Archive for the ‘Express 184’ Category

State of the Art for the climate

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

Art and Nature seem to go together comfortably. Artists are often at the forefront of efforts to protect the environment and they put a high value on managing earth’s resources. They are neither wasteful or destructive. So we have had a lot of art to take on board in Singapore of late which also drew our attention to an article on Art and activism, bringing sustainability and poverty into the purview of the artist. Besides art, we draw attention to fossil fuel subsidies which do nothing but maintain the status quo of emissions and pollution and block the much needed clean energy revolution. Nicholas Stern admits he got it wrong: it is worse than he thought! Food for thought: the environmental impact of what we eat and what we waste. Forests and climate come into focus as t do some handy innovations in clean energy and energy efficiency.  Shipping and aviation are coming clean and two global companies – Lend Lease and Interface – show what more can be done for sustainability.  There’s wind in the willows and rock candy silicone. Really? And more news of the World Engineers Summit and its lead up event featuring next month none other than David Hood, engineer extraordinaire! The Year of the Snake arrives and we note one important prediction that research and development will flourish as the slippery water creature thrives. Snake’s alive! – Ken Hickson

Profile: David Hood

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

He is everywhere and he is everything. An engineer with his feet on the ground and his head in the clouds. Climate clouds of course! He is an Al Gore trained climate change advocate. He has just been honoured in the Australia Day Awards and completed his year as National President of Engineers Australia. He comes to Singapore mid-March to speak at the lead up event on 15 March for the World Engineers Summit. He is one of the 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders. He brought attention to infrastructure which needed sustainable rules and standards, like green buildings. Read more


2012 National President David Hood honoured in Australia Day Awards

Engineers Australia’s immediate past National President, Adjunct Professor David Hood, has been appointed Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to environmental engineering as an educator and researcher, through contributions to professional organisations, and to public awareness of sustainability.

“Prof Hood has been recognised for his meritorious service to the nation through environmental engineering, and his very significant contribution to sustainability in the built environment through industry and professional associations,” said Stephen Durkin, Chief Executive Officer of Engineers Australia.

“Through this award, Australians can now witness the far-reaching influence of Prof Hood’s career which began with major projects in civil engineering and has more recently been focused on sustainability and climate change.

“This award not only recognises Prof Hood’s individual achievements and passion to educate the community on environmental matters, but extends well beyond to raise the profile of the engineering profession and its significance in delivering sustainability outcomes.

“Prof Hood is part of an elite group put forward by the Australian community. On behalf of Engineers Australia’s National Council, Congress, staff and over 100,000 members, I congratulate Prof Hood for this great honour and outstanding contribution to Australian society through engineering,” Mr Durkin said.

David Hood in Singapore:

David Hood will speak on Sustainability – It’s Your Business at the lead up event on 15 March to promote the world Engineers summit.

Prof Hood will discuss the science and evidence behind climate change and the sustainability crisis facing society, and suggest that engineers have a very significant role to play in providing solutions. However engineers alone cannot sort this problem – it will need solutions across many disciplines, and new skills.  Are engineers ready for the challenge?

Her will be joined by Rear Admiral (RADM) (NS) Chew Men Leong is the Chief Executive and a Board Member of PUB (Public Utilities Board).  He is concurrently the Executive Director of Environment and Water Industry Programme Office (EWIPO).  He also sits on the International Advisory Panel of the Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Here’s some insight into what David Hood talks about, with conviction and authority:

With climate change, and the loss of ecosystem services that support our lifestyles and our economy now becoming a focus of community concern, it is important that decisions on the provision, location, design, construction, and operation of engineering work be made within a context of sustainability considerations.

However, in the past, prioritising engineering work and urban development has focused almost entirely on economic outcomes. The net result has often been the degradation of our natural environment, loss of amenity, and social disruption from the construction, manufacturing and the operation of civil infrastructure. This need not be the case.

Professor Hood will discuss the science and evidence behind climate change and the sustainability crisis facing society, and suggest that engineers have a very significant role to play in providing solutions. However engineers alone cannot sort this problem – it will need solutions across many disciplines, and new skills.

Are engineers ready for the challenge? Some good things are happening, but Professor Hood believes that action is far too slow and is only tinkering at the edges. Professor Hood will discuss how businesses can change and assist with solutions and still make a profit. He will also briefly describe the evolution of Australia’s Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating scheme, and discuss how it is expected to transform infrastructure to achieve more sustainability outcomes.


David Hood is a Chartered Professional Engineer, registered on NPER to practice in civil and environmental engineering.  David has over thirty five years experience in business, engineering, education, project management, and senior executive positions in both the public and private sectors.

David graduated in civil engineering from the University of Queensland in 1969, and
spent ten years in the Royal Australian Air Force as a Commissioned Officer involved with the planning, development, and construction of RAAF bases throughout Australia.  After a further seven years as an airport planner, and Project Director with the Federal Department of Aviation, David was appointed Senior Property Executive with the Parliament of Australia where he was responsible for the take-over and commissioning of Australia’s then New Parliament House in Canberra.  Following the successful start-up of Parliament House, David moved back to the aviation sector where he managed a number of technology IP commercialisation projects, including the establishment of joint venture companies to develop and market air traffic control related software and other products around the world.

David then worked as National Manager Aviation and Defence with Maunsell Pty Ltd, before being appointed National Director Engineering Practice with the Institution of Engineers, Australia where he was responsible for technical standards, registration, and the delivery of the Institution’s continuing professional development and education programs.

David was a Founding Director of the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF), and of the Australian Council of Building Design Professions (BDP), and was for six years a Councillor, and for three a Director of Standards Australia International.

