From serving in Iraq to working at the University of Texas Houston, there are a whole plethora of factors that have likely shaped the man he is today. However, Bandy Jr owes his foundation in sustainability to his grandparents, noting that the first environmentalist he met was his grandmother.
Bandy Jr highlights how attitudes to waste and environmental stewardship have radically changed in a matter of a generation or two. However, he has faith that we can restore and reinforce sustainable attitudes by reframing the issue and contextualising the solutions.
Generation Z are making decisions with their pocketbooks, he explains. They are more knowledgeable about sustainability and will raise the bar on expectations from companies. Although Bandy Jr is a stout optimist and has faith that today’s youth will fight to make a difference, he makes the point that change across the board can’t happen without diverse representation in positions of power and influence. Social inclusion on a large scale is necessary if this change is going to be sufficiently accelerated. This ties in with another key theme discussed, the social components of sustainability.
Despite a lot of the environmental and sustainability issues we are facing in the built environment are nothing more than unintentional consequences of good design at that point in time, the consequences remain. Further to that point, these consequences are not distributed evenly on a social level. Toxic plant sites and waste grounds almost always tend to be in low income areas. Bandy Jr says that we need to own the responsibility of what happens socially to humans as a result and not solely on the environment itself.
Ben: As an Informa colleague, I found it an exciting, busy and fulfilling year, with all the many activities going on around the Accelerated Integration Plan, including the launch of the Informa Constitution. How would you describe the year?
Stephen: I saw 2019 as something of a tipping point. It was the year we fulfilled the promises we made to our shareholders in return for their confidence and support to further expand the Group. We brought many teams and colleagues together into one business, we made the enlarged Group more efficient, and we just achieved another year of growth. That builds external trust and internal confidence.
In that sense, in 2019 we demonstrated the strength of the platform we have invested in over the last six or seven years. This made it the perfect time to refresh and crystallise our Purpose and Guiding Principles as a Company, in what you and I now call the Informa Constitution. We defined who we are as a business today and, as a result, who we will be has become clearer to ourselves and our Shareholders.
Ben: The introduction of the Constitution, with a clear purpose and set of guiding principles, felt like a significant development in our culture to many of us.
Stephen: Yes. Describing how we go about doing business is a powerful thing.
We have talked before about Informa being a people business, a face-to-face business, and a human business. When I spend time with the thousands of colleagues who provided input and ideas to help develop our Constitution, I saw colleagues who in many ways are very different from each other, working in different geographies and different businesses. However, all have a set of shared values and beliefs, which are now enshrined in our shared Constitution. It is important, because it says so much to current and future colleagues and to shareholders, partners and suppliers, about the kind of people we are at Informa, and the kind of business we want to be.
Ben: It certainly feels to me like there is a growing feeling of connection, and ambition as well. Not least of which is in the launch of our new FasterForward programme which sets us on an ambitious path to support the shift to an ever more sustainable way of doing things. How is this important to our culture?
Stephen: We have always said one of our long-term objectives is that when colleagues move on from Informa, and they are interviewing for another job, the hiring manager will say “you were doing that at Informa, that’s impressive!” Of course, that will result partly from Informa being a successful business – by being a good place to work, by serving customers, and creating jobs.
Being a successful business also means being successful in creating benefits for our customers, our communities and the wider societies we operate in. We are now at a stage where we can set some ambitious targets for our environmental, social and economic impacts as a business, and I believe this focus on sustainability will become an increasingly important component of our culture and our commercial offering.
Ben: Many of us are excited about these plans. Why do you think this is the right time for Informa?
Stephen: It goes back to the business we have built over the last six or seven years. Our investments and progressive improvements, the talent we have brought in, the commercial success, all of those things give us both the capability and the licence to go further now. When we look at the initiatives and stories from around the business, we see a growing ambition and willingness to lead by example, The Informa Way. The vast majority of people in Informa want to do the best thing for their customers and for their communities.
Our Walk the World programme is something we are all very proud of at Informa – but the innovation I see from many of our colleagues, in how we produce our products and help our customers achieve their goals, including addressing social and environmental impacts – these are all key to how we will contribute positively to change going forward.
