With a vital need for the world to review its method of electricity generation, the topic of renewable energy is high on the environmental agenda. Indeed, the last ten years has seen the issues of global warming and sustainability brought to the fore, with both businesses and the public now playing an active role in trying to find alternative ways of producing, and using energy.
Currently, much of the world’s energy supply is produced by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal. However, not only does this method emit a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2) which is harmful to the world’s atmosphere, but resources are also finite, meaning they will eventually run out.
One of the biggest concerns scientists and environmentalists have is that of rapid climate change; and with temperatures increasing around the globe, the effects are already noticeable. For example, polar ice caps are melting and environmental habitats are changing.
Consequently, there has been a huge global drive to find alternative natural resources that can provide humans with the electricity and power they require, and which won’t become depleted over time. An additional requisite of this task is to use natural, environmentally-friendly sources that won’t harm the surrounding environment.
Due to the increased interest in the subject - coupled with rising oil prices - there are now numerous research projects and trials dedicated to finding the most cost-efficient and clean sources of energy. As a result, the energy from natural sources like sunlight, wind, rain and the tides is being harnessed to replace the more traditional methods of energy creation.
In fact, according to research, around 18 percent of the world’s final energy consumption came from renewables in 2006. Thirteen percent of this was extracted from traditional biomass, like wood-burning, whilst hydroelectricity contributed towards 15 percent.
Wind power is also growing by 30 percent year on year, with European countries and the Unites States using it widely. In fact, as of 2008, global wind farm capacity reached 100,000 megawatts and produced 1.3 percent of the world’s energy consumption. In the US alone, this provides enough energy for around five million households! Whilst in the UK, approximately three percent of all electricity comes from renewable energy resources. However, it is hoped that by 2010, 10 percent will be produced sustainably with this figure reaching 15 percent by 2015.
What's more, the major power companies in power and Scottish Power have played a big part in the research of alternative energy sources, particularly as they seek more sustainable solutions to customers. It is believed that in the near future, the switch to using renewable energy will serve to improve the surrounding environment and make for a more positive future.
Andrew Regan writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It has long been observed and proven that nature has already provided man with enough resources for energy—sunlight, geothermal heat, tides, and wind. Because these energy are abundant, in fact, so abundant that they could be replenished perpetually, they have come to be known as renewable energy.
Though extended discussions about renewable energy and its sources can become winded and more complex, every average person interested enough should at least know the basics in order to grasp the concept of how incredibly beneficial these energy sources are.
Man has long harnessed the power of wind and had applied it for practical purposes, albeit in smaller scale such as the power produced in windmills. Current technologies had long converted these simple renewable energy mechanisms to develop wind farms that generate energy supply without the associated risk of pollution
. A lot of wind farms have been established in the United States and abroad to generate electricity. This provides proof on the increasing attraction of using wind power as source of renewable energy while decreasing environment risks and hazards. One critical consideration in establishing wind farms would the presence of constant strong winds, which is why many wind farms are located in elevated areas and even offshore locations are considered viable settings for this kind of renewable energy facility.
Renewable energy from water comes in many different forms. The most common would be the hydroelectric energy that is generated by waterfalls while some areas of the world also generate micro hydro systems that produce smaller amounts of electricity. Renewable energy is also tapped from currents deep under the ocean. This is termed as tidal stream power and several technologies have been developed to harness these viable source. Other sources of renewable energy generated from oceans would be tidal changes, temperature difference, tidal motions, and of course, waves.
Another viable renewable energy source is sunlight, which earth certainly has in abundance. There are numerous technologies developed to tap the solar energy and convert it into electricity, heating systems, and even cooling systems. Though most of these technologies are still in the initial stages, there is no denying the potential benefits promised by this renewable energy source. One of the leading concerns is cost of the materials used, though several affordable yet more efficient designs are still expected to be introduced into the market.
A lot of geothermal power plants had been built and have long been operational in several parts of the world. This is because this source of renewable source of energy generates power at low operating cost. Though some experts may contend that geothermal energy would not last as long as the others and is technically not renewable, it is still expected to provide large amount of power for a long time, even for a hundred years or so. However, it is still classified as a renewable energy source by the International Energy Agency and, like all other sources mentioned above, geothermal energy is reliable and environmentally friendly.
