FuturArc News Roundup
November-December 2015 News Roundup
Developments in Green building initiatives in cities
Global: United Nations concludes a Green climate change conference
On 12 December, the United Nations (UN) climate change conference (COP21) has ended with 195 countries concluding a historic Paris Agreement from the two-week event.
The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of COP21 cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a significant conclusion: mitigation—reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal; a transparency system and global stock-take—accounting for climate action; adaptation—strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage—strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts; and support—including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.
Its main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Fanina Kodre-Alexander from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), who manages communications on climate change, disasters and conflicts, said UNEP worked with the organisers—the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the government of France—to ensure sustainability throughout the Paris-Le Bourget site, northeast of the capital.
To reduce waste, all the food provided at UNEP events, including those during COP21, is sourced from rescued food, resources that otherwise would have been destroyed, but is served in a presentable and appetising way.
Meanwhile, there were several eco-friendly options such as the provision of free public buses, and 300 electric cars sponsored by Renault-Nissan to anyone seeking a ride. Two hundred of the drivers were professional chauffeurs, while the rest volunteered to help limit COP21’s carbon footprint. According to Renault-Nissan, a total of 16.32 tonnes of carbon dioxide were diverted during the two weeks.
While the cars recharged during the day, thousands of cell phones also recharged at power stations provided by a group called Solar Sound Systems. Unlike a typical plug, participants had to pedal to activate the charging, making use of human energy. Similarly, this applied to making one’s own juice and contributing to power a DJ booth. i
Japan: SPREAD to launch world’s first robotic vegetable farm
SPREAD, a food technology company focused on sustainable farming, will open its robot-run, 4,800-square-metre vegetable factory in Kyoto in the summer of 2017, and will produce 30,000 heads of lettuce per day, or about 10 million heads per year. It will be the world’s first indoor farm without any farmers.
The new facility will have two primary goals: low cost operation and environmental friendliness. “Low cost was achieved from the increasing efficient use of optimised energy for automation, lighting, and air-conditioning from seeding to harvest,” SPREAD reported.
Labour costs will be reduced via the farm’s highly automated cultivation process. An advanced air-conditioning system, as well as efficient custom-made LED lights, will further cut energy costs.
Like other vertical farms, the company’s vegetable factory will not use pesticides or herbicides. It will also significantly minimise water use by recycling 98 percent of it. Temperature, lighting and moisture will be automated in order to optimise plant growth. ii
Malaysia: Miri to transform waterfront at Kampung Pengkalan Lutong
Miri City Council (MCC) proposes to set aside RM500,000 (about S$165,000) to beautify and transform the river bank at Kampung Pengkalan Lutong in Miri, Sarawak.
Mayor Lawrence Lai said the project would be financed through the RM10-million government grant announced by chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem during the Miri City Day celebration in May this year.
“Like what I’ve said before, the government grant given to MCC would be used to improve the tourism infrastructure and enhance safety in this resort city. Thus, the council proposed to use part of the grant to construct the waterfront project for Kampung Pengkalan Lutong,” the mayor stated.
He said the project would be in line with the council’s vision to make Miri a Green city by building more recreational parks and eco-friendly facilities. iii
Nepal: SHoP to build 50 new schools
In the wake of the April 25, 2015 earthquake in Nepal, SHoP has partnered with Kids of Kathmandu and Asia Friendship Network (AFN) to help rebuild 50 public schools in the hardest hit areas. The project will not only replace damaged schools, but will also raise the standard for public education in the remote regions of Nepal.
In the hopes of providing a future model for non-governmental organisations, the school design will be a flexible system that is adaptable to different site conditions and available resources, and can be easily assembled.
The construction of the earth brick, concrete, and steel schools will be done mainly by local volunteers, enabling community members to participate more in the building of their schools. In addition, the walls are intentionally left blank "to encourage the vibrant local tradition of mural art."
The buildings will take a holistic approach to enhancing the children’s learning experience, “equipped with solar electricity generation, integrated water purification systems, new kitchen facilities, and wireless internet powering donated computers.”
Furthermore, the schools will serve as community centres after hours, as well as safe havens in the event of another emergency situation. Construction of the first two schools will begin in early 2016. iv
Singapore: Green building council creates standard energy performance contract
The template was developed in consultation with several established EPC firms and building owners. The standard template assists in accelerating the retrofitting process by clearly spelling out the key conditions of contract for both the building owner and the EPC firm so that building owners can better focus on the critical component in any EPC: the amount of energy savings guaranteed.
Singapore: Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore inks solar project deal
Aerial view of APBS solar installation (Photo credit: REC)
Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) has made a pioneering power purchase agreement (PPA) in which it will install solar panels for Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore’s (APBS) facilities. This agreement will see REC’s TwinPeak panels mounted across three rooftops of APBS.
At 2.196 megawatt peak (MWp), this solar installation is approximately four times the size of typical corporate solar installation projects. This is the company’s first solar installation project in the Asia-Pacific region and also its largest rooftop installation worldwide. It is also one of REC’s biggest carbon-saving initiatives to date.
Scheduled to run for the next 25 years, this PPA will see APBS generate approximately 2.3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy annually, enough power to meet the annual power consumption of 600 four-room HDB households. Generated through 8,038 REC solar panels that are made in Singapore and spanning an area equivalent to three FIFA football fields in size, the resulting renewable energy will help APBS mitigate 1,500 tonnes of carbon emissions annually, reducing its carbon footprint by approximately 20 percent. vi
Thailand: World’s first solar-hydrogen residential development
Thailand-based development company CNX Construction is set to debut the world’s first 24-hour, solar-powered hydrogen storage multi-house complex on 29 January 2016.
The Phi Suea House in Chiang Mai, Thailand will utilise this innovative energy storage technology to power not just one but four family homes as well as several support buildings with clean energy from the sun.
The genius of this project is that it solves problems inherent with solar panels—they only work when the sun is out and can generate more energy than needed. Although the growing battery industry solves some of these problems, “they are not well suited for long term use,” the construction firm said.
According to Citylife Chiang Mai, “During the day, solar panels on five of the structures [will] capture energy from the sun and send it to the energy building. The energy building [will] then distribute [the] power to the other buildings on the compound while also converting water into hydrogen gas.” vii
Text by Karen Baja Dungalen