David is currently Chairman of his own consulting engineering practice specialising in the areas of sustainability in the built environment, “green projects”, energy efficiency policy, engineering education and global engineering infrastructure.  David has also directed a number of government and industry funded programs throughout S E Asia and Africa assisting the engineering profession in evolving economies with the development of competency standards and assessment processes, practice registration and education upgrading and accreditation systems.

As an investor, Chairman, and Board member David led the successful turnaround of CBD Energy Limited, a small public company involved in energy saving technology and solutions for the property industry.

David is actively involved with industry and professional associations promoting the improved energy performance of buildings.    David sits on a number of industry, community and university advisory boards where his extensive engineering background, and considerable involvement at a senior level in the built environment sector is influencing change in the “energy culture” of Australia.

David is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of the Built Environment and Engineering at Queensland University of Technology, Past Chairman of the Australian College of Environmental Engineers, Chairman of the Australian Green Infrastructure Council (AGIC), and is Past Deputy President of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC).   David is also an accredited presenter on Al Gore’s Climate Project, and lectures widely on climate change and sustainability where his passion enthuses others to make a difference and reduce the damage we are inflicting on the earth’s systems.  In November 2010 David was elected National Deputy President of Engineers Australia.  He will be National President in 2012.

Source: and

Fired up about fossil fuel subsidies

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

Fossil fuel subsidies have to end. That was the call by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the lead up to this year’s Budget, and one echoed by the World Bank Chief Jim Yong Kim and the OECD. In a move that can have a significant impact on mitigating climate change by reducing demand for and usage of carbon intensive fuel, cutting off fossil fuel subsidies also puts money in programs that will benefit a larger segment of the population. Read more



31 January 2013

Now is the time to cut fossil fuel handouts

The Australian Conservation Foundation has called on the Federal Government to make good on its commitment to remove wasteful tax breaks by cutting fossil fuel handouts that encourage carbon pollution.

Yesterday Prime Minister Julia Gillard told the National Press Club the government would announce “substantial new structural savings” in the lead up to this year’s Budget.

Today the annual tax expenditures statements were released, showing an unprecedented increase in tax breaks for mining companies.

According to Treasury data, tax breaks for exploration and prospecting have increased from $320 million last year to $550 million this year, while accelerated depreciation for fossil fuel intensive assets is now costing the taxpayer a whopping $1.3 billion per year.

“For a government that is looking for structural savings and wanting to remove wasteful subsidies, cutting the senseless tax breaks that promote pollution should be a no-brainer,” said ACF’s Director of Strategic Ideas, Charles Berger.

“Over the next four years, the Commonwealth is set to waste $22 billion – or $1,000 for every Australian – on the four biggest handouts to fossil fuel industries. It would be irresponsible and unethical to cut social programs while leaving these subsidies.

“Through the fuel tax credit handout, for example, Australia is forgoing spending on education and social programs so mining barons can pay little or no tax for their fuel.

“While the rest of us pay 38c a litre in taxes at the bowser, these companies are mining the public purse and in the process they are making climate change worse.

“Just as household ratepayers pay for their rubbish to be collected each week, it’s time Australian companies started paying their fair share.

“This year’s Budget provides the golden opportunity for the government to make structural savings and honour its G20 commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s budget submission identifies savings the government can make by repealing wasteful, pollution-promoting subsidies.

More about fossil fuel subsidies at



30 Jan, 2013, 03.23PM IST, PTI

Fuel subsidies benefit people having cars and motorcycles: OECD

Last week World Bank Chief had said that countries should do away with subsidies for fossil fuels to help mitigate the impact of climate change.

NEW DELHI: Fuel subsidies are not really helping achieve the desired purpose and are mostly benefiting people having cars and motorcycles, a top official of Paris-based think tank OECD said today.

“Fossil fuel subsidies affect people who have cars, people who have motorcycles… So, in equity terms, fuel subsidies are not really doing what they are purported to be doing,” OECD Deputy Secretary General Richard Boucher said.

He was talking about fuel subsidies in the context of inclusive economic growth.

India and many other countries provide subsidies on fossil fuels like diesel and kerosene.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a grouping of mostly rich nations.

Boucher was participating in a round table on ‘New Approaches to Economic Challenges’ organised by public policy think tank Observer Research Foundation.

Last week World Bank Chief Jim Yong Kim had said that countries should do away with subsidies for fossil fuels to help mitigate the impact of climate change.

“We should be removing fossil fuel subsidies in every country in the world,” the World Bank President had said.

He said for instance Tunisia was finding it difficult to limit fossil fuel subsidies.

“The other issue is that we have fossil fuel subsidies. I was just in Tunisia and they are struggling to find a way to limit fossil fuel subsidies. (They said) that fossil fuel subsidies help richer people who drive cars.

“(fossil fuel subsidies) are fundamentally not progressive. We want to protect the poor and the fossil fuel subsidies don’t do that… But it is politically very difficult,” Kim had said.

Meanwhile, Boucher said that when it comes to inequality, governments need to look at ways that go beyond public spending.

In a response to a query on the government’s direct cash transfer initiative, he said it is the “right step”.

“Cash transfer is the right idea… in going from generalised subsidies to targeted ones,” he added.

However, he emphasised that such a system should be carefully designed to ensure that money reaches the right hands and is spend on the family.


Stern Climate Words: “It’s worse than I thought”

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

The global outlook on the effects of climate change on the economy is set to worsen. The British government-commissioned review on climate change has, by admission of its author, Nicholas Stern underestimated the danger of rising temperature on the economy. The effects have also been underestimated on the business level by companies who have failed the costs of energy price hikes and environmental disasters, according to a report by Carbon Trust. Read more

By Heather Stewart and Larry Elliott in The Guardian (26 January 2013):

Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change – it’s far, far worse’

Author of 2006 review speaks out on danger to economies as planet absorbs less carbon and is ‘on track’ for 4C rise


Lord Stern, author of the government-commissioned review on climate change that became the reference work for politicians and green campaigners, now says he underestimated the risks, and should have been more “blunt” about the threat posed to the economy by rising temperatures.

