Why reduce Water Footprint?

Water has no taste, no color, no odor; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.
ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY (1900-1944), Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939

There are numerous reasons why we should reduce our water footprint, the main ones being:

    1.Supply of clean water is scanty;
    2.Yearly ease of use of fresh water is restricted;
    3.Requirement for fresh water is on the increase;
    4.We have surpassed sustainable levels of water usage at several places; and
    5.Water is disproportionately distributed amongst public.

Due to all these reasons majority of places in the world are facing serious water shortage; rivers are running dry; many aquatic species are endangered; and lake and groundwater level is dropping to dangerous levels. Water foot print refers not just to the volume of water consumed but also to the water pollution due to the daily consumption. The major problem with water footprint is that we are unable to see the indirect water footprint of ours – the water consumed and polluted by us because of the goods we buy and consume. This footprint is far larger than the water we use directly at homes or at work and public places.

Conventionally nations too formulate water plans considering how to satisfy the need of its people. Very few countries consider the option to reduce water demand and extremely few consider how to increase supply of water. This is the reason why there is little importance paid to the issue of global water management. Nations when only consider the use of water in own country turn blind spot to the issue of sustainable national consumption of water. Numerous countries have externalised their water footprint without looking at the fact that whether the imported products result in water depletion or pollution in the nations producing the products.

Governments should try to figure out national water footprint so that they can figure out the standard components that provide a base to formulate national water as well as river basin plan so that water footprint is reduced as water is like oil and many countries do not have sufficient supply of fresh water. In fact, although there is a model Groundwater Law formulated by the Central Water Commission in India no state except Gujarat has adopted it and as a result many aquifers are being unsustainably over-pumped and groundwater tables are falling.

For businesses also reducing their water footprint is a must as it helps them to reduce risk in many ways. Firstly, physical risk is reduced as companies frequently face water shortages to run their operations or for their supply chain management. Secondly, if the companies do not address the water issues in sustainable and equitable way the reputation is damaged and the reputation is at the stake. Thirdly, the organisations may have to face government interference if they do not use the water as per the regulations of the area. Lastly, if all these important factors are not considered then it may increase the cost as well as reduce revenue for the businesses.

However, the same risks can be turned into opportunities when companies respond to reducing the water footprint in proactive ways. Numerous companies across the world are paying special attention to areas where problem of water scarcity and pollution is critical and work towards actual improvement in the situation thereby gaining a competitive advantage. Companies gain the status of socially responsible corporates and enhance brand name by reducing water footprint and make reducing the water footprint as much a part of their environmental strategy as reducing their carbon footprints.

For example Levi Strauss & Co. determined that one pair of jeans consume around 919 gallons of water during its lifetime (for irrigating crop, stitching and washing jeans). So Levi’s is taking measures to educate cotton farmers across India, Brazil and other places to conserve water. Also the company has its stone-washed denim that is manufactured using no water and the company is urging customer’s to wash jeans less and only using cold water. Also Levi’s has joined Better Cotton Initiative an organisation that works toward promoting water conservation, reducing the use of pesticide, and stop child labour practices in the industry.

Thus we can conclude that humans, nations and businesses all need to reduce water footprint as the benefits of conserving this scare resource are many.

References:

Hoekstra, A. Y., 2009, “Human Appropriation of Natural Capital: A Comparison of Ecological Foot print and Water Footprint Analysis”, Ecological Economics, Vol. 68, No. 7, pp. 1963-1974

Khan, S., Khan, M. A., Hanjra, M. A. and Mu, J., 2009, “Pathways to Reduce the Environmental Footprints of Water and Energy Inputs in Food Production”, Food Policy, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 141-149

Ridoutt, B. G. and Pfister, S., 2010, “Reducing Humanity’s Water Footprint”, Environ. Sci. Technol., Vol. 66, No. 16, pp. 6019-6021

http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/CorporateWaterFootprints accessed on 26th September 2012.

http://www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/virtual_water_final_synthesis.pdf accessed on 26th September 2012.

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What is Water Footprint?

The water footprint is an indication that how much water is used directly and indirectly by a human. Consumption of rainwater (green water), consumption of groundwater or surface water (blue water), and pollution of water (grey water) are the three major components of water footprint. We find the sudden interest in the water footprint as humans try to recognise the impact on fresh water systems which can be ultimately linked to the human consumption, and the resultant issues like water shortages and pollution. These issues are easy to understand and address if the entire production and supply chains are considered as a whole.

