Archive for the ‘Express 151’ Category

Is it Worth it? Gargantuan Tools Needed to Make Use of the Sea’s Energy

Posted by admin on September 4, 2011
Posted under Express 151

Is it Worth it? Gargantuan Tools Needed to Make Use of the Sea’s Energy

Wringing electricity from the sea
is no small task. But as firms start to test their wave-energy harvesters in
the open ocean that could be about to change. Heaving water holds 40 times more
energy than air moving at the same speed, and sea states change more slowly
than breezes, making it easier for utilities to predict the availability of
energy. New Scientist reports on developments. Meanwhile, new in-depth analysis
by the Carbon Trust shows the UK’s best marine energy sites could generate electricity
at costs comparable with nuclear and onshore wind.

26 August 2011 by Phil McKenna

New Scientist

An explosion of designs for
harvesting wave energy could make the process competitive at last – and they’re
heading out to the ocean for testing

WRINGING electricity from the sea
is no small task. But as firms start to test their wave-energy harvesters in
the open ocean that could be about to change.

Heaving water holds 40 times more
energy than air moving at the same speed, and sea states change more slowly
than breezes, making it easier for utilities to predict the availability of
energy. Yet the tools needed to make use of the sea’s energy are gargantuan.

Pelamis Wave Power’s wave energy
device, P2, is a case in point. Currently stored at the Leith Docks in
Edinburgh, UK, it uses spools of steel cable several times human height, and
floats that are as big as a car. But this is just window dressing for the
machine itself: a red rig that looks like a 180-metre-long subway train.

Pelamis and Aquamarine Power,
also based in Edinburgh, are the big players in what remains a small industry
of generating energy from waves. Each is now fielding full-scale prototypes
that could make wave energy competitive in terms of cost with other renewable
energy sources, such as offshore wind.

Alongside them are dozens of
smaller competitors, building a menagerie of strange devices that they hope
will leapfrog ahead of existing machines in the race to provide inexpensive
power from the sea. “Wave energy has been talked about for hundreds of
years,” says Neil Kermode, managing director of the European Union-funded
European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC). “Now it’s actually starting to

In the UK, the waters around the
Orkney Islands off northern Scotland, home to some of the world’s cruellest
weather, are used as EMEC’s proving grounds, as they offer a stiff test for
wave-energy devices. As Kermode puts it: “This is the playground for the
big boys.”

For all its impressive size, on
the inside the P2 looks more like a data centre than a ship’s hull. Duplicate
server racks, fibre-optic communication systems and emergency power supplies
allow programmers to upload software on the fly without interrupting power

The P2 generates energy when its
large floating tubes, connected by hinged joints, bob in the waves, moving
hydraulic rams that pump high-pressure fluid to drive turbine. And while the
hardware has been upgraded from previous prototypes, it is the algorithm
controlling them that makes the difference. By decreasing resistance in the
rams when waves are small and increasing it when they are larger, the algorithm
maximises energy production in any sea state. As a result, the P2 produces 750
kilowatts of electricity – twice as much as prior prototypes.

“It’s the active control of
these algorithms that allows us to tune the machine to be in resonance
regardless of wave conditions,” says Pelamis engineer Ross Henderson.

Last month, Aquamarine Power
finished the construction of its second full-scale wave power device, the
Oyster 800. This consists of a hinged flap that sticks out of the water and is
pushed shut with each passing wave. When the flap moves, it drives hydraulic
pistons that deliver high-pressure water via a pipeline to an onshore turbine.
With an output of 800 kilowatts, the device is built to be 2.5 times as
powerful as its predecessor (see “The ocean is your oyster”).

“If you can get that sort of
level of performance improvement then the economics suddenly start to look a
lot more favourable,” says Stephen Wyatt, head of technology acceleration
at The Carbon Trust, a UK-government-funded organisation charged with
catalysing a low-carbon economy.

A study published by The Carbon
Trust in July estimated the cost of energy harvested from waves at 43 pence per
kilowatt-hour, or almost three times the cost of offshore wind. To become cost
competitive with other sources of renewable energy, companies will have to find
ways to squeeze more power out of their devices, says Wyatt.

Meanwhile, a host of start-up
companies are heading for EMEC’s “nursery” – a test facility built in
sheltered waters for designs that are not yet ready for the open ocean – each
hoping their device will be the next game changer.

One of the most promising,
according to a three-year study by The Carbon Trust, is Anaconda by Checkmate
Seaenergy, based in Sheerness, UK. This is a snake-like rubber tube filled with
water that floats just below the surface. As waves hit the front of the device
they squeeze the tube, creating a bulge of water that travels along it. When
the bulge reaches the end, the pressurised water drives a turbine.

