We need to change the way we build and live if we’re going to avert catastrophic climate change, and it’s time we think about the biggest carbon offender: the suburbs. Suburban living is car-centric, energy intensive due to the design of the houses, more expensive to maintain due to low density, and embodies other problematic issues. It may sound like a daunting task to switch the suburbs from an unsustainable system to a sustainable one, but that’s exactly what people are trying to do.
According to new research publishedÂ last week by Teicher andÂ twoÂ colleagues, if theÂ trend away from downtown cores continues, it is essential to urgently refocus some of the effort to fight climate change from cities to suburbia.
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 sunâ€™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.
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 toÂ LEED â€œgreen buildingâ€ standards. A gradually increasing carbon tax or cap-and-trade system (already in placeÂ in some nations) would spur innovation while reducing fossil fuel consumption and promoting the use of renewables.
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\Jâ€™s 44-year existence. Whatâ€™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 â€“ and thus for Canada to become more sustainable. These pages contain articles by more than 20 of those scholars
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.