Planet Smart City acquires architectural and engineering business

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Planet Smart City acquires architectural and engineering business
Planet Smart City announces plans for more than 50 smart projects in three years
Planet Smart City collaboration to help create 15,000 housing units in India
Planet Smart City’s ‘operating system’ vision for affordable housing

MENA states may be able to meet their green ambitions

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The desire to minimize dependency on fossil fuels, improve energy security, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions has prompted governments in the MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) area to commit to meeting aggressive renewable energy objectives. By 2030, MENA countries want to produce between 15% to 50% of their power from renewable sources. A favorable climate for the uptake of renewables, notably solar & wind power, is being created by falling technology costs and an increasing focus on green regulations. However, the MENA region has been reluctant to adopt renewable energy, with a total developed renewable energy capacity of only 10.6 gigawatts (GW) relative to a worldwide total of 2,799 GW by 2020.

ESS (Energy storage systems) will be critical in integrating variable renewable energy (VRE) technologies into power grids. Through capacity firming as well as other ancillary services like frequency and voltage management, ESS will improve the flexibility and stability of the power systems.

ESS offers a variety of services that can be combined to maximize value based on the demands and requirements of the power system and grid. Depending on market needs, these services are rewarded differently. Moreover, to the storage capacity payment, service stacking offers revenue stacking, making ESS’s business case more appealing. Traditionally, power system design has concentrated on increasing power-producing capacity to satisfy rising electrical demand. This has sparked a competition throughout the MENA region to increase power generation, which is primarily based on thermal energy and is growing at a rate of 7% per year. Population growth, subsidies, and the ever-increasing need for cooling and water are all driving up demand. The trend in power system design is toward lower peak loads, which is crucial for MENA nations to minimize the pace and rate of power output capacity addition.

Nations in the region are undertaking steps to increase their energy storage capability, with 30 projects expected to be completed by 2025. Pumped hydro storage (PHS) accounts for 55 percent of the region’s ESS installed capacity, relative to 90 percent globally, while batteries, especially lithium-ion and sodium-sulfur batteries, are predicted to rise from 7% to 45 percent of MENA’s ESS by 2025.

The reasons for ESS deployment differ per area. Ambitious renewable energy objectives encourage Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and the majority of Gulf republics. This applies mostly to utility-scale FTM (front-of-meter) applications — grid-scale energy storage linked to generation sources or even transmission and distribution (T&D) networks — mainly through renewable energy-plus-storage auctions or even the co-location of solar and wind power plus storage. Currently, FTM applications account for 89 percent of the region’s ESS installed capacity. Significant power supply shortages, on the other hand, provide another push for ESS in countries that experience frequent power outages, such as Iraq and Lebanon. This is largely in terms of behind-the-meter (BTM) solutions, which mitigate the socioeconomic losses linked with blackouts by storing electricity on-premises behind the consumer’s meter.

Despite these factors, ESS deployment in the Middle East and North Africa is currently around 1.46 GW, relative to a worldwide capacity of around 10 GW, or simply below 15% of overall capacity – roughly equivalent to battery storage in the United Kingdom. To expedite ESS and VRE implementation in the region, governments, power utilities, and financial institutions will require to address a number of legislative, financial, and market impediments.

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Sustainability actions speak louder, says Oracle study

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TECHWIRE ASIA looks like yet another media to confirm that Sustainability actions speak louder, all per an Oracle study.

When it comes to sustainability, how much action is actually taken, given the efforts announced today? While organizations continue to make sustainability announcements and find ways to reduce their carbon emissions, the reality is, that people are fed up with the lack of progress society is making toward sustainability and social initiatives.

According to the No Planet B study by Oracle and Pamela Rucker, CIO Advisor and Instructor for Harvard Professional Development, people want businesses to turn talk into action, and believe technology can help businesses succeed where people have failed. The study involved more than 11,000 consumers and business leaders across 15 countries, including  500 from Singapore.  