Common people these days are aware of their carbon footprint but they are mostly ignorant about the water footprint. It can be a startling eye opener for us when we realise that over 2.7 billion people across the world are affected by water scarcity for at least one month each year. This is so because though the water covers up 71% of the earth; the sources of fresh water constitute only 2.5% of it. Of the 2.5% fresh water only a small fraction is found on large water bodies rest all is in the form of glaciers and ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland.

The main two ways in which water use can be classified is in-stream and withdrawal. In-stream use for generating hydro-electricity, boating, swimming and such activities does not use up water but can pollute the water. Withdrawal for agricultural, industrial, thermal and nuclear power generation, livestock and household use does not return water to its source and so can be termed as consumption.

Over the span of few years it has been observed that many nations have externalised their water footprint by importing water-intensive products from other nations. For example about 10% of 1070 cubic meter per year per capita Chinese consumption of water falls outside China and 77% of 1380 cubic meter per year per capita Japanese consumption of water falls outside Japan. This tactic only results in increasing the pressure on the water resources in the exporting nations especially the nations that do not have proper water governance and conservation policies. However, this tactic is a boon for water-short countries when they import water-intensive agricultural goods from nations that have larger water endowments.

Most experts advise to consider the inherent flaws in the virtual water and water footprint perspectives especially when seeking guidance regarding policy decisions. This is so as few of the available estimates of prospective national and worldwide water savings made feasible by the way of global trade are quite large and do not reflect actual or latent opportunities to save water.

The major factors that determine the water footprint of a country are: Volume of consumption (in comparison with the gross national income); Consumption pattern (how much meat is consumed); Climate (conditions for growth of vegetation); and Agricultural practice (how efficiently water is used). Nations and individuals generally try to be ‘water neutral’ which means trying to reduce negative economic, social and environmental externalities as far as possible. Being ‘water neutral’ does not mean bringing down the water use to zero.

One way to be water neutral is to manage aquifer recharge (MAR). This system provides cheapest form of fresh and safe supply of water human. The extent to which MAR can achieve the potential for water supply depends on understanding of the capacity and limitation of various techniques used within the catchment and aquifer system in relation to the need of the community, existing water infrastructure, space available for water harvesting, regulations for harvesting and skills of people who install and manage the MAR.

The only way to make sure that the water is efficiently consumed is to make sure that not only the governments but also consumers, corporates and communities play an active role in better management of water resources. By harnessing rainwater, villages like Rajsamadhiya have become self-sufficient in their water supplies. India’s water footprint is below world average; however, huge population makes the country’s overall footprint too high. On a positive side India’s higher incidence of vegetarianism (approximately 30% of the population) does play a role in keeping individual footprints lower – the water contained in our diets varies with a vegetarian diet using 2.6 cubic meters of water each day, while a U.S.-style meat based diet uses over 5 cubic meters. At this juncture it will be interesting to know how much water we use directly and indirectly to produce one kg of following widely used products

Product Litres of water required
Beef 15,000
Bread 1,608
Apple 2,500
Sheep meat 10,400
Potato 290
Pig meat 5,990
Rice 2,497
Leather 17,093
Mango / Guava 1,800
Egg 3,300
Cotton fabric 10,000
Chicken meat 4,325
Chocolate 17,196

(Source: http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/productgallery)

References:

Dillon, P., 2005, “Future Management of Aquifer Recharge”, Hydrogeology Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 313-316

Hoekstra, A. Y., 2008, “Water Neutral: Reducing and Offsetting the Impacts of Water Footprints”, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Research Report Series No. 28

Hoekstra, A. Y. and Chapagain, A. K., 2007, “Water Footprint of Nations: Water Use by People as a Function of Their consumption Pattern”, Water Resource Management, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 35-48.

http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/home accessed on 10th September 2012.

Wichelns, D., 2010, “Virtual Water and Water Footprints Offer Limited Insight Regarding Important Policy Questions”, International Journal of Water Resources Development, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 639-651

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How to reduce Carbon Footprint?