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stern, who is now a crossbench peer, said: “Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.”

The Stern review, published in 2006, pointed to a 75% chance that global temperatures would rise by between two and three degrees above the long-term average; he now believes we are “on track for something like four “. Had he known the way the situation would evolve, he says, “I think I would have been a bit more blunt. I would have been much more strong about the risks of a four- or five-degree rise.”

He said some countries, including China, had now started to grasp the seriousness of the risks, but governments should now act forcefully to shift their economies towards less energy-intensive, more environmentally sustainable technologies.

“This is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly. Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one? These risks for many people are existential.”

Stern said he backed the UK’s Climate Change Act, which commits the government to ambitious carbon reduction targets. But he called for increased investment in greening the economy, saying: “It’s a very exciting growth story.”

David Cameron made much of his environmental credentials before the 2010 election, travelling to the Arctic to highlight his commitment to tackling global warming. But the coalition’s commitment to green policies has recently been questioned, amid scepticism among Tory backbenchers about the benefits of wind power, and the chancellor’s enthusiasm for exploiting Britain’s shale gas reserves.

Stern’s comments came as Jim Yong Kim, the new president of the World Bank, also at Davos, gave a grave warning about the risk of conflicts over natural resources should the forecast of a four-degree global increase above the historical average prove accurate.

“There will be water and food fights everywhere,” Kim said as he pledged to make tackling climate change a priority of his five-year term.

Kim said action was needed to create a carbon market, eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies and “green” the world’s 100 megacities, which are responsible for 60 to 70% of global emissions.

He added that the 2012 droughts in the US, which pushed up the price of wheat and maize, had led to the world’s poor eating less. For the first time, the bank president said, extreme weather had been attributed to man-made climate change. “People are starting to connect the dots. If they start to forget, I am there to remind them.

“We have to find climate-friendly ways of encouraging economic growth. The good news is we think they exist”.

Kim said there would be no solution to climate change without private sector involvement and urged companies to seize the opportunity to make profits: “There is a lot of money to be made in building the technologies and bending the arc of climate change.”



By Carin Hall in Energy Digital (26 January 2013):

Top executives from companies in Brazil, China, Korea, UK and the USA have failed to calculate the costs of ongoing energy price hikes and environmental disasters, according to the report “Are Businesses Sleepwalking into a Resource Crunch” from the Carbon Trust.

Enigin reported on the research which showed that many top executives fail to realize they need to take crucial action now to combat rising costs, including improving energy efficiency. The report also revealed that many leading executives believe they do not need to act for another 10 to 15 years. 43 percent of the respondents in the report admitted that they do not monitor environmentally related issues, such as energy cost rises, while 52 percent have still not created targets for or monitoring CO2 reduction.

The report underlines the work ahead of those within the energy efficiency industry in educating and aiding the commercial and industrial sectors to act now for the benefit of their companies, the environment and help prevent a triple-dip recession.

“It is frightening to think that so many business leaders are ‘Sleep Walking’, as the report terms it, into an avoidable calamity. This highlights the important task already being carried out by Enigin Distributors globally in raising the importance of improving energy efficiency to businesses. They also educate and empower executives and their workforce on how to monitor and gain control of their energy use – saving energy and energy costs. Action saves, it doesn’t cost.”

Troy Wrigley, Managing Director, Enigin PLC

The Carbon Trust research shows that if companies do not act now they will feel the detrimental effects of their inactivity as early as 2018. According to the Enigin report action now not only protects businesses but opens up new opportunities and affects profits positively.

SOURCE Edit Optimisation

Eat more greens for a greener world

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

Personal action for environmental sustainability go beyond being energy and water efficient and waste recycling – what we choose to put in our mouths can have a great impact on our climate. In a paper published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, health and nutrition guidance should be integrated with the message of reducing the environmental impact of our diet, and that would entail a shift to a more plant-based diet. Read more

How compatible are sustainability and nutrition?

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+ in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (25 January 2013):

Health and nutrition guidance should be integrated with messages on reducing the diet’s environmental impact in order to ensure consistent advice, according to a new paper published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.

There has been much debate about quantifying the environmental impact of diet, especially in terms of meat and dairy consumption, with estimates of the proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions resulting from livestock ranging from about 10% to about 51%. Some experts have said that growing awareness of the environmental impact of dietary choices has been a major driver of vegetarianism and meat reduction among consumers.

As part of a special edition in the journal focused on diet and environmental sustainability, Dr Jennie Macdiarmid of the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health in Scotland examined whether nutrition advice corresponded with messages about the environmental impact of dietary choices.

She says that while consumption of plant-based protein has increased by 5% in the UK from 1990 to 2006, consumption of meat and protein from animal sources has also increased – by 11%.

“Moving towards a more plant-based diet could have benefits for health and the environment, but changing well established dietary habits dominated by animal-based products will not be easy,” she wrote.

Where health and sustainability collide

She acknowledges that it is challenging to define what exactly constitutes a healthy diet, but previous research has suggested that a healthy, environmentally sustainable diet is possible without eliminating meat and dairy products. However, healthier diets do not always mean more sustainable diets, she said, and a specific conflict exists with recommendations for fish consumption and concerns about future fish stocks.

“Integrating guidance to reduce the environmental impact of the diet with dietary recommendations for health adds a level of complexity but addressing these issues together is essential to ensure clear and consistent dietary messages are given to consumers,” Macdiarmid wrote, adding that efforts to increase sustainable fish supplies, for example, should be coordinated with dietary messages.


