How Green are we?

The effect of human habitation on the environment of our small planet has become a major topic of discussion in the public media, schools, and governmental organisations. Although debate continues concerning exactly what percentage of global warming is the result of human activity, major efforts are underway to decrease the global output of carbon dioxide from various sources (Alpert 2008). We are bombarded with numerous ways to be ‘Green’ and numerous reasons why we should be ‘Green’ but the only problem is that there is still confusion with regards to what is ‘Green’.

Dr. Hajime Koshimizu Laboratory of Landscape Engineering Faculty of Agriculture, Meiji University Japan says that, “Commonly, worldwide people say Green Technology, Green Project so on. This ‘Green’ means sustainable or energy reduced industry or similar to ‘Ecological’. But I don’t use ‘Green’ as this meaning. When I say Green it means plants, plants existing place, facilities made with plants, spaces covered by plants, garden, urban parks, wood land, farm land, so on. In Japan, officially, Green (space) doesn’t contain water or rice field or other agricultural field. But for me Green is what I want to contact closely in everyday life.”

When we hear the experts like Dr. Koshimizu define what ‘Green’ is then we are made to think as to how ‘Green’ we are. Various industries are trying to be ‘Green’ and ‘Sustainable’ in numerous ways. For example packaging industry is trying to focus on packaging sustainability using environmentally sensitive methods including energy effectiveness, recyclable and biodegradable materials, down-gauging, reusability and much more (Falkman 2007, p. 39).

The other industry that is trying to be ‘Environmental Friendly’ is the chemical industry with climate change clawing its way to the top of every chemical producer’s agenda. The initiatives involve reducing energy use, since energy efficiency and improving water quality are paramount to chemical firms (Brice 2007, p. 16).

Pharmaceutical industry is trying to be ‘Green’ by minimising or eliminating the use of all unnatural or hazardous chemicals and using cheaper, natural solvents in their place (http://www.smartconsultinggroup.com/2010/02/is-the-pharmaceutical-industry-going-green/). Tourism and Hospitality Industry is trying to be ‘Green’ by using recycled paper products, installing energy efficient lights, giving guests the option of not having their sheets and towels changed daily, substituting hazardous cleaning agents with friendlier biodegradable products, and by using many other ‘Green’ ways (http://www.p2pays.org/ref/03/02592.pdf).

However it must be noted trying to figure out how Green are we is not a new concept and that some countries like Canada conducted surveys in mid 1991 to find out that about 45% of households bought recycled paper products and 28% dwellings had low-water flow heads for showers to save water and energy and 9.4% had water-saving toilets (The Vancouver Sun, 28 July 1992).

Construction industry is also trying to be ‘Green”. This is very cost effective suggestion too as an upfront investment of 2% in green building design, on average, results in life cycle savings of 20% of the total construction costs (Kats 2003, p.). Building Green stimulates the economy by creating a demand for green jobs and workers that can contribute directly to creating a sustainable future (US Green Building Council).

While the practices, or technologies, employed in green building are constantly evolving and may differ from region to region, there are fundamental principles that persist from which the method is derived: Sitting and Structure Design EfficiencyEnergy EfficiencyWater EfficiencyMaterials EfficiencyIndoor Environmental Quality EnhancementOperations and Maintenance Optimization, and Waste and Toxics Reduction (http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/pubs/components.htm).

Green Wall, Roof Garden, Storm Water Management, Rain Water Harvesting and Ground Recharge are some of the most useful ways of building Green. The combined benefits could be energy savings, water efficiency, better indoor environment quality, pollution control, and many more.

References:

Alpert, J. S., 2008, “How Green is the Green Journal?”, The American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 121, No. 9

Brice, A., 2007, “How Green Are We Now?”, ICIS Chemical Business Americas, Vol. 271, No. 5, pp 16-17

Falkman, M., 2007, “How Green Are We?”, Packaging Digest, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 39-41

How Green Are We?: [1* Edition] The Vancouver Sun, 28 July 1992, A5

Kats, G., 2003, “The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings: A Report to California’s Sustainable Building Task Force”

U. S. Green Building Council, “Green Building Facts”

http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/pubs/components.htm accessed on 8th November 2011

http://www.p2pays.org/ref/03/02592.pdf accessed on 8th November 2011

http://www.smartconsultinggroup.com/2010/02/is-the-pharmaceutical-industry-going-green/ accessed on 8th November 2011

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