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense aroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? ~Robert Redford, Yosemite National Park dedication, 1985

Numerous assessment reports published about climate change leave no room for complacency.Such reports also warn that warming and resultant sea level rise will continue for centuries even if we stabilise emissions. The layman too now knows that such scientific consensus means we are in trouble and it is high time we act now to reduce our Carbon Footprint. We are already facing the threats in the form of malnutrition, disease, and flooding and the major health burden of climate change is borne by children of the developing nations.

Traditional medical practice generates considerable carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases through travel. Yet many medical interactions can be delivered by telephone,videoconferencing, or email (telemedicine) as effectively as face to face. Thus health professionals can do lot about climate change by effectively using telemedicine. It is estimated that even a 20% cutback in travel of all UK specialist doctors would reduce tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Information and communication technologies can also help abate far more emissions than their own production and use generates. For example in the manufacture sector, smart controls can make motor systems in factories more efficient and in the power sector, sensors in grids can monitor the distribution of power more efficiently and help reduce losses. Furthermore, smart transportation systems, such as the technology used to manage complicated truck logistics, could reduce emissions globally by 1.52 metric gigatons a year.

Globally, more smart buildings that use sophisticated technology to monitor lighting, heating,and ventilation system could cut emissions by 1.68 metric gigatons a year. Apart from that the technology when used to ‘dematerialise’ physical goods and processes by use of elecommuting, video conferencing, internet shopping, and downloading content can also help cut carbon emissions by 0.5 metric gigatons a year.

However, we need to remember that simple ways also work in reducing Carbon Footprint. These simple ways could be while buying a desktop get an LCD screen or even better buy a laptop as it consumes five times less electricity. Thermostat of the room air conditioner at 25°C will save about 900 kg of carbon dioxide a year. By recycling paper and bottles and thereby reducing garbage by 25% can reduce CO2 emissions by 1,000 pounds a year.

Apart from that the simplest of ways that one can follow on day to day basis to reduce Carbon Footprint would be: switching off electronic devices when not in use, planting more trees, using alternative means of energy like solar, keeping vehicle tyres inflated to achieve fuel efficiency or better use radial tyres to save 3 to 7 % fuel or further better if one can reduce driving, replacing regular bulbs with CFLs, use rechargeable batteries, buy locally made products, not using bottled water and more such eco friendly ways.

Modern sustainable green technology of establishing green roofs on rooftops and green walls on urban indoor and outdoor walls provides numerous ecological and economic benefits, including energy conservation, and increased longevity of roofing membranes, as well as providing a more aesthetically pleasing environment in which to work and live. These numerous benefits have made this green technology extremely popular in European nations and its reputation is fast increasing in other developed and developing nations.

Green roofs and vertical gardens help reduce Carbon Footprint in following ways:
• Reduce food transportation
• Reduce wastes by generating less packaging
• Recycle organic wastes by composting
• Mitigate urban heat island
• Increase biodiversity
• Improve air quality
• Improve urban stormwater management
• Sound insulation and noise absorption

There are plenty of ways in which each one of us can help reduce Carbon Footprint and thereby ensuring a safe environment for the future generations.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2094190/

http://origin.mckinsey.com/clientservice/sustainability/pdf/how_it_can_cut_carbon_missions.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1800982/

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2008-06-05/global-warming/27745217_1_carbon-dioxide-carbon-footprint-solar-energy

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Why reduce Carbon Footprint?

Modern technology Owes ecology An apology.

~Alan M. Eddison

Severe increases in Earth’s atmospheric and surface temperatures, with other disastrous environmental consequences are the main reasons why each one of us needs to reduce Carbon Footprint. CO2 levels have been increasing at an alarming rate since the Industrial Revolution,and are further expected to rise with the increase in demand of energy and use of fossil fuels to generate power. The penalty of greenhouse gas emission is not local but rather global and reflects both profit and reparation caused across the world. Each ton of carbon is estimated to stay in the environment for a long period and contribute to a flow of costs in the future.

Global warming is also responsible for the rising sea levels and the flooding of large areas of costal lands. The effects of ozone diminution on overall biogeochemical cycles, through augmented UV-B rays at the Earth’s face, have persistently and strongly influenced marine carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and metals cycles that influence a broad range of life progression.

Warming is more favourable the cooler your initial conditions and climate models predict more warming in the high latitudes than in the rest of the world. A much more gloomy revelation extends to the low latitudes. The low latitude countries are also already hot and so any further warming is expected to damage agriculture. The low latitude countries also have much more labor-intensive agriculture.