“The most commonly cited diet-related behaviours that people think would be beneficial to the environment are avoiding excessive packaging, purchasing locally produced food, eating organic food and reducing food waste,” she wrote. “Significantly fewer people think changing their diet could have an impact.”

In the context of nutrition, one of consumers’ main concerns about consuming less meat is whether a more plant-based diet would provide enough protein, but relatively very few people in developed countries consume less than the dietary requirement for protein. In the UK, mean daily protein intakes are 88 g for men and 65 g for women, compared to dietary reference values of 55 and 45 g a day respectively.

“Despite these higher than adequate intakes there is a perception among a significant proportion of the population that they should be eating more protein,” she wrote, citing research that found 49% of the US population was trying to boost their protein intake.

“These beliefs need to be changed as they pose a significant barrier to achieving a healthy and sustainable diet.”

Source: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

2013, Vol. 72, pp. 13–20 doi:10.1017/S0029665112002893

“Is a healthy diet an environmentally sustainable diet?”


Net Value for Carpets & Green Star Rating Tool for Communities

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

Commercial entities are showing the way forward in sustainable development. Property developer Lend Lease’s Barangaroo South project in Australia has been chosen as a pilot project for the newly released Green Star – Communities PILOT rating tool, and is set to be Australia’s first large-scale carbon neutral community. Meanwhile, carpet makers Interface, in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, has launched the Net-Works project to recycle discarded fishing nets from the Philippines into new carpet products. Read more

Thursday 24 January 2013:

Lend Lease’s Barangaroo South project, part of the $6 billion Barangaroo urban regeneration development on Sydney Harbour, has been accepted as a pilot project for the newly released Green Star – Communities PILOT rating tool.

Green Star – Communities is an independent, national rating tool developed by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) to support the design and delivery of more sustainable, productive and liveable communities.

According to the GBCA’s Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, Lend Lease has a long history as a market leader in sustainability, and was an early adopter of the Green Star rating tools for buildings.

“Just as, back in 2005, Lend Lease’s 30 The Bond demonstrated that green building was achievable, we expect Barangaroo South will become a new green icon of sustainability at the precinct scale,” Ms Madew says.

Lend Lease’s Managing Director for Barangaroo South, Andrew Wilson, says that Lend Lease piloted the first green building rating tools nearly a decade ago.

“Now we are proud to be a pilot project for the next generation of rating tools that examine the sustainability of whole communities. We look forward to testing our sustainability plans against the credit criteria, and assisting the GBCA to test the pilot tool on a live project,” Mr Wilson says.

He adds that the Barangaroo Delivery Authority is also a sponsor of the Green Star – Communities tool is supportive of Lend Lease’s pilot process at Barangaroo South.

The GBCA will now work with Lend Lease to benchmark Barangaroo South against 38 credits in the Green Star – Communities categories of Liveability, Economic Prosperity, Environment, Design,and Innovation.

Lend Lease aims for Barangaroo South to be Australia’s first large-scale carbon neutral community. Ultra energy efficient buildings, efficient precinct infrastructure, on and offsite low carbon and renewable energy, teamed with zero carbon waste treatment and commuter carbon emission offsets will result in a net carbon neutral outcome in operation for the precinct.

Commercial towers are being designed to achieve 6 Star Green Star Design and As Built ratings, and developments to achieve 5 Star Green Star ratings.

With a mix of uses, including commercial, residential, retail and dining, along with a new landmark hotel, on completion Barangaroo South will be home to around 1,200 residents, 23,000 office workers and more than 2.9 hectares of public space.

About Green Star – Communities

Green Star – Communities is an independent, national, voluntary rating tool developed by the Green Building Council of Australia to drive more sustainable, productive and liveable communities. Green Star – Communities supports the planning, design and delivery of communities, precincts and neighbourhoods that prioritise environmental sustainability – such as minimising energy and water consumption, and reducing dependence on motor vehicles – alongside broader issues such as economic prosperity, liveability and community health and wellbeing. For more information, visit:


About the Green Building Council of Australia

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is Australia’s leading authority on green buildings and sustainable communities. The GBCA was established in 2002 to develop a sustainable property industry in Australia and drive the adoption of green building practices. The GBCA has more than 700 member companies who work together to support the Council and its activities. The GBCA promotes green building programs, technologies, design practices and processes, and operates Australia’s only national environmental rating system for buildings and communities – Green Star.



15 January 2013:

Interface casts a wide net for the environment

Global carpet tile manufacturer Interface, Inc. and conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are celebrating the successful completion of a pilot project and the start of a commercial venture with both conservation and socio-economic benefits.  The innovative collaboration, called Net-Works, has been created to tackle the growing environmental problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities.

By establishing a community-based supply chain for discarded nets, Net-Works aims to improve the livelihood of local fishers, while providing Interface with an innovative source of recycled materials for its carpet tiles. Discarded nets on the beaches or in the sea have a detrimental effect on the environment and marine life as they can persist for centuries. But, most nylon from these fishing nets is the same material used to make carpet yarn.

The viability of the collaboration was proven between June and October 2012.  After conducting research and working closely with local communities and NGOs, Net-Works established the infrastructure to collect the fishing nets, gathering one metric ton of nets in the first month -and substantially cleaning up the beaches in four local communities near Danajon Bank, a threatened coral reef in the Philippines.  Operations are now scaling up, with the intention of developing commercial carpet tiles incorporating the collected nets later this year.

Collection systems will now be set up in at least 15 local villages, involving more than 280 impoverished households (the equivalent of 1,400 people based on an average household size of five).  The goal is to collect 20 metric tons of nets by the end of April—a significant amount that will generate funds directly for communities and make a positive difference, given that family incomes in the area are typically less than $192 a month.

