Why satellite data is key to smarter, sustainable cities

Why satellite data is key to smarter, sustainable cities

Growing plants on buildings can . . . .

Growing plants on buildings can . . . .

Leaders from almost 200 countries will meet in Egypt on 6 November for the Cop 27 summit. Would growing plants on buildings be of any interest? 

According to an Egyptian official, the focus should be moving from “pledges to implementation”.

The conference aims to deliver action on issues critical to tackling the climate emergency, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change to delivering on the commitments to finance climate action in developing countries. in the meantime, growing plants on buildings can reduce heat and produce healthy food in African cities.  Here is the story.

The above image is of Seylou/AFP via Getty Images

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Growing plants on buildings can reduce heat and produce healthy food in African cities

Olumuyiwa Adegun, Federal University of Technology, Akure

Persistently high temperatures and related heat stress are a big problem for people living in cities, especially in slums and informal settlements. It’s a problem that is expected to continue.

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change assessment report, heat exposure in Africa is projected to increase in terms of person-days. That is, the annual number of days when the temperature is over 40.6℃ multiplied by the number of people exposed. Heat exposure will reach 45 billion person-days by the 2060s, over three times the rate between 1985 and 2005. This will make sub-Saharan Africa’s exposure to dangerous heat one of the highest globally.

Heat exposure challenges are increased by a shortage of basic services and infrastructure, along with low-quality housing, poor socio-economic conditions and few green spaces in slums and informal settlements.

Our recent study in Akure, south-west Nigeria, shows that poor residents in informal neighbourhoods experience higher heat exposure, compared to residents in rich neighbourhoods. Through a survey of 70 residents in each neighbourhood, we found that poorer households in low-income neighbourhoods were more disadvantaged and have lower capacity to adapt to heat. Housing features in the poorer neighbourhood did not completely prevent excess heat.

Richer households in more affluent neighbourhoods were able to install features such as air conditioners, ceramic tiles and shady plants which the poorer ones could not. For example, while 78% households had air conditioners in the rich area, only 22% had them in the poor neighbourhood.

Green spaces have the potential to reduce heat and, in turn, improve health, especially in vulnerable urban areas such as informal settlements.

Another study I led experimented with vertical greening systems in low-income communities in Akure and Lagos – both cities in Nigeria – and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The experiment established that vertical greening was a solution for heat problems in informal neighbourhoods. And it had the added benefit of providing healthy food in the form of vegetables.

Mitigating heat exposure

Exposure to high temperatures often leads to health problems.

A recent study I led in Tanzania shows typical heat-related health problems reported among people residing in informal settlements. Among 405 residents surveyed in the study, 61% reported skin rashes, 42% reported malaria, 38% reported recurring headaches, 30% reported high blood pressure, 20% reported dizziness while another 22% reported confusion and inability to concentrate. Lower productivity at work (29%) and higher costs of cooling their spaces (57%) are other heat-related problems which, if not addressed, can negatively impact health conditions.

We designed and installed a vertical greening prototype made from high-density polyethylene pipes placed horizontally on walls of some residential buildings. The prototype was planted with indigenous leafy vegetables. In Nigeria, jute leaf (Corchorus olitorius), Lagos spinach (Celosia argentia) and African spinach (Amaranthus viridis) were planted. In Tanzania, Amaranthus spp., potato leaves (Ipomoea batatas), pumpkin leaves (Telfairia occidentalis) and legumes known locally as “majani ya kunde” were planted.

Growing plants on buildings can . . . .
Vertical farm green wall.
Courtesy Author

Our findings

These vertical gardens provided healthy vegetables for the residents to eat. From a typical prototype in Nigeria, up to 1kg of vegetables were harvested in a six-week cycle. In Dar es Salaam, the different vegetables yielded varying quantities. For example, pumpkin leaves produced about 300g of vegetable harvested per 20-day cycle. For Amaranthus spp, a leafy vegetable, and potato leaves, bunches weighing about 660g and 450g were harvested respectively per cycle.

One Dar es Salaam resident said:

We can get vegetables which could have been bought … We usually harvest one type of vegetable twice per week, we are doing three days rotation to each type of vegetable, but it is for family use only … we never harvest for sale, unless a neighbour comes to ask for free.“

A Lagos resident said:

I have been getting vegetables. Like the ones I plucked today, it’s very green as you can see. And it is fresh. It nourishes the body more than the one you get from market.”

The vertical gardens also affected the indoor air temperature of the rooms they enveloped. Up to 2.88℃ maximum temperature and 0.7℃ minimum temperature reductions were recorded during a 45-day field measurement campaign held in September and October 2021 in Akure.