In a relative analysis of India and the United States, the Indian farms were found to be much more climate sensitive than the American farms. There is every reason to believe that low latitude countries will be more defenseless to global warming than the high latitude countries. The damages in energy, water, and coasts will be too high for the low latitude nations to accept.

Heavy carbon footprint has already resulted in huge economic losses to economies that are dependent on land and natural resources. Increase in ocean temperature is about to cause heavy losses to economies that attract tourists to explore oceans and view coral reefs. Also due to climate change and failed crops drought prone countries like Mali are experiencing huge rise in people suffering from malnutrition with each passing year.

Also climate change has led to huge drop in population that has access to safe drinking water which has led to increase in instances of water borne diseases and also due to higher pollution the respiratory diseases like asthma and allergies are increasing. Furthermore, the shifting weather patterns have become a huge threat to the wildlife which is unable to keep up with the rate at which the climate is changing. Migratory birds and Arctic bears are some of the species that are facing a huge risk.

It would be however, unfair if one only concentrates on the negative impact of rise in Carbon level. The research done on the effect of rising carbon levels indicates that plants grow faster with increase in carbon levels. Apart from that the leaves lose less water as the CO2 level increases, thereby, trees are able to grow in drier conditions as well.

However, we cannot deny the fact that global warming is a certainty that we will be facing in the near future and most scientists support the dangerous effects of increase in the green house gases in the atmosphere. We would be justified in taking actions to slow the process of CO2 release now. We should invest in the development of alternative energy sources and discourage the construction of new coal and oil based power plants that will release even more CO 2 into the air.

We should endeavour to demonstrate that we are environmentally responsible citizens of the world and enjoy the long run economic and environmental benefits of being advocates and users of Green Technology.

References:

http://collection.europarchive.org/tna/20061210193518/http://defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/carboncost/pdf/mendelsohn.pdf

http://gcrio.org/CONSEQUENCES/vol4no1/carbcycle.html

http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2003/PP/b211154n

http://webs.uvigo.es/esuarez/RNL/Petition%20Project.pdf

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What is Carbon Footprint?

There’s so much pollution in the air now that if it weren’t for our lungs there’d be no place to put it all.

~Robert Orben

Nowadays, the phrase “carbon footprint” is habitually used for the quantity of carbon (typically in tonnes) being released by an action or organisation. Greenhouse gases are emitted through transportation of people and goods, land clearance, and the production and consumption of food, fuels, manufactured goods as well as materials, burning wood, constructing buildings, and providing various services.

On a realistic stage, the Ecological Footprint explains us how carbon emissions weigh against and interrelate with other elements of human demand, such as our pressure on food sources, the quantity of living resources required to make the goods we consume, and the amount of land we take out of production when we pave it over to build cities and roads. The carbon footprint is 54 percent of our overall Ecological Footprint and its fastest-growing constituent. Humanity’s carbon footprint has increased 11-fold since 1961. Decreasing our carbon footprint is the most essential step we can take to end overrun and exist in the resources of our world.

As per a research 1 kg of carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere when one travels 10 to 12 km by train or bus; 6 km by car; and 2.2 km by plane. Operating a computer for 32 hours also adds 1 kg of CO2 to the air, and so does the manufacture of 5 plastic bags or 2 plastic bottles. It may surprise many of us that production of one cheeseburger adds 3.1 kg of CO2. Food also contributes to the carbon footprint for example; the production of 1 kg beef adds 13.3 kg of carbon to the atmosphere where as the production of 1 kg strawberries only add 0.3 kg of carbon to the atmosphere.

As per the report of the World Resources Institute (WRI) figures the US added 5773 million tons of carbon dioxide in the year 2002 and India added 1106 million tons. Countries like Malta, Armenia, and Georgia added 3 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere the same year. The WRI report for 2006 shows the emissions figures are 12 to 15% higher than 2002 figures for all the countries. It is natural for layman to ask then what the acceptable limit of carbon footprint is. For a sustainable living the carbon footprint per person per year should be reduced to less than 2,000 kg in the few years’ time.

Urban areas that add a lot of carbon to the atmosphere can easily be turned into the greener areas by the use of Green Technology like use of green walls and green roofs to the existing and new buildings. The green walls and roofs reduce temperature and mitigate urban heat island effect apart from improving air quality and filtering airborne particles. It is high time the Green Technology is put to use to offset the carbon footprint as far as possible.