I have always believed in business as a force for good. At Informa, we are one of the world’s leading knowledge and information providers which creates significant opportunities to help our specialist markets address their own challenges, against a backdrop of growing environmental and social pressures. Every business needs to play its role and whilst, as a knowledge and information company, our direct impact is limited this does not remove the imperative and the opportunity to be a better and more sustainable business.
Ben: Businesses of our scale are scrutinized not only for our direct impact, but for our indirect impact too. And as you know, some of our businesses rely on customers taking flights to attend events. Are you concerned about the risk to our business if people decide to cut back on flying?
Stephen: That is a great question. Those businesses in Informa that create, manage, operate and curate major events, actually reduce flights, save travel, and increase connectivity. That is the power of our large-scale branded portfolio. It is the reach and ability of a large scale to bring whole specialist communities together in one place, at one time.
Our events also connect directly to the power of human ingenuity. Our future, as a species, depends upon ideas rapidly spreading across continents, and that is even more important when it comes
to challenges like climate change. Digital connectivity sustains relationships, but in-person connections help ensure relationships are trusted and effective and, therefore, new ideas are adopted faster.
The platforms we create allow for highly efficient in-person connections, helping our customers limit their own carbon footprint. Surveys of our customer groups tell us that being able to meet important contacts, access education, network and do deals all in one place saves significant time and cost and helps cut back on numerous other travel obligations that would otherwise be taken. It is efficient for them, it is efficient for their business, and it is effective for the wider environment.
As a convener, facilitator and connector, the role we play, the thing we must keep sight of, is that we exist to help others. Many specialist industries will provide the solutions, but every industry will have to adapt. We exist to champion the people who will create solutions, and to help industries make progress efficiently, including our own.
I’m excited to announce a new All-Virtual Format for the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo taking place November 10 – 12, 2020.
The event experience, originally scheduled to take place in San Diego, CA on November 4 – 7, 2020 will now unfold over several weeks with three digital summits – the Global Health & Wellness Summit, the Resilience Summit, and the Green Business Summit – preceding a three-day virtual capstone event taking place November 10 – 12, 2020.
The new 2020 format is a proactive approach to meet market needs and keep our industry connected. As many organizations are working to adjust travel plans, pivoting to the virtual format creates a safe, sustainable environment without geographic boundaries; one that prioritizes the health and safety of our customers.
The virtual experience will include all the key elements our customers expect from the live event:
Inspirational, future-focused keynotes from high-profile voices
Interactive and collaborative education sessions offered live and on-demand
Broadened education offerings with more advanced green building courses and sessions on hot topics like social equity, materials, net zero, health and wellness, resilience, corporate social responsibility, and more
A virtual platform to provide suppliers with more opportunities to generate leads, interact with buyers and share market insights before, during and after the live event
Variety of peer networking and industry recognition events
Details are being finalized and will be announced in the upcoming weeks. To stay up-to-date on the latest 2020 program updates, visit www.greenbuildexpo.com. For questions on how the virtual format will impact your participation in the event, feel free to contact me directly at Sherida.Sessa@informa.com.
When we reintroduce in-person events in the future, they will be driven by the voice of you, our customers and, as always, produced at the highest sustainability standards.
I’m excited for the journey ahead!
Sherida Sessa, Brand Director, Greenbuild International Conference & Expo
Fifty years ago on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets and parks, to celebrate the very first Earth Day! Today, streets and parks are empty as we practice social-distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Despite the limited access to the great outdoors, there are still many ways to celebrate this year’s Earth Day.
While several parks throughout the state and country are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one of the best ways to celebrate Earth Day to get some fresh air. Try soaking up some vitamin D by stepping into your backyard, opening up your windows or strolling through your neighborhood. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can camp out in your backyard for some extra outdoor time.
Start a home garden
The coronavirus outbreak has inspired a resurgence in “Victory Gardening,” according to CBS. Victory Gardening was a homefront craze during the World Wars, when Americans were encouraged to grow their own produce to supplement rations. Participating in the trend is a way to celebrate Earth Day. Order some seeds online and try sprouting them on your windowsill or in your backyard. If gardening isn’t your thing, support local plant nurseries by investing in some house plants. Some house plants like the spider plant, chrysanthemums or peace lilies, even have air cleaning properties.