Though none of the renewable energy sources are considered to compete with fossil fuels just yet, it still provide some form of alternative for environmentally conscious individuals and communities in doing their share of lessening environmental degradation and destruction, something we can all ultimately derive benefits from.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
"Green Building" is a broad term used to describe the design and construction of sustainable and environmentally conscious buildings.
The driving force behind this is to lower our negative impact on the environment and, at the same time, make the buildings we live and work in safer and healthier for us.
According to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) statistics,`buildings are responsible for all of the following:
* 39% of US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
* 70% of US electricity consumption
* 15 trillion gallons of water consumption
Even though there is still some controversy over the effect of greenhouse gases on the environment, the last two statistics are very important for those of us living in urban areas experiencing continuous growth, especially the American Southwest. With our population expansion, aging water and electrical infrastructure, and shrinking landfills, designing and constructing green and sustainable buildings makes practical sense from a utilitarian perspective.
In fact, USGBC data shows that green buildings use 36% less energy, require fewer raw materials, and divert less waste to our landfills. Furthermore, the "increased" cost of green building is only one or two percent more expensive than a conventional building. This minute difference exemplifies the tangible and long-term benefits of sustainable design, primarily due to the fact that green buildings conserve water and electricity. Thus, while they are more expensive to build, green structures will save money by conserving more energy over time.
Another push towards the green build movement is by local governments. More and more municipalities
are adopting the USGBC LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines for new
and renovated buildings. In 2006, at the USGBC Greenbuild expo, the Mayor of Denver challenged other major cities to see who can have the most LEED® certified green buildings. They are accomplishing this by offering tax breaks to private corporations and mandating sustainable construction for city-financed projects.
This has led to a dramatic increase in the number of sustainable projects built by LEED® Certified general contractors. However, this growth has not come without challenges. Currently, the following issues are restricting the number of green projects being built:
* Increased demand for green products has lead to long lead times
* New and unspecified materials are labeled “green” products which are not necessarily certified
* Building officials are struggling with a steep learning curve on how to evaluate these new products and sustainable building techniques
Despite these difficulties, the USGBC, sustainability advocates, and green building construction management firms are meeting to overcome these challenges.
The LEED® process is constantly under review and continues to adopt the latest codes and products. This includes Standard 189, a new minimum standard for green building. The USGBC is currently developing LEED® 3.0 and working with national code writers to include new products and techniques.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has even rolled out a new initiative called "Sustainability 2030," which at its roots, is looking to design all buildings by the year 2030 as carbon neutral. The USGBC has even initiated the Green Advantage Builders Certification for contractors to certify their knowledge in green building
So what does green building mean at the end of the day? It's simple yet profound: Do the right thing for you, the environment, and the next generation. While most companies are concerned with their bottom line, they ought to embrace the idea that energy and water conservation, green building, and the use of "green materials" in construction stands to increase their savings over time while positioning them as a leader in environmental stewardship.
According to the USGBC, we spend 90% of our time indoors. Due to this fact, scientists have identified an increase in allergies, asthma, absenteeism from school, and even work. There have been numerous studies done on post occupancy productivity levels, which have increased within "green" built facilities. Not only does
green adaptation result in less sick days taken, but also shows an increase in productivity, job
satisfaction, and in the case of schools, better grades.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
It has been no secret that the nature seems to be bearing the brunt of human existence and that the state of the environment has slowly been degrading as time went by. Environmentalists have long championed environmental sustainability as the solution to this dilemma and its concept has slowly been spreading and being accepted in different parts of the world. In order to help increase awareness and understanding of sustainability, a lot of news websites has been created and maintained diligently by different environmental groups and concerned individuals who want to contribute to this good cause.
Such is http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/earth_climate/sustainability/ which presents lots of news related to the environment and natural science but still has a nice section focused on environmental sustainability. News on human health and on the political and social aspects of science is also included in the site. It is well maintained and up-to-date with pictures and illustrations to enhance browsing experience. There are also videos on scientific matters and subjects.