The statistics from Singapore show an increasing demand for businesses to step up sustainability and social efforts. In fact, 97% believe sustainability and social factors are more important than ever with 95% also believing that society has not made enough progress.

About half of the respondents attribute the lack of progress to people being too busy with other priorities with 39% believing people are just too lazy or selfish to help save the planet. 53% also believe businesses can make more meaningful changes on sustainability and social factors than individuals or governments alone.

Interestingly, 92% believe businesses would make more progress towards sustainability and social goals with the help of AI, and 62% even believe bots will succeed where humans have failed. For business leaders, they are aware that sustainability efforts are critical to corporate success and even trust bots over humans alone to drive sustainability and social efforts.

As such, 97% of business leaders would trust a bot over a human to make sustainability and social decisions. They believe bots are better at predicting future outcomes based on metrics/past performance, collecting different types of data without error, and making rational, unbiased decisions.

At the same time, business leaders also believe people are still essential to the success of sustainability and social initiatives and believe people are better at educating others on the information needed to make decisions, implementing changes based on feedback from stakeholders, and making context-informed strategic decisions.

Sustainability actions lauded

Another interesting highlight from the survey showed that people will cut ties with businesses that don’t take action on sustainability and social initiatives. Simply put, businesses need to prioritize sustainability and social issues and rethink how they use technology to make an impact, or risk facing major consequences.

The report also showed that if organizations can clearly demonstrate the progress they are making on environmental and social issues, people would be more willing to pay a premium for their products and services, work for them, and invest in their companies. Business leaders understand the importance and urgency with 95% believing sustainability and societal metrics should be used to inform traditional business metrics. 93% also want to increase their investment in sustainability.

For Pamela Rucker, CIO Advisor and Instructor for Harvard Professional Development, the events of the past two years have put sustainability and social initiatives under the microscope and people are demanding material change. While there are challenges to tackling these issues, Rucker pointed out that businesses have an immense opportunity to change the world for the better.

“The results show that people are more likely to do business with and work for organizations that act responsibly toward our society and the environment. This is an opportune moment. While thinking has evolved, technology has as well, and it can play a key role in overcoming many of the obstacles that have held progress back,” added Rucker.

Juergen Lindner, senior vice president, and CMO, Global Marketing SaaS at Oracle also commented that while business leaders understand the importance, they often have the erroneous assumption that they need to prioritize either profits or sustainability.

“The truth is this is not a zero-sum game. The technology that can eliminate all the obstacles to ESG efforts is now available, and organizations that get this right can not only support their communities and the environment, but also realize significant revenue gains, cost savings, and other benefits that impact the bottom line,” said Linder.

Architecture “lagging behind all other sectors” in climate change fight

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“Inertia” in the built environment sector, according to Yamina Saheb is yet another proof that Architecture is “lagging behind all other sectors” in the climate change fight. Here is the story as per DEZEEN.

Architecture “lagging behind all other sectors” in climate change fight says IPCC report author

By Jennifer Hahn

Efforts to halt catastrophic climate change are being held back by “inertia” in the built environment sector, according to Yamina Saheb, co-author of the latest report from the United Nations climate change panel.

“The sector hasn’t modernised at all since the second world war,” she told Dezeen. “And now, the data shows it’s lagging behind all other sectors.”

“Each gram of greenhouse gas emissions from buildings means a mistake in their design,” added Saheb, a former policy analyst for the European Commission and the International Energy Agency.

“Architects and urban planners should really look at this report carefully and rethink the way they work.”

Up to 61 per cent of building emissions could be cut by 2050 using technologies available today, the Mitigation of Climate Change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found.

But progress has so far been held back by widespread “inertia,” as well as a lack of ambition and prioritising of short-term solutions and profits over long-term gains, Saheb said.