Composting might sound intimidating to beginners, but it is easier than you might think. Composting is easy to do at home by collecting kitchen scraps in a trash can or cardboard box. Sometimes knowing what to compost can be confusing, especially with products labeled “compostable” that only break down in industrial facilities. You can compost fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, eggshells and some paper towels.
Try a nature-inspired DIY
Celebrate Earth Day by getting your creative juices flowing. Try making pinecone birdfeeders by smearing a pinecone or cardboard tube with peanut butter, rolling it in birdseed and stringing it outside with twine. If the bird feeders don’t interest you, but you still want to get crafty, you could turn to Pinterest for some upcycling inspiration. Upcycling is defined as to recycle in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item. Upcycling projects can be a great way to think creatively and save unwanted objects from the landfill.
Cook a plant-based meal
Plant-based diets not only offer health benefits, but they are also more sustainable than diets loaded with meat and dairy. “The production of animal products generates the majority of food-related greenhouse gas emissions (72–78% of total agricultural emissions),” according to a study in “Nature.” By simply adding just a few plant-based meals to your week, you can lower your carbon footprint.
Watch a nature documentary
Most streaming services offer an abundance of nature documentaries and series. Netflix boasts a wide collection of nature series, and Hulu has some suspenseful shows like “River Monsters” and “Shark Week” features. “Planet Earth” is a classic nature series, but if you want something more adventurous, check out mountain climbing documentaries “Free Solo” or “Meru.” You can also watch free virtual National Park tours, where park rangers lead you through five breathtaking parks in 360-degree video.
This article was oringally published on LeadersIn.com, written by Leah Kinthaert
Statistica tells us that: “The green building market is anticipated to be among the fastest growing industries worldwide.
The number of LEED-certified projects in the United States rose from 296 certifications in 2006 up to over 67,200 in 2018.” Additionally the “share of single-family home builders that have dedicated more than 90% of their projects to green building in the United States” has grown from from 18% in 2015 to an anticipated 33% in 2022. While this sounds like a great number, we need to remember that 70% of the residential homes are not anticipated to be green 2-3 years from now. As of 2015, we know that 21.5% of commercial office sector projects were green.
Fast Company offers up an interesting phenomenon: “Existing buildings hoover up about 40% of energy consumed in the U.S. and emit about 29% of greenhouse gases.” Often articles about climate change or pollution feature steaming factories or power plants with dark grey clouds of smoke, but indeed our own homes are a big culprit of carbon emissions. To make matters worse, our homes are silently causing extreme damage to our ecosystems. According to Science magazine, as many as 988 million birds die – in the United States alone – from crashing into windows each year. The American Bird Conservancy explains the situation: “Although most people have seen or heard a bird hit a window, they often believe it is an unusual event. Add up all those deaths and the number is staggering.” This not only affects our local native birds, but also the millions of birds who cross our country on their migrations.
Luckily the folks in the green building industry are doing something about this, working with groups from environmentalists to architects to bring about awareness and change. In late 2011, LEED, the U.S. Green Building Council program began offering credits to “bird-friendly” designs. Builders want to have LEED credits, because as USGBC explains there are: “wide-ranging marketing benefits; and most importantly, the unbiased, transparent assurance that the project team cut no corners in the making or updating of your Class A green building.” The Greenbuild event site also tells us that: “Across North America, a consensus is growing, with bird-friendly requirements in over 20 jurisdictions and counting, from cities to states to provinces.” I attended the Greenbuild 2019 session: “LEED in Atlanta: Bird-friendly Design in a City in a Forest” to learn specifically what builders and others are doing in this part of the US to both research and change the existing designs that are devastating our bird populations.
Birds Don’t Speak Architecture
The first presenter was Christine Sheppard, Director, Glass Collisions Program at American Bird Conservancy. Sheppard has a deep understanding of avian biology and synthesizes information from different disciplines to shed light on why birds hit buildings and create solutions. As Curator of Ornithology at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, she developed strategies to protect birds in the collection as well as wild birds on the grounds. Sheppard spent her presentation explaining why bird strikes happen and how to prevent them. Sheppard began: If we have 1 billion birds killed in the US, you may ask ‘why are we not seeing them?’… they disappear due to animals and other birds scavenging them, or buildings cleaners removing them before anyone can see them.”
