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I meet many people who have a keen interest in sustainability but are completely unaware of how to integrate this into their business. Many believe that sustainability is incompatible with their current business practices.

This is the first of a multiple part article on the application of sustainability within business.

Part 1 – Principles of sustainability: What goals does your business wish to achieve?

Principles of Sustainability

The great thing about sustainability is that the lower the goal you start with the better. It is much more important to set realistic goals than ambitious ones.

Firstly you need to choose the principles that you wish to aim for. These are not goals but rather quick questions you can ask yourself whenever our making a financial decision.

The follow are some well know principles to choose from.

Do No harm
Derived from the medical principle of. “First do no harm” and famously demonstrated by Johnson and Johnson with their company credo developed over 30 years ago. This has lead to them making some very difficult product recall decisions based on this principle rather than finical criteria.

If compared to a business plan Do no harm aligns with your mission statement, and lacks specific direction on implementation. It’s more an ethos than a principle.

http://www.jnj.com/connect/pdf/company-pdf/our-credo.pdf

Earth charter
The earth charter is a broad ranging set of principles that cover key questions of social and environmental responsibility.

Adoption of the earth charter provides an excellent litmus test for business activities. Before embarking on sustainability reporting management should eliminate clashes with earth charter principles.

http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/invent/images/uploads/echarter_english.pdf

Global compact
A set of principles for adoption by corporate general management. More direct but softer in their wording.

Aimed at CEO’s looking for strategic goals related to social and environmental issues, the global compact provides a good starting point for companies were change is difficult or costly to implement.

http://www.unglobalcompact.org/aboutthegc/thetenprinciples/index.html

Footprint Network
The footprint network is derived from a simple idea, “how much space does a computer take up on your desk?” extrapolated to human impact on the earths ecosystems the footprint network aims to show how sustainable we are compared to the earths capacity. This currently sits at 1.8 hectares per person and aims to achieve a human development index of 0.8 for everyone. A target that counties like Cuba are close to.

Footprint is more important to organisations with massive impacts e.g. Mining and construction.

Cooling Tower Emmissions

A study I undertook to investigate Legionella bacteria carried by water droplets to adjacent buildings.

Now that my office is paperless and all my reports are emailed in PDF format, I’ve decided to switch to landscape paper layout for all my documents.

This shoud make it easier for my clients to read reports on the computer without printing them. Given that my average report is 200 pages and some are upto 1500 pages I might even save a tree or two.

The Victorian government has started the Build for Life campign for providing accessibility features to new homes.

Check Out the video at Build For Life

A new project that we’re undertaking to achieve 6 Stars Greenstar Office Interiors. As far as we know this will be the second 6 star interiors fitout.

We have the documentation period down to 4 months now plus 3 months for Greenstar to review first and second round submissions.

We’re really starting to enjoy these projects.

Closing the Climate Change Accounting Loophole — With a Billboard – Huffington Post

Closing the Climate Change Accounting Loophole — With a Billboard
Huffington Post, NY
a less-than-honest tally of our carbon dioxide costs – an accounting mistake that is already having enormous impacts in every corner of the US and world. The market price of emitting this pollution has long and, quite irrationally, been zero

Canadian seal hunt ‘collapsing’

Canada’s fishermen catch only 25% of this year’s seal quota, blaming falling prices for seal pelts and an expected EU ban on seal products.

charlie davidson: ‘uni’ table


the ‘uni’ table is cut from a single pieces of plywood
image courtesy of charlie davidson

charlie davidson, who previously participated in our designboom mart tokyo, has designed ‘uni table’,
made from sustainable plywood. for the design, davidson chose to use the
alpha system / traditional wood cut style joint that takes into account structural loading,
re-assembly and ease of manufacturing. to minimize the use of plywood, he came up with a solution
where a pair of legs could be cut from two smaller pieces of ply, which results in a jigsaw-like
connection to key the leg components together. the two pairs of legs are then joined together
with two side rails held in place by the alpha system. the table top then locks into the side rails.

the top is cut from the underside, using a standard 3 degree tapered cutter normally used in
machining wooden moulds that require a draft angle. this produces the tapered edges around the
tabletop’s edge and cuts the angled holes into which the legs locate and fiction locked into place.
the round cut maple’s natural beauty is maximized by the large table surface,
with its curved sides flowing with the grain of the veneer.


an exploded view of the table
image courtesy of charlie davidson


detail of the alpha system which locks the legs and table top together
image courtesy of charlie davidson

Closer to the sun: Satellite solar is out of this world

from Green Options by Jeff Kart

This is a notch up from high-altitude wind turbines.