Nigel Stansfield, Chief Innovation Officer at Interface says, “It is really gratifying to see that the concept we’ve developed with ZSL works and promises so much.  At Interface, we are designing for a higher purpose—and feel a sense of responsibility beyond the products we sell.  The collected fishing nets have a nylon that can be recycled directly back into our carpet tiles, which will help us reduce our use of virgin raw materials and, critically, create livelihood opportunities for local communities. We are now looking forward to expanding operations and delivering the first carpet tiles from our collaboration.”

Dr. Nick Hill from ZSL says, “Net-Works has been greeted with a huge amount of enthusiasm and interest from the local communities around Danajon Bank. This was clearly seen by the number of people interested in participating in the project and turning out to clear the beaches of discarded nets. Nets are very light, and we always knew our target of collecting one tonne of nets from such a small number of communities was going to be a challenge – so we’re delighted that we have been able to achieve this. It is still early and we will be monitoring both the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the project over the coming year, but the signs are there that these impacts will be positive.”

Throughout 2013, Interface and ZSL will explore opportunities to expand their partnership to other parts of the world.  They also plan to develop a toolkit to help other groups and organizations establish Net-Works supply hubs.


Forests hold the power to influence weather

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

Researchers at the Southern Cross University have proposed that global weather patterns are determined by condensation and evaporation of atmospheric water vapour, and not so much by temperature differences. At the heart of this process is the role played by forests in regulating water vapour content. This provides a new push to the conservation and rehabilitation of forests as a way to mitigate the effects of climate change. Read more

31 January 2013:

New study claims forests cause winds and rain

A new theory of what determines global wind is being taken seriously enough by climate scientists to warrant publication in a top atmospheric sciences journal, says a Southern Cross University researcher.

The radical hypothesis, developed by the University’s Dr Douglas Sheil with a group of international scientists, claims that land cover, particularly the presence or absence of forests, directs weather patterns.

‘Radically novel theories concerning what determines global weather patterns are rare, and fewer still are taken seriously,’ said Dr Sheil, a professor of Forest Ecology and Conservation, in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering.

The peer-reviewed theory is outlined in the paper ‘Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapour condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics’, published in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal.

Dr Sheil said he and his colleagues had advanced a theory that implied that the atmospheric pressure gradients determined by moisture condensation are orders of magnitude greater than previously recognised.

‘Our study concluded that condensation and evaporation – and not temperature differences as traditionally believed – are the major drivers of atmospheric dynamics.

‘Climate scientists generally believe that they already understand the main principles determining how the world’s climate works. However, if our hypothesis is true then the way winds are driven and the way rain falls has been misunderstood.

‘What our theory suggests is that forests are the heart of the Earth, driving atmospheric pressure, pumping wind and moving rain.’

Dr Sheil said the theory was likely to generate fresh calls to action for forest conservation.

‘We need to acknowledge the role of forests in determining wind and rainfall is much greater than previously understood.’

He said he expected opposition to the new ideas.

‘Our theory seems incredible on first impressions. But so far no-one has shown why this theory is wrong, and we are already seeing a few converts who acknowledge that the physics is correct.

‘The important thing now is that these ideas get the full scientific scrutiny and evaluation that they require. Getting this theory into a top journal like Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics is key.’

The researchers argue that the simplifications used in dealing with the complexities of atmospheric motion have ‘thrown out the baby with the bathwater’.

‘The behaviour of the world’s atmosphere is immensely complicated and simplifications and approximations are needed. In textbook climate sciences the pressure differences caused by condensation are stated to be small so they can be ignored. This assumption is true in some cases, but also, as we argue, not in others,’ said Dr Sheil.

He said one remarkable aspect of the theory was the idea that continents could be switched from wet to dry by loss of forests, and that wet climates could, in theory, be rebuilt in regions like the Australian interior through forest restoration.

‘Our theory also explains how declines in both rainfall and rainfall reliability can result from forest loss elsewhere. Such patterns have been observed in various parts of the world and are clearly of major importance for many people – for example those who are suffering from the increasingly irregular monsoon rains in West Africa.

‘We believe the physics is correct. Unless someone can show where we have made an error I believe that these ideas have profound importance for the future of our planet,’ Dr Sheil said.

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics has pre-empted the revolutionary nature of the scientists’ theory by adding an editor comment at the end of the paper which said, ‘The authors have presented a completely new view of what may be driving dynamics in the atmosphere’.

Further, the handling editor and the journal’s executive committee acknowledge that while the work is ‘highly controversial’ they ‘are not convinced that the new view presented in the controversial paper is wrong’.

‘The editors realise their decision to publish our work reflects an acknowledgment of the need for scrutiny,’ Dr Sheil said.

‘On that basis we hope our ideas will be taken seriously.’

Dr Douglas Sheil is a researcher focusing on tropical forest ecology, management and conservation. He worked in East Africa before completing his doctorate on rainforest dynamics in 1996. He worked at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Indonesia from 1998 to 2008. From 2008 to 2012 he was the director of the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) based in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Dr Sheil joined Southern Cross University in 2012.

All the World’s a stage! Play a role in global engineers major sustainable event

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

You’re invited to be a speaker, a sponsor, a media partner and/or a delegate to the very first World Engineers Summit in Singapore 9-15 September this year with the theme “Innovative and Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change”. The event is expected to be the first global conference conducted in accordance with the new international standard for event sustainability, ISO 20121. Singapore is also playing host to the eighth Eco-products International Fair (EPIF ) from 14 -16 March 2013 at Marina Bay Sands. Read More

World Engineers Summit, 9-15 September 2013

SASA – Sustain Ability Showcase Asia – is supporting the organisers of the first World Engineers Summit in  Singapore 9-15 September 2013 by reinforcing the call for papers from enthusiastic and sustainable engineers and other experts around the world.