An 8-metre long prototype has
been tested, but the firm says it will be several years before its full-scale
1-megawatt device, which would be 150 metres long, is ready.

An equally unusual machine, the
1600-tonne Penguin, will soon begin testing at EMEC. Built by Finnish company
Wello, the 500-kilowatt rig has an asymmetrically shaped hull that causes it to
roll, heave and pitch – much like the stilted stride of a penguin – with each
passing wave. The movement spins a flywheel inside the hull, driving a

With such devices arriving with
increasing frequency, it’s too early to tell which technology will win out in
the end. “That is part of the excitement,” Kermode says. “It may
be something completely new or variations on something we have already


11 July 2011

Major three-year Carbon Trust
marine energy R&D programme sets course for future growth

New in-depth analysis published
today by the Carbon Trust shows the UK’s best marine energy sites could
generate electricity at costs comparable with nuclear and onshore wind1.  With continued and targeted innovation this
could be as soon as 2025, once cost reductions from deploying the first
gigawatt of energy devices have kicked-in.
In the future marine energy could provide a fifth of the UK’s
electricity needs.

Through its Marine Energy
Accelerator programme, the Carbon Trust has established that the costs for the
first wave and tidal energy farms will be around 30-40p/Kwh which is high,
relative to today’s more established low carbon technologies, such as offshore
wind.  These costs are broadly as
expected given the early stage of the technologies’ development.  Importantly the report concludes how with
continued and targeted innovation aggressive reductions in costs can be
achieved in the next ten years.  The
report also quantifies the amount of energy that can realistically be tapped
and sets out the actions now needed to set the industry on a path to commercial

The analysis shows that wave
energy could generate 50 Terra Watt hours (TWh) of electricity per year,
equivalent to 13% of the UK’s power needs, and tidal stream 20.6 TWh per year
or 5% of UK power needs.  Between them
wave and tidal stream could generate more electricity than 12 large coal-fired
power stations.  The fast flowing tides
of the deeper areas of the Pentland Firth between the Scottish mainland and the
Orkneys alone could ultimately generate almost one third of all tidal stream
energy (6 TWh/year) and at an equivalent cost to nuclear and onshore wind.

Technology innovation will be
vital to tackle the harsher conditions which are encountered in the deeper
areas of the Pentland Firth.  With
targeted innovation energy generation costs for both wave and tidal stream
technologies could reduce to an average of 15 pence per kilowatt hour by 2025 -
equivalent to today’s cost of offshore wind energy.

The £3.5m Marine Energy
Accelerator has already driven innovation in key areas including device
deployment and mooring.  Just one of
these innovations, developed with Pelamis Wave Power, has projected savings of
£15m a year by 2020 through faster installation and connection of the device in
rougher weather conditions.

Benj Sykes, Director of
Innovations at Carbon Trust, said:

“Marine energy is one of the UK’s
most exciting green growth sectors and one where we have a real lead.  Wave and tidal stream could provide a fifth
of our electricity needs and be a major ‘made in Britain’ success.  The key players must now pull together to
tackle the next set of challenges and innovate to drive down costs.  Our Marine Energy Accelerator, working with
key industry players and Government, has shown that savings of tens of millions
of pounds are possible.”

Separate Carbon Trust analysis
has shown that the UK could capture just under a quarter of the global marine
energy market.  Equivalent to up to £76bn
to the UK economy by 2050, this growing sector could also generate over 68,000
UK jobs.

The latest analysis from the
Marine Energy Accelerator highlighted the following key areas for action:

Targeted innovation is needed to
drive cost reduction and de-risk the industry.
Project developers should engage in non-competitive R&D efforts to
tackle challenges and costs associated with array deployment, foundations and
electrical connections.

Government needs to provide a
stable revenue support framework and legislative backing through Strategic
Environmental Assessments to streamline the planning process for wave and tidal
energy farms.

Utilities and project developers
must continue to be more heavily involved in the industry which will generate
wider investor confidence.

Supply chain partners should look
to invest now to create market-leading positions.

