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Why is sustainability important - A Call to Action
Sustainability is important for a very simple, very straightforward reason: we cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings, the diversity of life on Earth, or Earth's ecosystems unless we embrace sustainability, this is non-negotiable. No amount of "political will" can save us as a planet until we learn to respect the limits of our power.
In the last two months I have seen so many different kinds of messages about why sustainability is important. In the media and at conferences I've seen proposals to save our planet on the one hand and on the other various kinds of "participatory democracy" using the environment as a stage for contesting decisions that affect us all.
I have seen these concepts represented as something that requires a central authority to make decisions. The messages that get my attention most are those that are not about policy. Often these messages focus on simple things like the amount of water we use, the number of people we feed, or the number of miles we travel. The kind of messages that get me most are those that are about creating value.
When I see these messages it motivates me because it reminds me how easy it is to be sustainable and how much more it can motivate me to be for my family and friends. It is as simple as turning off the light when the electrical system is switched off, or as complex as how to use recycled materials.
The message from the conference I viewed on June 14 in New Orleans, Louisiana was about designing a product that could be recycled into something else. It is the kind of message that can move people to action, and inspire them to create a value that could endure, a product, a service, a life that could be used over and over, and that would not be forgotten.
This kind of message, a value-creating experience, is what I see as I walk the streets, and am heartened each time I see the number of bicycle lanes in this city where streets are named after places in France and Italy where people pedal to work each day because they understand why sustainability is important.
Green Building Principles Are Saving Homes And Energy
Although sustainability is gaining momentum , the quality of our lives declines, as what's comfortable and productive for a given community of people has diminished, in other words, what's sustainable is that which allows the same community to live, in accordance with human dignity, in proximity to the earth.
We have become a species that is incapable of maintaining the sustainability of our own homes, and yet, the foundation of any sane social system is the integrity of the home. We all know and agree that some homes, the most luxurious, the most comfortable are built with questionable sustainability. If one wishes to live in a house built on such questionable foundations, such as concrete and glass, then one has to be responsible enough to move into a different house, a house built on more sound, sustainable foundations.
There is now a very strong movement that says, in addition to a decent foundation, such as solid brick walls, solid concrete floors, solid windows and doors, a well-insulated home, with good insulation materials such as cellulose, cotton or wool, will outperform the worst of building materials.
The movement that is being led by green building experts, is that of sustainable construction. Some of the most respected green building experts now recommend an insulation requirement of at least 15% or more of the insulation. The insulation acts as the primary absorber of the heat of the home. It limits the heat loss into the home and keeps the temperature in the house quite warm. It does not provide sufficient insulation to keep the temperature in a home quite cool, as may be required, but at least 25% is recommended.
If there are no codes or standards for this kind of a quality of insulation, then the building owner needs to ensure that the insulation has a label of the insulation testing laboratory certifying that it complies with all insulation standards and codes, and is used properly. The building owner needs to have no problems in performing the recommended installation work, such as: caulking and weather stripping, window covering and sealant, and replacing and checking all windows and doors. This is now a required standard for the installation of houses built according to a green building construction and sustainability principles.
Green building experts and consultants are beginning to make the point that we must build houses to last and live longer. So that our children and grandchildren can benefit from the savings we make from energy efficient homes. This will help maintain the employment levels and living standards of future generations. At the same time the improvements in the built environment and the homes will improve our environment and reduce pollution and its impact on global warming.
However, the problem for the environmentally conscious owner lies in maintaining the insulation throughout the life of the house and their family. This will require close attention by the building contractor to insure no weak spots and improper installation. A house has a life span of around 200,000 years and the Green building principles of Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Recycling must be incorporated into the life of the house to avoid the eventual need to demolish and rebuild.
The most cost effective way of doing this would be to incorporate energy efficient insulation into the house plan stage by stage, when the house is still in the planning stages. This will reduce the labor and materials costs, and will also reduce the costs of dealing with the building regulatory authorities.
The house will also last longer as the insulation will be incorporated throughout, and the internal walls will also be protected against cold drafts by the insulation in the roof. This will ensure that the insulation does not have to be replaced as often as would normally be the case.
In conclusion, this green building approach is a very worthwhile way of building your home, and the savings in the energy bills alone will be immense. It will also give you a long lasting home which will last much longer and do far more for the environment.
Benefits Of Using Solar Thermal For Electric Energy
using a solar panel, as opposed to a battery, has been around for many years. The concept of utilizing sunlight to produce energy dates back to the Old Testament. What you may not know is that the Romans built gigantic solar power plants to harness the sun's energy and later the Dutch built geothermal plants. There are other early concepts of harnessing the sun's energy as early as 1000 BC. The United States built the largest solar power plant in the world in the Mojave Desert near Ely, California. It had a rated capacity of 23 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.
Solar panels provide electricity for homes and businesses. It is an attractive and clean source of energy. Solar power electricity is produced in two ways. The first way is by using photovoltaics (PV) to directly convert sunlight into electricity. A PV is a solar panel that includes three or more photovoltaic cells. This is accomplished by using glass plates connected via conductive tubes to a common power inverter. The PV receives sunlight and releases electrons through the cells to produce electricity.
The second way is to use solar thermal collectors to maintain a temperature above 110 degrees to create solar power. Photo voltaic electricity can be produced on large solar thermal collectors.
The benefits of using photovoltaic (PV) power are well established. Solar thermal electricity can be stored and used whenever electricity is needed. With this kind of electricity, the electricity is stored in the form of heat or electrical energy. This allows renewable energy generators to supply electricity when the sun is not shining, clouds hide the sun, or large battery storage systems are full.
One of the big advantages of PV electricity is that it's very clean. Electricity from PV solar power is produced through the use of solar power, and is no more polluted than electricity produced by fossil fuels.
The main disadvantage of photovoltaic (PV) electricity is the large upfront investment. PV panel manufacture and installation are costly. Grid connections and connection costs usually require paying a monthly access fee. Maintenance costs for PV panels and the inverter can also escalate quickly. Depending on the size and location of an area's solar energy potential, the access fee could amount to hundreds of dollars per month.
However, with constant maintenance and optimization of the panel, annual electricity production can climb very quickly.
PV electricity is a great source of electricity to use in remote areas. Photovoltaic (PV) electricity is often much cheaper than electricity from traditional fossil fuels. However, there are instances where solar electricity may not provide sufficient power. This may occur with cloudy days or in cold temperatures. Also, solar electricity is best used in dry, warm areas, so that excess energy is captured.