichemicals in Africa with less than 14% or 1 kg of fertilizer per hectare compared to sub-Sahara average of 9kg/ha . Malawi therefore has a high comparative advantage for organic agriculture production in Africa.
Developments in the organic agriculture sub-sector have been driven by developments in international markets and trade. The world market for organic products is now estimated to be above 30 billion US dollars. Average global growth in demand and market of organic products is currently estimated to be 25% per year (Grolink 2004). The growing consumer interest triggered off rapid growth in international trade in organic products. The trading environment is witnessing changes due to;
• Increased consumer concerns for the health and safety.
• Increased consumer consciousness regarding the environment and social issues
of production and marketing.
The demand for Malawi Organic products in the international markets is growing, unfortunately is not yet marched by the supply. This is demonstrated by the number of business contracts being received by MOGA and the government.
The Agriculture sector in general faces some challenges broadly categorized as lack of capital, low production and productivity, poor marketing system, human resource constraints and reliance on unpredictable weather conditions. The African farmer is further constrained by increase in migration to urban settlements and HIV and AIDs. However, the specific challenges in the Organic Sub-sector are:-
• Low investment in organic agriculture production leading to failure in fulfilling existing market opportunities/orders
• Limited research in organic agriculture.
• Limited extension services delivery in organic agriculture.
• High costs of international inspection and certification.
• Lack of internationally recognized local organic certification body.
• Inadequate documentation on organic agriculture.
• Demand outpaces supply
• Lack of organized smallholders groups to consistently raise volumes to meet market orders.
• Absence of an explicit policy on Organic Agriculture.
Several factors have come together in recent years which highlight the necessity for a fundamental review of agricultural activities. The traditional goal of maximizing output is being countered by widespread concern of the environment, and by the growing realization that finite natural resources need to be more carefully managed. Organic farming has a positive contribution to make as it is dependent upon maintaining ecological balance and developing biological processes to their maximum. The preservation of soil structure, earthworms, microorganisms and insects is essential to the working of an organic system. Therefore the protection of the soil and environment is fundamental for the organic farmer.
A Guide to Agricultural Production and Natural Resources Management. 2005. Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Altieri, M. 1987. Agro ecology-the scientific basis for alternative agriculture. Intermediate Technology Publications, London.
Balfour, E. 1975. The Living Soil and the Haughley Experiment. Universe Books, New York.
Daberkow, S.G. and K.H. Reichelderfer. 1988. Low-Input Agriculture: Trends, Goals, and Prospects for Input Use. American Journal of Agriculture Economics. 70 (5). Pp 1159-1166.
Grolink . 2004
Howard, A. 1948. An Agriculture Testament. Oxford University Press, London.
Knorr, D. 1982. Sustainable Food Systems. AVI Publishing, Westport. Conn.
Lampkin, N. 1990. Organic Farming. Farming Press, UK.
Lindenbach-Gibson, R and Gray, R. Low-Input Agriculture Gap Analysis. Centre for Agriculture Studies, University of Saskatchewan.
Promotion of Organic Products from Africa http://www.sourcewatch.org/index. 2006.
The Soil Reference and Information Centre. 2007. Netherlands
World Bank. 1982. Ninth Annual Review of Project Performance Audit Results. World Bank Group.Tags: environmental deterioration, natural resource management, soil degradation, subsistence farmer, sustainable food production
ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY
During the last ten years, concepts such as sustainable development, industrial ecology and environmental management have been more frequently used by industry, the world of academia, the media, public administration and the NGOs. The amount of such “buzzwords” indicates that there is an increased focus on environmental issues.
Sustainable development means integrating social, economic and environmental objectives of the society in order to maximize the well being of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs. Recognition is now widespread that industrial activity plays an essential role in a sustainable society. The rapidly-growing new field of industrial ecology (IE) offers methods that can assist corporations and organizations in sustainable operations and serving as agents of change. Industrial ecologists have even referred to their field as “the science of sustainability”. In brief, industrial ecology might be defined as the study of interactions between industries and their environment. IE studies technological and managerial approaches for reconfiguring industrial activities to conserve natural resources and reduce pollution.
2. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Sustainable development is the environmental catchphrase of the 1990s, and the most universally quoted definition is that produced in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), otherwise known as the Brundtland Commission: “Economic and social development that meets the needs of the current generation without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Following the publication of the Brundtland report, there was a rapid escalation of alternative definitions of sustainable development and lists are given by several authors (e.g. Pezzey 1989, Pearce et al. 1990, and Rees 1989).
“Rather than focusing on economic growth in isolation, sustainable development requires the integration of the social, economic and environmental dimensions in corporate and public decision-making, within a governance framework that ensures full participation and accountability” (IIED 1999)
It is now widely agreed that there are three pillars to sustainable development:
Economy (Profit): The creation of wealth and livelihoods;
Society (People): The elimination of poverty and improvement of quality of life;
Environment (Planet): The enhancement of natural resources for future generations.
Traditionally, societies have attempted to set social, economic and environmental goals, but often in isolation from one another. Decision-makers are now becoming aware that environmental goals can only be achieved by integrating them into mainstream social and economic policy-making. Thus, sustainable development will entail integration of these three objectives where possible, and making hard choices and negotiating trade-offs between objectives where integration is not possible. Businesses and government are the two most influential institutions in the effort to attain Sustainable Development. Of the many incentives businesses have to improve their environmental performance, the most compelling is profits. Industrial Ecology helps businesses to view their activities from a new perspective, one that allows an organization to see the financial and strategic benefits of the market’s environmental dimensions.
3. THE CONCEPT OF INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY
The concept of industrial ecology builds on the biological concept of ecology, which is “the branch of biology dealing with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.” Rather than examining an individual organism, ecology looks at the systems within which organisms live and of which they are a part. Individual organisms consume resources and leave wastes behind. When viewed on a large enough scale in space and time, however, organisms tend to live within natural ecosystems where resources are not depleted and wastes do not accumulate because there are cyclical processes in place that make use of all “wastes” as resource inputs for other organisms.
Industrial ecology seeks to move our industrial and economic systems toward a similar relationship with Earth’s natural systems. Earth’s resources are not infinite, so the pattern of industrial development that we have followed over the past two centuries, or so, cannot continue indefinitely, especially in the face of the rapid expansion of population and economic activity that the world has seen in the past fifty years. IE seeks to discover how industrial processes can become part of an essentially closed cycle of resource use and reuse in concert with the natural environmental systems in which we live. To do this, IE looks beyond individual industrial processes to examine the interactions of industrial activities with the environment through a systems perspective.
3.1 Defining Industrial Ecology
There is still no single definition of industrial ecology that is generally accepted. However, most definitions comprise similar attributes with different emphases. One of the publications most often referred to defines industrial ecology as follows:
“Industrial ecology is the means by which humanity can deliberately and rationally approach and maintain a desirable carrying capacity, given continued economic, cultural and technological evolution. The concept requires that an industrial system be viewed not in isolation from its surrounding systems, but in concert with them. It is a systems view in which one seeks to optimize the total materials cycle from virgin material, to finished material, to component, to product, to obsolete product, and to ultimate disposal. Factors to be optimized include resources, energy, and capital.” (Graedel and Allenby, 1995, p. 9)These attributes include the following:
• A systems view of the interactions between industrial and ecological systems
• The study of material and energy flows and transformations
• A multidisciplinary approach
• An orientation toward the future
• A change from linear (open) processes to cyclical (closed) processes, so the waste from one industry is used as an input for another
• An effort to reduce the industrial systems’ environmental impacts on ecological systems
• An emphasis on harmoniously integrating industrial activity into ecological systems
4. IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY
There are certain key elements around which the concept of industrial ecology revolve. They have been discussed below.
4.1 Systems and lifecycle approach
A systems approach is a measure for examining the issues raised by industrial ecology. First, it means analyzing the entire defined system as an entity, including results and consequences. It is not the value of each individual that creates the total value in an ecosystem, rather it is the interaction going on in nature which creates the value (Kushi 1997). In an industrial ecology perspective, it is thus necessary to improve the meshing of various actors to attain an optimum result. Central to the systems approach is the inherent recognition of the interrelationship between the industrial and natural systems. Second, a systems approach means that the needs and interests of the actors in the system must be considered. The transition from end-of-pipe solutions to preventive approaches is an example of this. In this way we avoid focusing on (problem) symptoms, rather focusing on the problem core, the cause, and it’s driving forces.