Plans for grid connections to
areas of marine energy need to be expanded, specifically for the Pentland

By working with device developers
and other key players, the Marine Energy Accelerator has successfully driven
forward innovation in the following areas to speed cost reductions:

Optimising the design of tidal
turbine blades which might otherwise be significantly over-engineered

Developing nylon (instead of
steel) ropes and gravity bag anchors for mooring devices

Developing novel ‘linear generators’
which would replace hydraulics meaning fewer moving parts and less maintenance

Developing new techniques to
enable the generating equipment in floating wave devices to be disconnected
from the main structure

Developing a unique technology
for connecting and disconnecting the Pelamis P2 from its mooring enabling
maintenance in rougher seas

Taking forward the engineering
and commercial development of two ‘next generation’ concepts (Minesto’s Deep
Green tidal energy device and Checkmate Sea Energy’s Anaconda wave energy
device) which hold potential for game changing reductions in the cost of

British companies such as
Pelamis, Aquamarine Power and Marine Current Turbines are leading the way in
deploying their technologies in UK waters, with six out of the eight full scale
prototypes in the world being installed here.
Almost half of Europe’s wave resources and over a quarter of its tidal
energy resources are to be found off the British coastline.


CSR & IPRS Sustainability Focus: Global Leaders On Stage

Posted by admin on September 4, 2011
Posted under Express 151

CSR & IPRS Sustainability Focus: Global Leaders On Stage

This month in Singapore there is
more than one opportunity for locals and visitors alike to catch sight of, and
meet, some of 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders.  Five of them, including Esther An, Thomas
Thomas, Simon Tay, Harveen Narula and Wayne Visser will be at the CSR Summit
5/6   September. But don’t miss the IPRS
event on 21 September, when Ken Hickson will lead a panel on “The Sustainability
Megatrend for Business” featuring Howard Shaw, Jessica Cheam and Esher An. Read

Singapore Compact and the SR

The upcoming International
Singapore Compact CSR Summit 2011, themed “Corporate Social
Responsibility: Values for Sustainability”, will feature key international
experts in CSR and sustainability strategy, in response to the growing
awareness of sustainability as the next business megatrend for companies to
stay abreast of the curve. Rather than a “dreamer”, “loser”
or “defender”, as the Harvard Business Review has analysed, CSR
leadership experts from various industries will impart strategies and provide
tools to enable a “winner” in the coming decades.

In an economic environment
rattled by consequences of the economic crisis since 2008, trade uncertainty
incurred from recent uprisings in the Middle East and natural disasters in
various parts of the world, regional economies have seen tightening measures
worldwide. Investors, communities and civil society question companies’ behaviour
and responsibility for the environment; and stock exchanges across Asia
increasingly serve as regulators or institutional advocates of requirements for
sustainability reporting. In addition, the intersection of interests has meant
more cross-organizational collaboration and a need to understand perspectives
across stakeholders.

Plenaries and workshops during
the 2-day conference will explore CSR with regard to investor and shareholder
relations, the environment and human capital, while providing in-depth
perspectives on CSR in the region and across sectors. As an extension of the
past two years’ Summits, thought leaders will share their research and
findings, addressing different stakeholder groups in business and imparting
strategies for implementation.

The second International
Singapore Compact CSR Summit held last year marked key events including the
launch of the ASEAN CSR network and the inaugural Singapore Compact CSR Awards,
which recognised outstanding efforts by companies in various aspects of CSR.
Drawing almost 400 delegates and attendees at the 2010 opening ceremony, this
year’s International Singapore Compact CSR Summit is expected to attract
dignitaries and delegates from the top of their fields and at all levels of
business operations across sectors to the Grande Copthorne Waterfront Hotel,
Singapore, on the 5-6 September.

For the full programme go to:

Sustainability is described as the
“Megtrend of the 21st century”. Are you on board?

How green is your business? Are
you able to build on your strengths with green and sustainable products and
services to get greater attention in the marketplace and in the media?

On 21 September the Institute of Public
Relations Singapore (IPRS) is bringing together four acknowledged experts in
the field of sustainability and the greening of business, particularly from the
standpoint of corporate communication and media.

A panel discussion with be
chaired by sustainability consultant and PR guru Ken Hickson, with Straits
Times Jessica Cheam, CDL’s Esther An and Halcyon’s Howard Shaw.

Esther An

Esther An joined City
Developments Limited (CDL) in 1995 to set up the company’s Corporate
Communication Department and subsequently the CSR portfolio.  She has been instrumental in building up CDL
as a forerunner in CSR.

The company’s relentless efforts
in embracing sustainability for business excellence have won many international
and local accolades such as the prestigious Global 100 Most Sustainable
Companies, Asian CSR Awards and BCA Built Environment Leadership Award, just to
name a few.

CDL is honored to be the only
Singapore developer listed on the London FTSE4Good Index since 2002.  Its Sustainability Report was the first
amongst Singapore companies to achieve GRI checked status in 2008. In the 2010
Asian Sustainability Rating, CDL was again ranked top in Singapore and top
amongst all listed developers in Asia.
Sitting on board the Singapore Compact for CSR Management Committee,
Esther has been active in advocating CSR amongst businesses and students.