It’s another type of space race, to be the first company to get solar satellites into orbit.

U.S. companies are aggressively researching the technology, reports Yale 360. One firm called PowerSat in Washington state has filed for patents to link as many 300 shiny satellites together in space, beam the energy to one big satellite, then transmit the power back to Earth.

The star trek also includes using solar-powered thrusters to launch satellites into orbit 22,000 miles above our planet.

This post contains additional media. Click here to view the full post.A California utility called PG&E also has signed a deal with Solaren for 200 megawatts of space-based solar power in 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Read more of this story »

UN warns of ‘megadisasters’ linked to climate change

Geneva (AFP) June 16, 2009 – The United Nations on Tuesday raised the prospect of “megadisasters” affecting millions of people in some of the world’s biggest cities unless more is done to heed the threat of climate change.

MIT Researchers Discover Why Concrete Breaks Down

from Green Options by Ariel Schwartz

The old saying “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” may not apply to sidewalks for much longer now that MIT researchers have figured out why concrete breaks down. As a result of the discovery, structures like buildings, bridges, and yes, sidewalks, could last for hundreds of years longer than they currently do. A nuclear waste container built to last 100 years could, for example, last 16,000 years.

Read more of this story »

eVolo 2010 Skyscraper Competition

from AMNP

dsky_b.gif

[’09 2nd place: The living bridge, Nicola Marchi + Adelaïde Marchi]

The eVolo Skyscraper Competition has definitely evolved into a really interesting way to test and showcase new ideas for high-rise buildings – a typology that is most definitely due for some real innovation.

All Aboard the Wind-Powered Railway

from Wired: Autopia by Keith Barry

train_windmills

The marriage of railway operators and wind farms could bring renewable energy to more people and energy-saving, higher-speed locomotives to America’s rails.

Freight company BNSF is considering allowing power companies to use its railroad rights-of-way (such as theChicago-to-California Transcon) to route transmission lines from remote wind farms to major cities. In exchange, BNSF would get lower electric bills and a constant source of power for their locomotives should BNSF go electrtic, according to RailwayAge Magazine.

The concept makes sense. Railroad rights-of-way tend to be largely hidden from view but they also lead to major population centers, and they could pass big midwestern wind farms. A wind-and-rail combination would position rail companies to benefit from any future “cap-and-trade” emissions policies. It also could cut emissions as diesel locomotives are replaced with electric trains, and investments in wind power would help further offset emissions.

First Spaceport Ever Begins Construction This Friday

This newly-released image shows the sun rising over Spaceport America. It’s not build yet, but you are looking at the future. The beginning of the real future, the stuff dreams are made of. (more…)

High-Altitude Winds Hold Sky-High Promise for Meeting Electricity Needs

from Green Options by Jeff Kart

High-altitude winds hold enough energy to power the world 100 times over.

Though harnessing them is another issue.

You’ve heard of commercial wind turbines in farm fields, offshore turbines on the water, even small wind turbines on the rooftops of homes, but high-altitude winds are also being studied as a potential energy source.

The first-ever study of high-altitude winds by the Carnegie Institution and California State University says winds in the jet stream, about 30,000 feet up, would be the ideal source to exploit. And the sky over New York is a prime spot, along with population centers in the eastern United States and East Asia.

Read more of this story »

Saudi’s Kingdom hires Emaar for kilometre-high skyscraper

Saudi's Kingdom hires Emaar for kilometre-high skyscraper June 14, Jeddah

Kingdom group signed Dubai-based Emaar to develop and supervise the construction of a kilometre-high tower in Jeddah. The Jeddah Kingdom City and Kingdom Tower will comprise 23 million square metres (247 million square feet) of commercial, residential and office space on 530 hectares of land near Jeddah’s international airport. The centrepiece of the project will be taller than any building completed or under construction in the world…more

Ideas Competition for the Bering Strait Project Announces Winners

from Bustler.net News by Vanilla Hustler

The Bering Strait Project international ideas competition recently announced the winning concepts in the professional and student categories. The Bering Strait Project attempts to span the Bering Strait betweenRussia and the United States via a bridge or a tunnel which would create an overland connection linking Asia, Africa and Europe with North America and South America.