Besides inviting speakers and sponsors to come on board this big international event with the theme “Innovative and Suistainable Solutions to Climate Change”, SASA is also undertaking for the first time in Asia , a sustainable event management plan based on the gold standard ISO 20121 as used for the London Olympics.

So lineup and be part of this event in more ways than one. As a speaker. As a sponsor. As a media partner. As a delegate or exhibitor. It’s the sustainable and innovative thing to do.

A message from the organisers, The Inistitution of Engineers Singapore (IES):

Singapore is pleased to play host to the inaugural edition of the World Engineers Summit 2013, which will be addressing “Innovative and sustainable solutions to Climate Change”.

If you believe that climate change is one of the most critical challenege4s facuing humanity and recognise the urgency to identify, develop and implement innovative and sustaimnable solutions to mitigate a spreading carbon footprint and ensuring efficient consumption of Earth’s fast depleting resources, WES 2013 is your ideal activation platform.

The organizing committee is inviting submissions of papers in the following areas

  • Environmental policies
  • Corporate social responsibility  climate change
  • Innovative and sustainable technology
  • Environmental engineering education
  • Food and water security
  • Women in engineering congress
  • Sustainable energy
  • Integrated environmental management systems
  • Natural disaster mitigation and management
  • Financing climate change opportunities
  • Sustainable and innovative development
  • Professional ethics and conduct: Key prerequisites for sustainability.

Deadline for submission of an abstract is 28 February 2013.

For more information go to



Eco Products International Fair

The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) and Waste Management & Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS), supported by SPRING Singapore, would like to announce the eighth Eco-products International Fair (EPIF ). The three-day fair and conference will be held in Singapore from 14—to 16 March 2013 at Sands Expo & Convention Centre, and will be graced by Ms Grace Fu, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Themed “One Environment, One Future: Towards a Sustainable and Greener Asia” the event will showcase all that Asia has to offer in terms of environmental sustainability in the urban context. In the past, this event has been held in other parts of Asia. Singapore is proud to host this event for the second time in its history since 2004. The fair will bring together participants from across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, aimed at generating a wide range of exciting new business opportunities in this arena.

Environmental degradation is a constraint on future growth within the Asia-Pacific region and a barrier to efforts to eradicate poverty. By approximately 2020, over half of Asia’s population will live in cities. The speed of population growth in urban areas has outpaced the development of environmental infrastructure in many large cities. Problems range from lack of access to clean water to poor air quality, inability to manage solid wastes and transportation. Urban societies are becoming conscious of environmental problems and keen to learn more about the best practices, eco-products and technologies.

Eco-Products International Fair 2013 aims to exhibit these eco-products, services, technologies, materials, and components from around the world including Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. The exhibition will feature two sections: Eco Business & Green Personal Lifestyle.

In parallel with and further enhancing the value of the fair, an International Conference on “Opportunities and Challenges in Sustainable Urban Living” will be organised to address issues, opportunities, and challenges relating to sustainable urban living. The conference will feature international speakers who are experts in their specific areas and will incorporate exchanges of the most up-to-date information on topics such as eco-practices, eco-innovations, eco-technologies, sustainable consumption and production, green procurement, eco-lifestyle, and policy interventions to achieve sustainable urban living.

The three-day event will also feature a business forum, technical exchanges, business networking events and site visits. The event will target a total of 12,550 sqm of exhibition space and feature 150 international and local exhibitors.

As stated by Mr. Kazuyuki Sakai, Chairman of the EPIF Preparatory Committee of the APO Green Productivity Advisory Committee, “In this day and age when we are affected by serious global climate change, strong initiatives through private–public-sector cooperation such as the EPIF 2013 help steer us in the right direction of balancing consumerism with deliberate environmental consciousness and achieving ‘compassionate productivity’ that is not only profitable but also sustainable.

Jerome Baco, Chairman, WMRAS stated, “ “EPIF 2013 will be an excellent opportunity to have dialogue on various opinions and business opportunities identification amongst the Key players of Sustainable development in the region”.

Simon Lim, Group Director, Industry Development, SPRING Singapore said, “The cleantech industry has been identified as a strategic growth area for Singapore’s economy. SMEs play an important role in adding diversity and innovation to the industry, from both the solutions provider and leading adopter perspectives. EPIF 2013 will be a key opportunity for local and international players to showcase their know-how, understand the latest developments and discuss collaborations within the cleantech industry. ”

Issued by Asian Productivity Organization (APO) and Waste Management & Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) on 25 January 2013.


The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) is the sole nonprofit international organization in the Asia–Pacific devoted to productivity. Established in 1961 as a regional intergovernmental organization, the APO contributes to the sustainable socioeconomic development of the Asia–Pacific through productivity enhancement. Three strategic directions guide the APO: strengthen NPOs and promote the development of SMEs and communities; catalyze innovation-led productivity growth; and promote Green Productivity.


Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS)

Established on 8th of August 2001, the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) aims to professionalise and develop a leading waste management and recycling industry in Asia. With the aim to promote business networking opportunities and best practices amongst members, the Association has been organising activities such as talks, mission trips, conferences, exhibitions and members get together sessions etc. To foster information exchange, the Association has organised regular dialogue sessions with relevant authorities to keep members updated on the regulatory and policies developments. Meetings with the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, National Environment Agency, Economic Development Board, International Enterprise Singapore and SPRING Singapore, have allowed members to feedback their concerns and discuss how the public and private sectors could work together to address these needs.