Jessica Cheam

Jessica Cheam is a correspondent
at The Straits Times who reports on housing, development issues, environment,
energy and climate change. She joined the newspaper full-time in 2006 after
being awarded a scholarship by the Singapore Press Holdings to study a Masters
in Journalism at London’s Goldsmith College where her work was nominated for a
PTC Journalist Award (UK).

Her first degree was in Film and
English at the University of Warwick. She has also written for London-based publications
such as The Independent, The Times and The Ecologist.

Jessica is the founder and editor
of the website, which is a leading provider of news and views
for Asia Pacific’s sustainable business community.

She has won a global journalism
award at the Earth Journalism Awards, which was held in Copenhagen in December
2009 by Internews and the World Bank. In March 2010, she was named Young
Journalist of the Year by Singapore Press Holdings at its annual English and
Malay Newspaper Division awards. In February 2011, her stories on
sustainability won her the first Asean Green Technology Journalism Award by

Howard Shaw

Howard Shaw, Senior Vice
President, Corporate Social Responsibility, HALCYON Group, was formerly the
executive director of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC). Howard was
actively involved in driving the environmental movement since 1995,
contributing towards shaping national environmental policies and programs.

He was responsible for the
development and administration of the Singapore Environmental Achievement
Awards, as well as the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme, which recognize
excellence in environmental management and green products, respectively.

Howard represented the NGO
community on various national groups, including the Water Network, Singapore
Packaging Agreement, and Public Hygiene Council. He was also a Focus Group
member for the National Preparatory Process leading up to the World Summit on
Sustainable Development 2002.

Ken Hickson

Ken Hickson is an
eco-entrepreneur, writer, lecturer, coach, consultant and communicator,
including 17 years based in Singapore (1983 to end 2000), where he managed a
leading communications consultancy Hickson Public Relations, which became
Fleishman Hillard.  He returned to
Singapore last year as Founder Chairman and CEO of Sustain Ability Showcase

He has introduced a number of
products and services in the clean tech sector (green buildings, clean energy
efficiency, waste and water management) into Singapore from overseas and acts
as an advisor to the Singapore Environment Council and National Environment
Agency (NEA), as well as some clean tech start-ups, including GreenPost.

For the past ten years he has
lived and worked in Australia where he
is acknowledged as a leading climate change and sustainability
communicator, speaking at conferences, producing a book – “The ABC of Carbon”
-  editing a fortnightly e-newsletter –
abc carbon express – and acting as advisor to businesses and organisations on
awareness and action to deal with issues and opportunities.

He was appointed the honorary
representative for WWF International and was instrumental in getting the World
Wide Fund for Nature established in Singapore, where its Asia Pacific office is
now located. He has attended and spoken at WWF events in Asia and Europe and
was involved in fund-raising and event management for WWF Australia, where he
continues to serve as a Governor of the organisation.

He is a Fellow of IPRS and former
President. Just recently he took over the management of Professional Public
Relations Singapore, also known as Racepoint.

For more information and to book
go to the IPRS website.


“The Oil Price”: It might be fiction, but it’s deadly serious

Posted by admin on September 4, 2011
Posted under Express 151

“The Oil Price”: It might be fiction, but it’s deadly serious

Among the 100 Global Sustain
Ability Leaders are many authors, of mostly non-fiction and mostly serious
tomes. One of them is new author, Guy Lane, a Sustainability Consultant
from Townsville, Queensland, Australia. His first published book is a novel
just out “The Oil Price” with a strong environmental theme, but it also a
thriller in the James Bond. And it’s deadly serious.  Read More

Ken Hickson has read ‘The Oil
Price” and highly recommends it as a great read. It is racy, action packed and
shows that the author not only understands the subject well – the oil industry and
the environmental impact of unsustainable development – but also creates some very
believable characters and locations. It is deadly and it is serious. And shows
you take your sustainable consultants seriously too!

All about “The Oil Price”

Lala is a Fiji island that is
home to endangered sea birds, marine turtles and coconut crabs.

Pity poor Lala Island, it is
located over an unexploited oil field. And where there’s oil there’s blood, the
real oil price.

Brad Moore, Dubai-based Chief
Executive of Peking Petroleum, wants to turn Lala into an oil production
facility and bury the turtle nests under concrete.

But there is another plan for
Lala – a bright green plan.

Brad Moore knows that to make a
brain omlette you have to crack a few skulls, so he brings to Dubai two
hard-hitters from Storm Front, an Iraq Security Contracting firm.

He brings Teck, the emotionally
challenged body-guard, to kill the man who is competing for Lala.