Sheppard went on to explain exactly why clear glass windows are bad: “People learn about glass as a concept. Birds – even if you have decals on a window – will fly above or below. Birds don’t speak architecture, they take what they see literally. Humans have depth perception. Birds don’t see the same thing with each eye. We see the world in front of us, birds see the world they are immersed in.”
Sheppard continued: “Birds see more colors, so lights can blind and disorient them. Lights at night also draw birds. Years ago we had dark cities with maybe one tower, there is so much light pollution now.” The whole pattern is insidious and sad, birds are drawn to cities by the light and then killed when they fly into the thousands of clear and mirrored windows in every city and suburb.
“The 2 by 4 rule, which is becoming the 2 by 2 rule,” explained Sheppard “is how you should protect birds.” Sheppard showed slides of various ways windows are treated, taking away the mirage of open space that birds see, and instead making it look to birds like they won’t make it if they try to fly through. Sheppard explained why such methods would work: “Birds have an accurate sense of body shape and size. Patterns, lines, dots, on glass will make it so that birds won’t fly through.” “We used to think, if we only turn off lights in our tall buildings” we can save the birds… “But that doesn’t work” Sheppard soberly noted. Ironically, “low rise buildings kill more birds than high rise, often in suburban habitats. Birds are most active in vegetative zone, at the height of treetops.” Additionally, “the more glass a building has, the more collisions happen.”
Think About Birds When You Design New Buildings
On a positive note, Sheppard told us that “New York City was poised to require that all new builds use bird friendly materials.” And urged the entire audience to “Think about it before you start your design” because “anything else is a retrofit.” Sheppard closed her talk with some case studies, such as the New York Times building that uses screens in front of the glass, the Intuit Headquarters, in Mountainview, CA which has bird collision requirements, where they reduced use of glass. Sheppard also showed a slide of the Bronx Emergency Call Center. The bird friendly design they used there also helps with lighting, reducing heat costs and ensuring building security. So it was a win-win.
Next up was Adam Betuel, Conservation Director at the Atlanta Audubon Society. The first ever conservation director for the Atlanta Audubon Society with a focus on making the city a more bird-friendly place, Betuel started Project Safe Flight Atlanta and Lights Out Atlanta which provide extensive monitoring of bird casualties across the Atlanta area as well as partnerships with local organizations, government, and universities on bird-friendly construction and retrofits.
The goal of the Atlanta Audubon society, Betuel explained is to: “build places where birds and people thrive. Atlanta is ‘a city in a forest’ with over 200 species, the Chattahoochee River is a corridor for migrating birds. We fighting hard to slow down the mowing down of forest.“ Betuel related how in 2005 a study found birds hitting structures, but nothing was done with it. So “we created Project Safelight Atlanta, monitoring parts of our metro area.” The organization then went a step further, asking “How do we start partnering with architects.” “In the long term” Betuel said “they will be looking to legislation to take the lead NYC is setting.” (I looked up the NYC legislation, and unfortunately New York State Senate Bill S25 has been vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But the New York City Council bill could still happen, it’s “laid over in council.”)
Ruby Throated Hummingbird is the Most Common Species Dying
Betuel described their progress of monitoring the birds using crowdsourcing: “Peak migration is during spring and fall. Using an app called collector, it sets a walking route we can drop a pin where we find a bird. We can then pin point hot spots (where places are most dangerous to birds). The report is called a D-Bird report, anyone can put data in.” The research in Atlanta alone so far has been heartbreaking. In just a short time they have seen 1600 dead birds of 110 species. Betuel explained: “We don’t see (most of) them, cleaning crews, scavengers pick them up. The species number unfortunately shows that a lot of birds not making it. Ruby throated hummingbird is the most common species dying.” Betuel explained how they also find a great deal of injured birds which they send to wildlife centers for care.
Their research has found that “Atlanta ranks 9th most dangerous city during spring and 4Th in fall.” Betuel then went into showing case studies, mostly of nature centers, are trying to reduce use of clear glass. One building used a simple vinyl film, while another had complete coverage of their glass with photos or a grey patch of film.” Other examples shown were something called ceramic fritt, meshes, and shades. In closing the speakers emphasized that birds have tremendous value, they are allies to humans as pollinators and seed distributors, they are critical to health ecosystems. Like the ‘canary in a coal mine’ they also provide rich data sets to help us understand climate change.