4.2 Materials and Energy flows and transformation
A primary concept of industrial ecology is the study of material and energy flows and their transformation into products, byproducts, and wastes throughout industrial systems.
One strategy of industrial ecology is to lessen the amount of waste material and waste energy that is produced impacting ecological systems adversely. Recycling efforts could be intensified or other uses found for the scrap to decrease this waste. Efforts to utilize waste as a material input or energy source for some other entity within the industrial system can potentially improve the overall efficiency of the industrial system and reduce negative environmental impacts. Industrial ecology seeks to transform industrial activities into a more closed system by decreasing the dissipation or dispersal of materials from anthropogenic sources, in the form of pollutants or wastes, into natural systems. In the automobile example, it is useful to further trace what happens to these materials at the end of the products’ lives in order to mitigate possible adverse environmental impacts.
4.3Analogies to the natural systems
There are several useful analogies between industrial and natural ecosystems. (Allenby, 1992) The natural system has evolved over many millions of years from a linear (open) system to a cyclical (closed) system in which there is a dynamic equilibrium between organisms, plants, and the various biological, physical, and chemical processes in nature. Virtually nothing leaves the system, because wastes are used as substrates for other organisms. This natural system is characterized by high degrees of integration and interconnectedness.
Industrial ecology draws the analogy between industrial and natural systems and suggests that a goal is to stimulate the evolution of the industrial system so that it shares the same characteristics as described above concerning natural systems. The evolution of the industrial system from a linear system, where resources are consumed and damaging wastes are dissipated into the environment, to a more closed system, like that of ecological systems, is a central concept to industrial ecology.
A goal of industrial ecology would be to reach this dynamic equilibrium and high degree of interconnectedness and integration that exists in nature. There is a well-known eco-industrial park in Kalundborg, Denmark. It represents an attempt to model an industrial park after an ecological system.The companies in the park are highly integrated and utilize the waste products from one firm as an energy or raw material source for another.
4.4 Interdisciplinary approaches
Since industrial ecology is based on a holistic, systems view; it needs input and participation from many different disciplines. Furthermore, the complexity of most environmental problems requires expertise from a variety of fields — law, economics, business, public health, natural resources, ecology, engineering — to contribute to the development of industrial ecology and the resolution of environmental problems caused by industry. Along with the design and implementation of appropriate technologies, changes in public policy and law, as well as in individual behavior, will be necessary in order to rectify environmental impacts.
Industrial ecology means changing from considering environmental issues as merely local, company-specific, industrial and technological problems caused by industry itself and where solutions largely are end-of-pipe based. This requires interdisciplinary expertise. This is supported by Ehrenfeld (1995) who claims that the designing of sustainable social institutions and framing conditions is just as important as designing new products and processes.
5. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY STRATEGIES
What industrial ecology potentially offers is an organizing umbrella that can relate these individual activities to the industrial system as a whole. These strategies represent approaches that individual firms can take to reduce the environmental impacts of their activities. The goal of industrial ecology is to reduce the overall, collective environmental impacts caused by the totality of elements within the industrial system
5.1 Pollution prevention: This is defined by the U.S. EPA as “the use of materials, processes, or practices that reduce or eliminate the creation of pollutants at the source.” Pollution prevention refers to specific actions by individual firms, rather than the collective activities of the industrial system (or the collective reduction of environmental impacts) as a whole (Freeman et al, 1992). In recent years, Pollution Prevention has slowly been gaining prominence among large and small corporations such as GMI in Dovel, Delaware; ICI Surfactants of New Castle, Delaware; Corning, Inc.; and Dow Chemical. Each of these companies has found that Pollution Prevention is a win-win concept — both for their business and for the environment. For the business Pollution Prevention is a means of reducing costs, increasing productivity and reducing waste. For the environment, a lower effluent discharge equates to a “greener” planet.