References:

http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/carbon_footprint/

http://timeforchange.org/

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Is going Green really expensive?

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.
~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

There is a perception that being environmentally responsible costs more money, and that most people will naturally choose less expensive options over “green” alternatives. But such a perception is misleading. If costs of a product are truly taken into account, the green option is nearly always the economic option. The reason that some green products are more expensive is that pricing mechanisms do not accurately reflect the true cost of the product.

For example, organic farmers need to charge more for their produce compared to industrial farms. But industrial farms require huge nitrogen inputs. The numerous researches have proved that the pollution cost of nitrogen is three times the value of the crop yield. So how does industrial farming get away with such an uneconomical activity? This is so as gains are private while losses are socialized. In other words, the application of fertiliser onto farmlands is far too cheap because its price does not consider the complete cost of its use.

“Going green isn’t expensive – neither in terms of short-term financial output, such as for materials, nor for long-term benefits where environmentally sound practices inherent in green design result in lower energy and water bills, as well as other operating and maintenance costs,” says Bruce Kerswill, executive chairman of the Green Building Council of South Africa. Most of us would also go with this thought that going green is really not expensive; many green building practices are simple, financially accessible and beneficial for the future.

For example, native vegetation can grow in natural weather conditions, with no extra watering. Also, the setting up of a rainwater tank to amass rain water for use in the garden can cut water bills and reduce the strain on our tanks. Choosing a dual flush system that provides the option of a full cistern flush or partial cistern flush can save water without being expensive. Also, installing flow restrictors in existing taps can reduce the water use when washing hands and doing the dishes. This practice is also not at all expensive.

With raising electricity and fuel charges; going green is better than using conventional products economically too. A recent study by the School of Planning, Design, and Construction at Michigan State University found that a green-certified work habitat meant a 60% decrease in allergies and asthma in staff, and a 30% drop in absenteeism resulting from depression and stress. Greater access to daylight was a major factor, because it cuts the need for artificial lighting, and also makes the environment more welcoming and attractive.

If it’s a choice between saving money and saving the environment, the environment will lose. However, we need to change how we price a product and the price should actually reflect the costs of products and services. When this is done being green will not be expensive. Actually going green by reducing, reusing and recycling is 100 percent free.

Bibliography

http://greenpoint-capetown.co.za/listing-category/go-green/

http://iicph.org/news_0702-nuclear-too-expensive

http://taintedgreen.com/green-business/going-green-doesn-t-have-to-be-more-expensive/001019/mm-17

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What makes Green and Sustainability the buzz words

“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.”
– Mohandas K. Gandhi

When business giants world over are asked about the biggest strategic challenges for the 21st century it has become a norm for the conversations to drift from water-deprived villages in the developing nations to the efforts to combat global warming. The business conglomerates see helping developing nations fight poverty, water scarcity, and the effects of climate change as vital to staying competitive in the future. The importance of being green and sustainable is imperative as at least around 40% of the businesses’ sales and most of the growth now take place in developing nations.

Corporates know that there is complete overlap between their business drivers and their social and environmental interests and that is why the world sees corporates engaged in research and development to generate solar power using the roof tiles or to treat water for areas where there is shortage of clean water. The businesses across the globe are aware that their environmental practices can yield strategic advantages in an interrelated world of changing consumer allegiance and authoritarian governments.

Many experts also maintain that focusing on green and sustainability factors are good deputy of management quality as they show that companies are more tactical, lively, and better prepared to survive in the intricate, high-velocity universal environment. Though getting the balance between achieving the bottom line for the business and meeting the green and sustainable standards is not at all easy. Most of these noble efforts fail due to poor execution or because they are not in sync with business goals and objectives.

However it is important to note that many laudable efforts even if successful will not help managers meet their targets set for the coming quarter but in the present turbulent world full of challenges it will always help investors differentiate companies that will survive in the long run from those that will perish eventually.

The sudden urgency about being green and sustainable is due to the watch groups that use internet to communicate about businesses that are not using green and sustainable technology. Furthermore, new environmental regulations also make it mandatory for the corporates to be green and sustainable in their practices. For example the manufacturers of electronic items are at a serious disadvantage if their products are not free from toxic materials as Europe adopts added, strict restrictions on use of such products.