This article was orginally published on LeadersIn.com, written by Leah Kinthaert
Each year the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network collects data to assess where countries stand on progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
One would expect a wealthy country like the United States to be doing well in the ranking, but in fact: “the United States ranks 35th out of 162 countries in terms of sustainable development…. well below the Nordic countries that top this year’s index – Denmark, Sweden and Finland – and among the worst across OECD countries with a total score of 74.5%.” The UK, where this site LeadersIn is based, we are happy to say ranks 13th. I point out these statistics to show assumptions, assumptions that wealthy countries should indeed be winning when it comes to sustainability.
To hear that communities such as those in war torn countries – where people are at bare minimum trying to avoid being bombed, persecuted by their government or starve to death – are tirelessly working towards sustainability is both surprising and inspiring. At Greenbuild 2019, “Green Building and Sustainability in Troubled Societies” we heard from sustainability leaders working with Palestinians in Israel and Kurds in Iraq; their messages galvanized attendees with their hope and determination in the face of struggle.
Sustainability in Iraq Doesn’t Exist
Bahar Armaghani, Director, Sustainability and the Built Environment, UF Green Building Learning Collaborative and Lecturer at University of Florida began the discussion quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Armaghani gave some history on the Kurdish region in Iraq. The problems for the Kurdish people “started with Saddam Hussein and have gone from bad to worse. This region has oil, natural gas, sulphur, phosphate. There are 35 million Kurds, it is the largest ethnicity in the world without a country, with 12 million in Turkey, 6 million in Iran, about 5 to 6 million in Iraq, and less than 2 million in Syria.”
Armaghani continued: “Sustainability in Iraq doesn’t exist, they have so many other issues, it’s on the back burner. Sustainability in the Kurdistan region is more advanced than rest of country. In the 80s Saddam Hussein killed 5,000 Kurds and injured 10,000 in a chemical attack, he then killed 180,000 Kurds.”
“In this region 70% live in urban areas. They are migrating from villages to cities, and it’s a major environmental issue, planning, transport, air quality. They have land and water in Kurdistan but they are unable to stay in their homes because of violence.”
“There’s always a new day” said Armaghani. “When Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003 you saw the resilience of the people, especially in the Kurdistan region, they got autonomy.”
That Little Seed We Planted
Armaghani explained how she ended up working in Iraq: “They said noone wants to go to that region (Iraq – to train on LEED), I said ‘I’ll go!’ We mixed sustainability with job creation economic development, establishing the Jordan green building council. I did the same project with the Republic of Georgia, building codes. We provide incentives, education and awareness. I also work with the Iraqi young leaders exchange program (IYLEP). The students I taught have gone on to become leaders in their community.”
“But then in 2014 Isis happened” recalled Armaghani. “That little seed we planted, I said to myself, this may be the end. ISIS destroyed the city of Mosul, burning 8,000 rare books and manuscripts. They were in defeated 2017. The people were incredibly resilient, in Spring 2018, with the re-introduction of LEED and green buildings. They held an international conference. It was the most rewarding thing to see people from this devastated city eager to learn about sustainability to rebuild their city.” Armaghani talked about all of the organizations she worked with and partnered with in Kurdistan including the University of Salahaddin, University of Kurdistan Hewler, Nawroz University, Duhok Polytechnic and the University of Duhok. She helped establish and is the Director of the director of the Sister City program Gainesville/Duhok.
Armaghani gave some details about her work with these universities, and their outcomes: “I work with the Center for Resilience and Sustainability at the University of Nawroz. We find solid data and integrate with solutions and policies. I established a sustainability exploration program with the University of Florida where students can learn about sustainability hands on. Plus it creates a linkage between students.” Armaghani ended her talk with a quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
A Bridge of Peace
Jennifer Sheffield, Head of LEED Consulting at GBWAWA based in Givatayim, Tel Aviv, Israel was the second and final speaker. Sheffield focused on her work with advising Sakhnin Municipality, an Arab city in Israel, on responsible development and the UN SDGs. Sheffield described her sustainability journey and gave the audience some background on who lives in Sakhnin and the surrounding communities.
Sheffield: “I am a Mexican American, working on green building (in the Middle East). I wanted to do a masters in conflict resolution, at the time didn’t know how it had anything to do with LEED but I convinced my boss. My role is to interpret the role of identity, culture, stakeholder input and community engagement in development activities.”