Eco-products International Fairs (EPIF)

With the full cooperation of the GPAC, the APO initiated the Eco-products International Fair (EPIF) in 2004. Through fairs designed to strengthen international cooperation in greening supply chains in the Asia-Pacific region, and through international conferences held concurrently, consumers are made aware of the importance of green purchasing, enterprises are provided opportunities to expand their eco-businesses, and governments can investigate methods for greening their policies. The EPIFs are held in a different APO member country each year. The first was in Malaysia in 2004, followed by Thailand in 2005, Singapore in 2006, Vietnam in 2008, the Philippines in 2009, Indonesia in 2010 and India in 2011. [SC1] Each fair has seen an increase in both scale and international attention. EPIF is now firmly established as the largest environmental exhibition in Asia.


Bringing solar power to light for further efficiencies & innovations

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

Photovoltaic solar panels available on the market now suffer from low efficiency, silicon based cells have an average of 17% currently, curtailing a more widespread adoption. However, a new silicon based solar cell from Dresden, Germany-based Apollon GmbH & Co has managed to achieve 28% efficiency – potentially remapping the adoption of photovoltaic solar power. Couple this with two breakthrough inventions – circuit breaker from ABB capable of converting energy to direct current and carry over long distances, and gravity-powered LED lamps – light can be brought to places previously deemed too remote or too expensive. Read more

“Game-Changing” Solar Invention Announced

By Nicholas Brown in Cleantechnica (30 January 2013):

Holographic film used with highly efficient solar cells to create “game-changing” solar panel.

I have seen my share of outstanding solar innovations, such as concentrated solar setups using tiny gallium arsenide cells that achieve an astounding 42% efficiency. However, I’ve been eagerly waiting for an outstanding innovation made from more abundant materials such as silicon.

The main reason is that silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, so it should remain cheap and available as long as needed.

Almost all of the silicon solar panels (aka solar modules) on the market are between 10% and 20% efficient, so it is high time for a module that is both constructed from abundant materials and is much more efficient.

The Dresden-based company Apollon GmbH & Co. KG and Solar Bankers LLC, which is based on Arizona, claim that they have developed a new silicon-based solar panel with a holographic foil that is twice as efficient as typical models, and that they are so cheap they can be manufactured in Germany or the USA at a lower cost than factories in China manufacture conventional solar panels.

They said that their solar modules achieve 28% efficiency, which is considerably higher than the average 17% efficiency on the solar module market. They have done so through advanced Concentrated Solar Photovoltaic module development — in particular, the use of light selection, deflection, and concentration. And the companies expect an even better efficiency soon.

“Our solution addresses the major downsides that make today’s photovoltaic (PV) technologies unprofitable. These disadvantages arise mainly from the material silicon as well as from efficiency losses, which result e.g. through heat occurring from concentration,” declares Jost.

This translates into much lower silicon requirements to generate the same amount of power. The companies note: “Contrary to today’s PV modules, this system only needs a fraction of the semiconductor material while the performance per square meter of the module surface is almost twice as high as conventional PV. The module is based on a holographic optic, which is a strong contrast to other concentrator photovoltaic modules using expensive flat lenses (e.g. Fresnel lenses).”

Jost says: “The holographic element is printed on the cover glass and filters the sunlight hitting the solar cell. The printing process allows an economical duplication and simultaneously saves laser and development work, usually necessary when using holographic elements.”



By Alison Kemper and Roger Martin in Guardian Sustainable Business (23 January 2013):

Two inventions that have the power to transform energy use

Two very different companies have come up with innovative technologies that could transform how renewable energy and light are used


A circuit breaker invented by ABB could allow renewable energy to be converted to high voltage and carried long distances. Photograph: Michael Nelson/EPA

Late in 2012, we became aware of two very different companies that have created new technologies to change the way light and power are distributed. Their ideas gave us a renewed sense of the power of innovation, which we need to ensure a sustainable future.

Big company ABB’s breakthrough circuit breaker

One of the biggest issues for renewable energy is that few users live in the mountaintops or offshore areas where much wind power is generated, and no one needs electricity in the deserts of North Africa. Instead, the energy that is generated is often converted to high voltage direct current (HVDC) and carried long distances on HVDC lines. They are cheaper to operate and more efficient conductors than AC transmission lines.

This type of technology has been limited because no one had invented a HVDC circuit breaker, a critical component in a stable and safe grid.

But last November, ABB announced that they had invented a HVDC breaker. “ABB has written a new chapter in the history of electrical engineering,” said Joe Hogan, chief executive of ABB. “This historical breakthrough will make it possible to build the grid of the future.

“Overlay DC grids will be able to interconnect countries and continents, balance loads and reinforce the existing AC transmission networks … HVDC technology is needed to facilitate the long distance transfer of power from hydropower plants, the integration of offshore wind power, the development of visionary solar projects, and the interconnection of different power networks.”

No doubt ABB has added a certain level of trumpeting to their announcement, but it is exciting to see progress in this area.

Tiny company‘s great prototype – a weight-powered LED

One of the great distinctions between the world’s poor and poorest is the absence of electrical lights in the homes of the latter group. Throughout Africa, Latin America, and Asia, people light kerosene lamps, candles or oil lamps to see at night, risking burns, respiratory health and increasing their risk of cancer. They also spend a significant proportion of their income on kerosene and add CO2 to atmosphere.

The increasing availability and decreasing price of LED lights has a great deal of potential to change this landscape. But in terms of electricity supply, most people who live far from the grid have little cash to pay for the solar cells and battery storage systems that power solar lighting. People have less money to pay for ongoing maintenance and support of larger systems, so solar lighting becomes a project for communities rather than households.

