This New Paris Community Demonstrates Sustainable Cities

Good Street from Streetmix

In the capital of France, the new Clichy-Batignolles development demonstrates how a city can have a carbon-neutral footprint while providing modern living. The development itself is built on old industrial lands and includes community housing, a theatre, and many other important features of a city including a massive park. The neighbourhood focusses on sustainable buildings and sustainable transit; the developer specifically designed the spaces to be walkable and ensuring that there is no need for a car.

All buildings are being constructed to the demanding Passivhaus standard, meaning that the energy consumption required for heating is just 15 kilowatt-hours a square metre of floor space per year, and the overall energy consumption is under 50kWh asqm of floor space per year.

The buildings are south-facing and super insulated, capturing and retaining the sun’s heat and warmth given off by their occupants and technology. Buildings are composed of renewable materials while other materials such as PVC are banned.

The area will contain 40,000 sq m of solar photovoltaic roofs that will eventually generate around 4500-megawatt-hours a year to supply 85 per cent of the remaining energy needs, while deep geothermal energy will provide 83 per cent of the space heating and domestic hot water, so that the entire site will have a carbon neutral footprint.

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The Importance of Infrastructure Changes for a Sustainable World

With COP21 happening this week in Paris there are many approaches to fighting climate change being discussed. No matter what approach is used there will have to be structural changes in how energy is delivered and how goods are transported. Over at Gizmodo they took a look at how quickly we can transition to a low-carbon energy system and it turns out we can do it rather quickly. Infrastructure takes time to rebuild and adopt to new technologies and the sooner we start the better.

Many different policy approaches could help, both to reduce consumption and to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix.

Building codes could be gradually adjusted to require that every rooftop generate energy, and/or ratcheted up to LEED “green building” standards. A gradually increasing carbon tax or cap-and-trade system (already in place in some nations) would spur innovation while reducing fossil fuel consumption and promoting the use of renewables.

In the United States, at least, eliminating the many subsidies that currently flow to fossil fuels may prove politically easier than taxing carbon, yet send a similar price signal.

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Alternatives Journal Spells Out Canada’s Map to Sustainability

Canada has a horrible international reputation when it comes to the environment. The federal government even has climate change deniers and actively supports the shameful tar sands. At Alternatives Journal they have worked with some of the smartest people in Canada to show Canadians there’s no reason to continue down the self-destructive path we are on.

Within the issue they look at many aspects of Canadian life from cities to mining.

THIS IS THE most important issue that A\J has ever published. It will land in the hands and mailboxes of more Canadians than any issue in A\J’s 44-year existence. What’s so important? We as a nation are on the cusp of embracing and implementing the sustainability that Gro Harlem Brundtland envisioned almost 30 years ago in her pivotal book, Our Common Future.

To help map our sustainable future, A\J has teamed with a group of Canadian scholars called Sustainable Canada Dialogues/Dialogues pour un Canada vert (SCD). Every scholar in this 60-person-plus group puts sustainability central to his or her area of research, whether it is species diversity, resource extraction or how we manage the land that feeds us. All SCD participants have identified what is needed for their specialized science or social science field to become more sustainable – and thus for Canada to become more sustainable. These pages contain articles by more than 20 of those scholars

Check out their map to sustainability issue.

Why Investors Care About Sustainability

For long term investors sustainability is an obvious concern, but for some investors who look only for profits in the next quarter sustainability can be forgotten. The tide is starting to turn as companies that don’t have sustainable practices in place are being beaten by more efficient operations.

The Guardian has outlined why poor investors ignore the environment while providing good reasons to care about it from a financial standpoint.

As a first step, we need to recognise that rapidly declining natural systems are bad news for business. There is a two-way street between the economy and the environment: businesses damage the environment, and the damaged environment then creates risks to the bottom lines of businesses.

But why should members of the investment community care? After all, they are not trying to save the world; they have a fiduciary responsibility to generate returns to their shareholders. Three reasons explain why investors should include sustainability considerations in their decisions, and why doing so is compatible with fiduciary responsibility.

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Watch Sustainability Illustrated

Alex Magnin is an illustrator who likes making the world a better place and over the last six months he’s been illustrating sustainability. The video above is about explaining sustainability with science and is a good example of what the sort of videos he illustrates. The videos are 4-7 minuets in length and make for a good quick and informative break.

I have been working as a sustainability advisor for almost 10 years (with the international non-profit The Natural Step) and have seen first-hand the power of innovative sustainability practices to transform lives, businesses, and communities for the better.
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As an artist and an illustrator, I have also witnessed the power of illustrations and multimedia to help people understand and learn more effectively. So I decided to combine my skills and share, through animated illustration, what I have learned about sustainability over years of helping businesses and communities become more successful, sustainable, and resilient.

Read more here.
Watch all the videos here.

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