Businesses find it safe to invest in green technologies and embrace sustainability as they wish to avert costly setbacks from environmental disasters, political protests, and human rights or work place abuses. None is sure when such events will hit a business and so the companies are conscious about their responsibilities towards protecting the nature. Now it is all about growth and innovation and the present scenario has ensured that it is the only way to do business. Green and sustainable are no more the words created by the utopian idealism of Western Europe it is all about meeting present human requirements without harming future generations.

Bibliography
http://sustainable.concordia.ca/ourinitiatives/r4/
http://simonmainwaring.com/future/how-brands-must-rethink-sustainability/
http://www.ctr.ca/blog/rethink-sustainability/5/
http://www.rethinksustainability.ca/
http://www.fastcompany.com/1754260/how-brands-must-rethink-sustainability

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Building in Green and Sustainable Way

A significant body of knowledge and a set of tested principles have made “green” a practical alternative for the majority of building plans. There are convenient blueprints and building regulations that can assist the designer save resources and funds. Green is not simply getting extra admiration; it is quickly becoming a prerequisite. This is so as businesses – as well as residence designers, dealers, health care organisations, governments, and others – move forward green buildings campaign completely into the mainstream over the subsequent years.

Most of the green building’s internal places have natural lighting and out-of-doors views. Furthermore, the buildings use exceedingly efficient heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems and low volatile organic compound materials like paint, floor, and furnishings to form a better-quality indoor atmosphere. To commence a successful green scheduling and planning process, it is imperative to appoint the correct planning team which is knowledgeable about the broad spectrum of green design tools and technologies and who have knowledge of planning and creating an array of green amenities.

Again if a structure or a company property is going to be really green, it should not be built on main farm area, playground area, a famous place with historic importance, the habitation of an in danger of extinction group of animal, or in area 100 feet close to the wetlands. Perfect site for sustainable growth consist of land like parking lots and unoccupied lots, redevelopment spots similar to rail work areas, or brownfields that need to be remediated. Also such a site should be close to the services that the building occupants will need.

Green buildings also use landscaping as cost-effective green tool like a green roof which has drought-tolerant grasses and plants to reduce heat island effect. Green roof can also help to clean the air and serve as a place that encourages bio-diversity, soaks up rain water and filters it – thereby reducing the flooding of drains and roads. Such buildings use windows and natural light to keep the interior well ventilated. Sustainable buildings use windows to minimise the effect of solar heat and glare on the building. Ideally green buildings should produce at least some amount of electricity using alternative methods.

Swales also should be an integral part of a green building design as use of bio-swale with plants lined along it can create an attractive walkway and help arrest the runoff of rain water from the property. Green buildings are aesthetically extremely pleasing with green feature like green roofs, vertical gardens, and storm water retention ponds adding beauty and value to the property. Green buildings usually use recycled materials for flooring and furnishing. The cost of these materials is much less than conventional materials used and these products help in reducing negative effects of building construction on the environment and the overhead cost of construction.

Green buildings will be future norm and standard buildings will rapidly lose value. The builders and owners of the modern buildings can start green renovations in existing buildings as they no longer have an excuse for not making the buildings green and sustainable. The availability of tools and technology has made it mandatory that buildings be green and sustainable and thereby reduce overhead costs, improve productivity and strengthen the bottom line of the occupants.

References:

http://www.worldgbc.org/

http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19

http://www.green-buildings.com/

http://www.ecotimber.com/

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Greener options to conventional options

The greener and eco-friendly options to the conventional options are built to last longer, use fewer natural resources to build and actually save money for the user in the long run. It is time we can say that though there are some challenges to overcome; going green does save money as well as the greenery around us. However, the problem with the greener options as compared to conventional options is that there is lack of variety in the green materials currently available. To overcome this limitation here is the useful list of the greener options as against the conventional options.

Stop using Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs as LED is by far the better choice. Many companies make LED bulbs that look like conventional bulbs and give off great light while using a small part of the electricity. In addition, LED bulbs have no mercury, so clearance and breakage are less dangerous. The other Green option can be use of paints that emanate no or little noxious vapours while the paint is applied and as the paint dries. Progress in technology has made it likely for paint manufacturers to produce exciting, hard-wearing paints that release little to no toxic gas.