And he hires Madeline Obst,
corporate spin-doctor, the Liar for Hire, to make sure the truth is completely

But Brad Moore doesn’t know that
in between the car bombs and death squads of Iraq, Teck and Madeline have
developed some history together.

Neither does he know that Bren
Hannan is heir-apparent to the sustainable Lala project and has just met Danny
Lexion, a man who cares about  nothing
more than doing okay and looking good.

- Is Danny Lexion more than just
a dabbler in environmental affairs?

- Will Brad Moore turn the turtle
nests of Lala into a concrete parking lot for oil trucks?

- Or will Bren Hannan, the
Climate Cop, find a way to stop him?

- And why did Bren chew off a
man’s ear for leaving on a bathroom light?

Find out the answers to these
questions by reading The Oil Price

For more information and how to
get the book, go to:

Just to show that Guy Lane is not
just all about fiction, here’s a story about just one of his projects:

Save the Maldives

By Hayley Simpson

JCNN is produced by students of the Bachelor of Multimedia Journalism at
James Cook University

Planning an escape to the
Maldives? Better pack your swimmers – and not for the reason you think. The
Maldives are sinking courtesy of global warming, according to environmental
activist Guy Lane. But he is hot on the case to save them…

The Maldives will be the first
country to disappear underwater due to the rising sea levels caused by global
warming, warns environmental activist Guy Lane, who heads up sustainability
consulting firm SEA 02. To put it in perspective, the highest point on the
Maldives is 2.4 metres above sea level, while Townsville is 16.3 metres above.

So what’s being done about it?
Well, Guy got involved with the dilemma a few years ago. He’d been busy
coordinating a Townsville workshop on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
technology and put information from the event on his website. He never could
have imagined how far-reaching it would be – all the way to Southern Utilities
in the Maldives, as fate would have it. Southern Utilities operates the power
generation facilities for the southern province of the Maldives and they wanted
to know whether OTEC technology could help them provide 20 megawatts of
renewable energy to their island group.

“The Maldives want to be carbon
neutral by 2020, so I spoke with them at great length about the various ways it
could power the islands with renewable energy to achieve this,” Mr Lane said.
“These include solar energy, OTEC technology, wind turbines, wave energy and
tidal energy.”

Mr Lane then posted his research
into renewable energy opportunities for the Maldives on his website to make it
available to the public. Another motivation for doing this was to help raise
funds. Although technological solutions are available to the Maldives, they’re
costly. Mr Lane thought his My Clean Sky initiative, which he established in
2006, could be the answer.

“I hoped that my carbon offset brand might be
able to help, so I made a plan for island nations that have tourism industries
to raise capital for renewable energy projects by charging a carbon offset fee
for air travel to the island,” Mr Lane said. “You could think of the fee as
similar to an environmental tax, but one that’s based on the carbon footprint
of tourists’ trips to the Maldives.”

Mr Lane has calculated that the
600,000 people who visit the Maldives every year produce about one million
tonnes of carbon dioxide. “If we took about $20 per tonne for carbon tax, that
would provide $20 million per annum to fund the transition to sustainable
energy on the islands,” he said. “The money could go towards studies, the
implementation of energy efficient improvements and the appropriate renewable
energy technologies.”

Mr Lane is still in preliminary
discussions with Southern Utilities about adopting this strategy, but said any
island with a tourism industry could employ the same system.

In his spare time, Guy is working
on scripts for a movie and television series. He is writing a trilogy of movie
scripts – the first called The Oil Price – which he categorises as a thriller.
“It’s about a local hero, Danny Lexion, who is fighting an evil oil man, Brad
Moore, in Dubai and then Townsville,” Mr Lane said.

“And my TV series, Hommus:
Smartest Apes in the Galaxy, is a drama about aliens who crash land on The
Strand, bringing an important message to save humanity from itself.”

Watch this space for developments
on these projects. In the meantime, you can help save the Maldives by finding
out more about Mr Lane’s initiative at

“Climate change is with us for
good,” Mr Lane said. “The sooner we swap oil and coal for sustainable energy,
the better the future for the human race.”

On our digital media platform, JCNN, you will read stories that no-one
else covers. While we cannot cover every news angle as we don’t have the
resources of mainstream media organisations, we work hard to offer you unique
coverage you won’t get anywhere else.


New Energy Management Standard & Urban Farming for Singapore

Posted by admin on September 4, 2011
Posted under Express 151

New Energy Management Standard & Urban Farming for Singapore

Supplier scorecards from large
companies such as Kaiser Permanente and Walmart, along with global carbon
registries such as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), have driven a marked
increase in the number of companies reporting sustainability and environmental
data. Large organizations and the CDP should now add ISO 50001, the new energy
management standard, as driving its adoption will lead to energy savings,
reduced carbon emissions and more efficient supply chains. Meanwhile, word has
it that Singapore’s highly urbanised population could be turned into an
advantage by pursuing urban farming. It could leverage on its dense population
to find unique, urban solutions to food security.

