As the looming global environmental crisis becomes ever more apparent, the call for action is becoming louder and increasingly urgent.
Not only has there been a rapid growth in the world’s population, but alongside it has been a significant increase in the consumption levels of individuals, particularly in the industrialised world.
For individuals in the wealthy nations with their large carbon foot print, there is a need for a change in lifestyle, embracing sustainable day-to-day practices as well as more fundamental changes to the way we generate energy and waste.
Business and community leaders need to look at how local infrastructures can be developed using more environmentally friendly and sustainable methods to help support a more sustainable future.
The good news is that these household and community changes often lead to significant financial savings, particularly in the long run, as well as providing a healthy option for the population that includes the environment.
Sustainability Trends 2019
We’ve outlined some of the top trends in sustainability that we’re currently seeing. These initiatives are helping tackle some of the biggest issues and challenges facing the globe as a whole.
Tackling the Waste
Arguably the biggest scourge of our time is waste.
Today, roughly one third of food produced globally is wasted or lost and the UK is one of the largest wasters of food in Europe. Household items and clothes are frequently replaced or updated after relatively little usage and ubiquitous marketing coupled with early obsolescence constantly exacerbates the problem.
In looking forward there is sense in looking back in time for some of the solutions to this waste crisis. There is a growing awareness of how small adjustments can have major benefits in waste reduction.
The first step in reducing food waste is to shop carefully, making a list of things you need before you head to the shops. Plan meals and buy accordingly. Look out for food packaging terms such as “best before,” “best by,” “expiration date,” “sell by,” and “use by” in order to maximize the shelf life of the food in your kitchen.
Reducing Plastic Use
The disposal of plastic is becoming a major environmental issue, not just on the land, but also in the sea. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Plastic is already seriously harming our surroundings and the current level of plastic use and disposal is unsustainable.
Rooftop Solar Panels
This is probably the most common and obvious method, if you’re looking into renewable power. Solar panels typically go on your roof, although you can also install them in your garden.
Of course, one big weakness of solar power is that it only works when the sun is up. If you want to power your home when the sun is down, you’ll need to pay for grid electricity or invest in a second type of renewable energy.
Wind turbines are most commonly found in windfarms or floating offshore, but if you have enough land you can install a small wind turbine on your property to power your home.
There are a few downsides to a wind turbine that make them less popular in residential areas. They can be ugly and make a lot of noise. They take up space, and depending on where you live, local laws and regulations may outright forbid it.
But if these disadvantages don’t apply to you or don’t bother you, wind power may be a great asset. Wind power is more stable than solar, and a good-sized wind turbine can easily generate most or all of your electricity needs. Depending on your area, wind might be a better renewable investment than solar.
This won’t work for most people, but if your property contains a source of flowing water, you’re in luck. You can divert some or all of the stream or river to flow through a turbine and power your home.
There are a number of ways to go about doing this, but at its most basic, you’ll want to find the largest vertical distance the water will travel, and divert that water so it flows through a turbine in a controlled manner. Depending on the amount of water and vertical distance, you can produce a substantial amount of power this way. Setting up a hydro power generator is not easy, and you may need to have a professional install it for you. If you have some engineering knowledge, though, you could even build it yourself from scratch.
The advantages to hydro power are immense. Unlike solar and wind, hydro is stable and continuous, which means you’ll always get the same input no matter what. You’ll never have to worry that your generator won’t be able to power your home. That piece of mind might be worth a little engineering project.
The UK and Scottish Governments are promoting District, Community and Communal Heating (DCCH) as an effective means of reducing carbon emissions and heating bills in the social housing sector.
Carbon dioxide reductions are reportedly experienced because the size of heat demand realisable via a heat network integrates well with larger scale technologies supplying low carbon heat such as Combined Heat and Power and biomass boilers. However, landlords have stated that residents must know how to control their systems well in order to achieve the desired goals.
To successfully introduce a DCCH consideration needs to be made of social dimensions as well as the techno economic aspects. It is important to effectively engage and gain the support of stakeholder groups, including the heat users. Taking a whole life cost approach so that operation and maintenance requirements are integral to system design and financing arrangements is also important. Procuring sufficient expertise to be able to scrutinise all aspects of the development process from feasibility work, design, construction and commissioning is essential. The design should include metering and monitoring systems which are put in the right place across the network with that information flows, both technical and financial, which are transparent, accountable and presented in an engaging and comprehensible form. Advice in this area can be found on our website.
Learn More with Therma-Mech
As the pressure on resources grows and the threat to the environment reaches a critical point, it is time to fully embrace the opportunities afforded by sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives. It is a project for everyone from the world leaders to local politicians, businesses and every individual carrying on with their day-to-day life.
Contact us today to learn about district heating and how it offers a greener option for energy.