Sustainability Now Vol 2 No 2: Transportation

March 2003 Inside this issue:

  • Interview with Richard Drdul, PEng, PTOE
  • The City of Vancouver’s Sustainable Street pilot project
  • The City of Quesnel: Small City with Big Vision
  • The Beddington Zero Energy Development
  • Announcements and Upcoming Events

Follow the link below to download the newsletter.
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Sustainable Streetscapes: A Case Study by Alexandra Steed

As part of a Sustainable Region Initiative, on January 17, 2002, the Greater Vancouver Regional District held a conference to consider and evaluate progress toward the overall regional aim of sustainable development of urban infrastructure. Recently, the City of Vancouver adopted a set of principles for sustainability as an initiative to advance the economic, social and ecological sustainability of the city and its neighbourhoods. The report states that, “Ultimately, the City’s objective should be to incorporate enhanced sustainability into all the City operations as a ‘way of doing business’.” Indeed, at both a municipal and regional scale, a framework based on the principles of sustainability, causes a paradigm shift in the way we approach urban design. This paper considers the City of Vancouver’s implementation of its goals by taking up a case study of Crown Street in Vancouver south.
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Complexity Theory

According to researchers of the Santa Fe institute, systems become more complex through three critical process:

  • Growth in co-evolutionary diversity: The system is driven both by competition and survival of the fittest and interdependence or cooperation. These interactions create new opportunities or niches that make possible new entities and increases the diversity.
  • Structural deepening: Single entities within the system become more sophisticated in order to improve performance, resist competition and adapt to an increasingly complex system
  • Capturing software: Systems take over simpler systems and exploit them. Examples are animal domestication by human society 10,000 years ago, agriculture or the “domestication” of electricity for human purposes.

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Indicates a set of things or ideas that resists to an immediate understanding. Synonym of complicated in a more forceful sense. Everything around us is complex. Nature is extremely complex and likely beyond our comprehension. Universe is complex and has resisted to any unified theory to date. Our economical, technical and social systems are also becoming increasingly complex. One factor that increases complexity in our live is the relentless march of technology, which is itself driven by social factors or the ferocious competition of modern society. Taken individually new devices seem reasonable and helpful: airplanes, cars, e mail system allow us to communicate or move faster. Taken together, and used by everybody in our society, these devices make our lives more complex and difficult. …Or can be used to unforeseen purposes, such as weapons or hate propaganda. Increased complexity arises when discrete elements combine to produce unanticipated effects. One of the challenge of sustainable engineering is to design devices and technical elements that can be used by all, in great quantities, in harmonious combination with everything else, without any side effect and with minimal impact on the environment or the society. A very complex task, indeed.
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The Sustainability Advantage

The Sustainability Advantage by Bob Willard. Mr. Willard takes on the challenge of making sustainability appeal to business executives who are not necessarily interested in environmental and social sustainability. As he points out, saving the world is not a priority of most business executives. Instead we must appeal to what is important to them; things like profits and employee retention. The trick is that sustainability benefits employees, appeals to public shareholders and ultimately leads to a more profitable business. In his book, Bob Willard outlines 7 key benefit areas- with measureable effects- resulting from corporate commitment to sustainability: 1. reduced recruiting costs 2. reduced attrition costs 3. increased employee productivity 4. reduced expenses in manufacturing 5. reduced expenses at commmercial sites (energy, water, consumables) 6. increased revenue/profit share 7. reduced risk, easier financing Through a description of these benefits, Willard makes the connection between sustainability and the financial success of a company. These areas have also been compiled into a working spreadsheet that can be used to measure the effect on revenue of, for example, increasing employee productivity by 1% or reducing manufacturing costs by 3%. Both the book and the worksheets are available on-line through the link below.
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State of The World 2003

Produced every year by the World Watch Institute, the state of the world provides the most comprehensive and current analysis on the planet. This 20th anniversary edition explores some of the critical challenges that our world is facing today, such as

  • Biodiversity
  • Malaria
  • Energy
  • Mining
  • Cities
  • etc,…

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Stromeinspeisungsgesetz is the name of a German law that created the boom of the renewable energy market in the 1990’s. In 1990, Germany had virtually no renewable energy industry. At the end of the 1990’s, Germany was well ahead of the rest of the world, both in wind energy and Solar photoVoltaic. Stromeinspeisungsgesetz means Electricity-Feed-in Law. It was passed in late 1990 and required utilities to purchase all the renewable energy generated in their sector and at the minimum price of 90% of retail price. The second law passed by the Bundestag in 2000, the “Renewable Energy Law, went one step further and required the utilities to pay for the cost of connection from the renewable energy system to the grid and established specific per kilowatt-hr tariff based on the real cost of generation. This removed some hidden subsidies to nuclear energy, which had huge real costs – when taking into account plant decommissioning nuclear energy costs about 10-14 cents /kwh. It gave also a boost to wind power which has the lower costs in terms of REAL cost (wind real cost= 4 ~ 6 cents /kwh) Both Electricity-Feed-in Law and Renewable Energy Law had an enormous impact on Germany’s renewables industries. Above all, they ended price uncertainties and provided investors’ confidence.
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On Equilibrium

If you are asking the question “what is sustainability, what does it mean for me personally and in my job?” you should read this book. It provides some answers as well as creates additional questions. John Ralston Saul takes on the task of looking at the human qualities required in a righteous society. A the same time, he provides tools for shaking our passivity and taking responsibility of what going on around us. The relation with question on sustainability is evident as sustainability cannot be discussed without exploring the characteristics of the human nature. Saul will argue that to achieve a sustainable society we need a balance between six equally important qualities:

  • Common sense
  • Ethics
  • Imagination
  • Intuition
  • Memory
  • Reason

This book should become recommended reading in every engineering school in Canada, or even in every school. It is one of the most important book of our time.
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Job Postings in the UK: Climate Change Policy Adviser and a Climate Change Resource Coordinator

Job Postings in the UK: Climate Change Policy Adviser and a Climate Change Resource Coordinator. “Limiting and adapting to climate change is one of the nine themes of the Environment Agency’s Corporate Plan and there is a challenging job involved in embedding the issue throughout the organisation. The Agency has operational responsibilities on both mitigation and adaptation dimensions of the issue. The Agency is setting up a Climate Change team and two additional posts are being created: Climate Change Policy Adviser starting salary £30,000-£34,000 and a Climate Change Resource Coordinator starting salary £24,000-£27,000. For further information please visit website (link below) or contact: Vicky Gaston at Environment Agency, Rio House, Waterside Drive, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol BS 32 4UD tel: 44 (0), 1454 624028, email: Please send completed applications with covering letter by 26th February 2003. Dr Merylyn McKenzie Hedger Climate Change Policy Manager Environment Agency Rio House Waterside Drive Aztec West Almondsbury Bristol. BS 32 4UD tel: 01454 624093/ 01403 823016 mobile: 017901 516683 fax: 01454 205566 email: ” Follow the link below for more details about these positions.
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