While new microfinance schemes might provide a solution, microfinance institutions do not generally provide consumer product financing and have little infrastructure to allow for the installation and upkeep of solar lighting systems. And cheaper lamps with self contained batteries are low powered and have a limited battery life. In short, solar may not always be the best solution for lighting the homes of people on low incomes.

A skunkworks project by London-based industrial design company,, has devised a completely different solution. GravityLightis a lamp powered by the descent of a 9kg (20lb) weight that is pulled up at 20-30 minute intervals by the user. Like the weights on a grandfather clock, the lamp’s weights store potential energy and release it to power the LEDs in their slow descent. There are no cells to gather energy from the sun, no batteries in which to store it; it’s a self contained unit.

The company hopes to be able to sell it for $5-10 (£3-6), a fraction of the cost of an equivalent solar powered lamp.

Innovations like these two are precisely why sustainable business is critical to our future. We need large scale, safe, reliable HVDC lines to transmit renewably generated power from deserts and sea beds to industrial and residential users. Thanks to ABB, we are now better able to gain renewable energy economies of scale impossible before their invention of the HVDC breaker.

And students, families, shopkeepers and farmers who need cheap, safe, non-polluting lighting, may soon be able to afford a reliable lamp.

Let’s hope that 2013 is a year of more far-reaching innovation.

Alison Kemper teaches management at York University in Toronto, Canada, and has worked with the Michael Lee-Chin Institute for Corporate Citizenship since 2005

Roger Martin is dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and is academic director of the school’s Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship. His research work is in integrative thinking, business design, corporate social responsibility and country competitiveness. His most recent book is Fixing the Game.

Hauling the world with less emissions at sea & in the air

Posted by Ken on February 7, 2013
Posted under Express 184

Carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft and ships contribute about 3% to 4% of global annual emissions each, and opportunities to reduce their impacts are abound. A test of a civilian jet running on 100% renewable biofuel shows sharp reduction in emissions, including a 49% drop in black carbon which contributes to climate change. Shipping line Maersk has also done well to reach its 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% from 2007 level, eight years early! Read more

Demonstration Project is Next Step to 100% Renewable Jet Fuel News (18 January 2013):

Until recently, the use of algae, oils and other renewable fuels have been introduced for jet fuel and gasoline in small amounts, usually 5-20% blended into petroleum. Still, it was pretty exciting when the first commercial flights ran on these fuels in November 2011.

But on October 29, 2012, the first civilian jet flew for an hour powered by 100% renewable biofuel.

Popular Science named the October 29th flight as one of the top 25 science events of 2012.

The airplane ran more efficiently than on petroleum aviation fuel and it produced half the aerosol emissions, 25% less particulates, and 49% less black carbon, all important climate change forcers, according to Canada’s National Research Council, which measured the results.

Now, a demonstration project will take that a step closer to commercialization of 100% drop-in renewable replacement for jet, diesel, and gasoline fuels. And the partners believe the fuel will be cost-competitive with petroleum around 2015.

The process, ISOCONVERSION, converts oils from plants and algae into Renewable, Aromatic, Drop-in (Readi) fuels known as ReadiJet® and ReadiDiesel®. These fuels are ready to use, without blending, in turbine and diesel engines designed to operate on petroleum-based fuels.

The low-cost process converts any non-edible fats and oils directly into renewable fuels that are virtually indistinguishable from their petroleum counterparts.

It does so by using water to convert renewable oils into a crude oil intermediate, which is then hydrotreated and fractionated with conventional refinery catalysts and equipment into alternative fuels.

Applied Research Associates and Blue Sun Energy are working together on the design, construction, and operation of the demonstration project, which will produce 100 barrels a day. That’s a big enough fuel sample to get ASTM certification for the fuels.

The project, in St. Joseph, Missouri, will break ground this quarter and be operational by fall. Blue Sun also operates a biodiesel facility there and is about to commercialize an enzymatic process that can produce the highest quality fuel from any feedstock at the lowest production costs in the US.

In March, competitors Airbus, Boeing and Brazil’s Embraer announced they will work together to develop affordable biofuels for the airplane industry.

Learn more about ReadiFuels:



Environmental Leader (25 January 2013):

Maersk Beats 2020 Carbon Goal

Maersk Line has reached, eight years early, its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 25 percent from 2007 levels. The shipping company has now increased its 2020 goal to a 40 percent reduction.

The company says increased operational efficiency, network and voyage optimization, slow steaming and technical innovation helped it reach its CO2 target early, and will also help it achieve its new 40 percent reduction goal.

Additionally, Maersk Line COO Morten Engelstoft says the company will continue working with its vessel leasing partners to retrofit their ships, and will begin using Triple-E ships this year. These will be the world’s largest and most energy-efficient ships, according to Engelstoft, emitting 50 percent less emissions than the industry average.

Maritime shipping carries an estimated 90 percent of globally traded goods, Engelstoft says. While shipping is the most energy-efficient way to transport cargo, shipping emissions contribute 3 to 4 percent of the global annual CO2 total.

Cutting its own CO2 has made the company more cost-competitive because it has helped Maersk Line customers reduce their emissions, Engelstoft says.

Maersk Line, along with Cargill, DNV, Unilever, Wärtsilä and other major companies, is a member of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, a global coalition of 20 companies that have pledged to improve the industry’s environmental impacts through a broad range of goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The company was also among the first to join the Port of Los Angeles’ Environmental Ship Index, an international clean air incentives program that rewards ocean carriers for bringing their newest and cleanest vessels to port.

In late 2012, Maersk Line became the first shipping company to receive global certification from the American Bureau of Shipping for energy management. ABS requirements for energy management are based on the ISO 50001 international standard.

The company saved almost $90 million in energy costs over three years by measuring the performance of individual vessels, Maersk Line announced in July 2012.