Architects are key to mitigating climate change

The report, which was written by Saheb alongside more than 270 scientists from 65 countries, is the final instalment in the IPCC’s three-part review of the current state of climate science.

Following on from two earlier reports covering its causes and effects, the report sets out a plan for how global warming could be mitigated.

The decarbonisation pledges made by international governments in a bid to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050 are simply not enough, the report found, falling short by as much as 23 billion tons of CO2e.

Yamina Saheb co-authored the latest IPCC report

As a result, the world is on track to warm by more than double the 1.5-degree limit set out in the Paris Climate Agreement this century.

“Covering up for these shortfalls will require taking actions across all sectors that can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.

The built environment is among the key sectors highlighted in the report that could help the world to cut emissions by 50 per cent this decade.

“Either get this right or it’s wrong forever”

Urgent action is needed from the sector before 2030, the report says, as the long lifespan of buildings and infrastructure locks in emissions and polluting behaviours for decades to come.

“Residential buildings undergo major renovation once every 25 years,” Saheb explained. “That means if you’re not renovating a building to zero-emissions standards this decade, it will not be renovated to this level by 2050 either.”

“For buildings, there is only one round left between now and 2050, so we either get this right or it’s wrong forever.”

Retrofitting is the single most effective strategy for developed countries to limit emissions from buildings, the report found. But so far, “low renovation rates and low ambition” have hindered large-scale emissions reductions.Read:IPCC climate report a “call to arms” say architects and designers

This can be traced back to the construction industry’s lack of digitisation, Saheb argues, and the fact that homeowners have to organise every element of a retrofit, from the heat pump to the insulation, themselves.

“If you need to repair your car, you don’t have to think about each piece separately,” Saheb said. “You just take it to a garage, they fix it and you don’t care about the details.”

“But for a renovation, you as an individual are required to arrange all the details yourself, which is crazy and unrealistic,” she added. “We should have IKEA kits for renovating our buildings.”

“And in Europe, we need to make renovation mandatory to zero-carbon standards. If we don’t have this required by law, it will never happen.”

Sufficiency undervalued due to financial interests 

Crucially, the report also highlights that architects and urban planners have so far neglected to focus on designing for “sufficiency”.

Unlike efficiency measures, which are marginal short-term technological improvements, this term is used to describe broader strategies such as passive cooling, bioclimatic design and prioritising the construction of denser multifamily homes.

These kinds of measures can drastically reduce a building’s demand for energy, materials, land and water over its lifecycle, without relying on added technology and materials that will need to be produced, powered and maintained.

Bioclimatic design strategies include solar chimneys, as used in Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects

“If you design a new development with lots of single-family homes, you will need more land and more construction materials, as well as more energy and water in use than if you go for multifamily buildings,” Saheb said.

“And then you lock the city where you’re building into emissions and car-dependent mobility for generations. This shows how urban and land-use policies will play a major role in the decarbonisation of buildings, which was not considered before.”

Part of the reason that this has so far been undervalued is the fact that architects and urban planners get paid based on the number of square miles they build, Saheb argues, so designing more compact structures runs against their financial interests.

“No one is questioning if the way they make money is aligned with their contribution to climate mitigation,” she said.

Efficiency is not enough

The industry’s failure to adapt sufficiency strategies so far has actually counteracted emissions reductions achieved by making buildings more energy efficient, the report found.

Adding insulation, switching to more modern appliances and other efficiency measures reduced building emissions by 49 per cent between 1990 and 2019. But the lack of sufficiency measures led to a simultaneous emissions increase of 52 per cent.

“The efficiency improvement was fully offset by the lack of sufficiency measures,” Saheb said.

“Previously, climate mitigation policies for buildings included only energy efficiency and the supply with renewables. And we know today that without sufficiency, this is not enough.”

The top image shows Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest installation.

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‘Smarter’ Cities Can Mitigate Climate Change

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Per 2 imminent academics of Yale School of the Environment, who say that ‘Smarter’ Cities Can Mitigate Climate Change.