5.2 Waste minimization: This is defined by the U.S. EPA as “the reduction, to the extent feasible, of hazardous waste that is generated or subsequently treated, sorted, orientation disposed of.” (Freeman et al, 1992)
5.3 Source reduction: any practice that reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environmental prior to recycling, treatment or disposal (Freeman et al, 1992)
5.4 Total quality environmental management (TQEM) is used to monitor, control, and improve a firm’s environmental performance within individual firms. Based on well established principles from Total Quality Management, TQEM integrates environmental considerations into all aspects of a firm’s decision-making, processes, operations, and products. All employees are responsible for implementing TQEM principles. It is a holistic approach, albeit at level of the individual firm. Many additional terms address strategies for sustainable development.
5.5 Cleaner production: Cleaner production a term coined by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1989 is widely used in Europe. UNEP defines Cleaner Production as the continuous application of an integrated preventive environmental strategy applied to processes, products, and services to increase overall efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment.
Production processes: conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw materials, and reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes.
Products: reducing negative impacts along the life cycle of a product, from raw materials extraction to ultimate disposal.
Services: incorporating environmental concerns into designing and delivering services (Leo, 1998)
This definition of CP incorporates both a broad goal and a wide variety of approaches, but is largely rooted in the examination of existing processes, products, and services with a view to reducing risks to humans and the environment. Similarly, in addressing eco-efficiency CP generally starts with cost-effective environmental improvements from the perspective of the individual factory or industrial enterprise (Sybren & Crul, 1997).
5.6 Eco towns/ Eco industrial parks: The Eco-Town Project refers to those projects needed to build a resource circulating society “targeting finally for no-waste (zero-emission) through reutilizing the wastes of one industry as the raw materials of another industry”. The concept of eco-towns and eco-industrial parks has taken hold in Japan and China. The City of Kitakyushu has established the “Kitakyushu Eco-Town Plan”. Kawasaki Eco-Town has been conceived as the plan for the Kawasaki Coastal Industrial Area. This concept envisions that the industrial firms that will be located in the Kawasaki Coastal Industrial Area will minimize their operations’ impact on the environment and will jointly take the lead to achieve the common goal of creating a sustainable society in which industrial activities will be conducted in harmony with the environment. More specifically, Kawasaki Eco-Town is being planned as a community.
The most advanced concept is being developed by the Ebara Corporation around the Fujisawa Factory in Japan. This project involves industrial, commercial, educational, recreational and agricultural linkages with the goal of creating as close to a cyclical economic and ecological system as possible. Melbourne, a home to 3.4 m people is set to become the first industrial city an eco town by 2020 through comprehensive energy reduction and absorption of local emissions.
5.7 Green Chemistry: The term green chemistry is defined as the invention, design and application of chemical products and processes to reduce or to eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. Development of new materials and energy sources to replace non-renewable and polluting substances is itself a part of chemistry and materials science. However, industrial ecology plays a role in evaluating the broader systems implications of proposed solutions like bio-fuels or genetically engineered organisms like industrial enzymes. Green chemistry, in contrast, does not rely on equipment, human activity, or circumstances of use but, instead, changes the intrinsic hazard properties of the chemical products and transformations. Consequently, green chemistry is not as vulnerable to failure, as are the traditional approaches to hazard control. The areas for the development of green chemistry have been identified as use of alternative feedstocks, use of innocuous reagents, employing natural processes, use of alternative solvents etc.,
This paper has highlighted the latest environmental concepts of sustainable development and industrial ecology and the role of industrial ecology as a potential umbrella for sustainable development. However as this is an emerging field much R&D needs to be done.
Allenby, Braden R. “Industrial Ecology: The Materials Scientist in an Environmentally Constrained World,” MRS Bulletin 17, no. 3 March, 1992: 46–51.
Ehrenfeld, J. R. 1997a. Industrial ecology: A framework for product and process design. Journal of Cleaner Production. 5 (1 – 2): 87-95.