Wall temperature reduced by as much as 5°C during the 30-day measurement campaign undertaken between December 2020 and January 2021 in Dar es Salaam.

The temperature difference made by the vertical gardens means that residents feel more comfortable and thus may be less at risk of heat-related health problems.

Way forward

Vertical greening can be scaled up. Parks and other green open spaces are usually created in formal and affluent neighbourhoods. While this is good, it must be complemented by policy initiatives and programmes that promote citizen-led, community-based vertical farming in dense informal settlements.

Incentives relevant for each local environment or community might help vertical greening to gain traction. There should be a strong push for vertical greening systems – for food, microclimate control and other health-related benefits.The Conversation

Olumuyiwa Adegun, Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture, Federal University of Technology, Akure

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

Qatar 2022 accelerates environmental rating practices

Qatar 2022 accelerates environmental rating practices

With only a few weeks to go, Qatar 2022 carries on accelerating its environmental rating practices.  It envisages the after the event.

Qatar 2022 accelerates environmental rating practices

Qatar 2022 accelerates environmental rating practices

Doha: From the moment Qatar won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, the country has prioritised sustainability in the construction of all its infrastructure projects, including eight state-of-the-art stadiums.

In order to meet stringent environmental standards in line with FIFA’s requirements, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) worked closely with the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD) to have all Qatar 2022 infrastructure projects rated under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS).

Launched in 2007 as the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System, GORD rebranded it to GSAS to include projects across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2012. It is the region’s first integrated and performance-based system that assesses and rates buildings and infrastructure for their sustainability impacts. GSAS is aimed at improving the design, construction and operations of buildings, while also identifying sustainability challenges specific to the MENA region’s building environment. In 2014, FIFA approved GSAS as the sustainability rating system to assess all infrastructure built for this year’s World Cup.

Since then, all eight Qatar 2022 stadiums have achieved a minimum four-star GSAS rating for Design & Build, starting with the redeveloped Khalifa International Stadium and concluding recently with both Lusail Stadium and Stadium 974.

Five World Cup venues earned a top GSAS rating of five stars for Design & Build, while six stadiums earned a Class A* rating for Construction Management.

The venues were also certified for their operations and energy centre efficiency.

“The GSAS system is now used to assess new buildings across Qatar – it’s an example of World Cup legacy in action,” said Dr. Yousef Alhorr, Founding Chairman, GORD.

“In the past 10 years, the system has been applied on over 1,500 building projects, including the metro, stadiums and even new cities, such as Lusail. The ratings range from two to five stars, depending on the project. The process of evaluation is extensive and separated into desk review and site audit.”

The use of GSAS certification has been invaluable in measuring the country’s sustainability goals, which were first laid out in Qatar National Vision 2030, with the World Cup providing the perfect milestone to expedite and catalyse sustainable development and major sustainability-oriented projects in the country.

It has also been invaluable in helping both Qatar and FIFA remain on course to fulfilling the objectives set out by both entities in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Sustainability Strategy, with Qatar 2022 set to change the way future World Cup competitions and other sporting mega events are organised around the world.

“From the very beginning, sustainability has been at the heart of all of our projects for Qatar 2022,” said Eng. Bodour Al Meer, the SC’s Sustainability Executive Director.

“We are thankful to GORD for helping us to reach our sustainability targets by auditing each of our World Cup stadium sites 11 times. The projects we have delivered showcase the impact of hosting the first FIFA World Cup in the region and are helping to push the sustainability message further than ever before.”

In addition to eight exemplary green stadiums, Qatar 2022 has also provided training to hundreds of professionals in green building practices, enhanced supply chains for sustainable products and materials, and new innovative engineering solutions. These contributions will lead to the successful delivery of more green buildings in the future.

 

Read on The Peninsula

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Business Leaders Need To Know About Sustainability

What Business Leaders Need To Know About Sustainability

Benjamin Laker, Contributor and Expert in Forbes on 12 October 2022,, according to many, as to bring more fruits home.

 

What Business Leaders Need To Know About Sustainable Technology

As the world progresses, new technologies have the potential to help us move closer to a sustainable future. But what do business leaders need to know about these technologies. After all, they need to make informed decisions about incorporating them into their operations and strategies.

As sustainable technology becomes more prevalent, leaders need to be informed about the options available and how they can be incorporated into their operations. “We need to tie sustainability to economic outcomes and put a dollar value on the high-impact actions a company takes to sustainable solutions”, said Terence Mauri, MIT Entrepreneur Mentor in Residence, in an email. “CEOs and boards must have moral and business imperatives to care about long-term. The opportunity lies in business leaders and investors being able to tie sustainability data directly to economic conditions”.