Connecting a tiny unit of water filter to kitchen tap can give better overall taste to drinking water. Specially using one that can be screwed directly onto the end of faucet and that can allow switching the filter on or off. The two fold benefits of the feature are extended lifespan of the filter and comfort to switch to regular tap water for washing hands or doing the dishes. The small change can compensate the cost of not purchasing bottled water and one can get rid of all the plastic.

People with a lawn can use natural lawn manure to facilitate the garden develop with minimum or no impact on the atmosphere. The application of this manure is as easy as application of the chemicals. To have cleaner and greener house one can change to use green cleaners instead of normal chemical cleaners. One more plus point of this transformation is no persistent chemical smell.

Green floor covering offers exhilarating options for environmentally friendly construction. These options are durable, strong, and not subject to price changes as usual flooring options are. Green flooring options are available in variety of shapes, sizes and colours. As all these green products use less virgin material and more recycled material they are a superior choice, naturally. Some of these options are in fact 30-50% cheaper than conventional options, thus providing consumer the cost advantage since the start.

For fitness, ecological and artistic motives, numerous people have shown interest in substitutes to chlorine pools, and fortunately there are various options these days to have a swimming pool without using chemical based cleaning products. The designers of natural pools also guarantee that these new systems have low maintenance costs as compared to conventional pools, and their installation costs are at par with the standard designs.

Thus we can safely conclude that when selecting products for home, multiple green choices are available: low-VOC interior paint, flooring made of environmentally friendly materials, and compact fluorescent and LED lighting are just some of the few options available to make home more earth friendly.

References:

http://greenbuildingelements.com accessed on 11th February 2012

http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/ accessed on 11th February 2012

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Generally perceived differences between Green and Sustainable

The whole lot from vehicles and houses to electrical appliances and utilities are presenting fresh opportunities for customers to be Green. People who advocate use of environmentally-friendly products definitely are not a novel interest group; however, the characterisation of what makes a product ‘eco-friendly’ is shifting.

Green is a word that is wider in the approach of being environmentally friendly or saving the environment. The word Green can be used in various context like buildings, products, processes, groups of people and even resources. Honestly there is nothing can be greener than a tree / plant. Sustainable however is more specific term used mostly for product or process that can be re-used or re-grown time and again.http://designbuildsource.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sustainable-green-city.jpg

Thus if a product has to be termed appropriately sustainable, the manufacturing, transportation, and powering of it would all have to be done in a way that doesn’t exhaust resources or mar the surrounding area or pollute the air. For example if the electricity comes from a clean source such as wind, solar or hydro then it can become sustainable.

From the definitions it is safe to conclude that a product can be green in its ultimate application but not necessarily sustainable in its manufacture and primary application. A product is only considered both green and sustainable when it meets the criteria mentioned for a product to be green and sustainable.

Some experts suggest that sustainability throws spotlight on the distant future for example the impact a design will have on the environment after 30 or 50 years whereas, green centers on the present or the near future. Green design deals with most of the characteristics that a sustainable design deals with it is just that green gives emphasis to near term impact such as indoor environment quality, process and continuation features, as well as meeting existing customer necessities.

Sustainable design is of primary significance to the universal atmosphere in the long-term while still integrating attributes of green design that centers attention on the present and near future. In context of a building the most imperative issue is balance between Green and Sustainable. Usually green landscape engineers contribute in the end and not during the planning stage. To make a project green as well as sustainable the involvement of the landscape engineers should be from the planning stage and they should take all the environmental issues can be considered.

Using sustainable products helps make things green and those that want to be green, need to use sustainable products or use the sustainable concept. The main thing to remember is that we should all try and be less wasteful and more conscious of how the products we use affect our environment. We should all want the earth to be as beautiful for us today as it can and to be as beautiful for many generations to come.

So, for green perfectionists (which is an increasing number of people) to come at a conclusion of what to use, will involve research not only about the properties of the product but of the business policies of the producer.

References:

Gilg, A., Barr, S., and Ford, N., 2005, “Green consumption or sustainable lifestyles? Identifying the sustainable consumer”, Futures, Vol. 37, No. 6, pp 481-504

Jenkin, T. A., Webster, J., and McShane, L., 2010, “An agenda for ‘Green’ information technology and systems research”, Information and Organisation, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp 17-40

http://www.melstarrs.com/elemental/2009/06/29/is-your-building-design-green-or-sustainable/ accessed on 6th January 2012

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