FuturArc Monthly News Roundup
March 2015 News Roundup
Green building developments in the region
Australia: Greener cities could ease climate change
Urban greening advocacy group 202020 Vision wants Australia’s Green areas to increase by 20 percent by 2020 for economic and social benefits. 2014 was the third hottest year in Australia and the hottest globally since climate records began. A joint CSIRO/Bureau of Meteorology report on climate change, released in January, showed average temperature in Australia could rise up by 1.3 degree Celsius by 2020 and 2.8 degree Celsius by 2090. Dr Simon Divechaa, a 202020 Vision spokesman from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute says urban greening can shield cities from heat. The Sydney City Council encourages roof gardens in new buildings, while the city of Adelaide seeks efficient building design. Melbourne city planners are also developing new ways to add greenery to urban landscapes. i
China: Electric centre achieves zero smoke and dust emissions
In pursuit of the goal of decreasing 13 million tonnes of coal and cutting down its energy consumption by 10 percent, the Beijing government has proposed the construction of four gas thermos-electric centres in Beijing and to shut down four existing coal-thermos electric plants. The Northwest Gas Thermo Electric Center is the largest of the four gas thermos electric centres, with a heat-supply area of 18 million square kilometres, which will provide heat services sufficient for about 200,000 Beijing citizens. ii
China: Plan to place 300,000 energy vehicles on roads by 2020
China aims for the use of new energy vehicles in transportation, which will take shape by 2020. It aims for a total of 300,000 new energy vehicles to be in service, 200,000 of which will be public buses while the remaining 100,000 will be taxis and municipal vehicles. Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei will additionally replace at least 35 percent of all their buses, taxis and municipal vehicles with new energy vehicles. Policies to support new energy vehicles will also be devised, including tax exemptions for purchases of automatic cars and hybrid cars. Reforms to oil price subsidies will also be undertaken. iii
Europe: Renewable energy helped cut global carbon dioxide emissions in 2014
Global carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector stalled in 2014, the first time in 40 years during a period of economic growth, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The main source of global warming—carbon dioxide emissions—stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the previous year. China, the world's top carbon dioxide emitter, used more renewable energy in 2014 such as hydropower, solar and wind, while it burned less coal.
"The latest data on emissions are indeed encouraging, but this is no time for complacency and certainly not the time to use this positive news as an excuse to stall further action," said IEA’s executive director Maria van der Hoeven. iv
Indonesia to increase bio-content for diesel to 15 percent
Indonesia will increase the minimum bio-content in diesel fuel for transport to 15 percent from 10 percent. Indonesia missed its 2014 biodiesel targets, largely due to logistical and infrastructure problems but the government is looking to protect its biofuel industry against lower crude prices by increasing subsidies. The bio-content for transport is due to rise to 20 percent in 2016 but the government has decided to take action earlier. Total estimated production of biodiesel is about 3.4 million kilolitres for this year. Any consumption boost may also benefit biofuel producers and plantation owners such as Wilmar International and Astra Agro Lestari and Musim Mas. v
Singapore: Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2016 opens for nominations
The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) officially opened its call for nominations for the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize on 2 March 2015. Since its inception in 2008, SIWW honours outstanding contributions by individuals or organisations towards solving the world’s water challenges by applying innovative technologies, policies or programmes that benefit humanity. This international award is named after Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, whose foresight and leadership has enabled Singapore to attain a sustainable water supply. It focuses on innovative water technologies, policies or programmes that have been game-changers in their real-life world application. Nominations close on 1 June 2015. vi
Singapore: BCA pushes for energy-efficient building technologies
Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has just released details of its SG$20 million scheme; called the GBIC-Building Energy Efficient Demonstrations Scheme (GBIC-Demo), which will spearhead the test-bedding of new energy-efficient technologies in fully operational buildings. GBIC-Demo scheme is one of the three key initiatives under the SG$52 million (Green Buildings Innovation Cluster) GBIC programme first launched by BCA in September 2014. “The scheme will help mitigate the risks involved in testing out new technologies by co-funding incurred costs such as equipment, installation, and commissioning. In doing so, we hope to spur wider replication and eventual commercialisation of novel energy-efficient solutions for buildings in the longer term,” said Tan Tian Chong, BCA’s group director of research. vii
UK: London and Bristol pledge to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent by 2030
During a summit organised by the city of Paris yesterday, mayors of Rome, Athens, Amsterdam and Dublin, among others, adopted a declaration that pledges to meet the post-2020 climate and energy goals set by the European Union (EU). The declaration seeks to address both of these issues, committing mayors to regularly report on the initiatives they are undertaking to combat climate change. They also pledged to use their procurement power to boost the uptake of Green technologies, such as ultra-low emission vehicles, insulation and smart building technologies as well as renewable energy.