“20% of citizens of Israel are of Palestinian descent, it’s a separate group” Sheffield explained. “They are full, complete citizens of Israel, but they are almost completely segregated.” Sheffield gave us some history of the Sakhnin area to put her current work in context. “On Land Day 1976 the Israeli state government appropriated lands from Palestinian famers. During the protest 6 Israeli Arabs died. On October 2000, the Camp David talks were not successful. This led to the deaths of 12 local citizens.”
In the midst of all this, an organization called TAEQ was started in the 1990s “to serve as a bridge of peace between people to people and between people and the environment. It consisted of 6 Arab towns in Israel, it was a regional environmental unit.” Their motto is “To live in the land in peace, one must first live in peace with the land.”
They decided to build a community center. Before they did that Sheffield related how they asked the question: “How might identity and culture affect the design of the environmental center in this region of divided societies? They spoke to the community, leaders, elders, youth and local artists in the 2000s. The end result honored their ancestors and their culture. They used all local materials and the building featured Mulgufs wind towers and Mashrabiya window coverings. Ancient designs that are actually energy efficient.”
Sustainability is More Than Green Building
“TAEQ wanted to take it a step further and reach outside of Sakhnin to Misgav which is an Israeli region” said Sheffield. But these two are still angry with each other. Sheffield continued: “The dispute is a microcosm of a larger conflict. They entered into a 2-year mediation process. When another war in Gaza broke out, they still met in secret to build a relationship and trust that would allow them to discuss possible scenarios. Sakhnin has 30K people 2.4K acres while Misgav has 21K people and 47K acres.”
In 2016 they came to a memorandum of understanding to work on sustainability initiatives that ranged from biking and walking trails to educational programs. They acknowledge too that sustainability is more than just green building, but includes social justice women’s empowerment, peace, justice and strong institutions.”
At the end of their talks the audience was able to ask questions. Connections were made on the spot in the room that afternoon, when a woman with family in the Caribbean said she wanted to bring sustainability to her home country but didn’t know how to start. Jennifer Sheffield offered her business card to the woman, with this statement: “How to start? Go there, meet people, find champions. then from there build your base. People see your face. Once you establish some champions on the ground will get you moving. Here’s my card, I will help you.”
Over the last few weeks in the United States, the coronavirus has transformed the everyday lives of Americans drastically. In fact, the positive environmental effects of this “new normal” lifestyle changes of staying inside, working from home, and using less vehicles, are already showing from space.
In China, where millions were quarantined to help stop the spread of the disease, satellite photos show pollution disappearing as work came to a standstill. And, in Italy, a massive quarantine is underway. Meanwhile, in the U.S., as the amount of coronavirus cases grow, companies are asking employees to work from home, canceling conferences, and closing schools. The changes have been fast, driven by widespread recognition that this is a public health emergency.
The response raises a unique question, according to a recent article by Fast Company: What would it look like if the world responded to the climate crisis with a similar sense of urgency? In countries around the globe, governments and citizens have been quick to change daily habits, however, this behavior has not happened for the climate crisis.
“We’ve seen that governments can act, and people can change their behavior, in a very short amount of time,” May Boeve, executive director of the climate advocacy group 350.org told Fast Company. “And that’s exactly what the climate movement has been asking governments and people to do for years in the face of a different kind of threat—the climate crisis—and we don’t see commensurate action. On the one hand, it shows that it’s possible to do this, and it’s possible for this kind of mobilization of resources to take place in a short amount of time. In that sense, that’s encouraging. But we were never in doubt of that aspect.”
In both situations, the scientific community is warning us. Climate change is already killing people in heat waves and other disasters; it’s worsening food and water shortages and it will displace hundreds of millions of people. The same pollutants that contribute to climate change also cause air pollution that kills millions of people each year. And, diseases like malaria and dengue fever are likely to spread as mosquitoes move into new regions. Like with coronavirus, people living in areas with the fewest resources are being impacted most by climate change.
The reality is that if the world was responding to climate change in the way it is responding to the coronavirus things would look a lot different. “We would see a lot of different things happening all at the same time,” said Boeve. “It’s cheap enough and available, but the regulatory systems that would enable people everywhere to get clean energy would require massive government investment. We would see these kinds of emergency packages that would get people off of the fossil fuel grid and onto a clean grid right away.”
After wildfires and floods, relief packages would acknowledge the role of climate. In cities, development rules would change to require low-carbon construction. Farms would shift to regenerative agriculture. Just as the airline industry is struggling because of the coronavirus, some industries would see real impacts.
“It’s a whole bunch of different things, which could all happen quite quickly, because we do actually know what needs to happen,” she said. “And that’s the amazing thing. But the shift in which, and this is what’s so interesting about what’s unfolding with a public health emergency is that I think there’s a trust in the public health community to say, these are the measures we need you to put in place right now. They’re ready to go and policymakers are acting. And the same thing is true with climate change. We’ve got those policies, they’ve been drafted. They’ve been waiting to be enacted.”
The City of Los Angeles has won a US$2-million grant from NASA to better coordinate satellite and ground sensor data that measure air particles.
The ‘Predicting What We Breathe’ initiative will use machine learning with satellite, airborne and ground sensor data that measure particulate matter to create an algorithm that other cities could then use.
Jeanne Holm, Deputy Chief Information Officer and Senior Technology Advisor to the Mayor of Los Angeles, told Cities Today that the problem with space data is that it is often taken from a satellite 30 kilometers above ground and is not very specific, whereas ground sensors are often three meters above the ground and give “very hyperlocal” data.
“The idea is to combine [the two] and see if we can’t characterize what the space data is telling us and then measure the particles after interventions,” she said, on the sidelines of the City Leadership Forum, hosted by Chicago and Aurora, and convened by the Cities Today Institute.
San Francisco’s renewable energy program, CleanPowerSF was one of seven winners at the C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards, which took place on the sidelines of the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen last week.
The awards recognize cities across the world that have taken significant action to address climate change issues.
CleanPowerSF, which was established in 2016, gives San Francisco residents and businesses the option to purchase their electricity from renewable and low-carbon sources of energy at competitive rates.
It forms a key part of the city’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2025, and to have 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
The results speak for themselves and have been replicated on countless C&D projects over the years. But how well has this message been heard by the home and commercial property builders who have yet to put diversion at the center of their work? Better yet, how is this message being disseminated to executives who think more strategically about giving their company an upper-hand?
There is a misconception among some sectors of the general public, as well as numerous construction companies, that diverting materials away from the landfill and into recycling streams is more expensive than simply disposing of C&D waste in a landfill.
It’s my belief, however, that C&D recycling and diversion can be a cost-saving, not a cost center, for almost all C&D projects. All a project needs is the right plan, knowledge of infrastructure, and the ability to do something differently from what they have done for decades.
Recycling is a Cost-Saving
Consider LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a green building certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). For a building to become LEED-certified it must use resources (many of which are nonrenewable) more efficiently than they would if they were simply trying to stick to a standard building code—and in most cases, for a building to be LEED-certified from the moment it’s completed, it must divert the vast majority of its C&D waste from the landfill and into recycling streams.
Earlier this year, State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia received LEED Gold certification after partnering with Rubicon to recycle 12,500 seats from the arena as part of a refurbishment project. The project resulted in 64 tons of recyclable material being identified.
Green buildings can have lower maintenance costs, can significantly cut down on waste, and can be better for a developer’s bottom line. This is no trivial thing.
How to Divert C&D Materials
This isn’t just true of LEED buildings. C&D recycling and diversion is a cost-saving regardless of a building or other construction project’s certification, as materials that would otherwise have been sent to landfill have a monetary value that you can leverage.
When you recycle C&D waste, the cost of recycling these materials is often less than the cost of standard disposal fees because you receive some of the value back from recycling these materials; especially valuable ones, such as aluminum, copper, and other non-ferrous metals.
To determine how you can save money on your waste disposal fees on your next C&D project (while also doing something good for the environment), get in touch with an expert and ask them how they can help you recover in your area. Typically this consists of metals, wood, concrete, and gypsum, but more can be added to this list depending on the scope of your project.
Remember, you don’t need to spend more to be a more sustainable business, and do the right thing for the environment.
About the Author: Marc Spiegel is a Co-Founder and Head of Construction & Demolition Project Solutions at Rubicon Global, a technology company born in the waste and recycling industry. You can contact Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org.