Mauri believes that companies are beginning to see the importance of sustainable technology and are working to develop more sustainable practices. He may be right. IBM has developed a system to help farmers use less water and fertilizer while maintaining crop yields. Other companies are working on developing sustainable packaging. For example, Nestle Waters North America has developed a paper-based water bottle that is fully recyclable and uses significantly less energy to produce than traditional plastic bottles. Meanwhile, Amazon has pledged to be “net zero carbon” by 2040 and 100% renewable by 2030. And Goldman Sachs has committed to investing $750 billion in sustainable businesses by 2030.

“Many sustainable solutions such as these require investment and may have a higher upfront cost, but they often provide long-term benefits like saved energy costs or improved employee productivity,” said Huda Khan from the University of Aberdeen and Richard Lee from the University of South Australia, in an email. Khan recently conducted research explaining why firms should pursue green technological innovation — it leads to improved environmental outcomes and business performance. This assertion is shared by Nadia Zahoor from the Queen Mary University of London and Zaheer Khan from the University of Aberdeen, who said in an interview that “businesses should consider sustainability as part of a “strategic opportunity” rather than purely from a compliance perspective.” Zahoor’s research findings suggest that business collaborations offer environmental learning conducive to identifying and exploiting ecological threats and opportunities for environmental innovation. Based on a second study, both researchers also contend that sustainability is a complex issue, but it is one that business leaders need to start taking seriously. Here’s how.

 

Account for The Hidden Cost of New Technology

The first step in creating a sustainable development plan for your company is taking stock of where you’re. Measuring your sustainability can come from metrics like carbon footprint, energy consumption, and supply chain miles. “If you want to measure your future sustainability, it’s also essential to look at the impact of new technologies you’re using,” said Emma Collins, the CEO and co-founder of Safetradebinaryoptions, in an email. Many new technologies have hidden costs that are often left out of sustainability calculations. For example, AI is a technology that has created immense value for businesses, whether it’s driving personalized product recommendations or informing anti-money laundering software. However, AI systems need to process an immense amount of data, requiring a company to increase its energy use.

In addition, other technologies that can help companies increase the efficiency and quality of their products, such as blockchain, can harm a carbon footprint. Even technologies created to improve sustainability can have hidden costs. For example, producing solar panels requires substantial water and energy. And although electric vehicles have lower emissions than traditional gas cars, the manufacturing process for batteries can be quite polluting. When considering new technologies, it’s essential to view the product’s entire life cycle, from production to disposal. This will give you a more accurate picture of the sustainability of the technology and help you make better decisions about which technologies to pursue.

 

Use Technology to Increase Your Sustainability

Once you can measure and understand the impact new technologies have on your sustainability goals, you can look for opportunities to use new technologies sustainably. If you’re partnering with other companies to develop energy-heavy technologies like AI or blockchain, look carefully to ensure you’re partnering with companies that prioritize sustainability. For example, Google is developing technology to maximize energy efficiency and reduce waste and has developed an AI system that can predict failures in data centre cooling systems, which account for a significant amount of energy use. And they’re not the only ones — many tech companies are now incorporating sustainability into their product development cycles. In other words, companies cannot simply purchase the latest sustainable technology and expect it to achieve their sustainability goals. Instead, they need to be thoughtful about how they use technology and ensure that it is integrated into their overall sustainability strategy.

Look at the Big Picture

Sustainability is about more than just technology. To be sustainable, companies must look at the big picture and understand how their actions fit into the larger world. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this. One popular method is sustainability reporting, which allows companies to measure and track their progress on specific sustainability goals. This information can help companies decide where to focus their efforts and how to use their resources best.

Sustainability reporting can also help companies tell their sustainability story to the public, which is an integral part of promoting sustainable business practices. After all, if consumers and investors don’t know that a company is working towards sustainability, they won’t be as likely to support its efforts. There are many different types of sustainability reporting, but one of the most popular is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines. These guidelines provide a framework for companies to report environmental, social, and economic impacts. In addition, many companies use these guidelines to produce annual sustainability reports, which they then make available to the public. The GRI guidelines are just one example of the many resources available to companies that want to improve their sustainability reporting. Several software programs and online tools can also help with this process. No matter what type of sustainability reporting a company chooses to use, the important thing is that they are taking action and working towards their goals.

Ultimately, technology is just one piece of the puzzle regarding sustainability, but it’s essential. Companies can significantly impact the world by using technology to increase efficiency and reduce waste. In this way, technology can be a powerful tool for promoting sustainability on a global scale. And as more and more companies adopt sustainable practices, we will all benefit from a cleaner, healthier planet.