Another similar site is http://www.ecoearth.info/ which is maintained by the Ecological Internet Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on promoting environmental conservation through the creation of online portals, search engines, and blogs. The website is comprehensive in the sense that it collects environmental sustainability news from all over the world. It is a good site to visit for those interested in knowing about developments and policies being formulated in foreign territories to protect their environment. There are also excellent links to related websites for comprehensive searching and knowledge collection.
For some local news, there’s the http://sustainability.ucsb.edu/news.php maintained by the University of California, Santa Barbara campus. Though most of its news items are related to the university and its efforts toward the practice of environmental sustainability, there are still several articles on local activities promoting sustainability.
Those interested on knowing about sustainability and its impact on the business world should visit http://www.greenbiz.com/. Furthermore, it promotes environmental responsibility among business enterprises, be it big or small. It is maintained by the Greener World Media Inc., which maintains other related websites such as http://www.greenerbuildings.com/ and http://www.greenerdesign.com/. The former focuses on developments regarding designing commercial and industrial buildings to be environmentally sustainable while the latter presents news on the efforts of companies to come up with product designs that are also environmentally efficient and sustainable. Other websites presenting news on the efforts of different industries to attain environmental sustainability include http://www.climatebiz.com/ and http://www.greenercomputing.com/.
Still yet another good website to browse for sustainability news would be http://www.conservationvalue.org/news.shtml which collects news and developments on a regular basis. What’s good about this site is that it also collects blog entries on issues related to sustainability and on the environment in general. It also dedicates a portion for green products and companies offering related services.
The website http://www.naturalnews.com/sustainability.html brings more than sustainability news, it also focuses on living the natural way. There are also videos, podcasts, and cartoons on environmental issues and its impact on human health and nutrition.
There are definitely more environmental sustainable news websites found in the internet and there is no doubt that more will be created and maintained because of the increasing interest and awareness of the general public. It is worthwhile to consider these websites as front liners in the fight against environmental degradation and damage that could hugely impact the very existence of humans in the planet.g
Monday, February 16, 2009
This means that Fairtrade goods are often more expensive than those without the Fairtrade logo. Although people are now arguing that supermarkets are fueling their excessive profits by adding large mark-ups to these products This premium that the producer charges covers the basic food, housing, health and education needs of the local communities in countries such as India and Brazil. The Foundation awards a consumer label, the Fairtrade Mark, to products which meet internationally recognized standards of Fairtrade. It is the only such certification in the UK.
Examples of Fairtrade products:
*Fairtrade Fruit Juice
*Fairtrade Wine and Snacks
The list of goods certified Fairtrade is growing daily as is the range of products available. The co-op changed all their own brand chocolate to Fairtrade a few years ago and now all the other big supermarkets are beginning to move into the Fairtrade market. Nestle have just released a Fairtrade brand. There has been huge controversy over this as many people are asking how a company that is subject to a boycott can pertain to have Fairtrade and therefore ethical principles?
Why buy Fairtrade?
Millions of small farmers around the world cannot get enough money to feed their families, send their children to school or invest just a few pounds into their farm. This is because people want to buy the cheapest goods possible and don't think about the people that working in poor condition and often receive less than £1 per day in wages.
Buying products that display the Fairtrade logo ensures that the producers of products such as tea, coffee and chocolate receive a decent income. Rather than being hit by the ever-changing price of their product on the world market, or being fleeced by a middleman who takes a chunky share of the profits, producers in a Fair Trade scheme are guaranteed a decent, stable price for their produce.
By buying Fair trade products that buy direct from farmers at better prices, consumers are improving the lives of producers all over the world. In Ethiopia, farmers can often get more then twice the price for their fair trade coffee then those that sell it on the open market. This extra money enables the farmers to educate their children and to break the cycle of poverty.
Many people struggle to find a reason not to support Fairtrade. Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers. Fair trade is not about charity, it is about settling the imbalance which exists.
How do I know its Fairtrade?
Look for the Fairtrade Mark when you shop and make the choice to support small farmers and workers in the developing world, and encourage your workplace to switch to Fairtrade tea and coffee.