Ehrenfeld, J.R. 1995. Industrial ecology: A strategic framework for product policy and other sustainable practices. In Green Goods, edited by E. Rydén and J Strahl. Kretsloppsdelegationens rapport 1995:5. Stockholm
Graedel, T. and Allenby,B. 1995. Industrial Ecology, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA
Harry Freeman, Teresa Harten, Johnny Springer, Paul Randall, Mary Ann Curran, and Kenneth Stone, “Industrial Pollution Prevention: A Critical Review,” Air and Waste (Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association) 42, no. 5 (May 1992): 619. Leo, Bass, ‘Reflections on Cleaner Production Terminology’. Industry and Environment, volume 21, no. 4: 28-29, UNEP, France, 1998.
Pearce, D. Barbier & Markandya, Sustainable Development: Economy and Development in the third world. Edward Elgar publications
Rees W. F, Defining sustainable development, CHS Research Bulletin, University of British Columbia, May, 1989.
Sybren De Hoo, and Marcel Crul, Cleaner Production in China: Design of An Effective Policy Package and Action Plan,(informal document), 1997.
Tags: achieving sustainable development, brundtland commission, brundtland report, industrial ecology, rapid escalation
Greencell Technologies – Revolutionary LED lighting from Tritechnology? illuminates the Green House Project
A ground breaking initiative by Huntingdonshire District Council called the Green House Project has opened in St Ives Cambridgeshire. Tritechnology™ are pleased to have supplied the LED lighting throughout the house.
The Optech 40 and Optech 60 LED modules have replaced conventional 40watt and 60watt lamps in all of the decorative ceiling lights ,wall lights and standard lamps throughout the property. Tritechnology™ Module 10 LED has been used in all of the ceiling recessed downlight products
The Optech 40 and Optech 60 is a revolutionary, energy efficient ultra compact new light source, combining the lifetime and reliability of the worlds leading LED technology, with the convenience and brightness of conventional lighting The Optech 40 consumes just 7 watts and the Optech 60 just 10 watts. Achieving energy savings in excess of 80%.
All electrical, thermal and optical issues have been considered in the design, resulting in a light source that is simply plug and play
Optech 40 or Optech 60 LED modules can replace the conventional lamp and lamp holder within the majority of commercially available light fittings.
With this method the energy saving is truly sustainable. Optech is British designed and British made. Tritechnology™ is a registered trademark. If you would like more information about how to purchase this product contact Peter Malt at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Greencell technologies – Home energy use in the UK is currently responsible for producing more than 27% of all carbon emissions.
Whereas progress to reduce this is being made by improving the energy performance of new build properties, we must face the huge challenge of addressing existing, older inefficient properties, many of which will still be standing and occupied by 2050.
Such inefficient homes account for more than 90% of the existing housing stock, which highlights the importance of adapting them to suit 21st century living. Improving the thermal efficiency of existing properties will not only help meet the challenges of climate change, it will help householders tackle rising fuel costs, encourage well being and a provide a healthier living environment.
As part of Huntingdonshire District Council’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change, we have purchased two properties, which will be ‘sustainably’ refurbished and opened up to the public as demonstration homes.
In Huntingdonshire approximately 67,000 homes are privately owned. There is huge potential to improve the energy and water efficiency of the properties, which will help to reduce the district’s carbon footprint and bring existing homes up to a higher level of environmental performance.
The UK Government is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050.
If we are to reduce our carbon emissions and help slow down the effects of climate change we need a step change in our thinking – the way we live, travel and refurbish our properties plays a major part in that. It’s important for the Green House Project to demonstrate and influence sustainable refurbishment and to encourage a ‘low carbon lifestyle’.
The district council is working with the Building Research Establishment (BRE), whose expertise and guidance is integral to the project. The BRE will be providing the specifications for the improvements, which will be based around the results of extensive thermal and acoustic testing which has already been undertaken in both of the houses.
The Greencell technologies – The Green House Project will take a ‘whole house’ approach to refurbishment, starting with the building fabric and insulation, windows, heating systems, ventilation, water efficiency measures and the installation of renewable energy technology including solar thermal for hot water and solar photovoltaics (PV) for energy.
Tags: carbon emissions, huntingdonshire district council, optech, st ives cambridgeshire, standard lamps