Latest IPCC Report Highlights How ‘Smarter’ Cities Can Mitigate Climate Change

Dar es Salam

Providing some hope in the push for climate action, the IPCC report’s chapter on urban mitigation, led by Yale School of the Environment Professor Karen Seto, outlines how cities have an opportunity to increase resource efficiency and significantly reduce GHG emissions through smarter design and greener infrastructure.

The second portion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment report released last month painted the starkest picture yet of our rapidly changing climate and the ever-increasing threats posed to people and ecosystems if urgent action is not taken

Yet, the third part of the IPCC report, released April 4, provides some hope in the push for climate action, focusing on progress in climate mitigation, equity and justice, and urban mitigation.

Karen C. SetoFrederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science

“The exciting message with cities is that it’s not too late to do something,” says Karen Seto, Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science at YSE and one of two coordinating authors of the urban mitigation chapter of the report. “We’re going to be adding 2.5 billion more people to urban areas by 2050 — and a lot of those cities have not been built yet. The world is adding a new city of 1 million every 10 days, the pace of development is very high, but there’s still a lot that can be done.”

While the last climate report published in 2014 investigated how the spatial aspects of cities can mitigate global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, Seto says this report focused on a systems approach to designing and building cities and how cities affect regions beyond urban areas. She added that this report looked not only at existing cities, but looked more closely at smaller cities and towns, as well as new and rapidly growing cities. 

This broader look toward the future, Seto says, shows “there is a lot of future emissions we can actually avoid if we design, build and operate our cities differently.”

The report states that the global share of emissions from urban areas increased between 5% to 10% between 2015 and 2020. That concentration of people and activity, however, presents an opportunity to increase resource efficiency and significantly reduce GHG emissions through better design and greener infrastructure — centered around people — that would result in beneficial cascading effects across numerous supply chains and sectors, particularly energy.

“There are a number of strategies that could be deployed that change our demand for energy, but we need to have an enabling policy environment and to rethink how we design and build infrastructure,” Seto says.

Narasimha RaoAssociate Professor of Energy Systems

Another positive takeaway, Seto says, is that cities are “much nimbler” than national governments in responding to climate change. City leaders not only oversee smaller land areas and have smaller constituencies to whom they respond, she explains, but they are more likely to experience and understand the climate challenges that cities face.

For the first time, this IPCC report also highlighted “demand side management,” or the drivers of consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. More specifically, the report touched on strategies that can enable and encourage consumers to modify their electricity usage in an effort to lower demand. These interventions, the report states, can potentially reduce energy demand by supporting the shift to more energy efficient modes of transportation; projections show that limiting warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius benchmark would drop transport-related emissions by roughly 60 %.

Narasimha Rao, associate professor of energy systems at YSE and a contributing author on the demand side chapter, focused specifically on basic well-being and its relation to climate mitigation. It’s critical, Rao says, to understand the evolving synergies between these two fundamental goals.

“The big finding in this chapter is that improving living standards in an effort to eradicate poverty does not pose a significant challenge to climate mitigation,” says Rao, whose research examines the relationship between energy systems, human development, and climate change. He also explained that scenario analyses within the report show demand-side measures aimed at climate mitigation can reduce energy demand while not compromising living standards.

With urban populations on the rise, Rao sees several ways that demand-side management can be integrated to reduce energy demand — including improvements in public transportation, residential construction, and smart technologies — but few large-scale efforts have been attempted to date. In fact, Rao says, current urban patterns “are not promising.” Concentrated wealth within cities creates more consumption and more emissions, and migration from rural to urban areas is creating further inequities in access to energy services.

“More work needs to be done to investigate how cities are going to move forward, particularly in the global South where we’re seeing considerable urban growth,” he says. “Sustainable development, like greening urban areas, improving public transportation, making energy services more accessible — they can all have benefits for well-being and for the climate.”