I’m a leadership professor writing expert commentary on global affairs read by more than one million executives and policymakers the world over

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Is digital trust the key to sustainable planning?

Is digital trust the key to sustainable planning?

Is digital trust the key to sustainable planning? wondered Nicole Bennetts, Senior Urban and Regional Planner in an ARUP blog.  The answer follows.

Is digital trust the key to sustainable planning?

Our growth challenges in cities globally are becoming more complex. Now more than ever, we need new solutions and creativity to help us shape more resilient and sustainable cities in the future.

For the first time in history, we have access to dynamic urban data to understand people’s collective behaviours in real time. If used, this expansive evidence base can help planners, designers, and decision-makers make more informed decisions about the future of our cities.

However, the timing dilemma is an obstacle in harnessing this data. While urban environments typically develop every 50 years, technology moves more rapidly, significantly improving every five years, creating a disparity between urban planning and urban living.

So how does the planning industry keep pace with digital technology to create sustainable outcomes? One way is to improve our relationship with the digital world and put trust and confidence in digital tools and innovative solutions.

Is digital trust the key to sustainable planning?

While urban environments typically develop every 50 years, technology moves more rapidly, significantly improving every five years, creating a disparity between urban planning and urban living.

While urban environments typically develop every 50 years, technology moves more rapidly, significantly improving every five years, creating a disparity between urban planning and urban living.

Why should planners trust data and digital?

Our cities are where urban planning and living come together. They are a super ‘neural network’ of interrelated systems. To create intelligent, responsive cities, urban development must embrace new possibilities using data and the internet of things (IoT).

Technology and data have never been more available. As a result, urban planning has a massive opportunity to unleash its full potential by investing more time and resources into harnessing data and digital planning.

Tools like the ‘digital twin’ are likely to become an indispensable part of future ‘urban infrastructure’, enabling the seamless integration of the ‘physical’ and ‘digital’ worlds and redefining how we plan.

Similarly, digital master planning is a framework to test thousands of options based on various variables and parameters to test failure, resilience, adaptative pathways, optimal living conditions, human health and welling, energy efficiency and more.

The planning industry must adapt to this changing paradigm, by matching the efforts and confidence invested in building the cloud system and IoT coverage, or risk being left behind.

How Arup planners are using the power of digital

Projects worldwide show the value and credibility of digital tools to create growth and provide sustainable outcomes.

Cities urban tree canopy is a critical component of green infrastructure providing comfortable environments and reducing heat. Arup’s leading Urban tree canopy analysis used is a study for the City of Gold Coast, which uses a computer algorithm to determine the percentage of vegetation cover over different time intervals to show canopy changes.

Terrain is Arup’s bespoke artificial intelligence and land use analysis tool. It harnesses the power of data analytics, machine learning and automation to accurately digest large quantities of data and satellite imagery. Using this tool, we calculated seven cities’ sponginess by measuring the green and blue infrastructure areas to understand how cities can better use this infrastructure to face increasing threats from climate change – including heavy rainfall and extreme heat events.

Another Arup tool is the City Algorithm Tool (CAT) which tests hundreds of growth scenarios using different development and community value parameters to determine optimal outcomes for urban living. For example, Smakkelaarsveld in the Netherlands used algorithms to optimise the scheme design against multiple KPIs, including sustainability and environmental objectives.

Similarly, digital master planning can test site and precinct options based on various variables and parameters to test failure, resilience, adaptative pathways and optimal living conditions.

The last example, solar analysis helps test hundreds of layouts and orientations to achieve optimal living conditions and thermal comfort. For example, for Mahindra World City Jaipur, we used solar assessment tools to determine the optimal orientation for the plots and streets to provide thermal comfort in a hot climate.

Small risks, great rewards

Trust in the planning process is the foundation for our cities to take the best path to sustainable growth. Taking small, calculated risks in improving our digital capabilities now can lead to great rewards for our cities.

Is digital trust the key to sustainable planning?

Taking small, calculated risks in improving our digital capabilities now can lead to great rewards for our cities.

  • Speed and efficiency, automating tedious and repetitive tasks and allowing more design and collaboration time.
  • Test 3D scenarios, assessing hundreds or thousands of options during the planning process against agreed parameters or criteria.
  • Facilitate approval process, comparing design scenarios with consented planning schemes and existing site conditions for faster agreement on key issues.
  • Identify client priorities; testing many possibilities can help identify what is most important.
  • Improve participatory design; with more data, we can understand community needs and improve community engagement.

Read more on ARUP post.

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