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Possible route of Intercontinental Peace Bridge across the Bering Strait (Wikipedia)
Promotion video of Bering Strait Project (Source)

Not many images of the winning concepts have been published yet – we keep on adding them as they come in. Add your entry by sending images to .

These are the jury’s winners:
Professional Category:

1st Prize (USD 55,000):

Diomede Archipelago: TALLER 301 – Julian Restrepo (Colombia), Pablo Forero (Colombia), Manuela Mosquera (Colombia), Susana Somoza (Venezuela), Tomas Jaramillo (Colombia)

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Diomede Archipelago

2nd Prize (each USD 25,000):

Bering Strait: Rachdi Manal (France), architecture OFF (France)

Bridge the Memory: Jaeik Sim (Republic of Korea), Hyunwook Woo (Republic of Korea), Daekwon Park (Republic of Korea), Jonghyuk Lim (Republic of Korea), Dongjin Lee (Republic of Korea)

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Bridge the Memory

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Bridge the Memory

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Bridge the Memory

EATURE-Australia’s carbon farmers in quiet revolution – Reuters

FEATURE-Australia’s carbon farmers in quiet revolution
Reuters
Carbon farmers are adopting zero or minimum tillage, which does not plough the soil, increasing stock rotation to allow land to rest, sometimes for years, and avoiding bare earth with year-round cover with crops, native grasses and weeds. 

The Tipping Point: China Takes Major Steps Toward Electric Vehicles

from Green Options by Ruedigar Matthes

With over 1.3 billion people, it is no wonder that China is the “tipping point” when it comes to electric vehicles (EV). At least that’s what Better Place CEO Shai Agassi says.

Better Place, a venture-backed company that aims to reduce global dependency on oil, doesn’t sell cars but infrastructure. The company recently unveiled a battery swap system in Tokyo that makes refueling an EV easier than filling up at the pump. The $500,000 station allows drivers to travel long distances without having to stop to charge their battery, eliminating EV’s ever present “range anxiety.” Batteries are quickly and easily swapped out so drivers can get back on the road.

But infrastructure is just part of the picture, and Agassi says that China is taking steps toward green-lightingelectric cars in a big way. “Once China does it, you don’t have a choice,” Agassi said.

Read more of this story »

Supermarket installs power-generating parking lot

from DVICE by AdamFrucci
Supermarket installs power-generating parking lotA supermarket in England is setting up a high-tech parking lot that’ll generate energy from cars driving on it. The free juice will power the cash registers and lights inside the store.

The system will work via a series of plates that, when driven over, will create a rocking motion underground which turns generators. As more cars drive over it, more energy is generated, about 30kw of energy an hour. It’s a smart idea, and we’ll have to wait and see if it catches on elsewhere.

Via Daily Mail

Huge Electric Semi Would Transform Trucking

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

When you think about the fuel-efficient vehicles we’ll need as we descend the other side of Hubberts Peak you think of an electric car, right? You just don’t think of a hybrid diesel electric Semi Truck, do you? 

Well, luckily, somebody is thinking about this fuel-efficient Semi, because we will still need to transport stuff even as the oil age slowly comes to an end.

Kioko Muthui has designed a humungous concept vehicle that would operate as a Series Range extended EV – a bit like the Volt – but instead of gas to run the onboard ICE, using a tiny amount of diesel.

Like the series hybrid Volt, this internal combustion engine is used only to generate electricity to run the truck as an EV, never to power the vehicle.

Read more of this story »

Smart Grid vs. Renewable Energy: Where Should We Invest?

from Green Options by Jennifer Lance

Smart Grid Technology Meeting energy needs while being efficient and using environmentally responsible technologies is probably the single greatest change that needs to happen to alter the effects of climate change now.  In the United States and the European Union, governments are backing smart grid and renewable energy programs. Undoubtedly, the two technologies go hand-in-hand, but where should we put our efforts (and dollars/euros) first?

Read more of this story »

monolab: rotterdam city tower

the dutch architecture firm monolab design a true high rise for rotterdam in the city’s maas harbour.
the tower is designed to give the city a contemporary high-rise that is iconic and practical. the tower
would stand 450 m tall in the city’s harbour connected to the land via a series of walkways where there
would also be a parking lot and another building project. the building’s façade would use photovoll glass
that harnesses solar energy to power the building. the tower also does away with a central core for
elevators and stairs by placing these elements of the outside. the interior of the tower would be filled with
a combination of office, residential and special commercial programming such as observation decks, gym
and restaurants.

http://www.monolab.nl

When the ruins begin to sing

from BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh
[Images: Three aerial photos of suburban Arizona by Daquella Manera, used through a Creative Commons license].