The Energy Management Standard
Walmart Should Add to Its Scorecard

By Paul Baier

Published August 30, 2011


Supplier scorecards from large
companies such as Kaiser Permanente and Walmart, along with global carbon
registries such as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), have driven a marked
increase in the number of companies reporting sustainability and environmental
data. Large organizations and the CDP should now add ISO 50001, the new energy
management standard, to their company scorecards and questionnaire. Driving
adoption of ISO 50001 will lead to energy savings, reduced carbon emissions and
more efficient supply chains.

What is ISO 50001?

ISO 50001 is the new ISO
certification that implements a foundation process for energy management. ISO
standards enhance the business process and have been around for decades. Many
companies throughout the world have adopted these standards for quality (9001)
and environmental management (14001).

ISO certification requires
third-party verification. This certification increases consumer confidence and
improves the company’s brand image. More than a million companies are now
certified with the ISO quality standard (9001), and some even have ISO 9001
signs and banners touting this achievement on the front lawn of their

Key elements of the ISO 50001
energy management standard include establishing an energy baseline, energy goals,
monitoring metrics, and management oversight.
Particularly important is that the standard focuses on ongoing
monitoring and improvement, not just being a snapshot in time of a facility or

When standards are not based on
continuous improvement and monitoring, performance can lag, which can lead to a
false sense of confidence. We already see this with some new buildings that
were as LEED-certified as new builds but became out of spec and, in some cases,
below code over time because management’s attention to operations waned after
achieving certification.

The ISO 50001 standard can be
applied to a single facility or multiple facilities.

Who is using it?

Leading organizations are already
adopting 50001, including Delta Electronics in China, Schneider Electric of
France, Dahanu Thermal Power in India, AU Optronics of Taiwan, The Province of
China, and Bad Eisenkappel in Australia. Other companies such as Alcoa, 3M,
Eaton and Nissan are becoming ISO 50001 certified in conjunction with the Department
of Energy’s Superior Energy Performance program.

Why is it promising?

The 50001 standard directly helps
companies save money. In addition, with improvement of the energy management
process being tied with company goals, third-party verification directly
enables companies along the supply chain to differentiate, and purchasing
companies have more confidence in their supply chain.

Why do we need another
certification standard?

It’s certainly true that the
world is flooded with product- and company-level certifications. lists 424 of them, and companies should be very cautious about
expanding their supplier criteria. Organizations, however, should adopt
standards that have a proven ability to save money and provide competitive
differentiation. ISO 50001 promises to be one of these standards.

Adopting ISO 50001 is
advantageous because the ISO framework is already a well-accepted global
standard that is supported by hundreds of ISO practitioners and is also
familiar to senior management. Some organizations already certified with 9001
and 14001 are currently considering 50001.

The contents of company and
supplier scorecards matter. The questions asked on scorecards, CDP submittals
and other rating systems matter. When LEED award points for bike racks for its
green building certification, hundreds of building owners added bike racks,
even if there was no clear, safe way to use bikes.

When Walmart added a question
about carbon footprint to its sustainability scorecards, thousands of suppliers
decided to calculate their company’s carbon footprint for the first time.

Such companies as Walmart and IBM
will improve the competitiveness of their supply chain by asking their
suppliers if key facilities are ISO 50001 certified. We’ve seen that business
benefits from a more systematic focus on quality and environmental management,
and a similar opportunity exists with a more methodological focus on energy

Although scorecards don’t
actually need more questions, ISO 50001 questions should be added to some of
the less-effective ones. This allows for more focus on energy reduction, where
the best financial and environmental returns reside.

Paul Baier is vice president of
sustainability consulting at Groom Energy and a senior contributor at

Read more from Paul Baier


Yang Razali Kassim, For The
Straits Times 24 Aug 11;


FOOD security is an emerging
global concern. Certain realities define food security planning for Singapore:
It is not an agricultural country, has not much land to grow its own food, and
is almost totally dependent on food imports.


As such, Singapore may be viewed
as being just a passive food importer – perpetually subject to the vagaries of
external forces when it comes to feeding its own people.

Such a reading, however, could

There are indications of a
fundamental rethink in Singapore’s food security strategy. Indeed, a mental map
of a multi- pronged strategy, spearheaded by research and development, is
emerging on Singapore’s food security front that could turn old limitations
into new strengths.