Through the declaration, the mayors called on member states to adopt the EU's 2030 Climate and Energy framework quickly, thereby committing the bloc to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030 based on 1990 levels, to increase the share of renewable energy to 27 percent and reduce energy wastage by 27 percent by 2030. viii
Vietnam: Cheaper biofertilisers reduce chemical use
A vegetable farm in Vietnam. (Image taken from http://vietnamvolunteer.net/images/taking-care-vegetable.jpg)
According to Hoang Van Hien, chairman of Hien Luong agricultural co-operative, biofertilisers made from farm waste is replacing industrial products in rice paddies, peanut and vegetable farms. "Biofertilisers is a good way to kill two birds with one stone—reducing the use of chemicals in cultivation while dealing with agricultural waste," he said. The co-operative, which is based in the province's Phong Hien Commune in Phong Dien District, covers 132 hectares of land.
For biofertilisers, hay, rice husks and other farming waste are fermented and mixed with dung to produce the Green fertilisers. Similar organic fertilisers can be found in the market place, but they can cost 75 percent more as compared to home-made fertilisers.
Lam Thi Thu Suu, director of the Hue based Centre for Social Research and Development said the waste fertiliser model had been adopted for vegetable farms in other localities, including Huong Chu, Quang Tho, and Quang Thanh communes. ix
Global: Frei Otto receives the 2015 Pritzker Architecture Prize
Frei Otto has received the 2015 Pritzker Architecture Prize. The Jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize selected Otto as the laureate earlier this year, and shortly thereafter the executive director travelled to Otto’s home and studio in Warmbronn, Germany to deliver the news in person. The prize committee released its official announcement two weeks earlier than planned to honour him posthumously. Otto passed away at the age of 89 in March 2015.
Upon receiving the news, Otto said, “I am now so happy to receive this Pritzker Prize and I thank the jury and the Pritzker family very much. I have never done anything to gain this prize. My architectural drive was to design new types of buildings to help poor people especially following natural disasters and catastrophes. So what shall be better for me than to win this prize? I will use whatever time is left to me to keep doing what I have been doing, which is to help humanity. You have here a happy man.”
The Pritzker Architecture Prize was founded in 1979 by the late Jay A. Pritzker and his wife, Cindy. Its purpose is to honour annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and excellence, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. x
Global: New project on health, well-being and productivity launches
The World Green Building Council has launched a new global campaign on healthy buildings that will cover a range of building types. The project will begin with the retail sector, which will be led by UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), and will be international in scope, ensuring the outputs are relevant for the retail sector globally. The project will seek to adapt existing ways of measuring health and well-being set out in the 2014 report, specifically for the retail sector, to help strengthen the business case for sustainable stores, and pilot the metrics in real stores. John Alker, director of Policy and Communications and interim CEO of UKGBC said, “Green buildings must not only meet our planetary needs, but also the needs of people and business. That’s why health, well-being and productivity in the property sector is such a key topic—it’s essential for making the business case for Green buildings. But it’s now time to go from awareness raising to action, and driving real change on the ground.” xi
Global: Earth Hour 2015
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has said hundreds of millions of Earth hour participants around the world will demand a strong global climate agreement by switching off their lights for an hour on the night of 28 March. Britain’s Energy and Climate Change secretary, Ed Davey, who has been heavily involved in the climate negotiations at the UN, called for a response to climate change. “It’s time for everyone to recognise that climate change will touch just about everything we do and everything we care about. Earth Hour is an excellent opportunity for millions of people across the world to take one simple step to show they’re serious about backing action on climate change,” said Davey.
In an updated report from ComEd, customers turning off lights and other appliances during World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour reduced electricity use by 7 percent both in the city of Chicago and throughout its Northern Illinois service territory. ComEd, a major partner for World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour Chicago, encouraged its customers to participate in the historic event to raise customer awareness about energy efficiency and global climate change. Chicago was a flagship city for Earth Hour in USA and one of several major cities in the world participating this year.
In Asia, the Pan Pacific Hotels Group participated in Earth Hour 2015 as a collective pledge to fight climate change. Representing 11 countries in the region, Oceania and North America, including Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and USA, the properties switched off or dimmed non-essential lights for an hour on Saturday 28 March. Some committed to turning off non-critical electrical appliances and/or raising air-conditioning temperatures by 1-2 degree Celsius. The participating properties also planned a series of fringe activities during Earth Hour to engage their respective communities of guests, business partners and associates.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's signature high-rise skyline along the Victoria Harbour was a shadow of itself, with its towering skyscrapers standing dark—among them were the city's tallest building, the 118-story International Commerce Centre. In Taiwan, the lights went off on the Taipei 101 tower, the world's tallest building before it was overtaken by Dubai's Burj Khalifa, while in Kuala Lumpur the usually dazzling Petronas Twin Towers were dark. xii, xiii, xiv
Global: Swiss pilots attempt first around-the-world solar flight
André Borschberg and his compatriot Bertrand Piccard will take turns piloting the single-seater Solar Impulse 2 for 21,747 miles over 12 legs, including gruelling five- to six-day stints across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The entire journey will take five months.
Borschberg said the success of the Solar Impulse project, which has already become the first solar-powered plane to fly through the night and the first to fly between two continents, must be seen as a primitive step towards a zero-carbon jumbo. The four motors that power the aircraft generate about half the power of a motor-cross bike but unlike conventional engines they lose only 3 percent of their energy through heat. The standard loss, says Borschberg who is an engineer, is around 70 percent and energy efficiency is the single cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions across the world. xv
Text by Sarah Abdul Karim