Malfunctioning fire alarms going off inside foreclosed homes have become a major distraction for fire departments in suburban Arizona, according to ABC15 News.
Fire fighters, however, cannot legally enter a property unless they see smoke or have obtained the owner’s permission. But in an era of bank ownership and rampant foreclosure, even finding the owners can take weeks.
The result is that “neighbors have to listen to the alarm until the battery dies, which can take days.”
First we were surrounded by ruins, and then those ruins

began to sing.

(Thanks to Steve Silberman for the link!)

XERO Project Green Building Concept: Veggie Does Dallas

Somewhat like a vegetarian version of the Dragonfly building in Manhattan, the XERO Project is a proposed idea of bringing local agriculture, orchards, gardens and food stalls into the city of Dallas, all under one roof. (more…)

Well-connected – Timber Trades Journal

Well-connected
Timber Trades Journal, UK
There are two issues around carbon [in building] – embodied energy and operational energy. [Traditionally] about 20% of a building’s carbon is embodied and 80% is operational, but we now have buildings where the ratio is more like 60:40,” he said – and 

The Folly of Building-Integrated Wind

The Folly of Building-Integrated Wind June 10

The appeal of integrating wind turbines into our buildings is strong. Rooftops are elevated above ground, where it’s windier; the electricity is generated right where it’s needed; and wind energy can make a strong visual statement. Dozens of start-up wind turbine manufacturers have latched onto this idea since it fits well with a strong public sentiment to shift from fossil fuels to renewables. What’s not to like about it?…more.

Russia Tower Site To Become Car Park

Russia Tower Site To Become Car Park June 12, Moscow

The planned 600 metre plus tower to stand in Moscow, the Russia Tower, has been officially junked with the site set to be transformed into a car park making it one of the most notable victims of the current global recession. The developer was expected to begin construction of the tower early 2009 but has struggled to raise the $2 billion in financing required, thanks to the relative weakness of the Russian economy compared to China and India…more.

Will Babcock & Wilcox’s tiny reactor make nuclear power practical?

from DVICE by PeterPachal
Will Babcock & Wilcox's tiny reactor make nuclear power practical?In the long march toward a green power grid, a lot of eyes are turning toward nuclear power. While the problem of what to do with the waste remains unresolved (waste is typically stored on-site), a new, more compact reactor design might make the issues of cost and construction time less of a concern. Babcock & Wilcox’s small-scale reactor is one-tenth the size of a normal one, and it’s able to generate 125 MW of power.

B&W says the power will cost less than $5,000 per megawatt. With an average home consuming about 1 kW, the reactor could lead to some seriously cheap power — possibly even cheaper than this mini reactor from Hyperion.

All of this, of course, puts aside the issue of nuclear waste, which would be presumably the same amount as a normal-size reactor. At least B&W has equipped the pint-size reactors to be able to store waste on-site for their entire 60-year lifespan. That seems to be good enough for the Obama administration (for now), so if this new design can help get us on the road to safe, practical nuclear power, we say bring it on!

Babcock & Wilcox, via Treehugger

Zero Waste Week

from Sustainable Melbourne by Kate Archdeacon
Could you survive a week without throwing anything away?   An invitation from the Ethical Consumer Guide to join the “Zero Waste Week” trial. Can we live with zero rubbish for one week?  It’s a basic concept,  yet may be not-so-basic to implement. Join us on a […]

More Urban Sprawl

from Sustainable Melbourne by Virginia
Melbourne’s urban sprawl will push another 50,000 houses into surrounding farmland in the next 15 years, putting further pressure on Melbourne’s stretched transport system. Despite Government planning policies backing increased city density, almost half of all new housing expected in Melbourne over the next decade will be built on Melbourne’s fringes where there is little […]

I’m working through Greenstar Interiors Version 1.1 today and I have found one interesting item.

When undertaking a tenancy fiout you are not allowed to take soil off the site and bring it back.

Stockpiling of soil for re-use. as fill on-site or off-site cannot be used in the
calculation of waste re~used or recycled.

“Stockpiling of soil for re-use. as fill on-site or off-site cannot be used in the calculation of waste re~used or recycled.” Greenstar Interiros V1.1

That’s one impressive tenancy fitout that requires soil removal.

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