The clearest indication came out
of the inaugural International Conference on Asian Food Security on Aug 10-12,
held here and initiated by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary
for Defence and National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman spelt out how
Singapore is moving to become a contributing player to support the global quest
for a more stable global food system amid volatile supplies and prices.

There are four prongs to this
strategy. The first is research and development. Singapore will leverage on its
excellent infrastructure, intellectual property regime, a pro-enterprise tax
structure and a financial ecosystem that supports both publicly and privately
funded research.

Its National Research Foundation
recently awarded a US$8.2 million (S$9.9 million) grant to a joint project
between the National University of Singapore, the Temasek Life Sciences
Laboratory and the International Rice Research Institute, to address pressing
food concerns such as the need to develop rice strains that can adapt to
climate change. The potential benefits extend beyond Singapore.

The second strategy, related to
the first, is to grow Singapore into an agribusiness hub. The Economic
Development Board is encouraging big players to set up their operational
headquarters and trading operations, as well as engage in upstream research, in

Two examples are Syngenta and
Bayer CropScience, whose research laboratories aim to develop ‘elite’ crop
varieties for the region.

The third strategy is to turn
Singapore’s own domestic market into a ‘test lab’ of sorts, especially for
urban agriculture.

Singapore’s highly urbanised
population could be turned into an advantage by pursuing urban farming. Indeed,
Singapore could leverage on its dense population to find unique, urban
solutions to food security.

Agricultural production can be
creatively brought within the city space, such as through ‘rooftop farming’,
thus reducing Singapore’s reliance on food imports.

The success of urban farming can
eventually be shared and replicated in other cities, said Dr Maliki. One pilot
project on rooftop farming was started last year when the Agri-Food and
Veterinary Authority engaged a local company, SkyGreens, to do a commercial
‘vertical farming’ prototype.

Singapore’s potential in urban
farming has attracted quiet international attention. The Urban Agriculture
Network (UAN) set up under the auspices of the United Nations Development
Programme once declared Singapore a possible world leader in some aspects of
urban agriculture – food production from its residential and commercial

In other words, the rooftops of
thousands of HDB blocks can potentially be turned into urban farmland. New
economic opportunity for Singapore could come from two particular techniques -
aeroponics (growing plants without soil and water) and aquaponics (growing plants
using recycled fish waste).

According to the UAN’s Western
Pacific offshoot in Australia, these two technology spin-offs from hydroponics
and aquaculture could make Singapore a world leader in rooftop production of
fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers; certain types of seafood in specially
designed containers; and a greener, cleaner cityscape that contributes less to
global warming and therefore climate change.

A fourth, but no less important,
strategy is the shift towards greater local production of three key food items
- eggs, leafy vegetables and fish. A $20 million Food Fund, launched in
December 2009, is in place to incentivise farms to explore new farming
technologies to ensure Singapore’s food supply resilience.

Singapore’s multi-pronged
strategy fits in with the search for holistic solutions to solve food security
issues. It dovetails with at least three fronts in the global action to tackle
food security: Asean, through the Asean Integrated Food Security Framework; the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum through measures to enhance food
security within the Asia-Pacific region; and the Group of 20 which aims to
tackle food price volatility through international coordination.

In a nutshell, Singapore’s
overall strategy is to seek win-win partnerships locally, regionally and
globally as food security issues transcend national boundaries.

By taking care of its own needs
while being useful to the world, Singapore is now playing its part in tackling
the global food security problem.

The writer is a Senior Fellow
with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological


Extreme Weather Events Have Profound Psychological Effects on Individuals and Communities

Posted by admin on September 4, 2011
Posted under Express 151

Extreme Weather Events Have Profound Psychological Effects on Individuals and Communities

In September 2010, BHP Billiton
CEO Marius Kloppers proposed Australia take action on climate change before the
rest of the world to maintain its international economic competitiveness. A
report released by The Climate Institute, offers another key reason for early
action – the maintenance of our mental health and community well-being. The
report highlights that more frequent and more intense extreme weather events
will result not simply in increased destruction of our physical infrastructure
but will have devastating effects on the social fabric of our society. The
effects will be greatest in those smaller rural and regional towns where
catastrophic weather events cause immediate loss of life and destruction of
economic viability. It will also have profound psychological effects on
individuals and the communities in which they live. Ian Hickie in The
Conversation. Read More

Ian Hickie in The Conversation (29
August 2011)

In September 2010, BHP Billiton
CEO Marius Kloppers proposed Australia take action on climate change before the
rest of the world to maintain its international economic competitiveness.

A report released today by The
Climate Institute, offers another key reason for early action – the maintenance
of our mental health and community well-being.

The report highlights that more
frequent and more intense extreme weather events will result not simply in
increased destruction of our physical infrastructure but will have devastating
effects on the social fabric of our society.

The effects will be greatest in
those smaller rural and regional towns where catastrophic weather events cause
immediate loss of life and destruction of economic viability. It will also have
profound psychological effects on individuals and the communities in which they

In recent years in Australia, we
have become more familiar with counting not only the dollar costs of prolonged
drought, bushfires, cyclones and floods but also the emotional and social

In the short term, there are the
predictable but significant increased rates of anxiety, depression and alcohol
and other substance misuse.

There is additional dislocation
of services and supports to those who were already receiving health care or
social assistance.

In the longer term, the effects
on the community are far more costly and more profound.

In smaller communities, families
and local support networks are often torn apart as individual members need to
seek shelter, employment or education in other locations.

Where the destruction has been
widespread, significant numbers of people may never return to their original
homes or communities. This loss of social cohesion puts individuals in those
settings at much greater risk of longer-term mental health problems.

The report also draws attention
to the likely long-term effects on children, particularly the prospect of
increasing rates of anxiety.

This may not only be a
consequence of direct exposure to life-threatening situations and dislocation
from family and community supports, it’s likely to result from living with that
long-term threat of severe weather events.

Clearly, there’s a need to provide
a cohesive response to these issues to assist with reducing that longer-term
sense of threat.

The report sets a framework for
the need to plan our actions in the future.

At one level, that obviously
involves international and national planning to reduce the likelihood of more
frequent and severe weather events.

Next, we need to be clear about
how we can respond effectively to reduce the adverse impacts of severe weather
events on mental health and social cohesion.

A strong emphasis on backing
community rather than professionally-based responses is essential to that task.

Finally, we need to be clear that
the impacts on mental health are not just short-term but continue for long
periods. In the worst instances, where many people, households, businesses and
community assets have been lost, some communities may never recover.

As Australia is a country that
knows the impacts of severe weather events, and the costs and significance of
mental health for our future social and economic prosperity, we need really to
heed the advice not only of our senior mining executives, but also our climate
scientists and our mental health experts.

Taking appropriate steps earlier
rather than later is clearly in our national interest. If that is before some
of our international colleagues, so be it.

Ian Hickie is a director of ‘headspace’ the national youth mental
health foundation. He is the executive director of the Brain & Mind
Research Institute at the University of Sydney. He is a member of the medical
advisory panel to BUPA health insurance. He has participated in a range of
national mental health advisory panels to the Australian Government and has
conducted educational programs and medical research that has been supported by
pharmaceutical companies that produce antidepressant compounds.


Foreword to the Report by The
Climate Institute:

This timely report addresses a
big gap in the current public debate about climate change and how we should
respond to it. There has been much legitimate concern about economic
consequences and the risks to property, jobs and export earnings, but there has
been a failure to discuss the consequences of climate change for human
wellbeing and health. This is a serious blind spot; it restricts our vision of
possible futures, and the need for urgent and effective action.

There is much research evidence,
in Australia and elsewhere, that recent climate change has already caused
diverse changes in animal and plant ranges, rhythms and reproduction. Some
species are moving, some are struggling, and some are suffering from declining
food supplies. The human species faces similar risks to wellbeing, health and

Climate change will have many
adverse impacts on Australians’ health—physical risks, infectious diseases,
heatrelated ill effects, food safety and nutritional risks, mental health
problems and premature deaths. The emerging burden of climate-related impacts
on community morale and mental health—bereavement, depression, postevent stress
disorders, and the tragedy of self-harm—is large, especially in vulnerable rural
areas. Across all sectors of the Australian population, mental health (too
often the Cinderella of our public health policy) is vulnerable to the stresses
and disruptions caused by a changing climate and its environmental and social
impacts. Many rural, regional and peri-urban communities are already beginning
to suffer as longer-term environmental changes emerge.

This report will help us understand
the ‘human face’ of climate change; that is, what it means for us, for our sense
of security and that of our friends, our families and our neighbours.  This great and complex human induced
disruption to the global environment is not just ‘somewhere out there’.
Increasingly, climate change will weaken the environmental and social
conditions that underpin our physical and psychological health.

The symptoms we see now, in
individuals and communities beleaguered by fire, storms, floods and drought,
are the early warning signs. There is still time to avoid the human and other
costs of global warming blowing out, time to realise the many health and social
benefits of action, and so time to restore wellbeing and hope.

Tony McMichael AO, MB BS, PhD, FAFPHM, FTSE  Professor of Population Health, and NHMRC
Australia Fellow  National Centre for Epidemiology
and Population Health Australian National University

For the full report go to: