Algae-Powered Buildings: A Futuristic Invention

algae-arabIn an environment where the carbon footprint is becoming increasingly large, we need to start developing sustainable solutions which can keep greenhouse gases at bay. It is estimated that the building industry contributes to almost 40% of all of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions! To put this into perspective, this consists to a whopping 90 megatons of emissions that are emitted annually in constructing new buildings and maintaining the infrastructure of pre-developed ones.

It is time for us to take action!

At Certified Energy, we believe in creating a sustainable future so that the building industry can thrive and support our future generations. For this to occur, innovation is key and algae is the solution to significantly reduce the carbon footprint.

How is Algae Helpful?

Not only is algae one of the fastest growing organic materials, but if utilized within the building industry, it has a huge impact on reducing the carbon footprint

  • Is a powerful tool that can be used to improve air quality through absorbing CO2
  • Buildings will be able to power itself as it can be used to produce algae biofuel as a byproduct

Let us have a look at three innovative algae-powered inventions:

Algae-Powered Buildings

Algae Powered Buildings is an exciting invention to help you reduce your heating bills to a startling zero! As sunlight hits your building, the algae multiplies generating biomass and heat.

This is stored within the management center that can be used to reduce your electricity and power requirements, thereby reducing the greenhouse gases that are usually released.

Algae-Powered Breathing Pavilions

Air quality is a challenge that many industrialized cities face currently. To eliminate this significant issue, breathing pavilions are to be created in order to produce breathable oxygen.

This powerful invention by Adam Miklosi – oxygen bars – is used to help make our ecosystem sustainable and environmentally friendly!

Algae-Covered Buildings

To create biofuel on a larger scale, Algae Covered Buildings can filter air in its vicinity and improve its quality in surrounding areas. As outlined by the 2009 report released by The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the recommendation of the cultivation of algae on the sides of existing buildings has been made. They say it is one of the most promising methods to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations.

The BIQ House in Hamburg is the first algae-powered building in the world

Currently, our building sector is focused on designing structures that are contemporary and technologically advanced. However, we need to redirect our focus towards creating innovating plans that are sustainable and will reduce our environmental footprint as well as eliminate sickness of buildings.

At Certified Energy, we deliver to this mission. Constantly aspiring to find renewable materials that will help make our environment more ecological, we are experts in ESD consulting and are qualified to assess projects for their suitability under rating schemes including Green StarISCASection J and NatHERS.

To find out more: call us on 1300 443 674 or email quote@certifiedenergy.com.au

Water Woes in Jordan

Being one of the most arid countries in the Middle East, Jordan is facing severe water shortages. The current per capita water supply in the country is 200 cubic meters per year which is almost one-third of the global average. To make matters worse, it is projected that Jordan’s population (currently at 6 million) will reach 9 million by 2025 causing a drastic decline in per capita water availability to measly 91 cubic meters.

State of the Affairs

Groundwater resources account for 54% of Jordan’s total water supply, and are being threatened by pollution due to over-pumping of aquifers, seepage from landfill sites, and improper disposal of dangerous chemicals. Agricultural sector is responsible for about two-third of Jordan’s total water consumption. Jordan is currently ranked among the top five countries most threatened by water shortages. More than 75 percent of the population lives in cities which are often located away from water bodies.

Management of water resources is therefore a big challenge for the Jordanian government which has been trying to reduce the rising demand for water through public awareness campaigns. A large fraction of freshwater supplies is contributed by aquifers which are threatened by overpumping and pollution. Managing the supply as well as the demand end of water resources has assumed tremendous importance in the country.

Future Strategy

The government may start water supply management initiative by enforcing regulation on water extraction from groundwater aquifers. The absence of strict laws is leading to illegal well drilling, reckless use of water and unsustainable extraction of water from aquifers. Aquifers in Jordan are being used at twice the recharge rate which is hampering natural replenishment process and may eventually lead to drying up.

The Jordanian government may also take initiative in renovating old and rusted water pipes that supply private homes with domestic water supplies. For example, in the United States alone, water leaks are responsible for wastage of 1 trillion gallons of water every year, which is equivalent to the annual water usage of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined. Furthermore, rusted pipes can cause a change in the color and taste of the water, triggering additional water loss through the disposal of dirty water. Therefore, repairing old water pipes, and replacing them after 2-3 decades is very important.

A key component of water supply management is utilizing alternative sources of water such as wastewater treatment plants, which allow reuse of wastewater. This not only creates an additional water supply source, but also reduces the reliance on the natural water supplies, such as ground water, giving aquifers more time to replenish and recharge. Importantly, wastewater treatment is a potential source of energy, through harnessing the methane produced by the sewage water.

Furthermore, wastewater treatment plants reduce environmental pollution by extracting wastewater that is usually disposed off into rivers and aquifers in the form of runoffs. The government has been planning to build wastewater treatment plants across Jordan, such as the Amman-Zarqa wastewater treatment plant. However, these plants have yet to be built, and Jordan has yet to use wastewater treatment to its full potential.

Conclusion

Water shortage has significantly increased stress on water resources in Jordan. Aquifers have reached historically low levels, water demand is rising exponentially, water pollution is rising and mismanagement of water resources continues unabated. Water scarcity is a big threat to Jordan’s industrial development, economic growth, food production and overall well-being of its population. Jordan has already been forced to tap into non-renewable water resources from fossilized deep-water aquifers. The government and citizens should work together to find a plausible solution to tackle the water scarcity plaguing the country.

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Corporate Shared Value: Trends in the Corporate World

What if businesses could both make money and do good through the same actions? Businesses leaders who subscribe to the idea of corporate shared value believe they can. Many proponents even say it redefines and revitalizes capitalism. Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Mark Kramer, managing director of the global social impact consulting firm FSG, kicked off the corporate shared value trend in 2011 with an article in Harvard Business Review. Corporate Shared Value (or Shared Value) is a new generation business thinking which enhances the competitive position of the company while at the same time advances the society in which it operates.

The article, titled Creating Shared Value, started a global discussion of the authors’ idea. Capitalism, the authors wrote, was in trouble. Trust in businesses had dropped to an all-time low, and most people believed they caused more harm than good.

Part of the reason for this, they said, was that companies tended to focus on short-term approaches to creating value and, by doing so, ignored long-term impacts and unmet needs in the market.

Businesses could change that, Porter and Kramer argued, by focusing instead on creating shared value.

What Is Corporate Shared Value?

Kramer and Porter defined shared value as a method of creating economic value, so it also adds value to society and addresses additional challenges.

By taking this approach, companies could realign their success with social progress, they said. It enables them to see social issues as businesses opportunities and profit from them, while also making positive social changes. Profit and doing good don’t have to be separate according to the corporate shared value (CSV) argument.

This concept is different than corporate social responsibility (CSR) or philanthropy. These efforts focused on giving back or minimizing the harm that a company does. CSV isn’t meant to replace CSR. Instead, it builds on the idea by making positive actions an integral part of a business’ everyday operations. It adds value for both society and investors.

How Businesses Can Create Shared Value

In their article, Porter and Kramer outlined three ways in which companies can create shared value.

Reimaging Products and Markets

The first method involves a company’s products. It includes creating or redesigning products, so they meet societal needs. These products often help unserved or underserved customers.

One example of the successful use of this tactic comes from healthcare company Novartis, which launched an initiative aimed at reaching people in rural India in need of healthcare services. The program offers medicines that address regional health issues, sells them in smaller packages to increase affordability, employs local sales staff in its distribution system, provides health education and improves healthcare infrastructure through partnerships with micro-finance organizations.

The initiative has tripled the percentage of people who go to the doctor in the areas in which it operates and became profitable after 31 months of operation.

Redefining Productivity in the Value Chain

This tactic involves improving practices to utilize resources better. It could include enabling more efficient or productive use of material resources, financial resources, employees’ skills and business partners’ capabilities.

Wal-Mart frequently engages in these types of initiatives, which both conserve resources and boost the company’s profitability. In 2005, it set a goal of doubling its fleet’s efficiency by 2015. By improving its processes for loading, routing and driving and investing in new technologies, it increased efficiency by 102.2 percent from 2005 to 2015 and created approximately $1 billion in savings annually.

Creating Supportive Industry Clusters

Businesses can also create shared value by improving the supporting institutions, supplier base and available skills in the communities in which the company operates. These changes can increase productivity, support innovation and foster growth.

Famous mainly for its chocolate and other candy, Mars depends on the cocoa industry to succeed, which is primarily made up of smallholder farms in countries like Ivory Coast.

The company’s Vision for Change initiative focuses on improving farmer incomes in Ivory Coast by boosting average yields to one metric ton per hectare and achieving social and environmental benefits through these productivity gains. It aims to improve planting material and soil management in part through training and engagement with farmers.

Parting Shot

While not everyone agrees on the significance of corporate shared value, growing numbers of companies are integrating it into their operations. Will CSV transform capitalism, or will it be more of a passing trend? Only time will tell.

Paper Bag Boy’s Message to the World

Abdul Muqeet, also known as the Paper Bag Boy, has risen from being just another ordinary student to an extra-ordinary environmentalist. Ten-year old Abdul Muqeet has demonstrated remarkable commitment to saving the environment in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere, and has been a poster-boy for environmental campaigns in the Middle East. Here he shares his views on environment, recycling and public awareness.

It is said that you should break your goals down into small steps which you can accomplish each day. Set a goal, and approach it in a simple and basic manner. When I started my environmental campaign couple of years back, I had no idea that within a short span of time I would be invited to UNEP Tunza Conference in Indonesia or a film featuring myself will be run at CoP18 in Doha.

My endeavor began with collection of old newspapers and then making simple shopping bags out of it. My main objective was to spread environmental awareness and educate people about the harmful effects of plastic bags. Public awareness is essential to the success of any waste management program as people will start caring for the environment only on realizing ecological and health impacts of their day-to-day activities. Industrial pollution, environmental degradation, water scarcity, climate change are some of the burning issues nowadays which, if not tackled, will have serious effects on the coming generations.

Plastic wastes, as you may be aware, as one of the biggest source of pollution nowadays. We must not use it for our convenience; rather have the commitment to avoid the usage of plastic. Let us discuss some of the major harmful effects of Plastic. The decomposition of plastic takes a very long time, running into hundreds of years.  When we throw plastics all around, animals like camels and cows eat these plastics which choke their digestive systems ultimately leading to a painful death. Our drainage system is also blocked by accumulation of plastic wastes thus making our city dirty.

Another important issue in that of global warming, i.e. emission of harmful gases like carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide. The safe limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million (ppm), but it is rapidly increasing day by day, and has reached high level of 392 ppm. A tough time is in store for humans if the carbon dioxide concentration reaches 400 ppm as the resulting temperature rise will aggravate melting of glaciers.

I would like to share few basic tips that may help us in reducing plastic consumption in our daily time. First of all, say NO to plastic, use eco-friendly bags for your shopping. Shopkeepers can start charging for plastic bags so customer will re-use bags again and again. Many companies use lot of plastic packaging to attract customers which could be avoided by implementing more creative ideas of marketing. Many supermarkets and packers unnecessarily use excessive amount of packaging which should be discouraged.

Any small action to save our Mother Earth would make a big difference to humanity. I believe that we all shouldn’t think about how I as a single person can save the earth, rather we should all believe that each one of us can make a difference by doing our part towards the environment. As our president, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said “Saving Climate, is not the responsibility of the government alone, it is the responsibility of each and every person, every citizen to save the environment.

We all should realize our duties and responsibilities towards conservation of natural resources. A small step in our day-to-day life can make a big difference for the environment. It is our sole responsibility to care for Planet Earth and make it a better place to live for the present and future generations. 

I humbly request you to join my campaign to stop use of plastic bags. Say NO to Plastic, and insist on eco-friendly bags. You can also give me more ideas how we can work together for a better future. Our late Baba Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may his soul rest in peace) was very keen to save environment and trees. He changed this land from desert to a lush green place which we enjoy today. He once said that man has to be kind not only to humans but also to animal and plants, as God bestows kindness on those who show kindness to others. Hence, we all should follow his footsteps and make sure do our best to save environment.

My concluding message to all of you is

  • Plant more tree
  • Use less water,
  • Do more recycling
  • Avoid use of plastics.

Last but not the least, I would like to remind one and all that Everything on Earth can be Recycled but not Time. So please dont waste time, act as fast as possible to save the Environment.

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Medical Waste Management in MENA

Healthcare sector in MENA region is growing at a very rapid pace, which in turn has led to tremendous increase in the quantity of medical waste generation by hospitals, clinics and other establishments. According to a recent Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs report, Egypt generated 28,300 tons of hazardous medical wastes in 2010. In the GCC region, more than 150 tons of medical waste is generated in GCC countries every day. Saudi Arabia leads the pack with daily healthcare waste generation of more than 80 tons. These figures are indicative of the magnitude of the problem faced by municipal authorities in dealing with medical waste disposal problem across the MENA region. 

Multitude of Problems

The growing amount of medical wastes is posing significant public health and environmental challenges in major cities of the region. The situation is worsened by improper disposal methods, insufficient physical resources, and lack of research on medical waste management. Improper management of medical wastes from hospitals, clinics and other facilities in MENA pose occupational and public health risks to patients, health workers, waste handlers, haulers and general public. It may also lead to contamination of air, water and soil which may affect all forms of life. In addition, if waste is not disposed of properly, ragpickers may collect disposable medical equipment (particularly syringes) and to resell these materials which may cause dangerous diseases.

Improper management of medical wastes from hospitals, clinics and other facilities in MENA pose occupational and public health risks to patients, health workers, waste handlers, haulers and general public. It may also lead to contamination of air, water and soil which may affect all forms of life. In addition, if waste is not disposed of properly, ragpickers may collect disposable medical equipment (particularly syringes) and to resell these materials which may cause dangerous diseases.

Medical waste management method in MENA is limited to either small-scale incineration or landfilling. The practice of landfilling of medical wastes is a matter of serious concern as it poses grave risks to public health, water resources, soil fertility as well as air quality. In many Middle East and North Africa countries, medical wastes is mixed with municipal solid wastes and/or industrial wastes which transforms medical wastes into a cocktail of dangerous substances. 

The WHO policy paper of 2004 and the Stockholm Convention, has stressed the need to consider the risks associated with the incineration of healthcare waste as a typical medical waste incinerator releases a wide variety of pollutants which may include particulate matter, heavy metals, acid gases, carbon monoxide and organic compounds. Sometimes pathogens may also be found in the solid residues and in the exhaust of poorly designed and badly operated incinerators. In addition, leachable organic compounds, like dioxins and heavy metals, are usually present in bottom ash residues. Due to these factors, many industrialized countries are phasing out healthcare incinerators and exploring technologies that do not produce any dioxins. Countries like United States, Ireland, Portugal, Canada and Germany have completely shut down or put a moratorium on medical waste incinerators. 

Promising Treatment Options

The alternative technologies for healthcare waste treatment are steam sterilization, advanced steam sterilization, microwave treatment, dry heat sterilization, alkaline hydrolysis, and biological treatment. Nowadays, steam sterilization (or autoclaving) is the most common alternative treatment method. Advanced autoclaves or advanced steam treatment technologies combine steam treatment with vacuuming, internal mixing or fragmentation, internal shredding, drying, and compaction thus leading to as much as 90% volume reduction. 

Microwave treatment is a promising technology in which treatment occurs through the introduction of moist heat and steam generated by microwave energy. Alkaline digestion is a unique type of chemical process that uses heated alkali to digest tissues, pathological waste, anatomical parts, or animal carcasses in heated stainless steel tanks. Biological processes, like composting and vermicomposting, can also be used to degrade organic matter in healthcare waste such as kitchen waste and placenta.

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Towards a Waste-Free Ramadan Iftar

iftar-buffet-hotelsIn the holy month of Ramadan, Iftar or breaking of fast becomes our main attention. The Iftars are either taken at home alone or with the family and relatives or at Iftar buffets at hotels and restaurants. The other option usually for the bachelors and less privileged people are to open the fast at mosques and at community centers whereby the iftar and dinner is provided for free organized by the rich, philanthropists, charitable organizations and mosque committees.

Disrespect to Food

It is a common sight that at Iftar, people do not respect the food and drinks that are provided to them and leave it partly eaten/ consumed. At home, food which is cooked and provided is often been consumed and left overs are kept and re-utilized.

At mosques, Iftar plates or boxes are commonly being made which include dates, fruit pieces, samosa, pakoras, biryani and sweets. If open food is served in dishes and plates, it is often being shared between 4-6 people who partly eat the portions they like.

Thus, huge quantity of expensive freshly cooked food provided free by sponsors becomes waste which is conveniently disposed of in the nearest communal bin. The waste also includes water bottles, containers, packaging, cardboards, Styrofoam and plastic plates, sheets, disposable cutlery and tissue papers.

Iftar Buffets – Beyond Imagination

Iftar buffets at restaurants and hotels are no different than at mosques, where Iftar and dinner packages are being offered. In such cases also, there is huge wastage of food, as eating capability of the individuals are limited.

The great variety of iftar and dinner items tend to make people take more than required in their plates which later is thrown in waste bins. Restaurants and hotels provide buffets beyond our imagination, with an ‘all-you-can-eat’ spirit. If people knew what ‘all they could eat’, maybe less food would have been wasted. It is difficult to see that the food quantity run out.

At joint Iftar/ dinner gatherings at mosques, clubs and halls, more food is being provided irrespective of the number of people expected. At hotels and restaurants, food is amply being cooked for the fear that it may be fully consumed and where food availability contributes to the hotels’ reputation as running out of a specific dish would be every F&B manager’s worst nightmare. Thus, higher quantities of food/ dishes are being made.

Irony of the fact is that the leftover food is not allowed to be consumed by the hotel staff or given to charity and has to make its way to the garbage bins. The view of waste containers full of fresh and valuable food is very depressing especially for a country where most of the food items are imported and is expensive.

Iftar gatherings at mosques are also responsible for wastage of huge amount of food

Violation of the spirit of Ramadan

Wastage of food is a sin and a violation of the very concept of Ramadan. The act of throwing away food during Ramadan is a complete contradiction to the philosophy behind fasting. Quran says food waste must be prevented and mention, “Eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.”

So let us not waste the food. If surplus food is remaining, it should be packed and send/given to deserving people. We also need to make sure the quality and safety of the donated food. Another viable option to reduce food wastage is by recycling.

Let us be more vigilant and not waste any food waste or drinks. We need to think twice before putting any food waste to the garbage bin. Each individual’s contribution counts.

Let us save our environment.

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Rationale for Solar Energy in MENA

gcc-solarThe world is rife with news snippets concerning the development of solar power. The sun provides an infinite source of energy that takes off the burden on the renewable sources for power generation. In doing so, there are increased chances of conserving the limited energy reserves.

Already about 50% of the earth’s natural resources are in use. If this usage rate continues, we will run out of finite sources in no time. For instance, there is only enough oil left for the coming 46.2 years. Luckily, the development of solar energy serves as the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) stretch has always been championed for its natural gas and petroleum deposits. Power generation from these sources has been significant. At the same time though, the West has taken to the development of clean energy sources and tech that furthers its penetration among the general masses.

A case in point is the work that Tesla is doing on solar roof tiling. These tiles resemble the traditional shingles. However, they collect 98% of the solar energy to generate electricity. Numerous regions are witnessing the growth of solar power like NJ Solar energy. The focus is on the use of solar power as a clean source of energy that lowers carbon emissions.

In this context, here is an in-depth look at the rationale for development of solar energy sector in MENA:

MENA – Potent candidate for solar power

The Middle East and North African region is responsible for delivering a third of the world’s petroleum supply. It produces about 2.5 million barrels of crude oil in a day. Along with this, the production of dry natural gas stands at 55 billion cubic feet daily. In addition to the rich fossil fuel reserves, the region is blessed with an abundant supply of sunlight too.

The direct solar radiation in the MENA region exceeds to 6 kWh/m2. Nearly all the countries in the Middle East and North Africa region have enough sunlight. This boasts substantial solar potential, therefore, setting the base for the development of solar power. The development of this clean energy source will also diversify the region’s power sources portfolio.

Meeting regional power demand

The development of solar power will meet the energy demands of MENA countries that do not have massive fossil fuel reserves. For instance, there are frequent blackouts in Egypt. Other countries, such as those in the GCC region, also feel the pinch. Although they boast vast natural reserves yet many of these are flagged for other priorities.

The infiltration of solar power will, therefore, help reduce the region’s reliance on energy imports. For example, Morocco imports roughly 90% of energy. Likewise, Jordan imports about 95% of its energy, which comes for a cost of nearly 16% of its gross domestic product.

Rising pollution levels

A recent study indicates that air quality in MENA is extremely poor. In fact, carbon dioxide emissions have nearly doubled. As per the study, some cities in the region rank as cities with the world’s worst air quality.

Air pollution in MENA is 5-10 times worse than the recommended pollution levels marked by the World Health Organization (WHO). Total carbon emissions in the region stand at 755.5 million. As of 2013, about 125,000 people died in the region due to household and outdoor air pollution. These whooping figures call for the need for the enhanced development of clean energy in MENA.

Global warming and climate change

Scientific investigations reveal that heat waves in the Arabian Gulf (or GCC) region can make it virtually uninhabitable. Researchers estimate that the wet-bulb temperature in this area would rise more than the human body’s threshold by 2070. The wet-bulb temperature is a measure of the humidity and heat matrixes. And it will rise above the tolerant levels if the carbon emissions continue at the prevailing rate.

These findings show that the MENA region is on the brink of facing severe implications of climate change. The midday temperature in the UAE alone has soared up to 5 degrees Celsius and more. As a consequence of global warming, the water resources of MENA are also threatened with only 1,000 cubic meters left for each person. Again, this syncs with the need of controlling carbon emissions, which is something that solar energy offers.

Key takeaways

All these factors encourage the development of solar power in the Middle East and North Africa region. Solar power provides a clean source of energy that minimizes carbon emissions and helps preserve renewable energy resources.

Although MENA is touted as an oil-rich area, several of its countries also face power shortage. The region suffers from poor air quality markers and a potential threat of climate change due to excess carbon emissions. Solar energy is a viable solution for all these problems. Fortunately, plans for the use of solar power are in the pipeline.

Solid Waste Management in Oman

waste-omanSolid waste management is a challenging issue for the Sultanate of Oman because of limited land availability and adverse impacts on environment and public health. With population of almost 3.9 million inhabitants, Oman generates more than 1.7 million tons of solid waste each year. The average per capita waste generation is more than 1.2 kg per day, which is equivalent to about 4700 tons of municipal waste every day.

Solid waste in Oman is characterized by very high percentage of recyclables, primarily paper and cardboard (15%), plastics (20.9%), metals (1.8%) and glass (4%) (Source: Waste Characterization and Quantification Survey, Be’ah, 2013).

However the country is yet to realize the recycling potential of its municipal waste stream. Most of the solid waste is sent to authorized and unauthorized dumpsites for disposal which is creating environment and health issues. There are several dumpsites which are located in the midst of residential areas or close to catchment areas of private and public drinking water bodies.

Solid waste management scenario in Oman is marked by lack of collection and disposal facilities as well as lack of public awareness. Solid waste, industrial waste, e-wastes etc are deposited in scores of landfills scattered across the country. Oman has around 350 landfills/dumpsites which are managed by municipalities. In addition, there are numerous unauthorized dumpsites in Oman where all sorts of wastes are recklessly dumped.

Al Amerat landfill is the first engineered sanitary landfill in Oman which began its operations in early 2011. The landfill site, spread over an area of 9.1 hectares, consists of 5 cells with a total capacity of 10 million m3 of solid waste. Each cell has 16 shafts to take care of leachate. All the shafts are interconnected in order to facilitate movement of leachate to the leachate pump.

The project is part of the government’s initiatives to tackle solid waste in a scientific and environment-friendly manner. Being the first of its kind, Al Amerat sanitary landfill is expected to be an example for the future solid waste management projects in the country.

Future Planning

Solid waste management is among the top priorities of Oman government which has chalked out a robust strategy to resolve waste management problem in the Sultanate. The country is striving to establish engineered landfills, waste transfer stations, recycling and waste-to-energy projects in different parts of the country.

Modern solid waste management facilities are under planning in several wilayat, especially Muscat and Salalah. The new landfills will eventually pave the way for closure of authorized and unauthorized garbage dumps around the country.

Municipal solid waste in Oman is characterized by high percentage of recyclables

The state-owned Oman Environment Services Holding Company, now known as Be’ah, which is responsible for waste management projects in Oman, has recently started the tendering process for important projects. Be’ah has launched its waste management strategy and has awarded numerous tenders, while a host of other tenders are under evaluation or bidding phase.

Be’ah has invited tenders from specialised companies for engineered landfills, material recovery facilities, waste transfer stations and waste management services in the upcoming Special Economic Zone at Duqm (SEZAD), among others. Among the top priorities is that development of Barka engineered landfill as the existing Barka waste disposal site, which serve entire wilayat and other neighbouring wilayats in south Batinah governorate, is plagued by environmental and public health issues.

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الوقود الأحفوري يجب أن يصبح جزء من الماضي

Al-Shaheen-Oilfield-Qatarيشهد العالم منذ أواخر القرن العشرين وبداية القرن الحادي والعشرين تفاقم التحديات البيئية العالمية، لعل من أبرزها ظواهر الاحتباس الحراري  والتغير المناخي وفقدان التنوّع الإيكولوجي وندرة بعض الموارد الطبيعية وغيرها.في هذا الإطار ، تجمع مختلف التقارير على دور مصادر الطاقة التقليديّة في هذه المؤشرات الخطيرة التي تنبئ بالأسوأ إذا لم يقع اتخاذ إجراءات هيكلية لتغيير المنوال الطاقيّ خصوصا في الدول النّامية.

في هذا السياق ، دعت الهيئة الحكومية الدولية المعنية بتغير المناخ إلى إنهاء طريقة استخدام الوقود الأحفوري بلا أي قيود في أسرع وقت ممكن “إذا كان العالم يريد أن يتجنب تغيرا خطيرا في المناخ.”

وطالبت الهيئة، التي تدعمها الأمم المتحدة، إلى العمل على أن يكون إنتاج معظم الكهرباء في العالم من مصادر منخفضة الكربون بحلول 2050 ، مؤكدة على ضرورة  التخطيط لإنهاء استخدام الوقود الأحفوري بشكل نهائي بحلول 2100.

إذ يقول ميلز آلان، الاستاذ بجامعة أوكسفورد وعضو الهيئة الحكومية الدولية المعنية بتغير المناخ: “لا يمكن لنا تحمل حرق كل هذا الوقود الأحفوري من دون التعامل مع النفايات الصادرة المتمثلة في ثاني أوكسيد الكربون.”

وأضاف: “إذا لم يكن في استطاعتنا الوصول إلى سبيل لتجميع الكربون، فسيتعين علينا وقف استخدام الوقود الحفري إذا أردنا وقف أخطار التغير المناخي، وهذه رسالة واضحة جدا في تقارير الهيئة.”

هذه التوصيات تتطلّب الوقوف ضد مشاريع الوقود الأحفوري الجديدة التي تخفي بها عدد من الحكومات فشلها الذريع في تنفيذ وعودها بتأمين انتقال تدريجي إلى مصادر الطاقة البديلة. على سبيل الذكر لا الحصر، كيف تخطط دولة مثل بنغلاديش التي تقبع في المراتب المتأخرة لمؤشرات التنمية الاقتصادية لشراء طاقة الفحم من الهند بسعر باهظ للغاية ؟! دون أن نغفل عن منشآت الفحم المخططة في بوتسوانا وزمبابوي  اللتين ستهددان حق الأجيال القادمة في بيئة سليمة .

من جهة أخرى، لا تبدو الصورة أقل قتامة في إندونيسيا التي لطالما أشارت في مختلف قمم المناخ إلى نيتها في اعتماد مصادر الطاقة المتجددة بنسبة 30٪ بحلول عام 2025 ، إذ أن تخطيطها إلى إضافة 12000 ميجاوات إضافية من طاقة الفحم يضفي الكثير من الشكوك حول جديّة هذا التوجّه.

أما في الأرجنتين ، فإن السبق في اكتشاف  ثاني أكبر حقل غاز في العالم قد جعل المسؤولين هناك يغضون الطرف عن المخاطر المحدقة باستخراج أكثر أنواع الغاز الطبيعي ضررا على المائدة المائية وهو الغاز الصخري الزيتي.

كل هذه الخطوات الخطيرة التي انتهجتها هذه الحكومات لاقت معارضة متوسطة التأثير خصوصا مع أساليب التعتيم والمراوغة عند شرح مختلف هذه البرامج. لهذا السبب ، يجب العمل على زيادة وعي الشعوب باستثمارات حكوماتها في مجال الوقود الأحفوري وتشجيعها على حماية مواردها الطبيعيّة بكافة الوسائل المتاحة.

عزيزي القارئ ! لا تتخيّل أنّ مقومات الانتقال إلى مصادر الطاقة المتجددة غير متوفّرة بمنطقتك بل أن مخزونها قد يكون أعلى بكثير من مصادر الطاقة التقليدية. إذ أشار تقرير الوكالة الدولية للطاقة المتجددة «إيرينا»، الذي انعقد في أبو ظبي في 24 و25 تشرين الأول/ أكتوبر 2010، إلى أن كل كيلو متر مربع من أراضي منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا على سبيل المثال  يتلقى قدرًا من الطاقة الشمسية سنويًا يعادل 5,1 مليون برميل من النفط الخام. وعلى الرغم من وفرة تلك الطاقة، أبدت الدول العربية تباطؤًا في تبني تقنيات توليد الطاقة الشمسية، الأمر الذي يرجع لأسباب منها احتياطيات الوقود الأحفوري الهائلة التي تتمتع بها تلك الدول، فضلًا عن دعم حكوماتها للطاقة لفترة طويلة.

يجب إذن تطوير مستوى الوعي بالتداعيات  الإيجابية  لوقف مشاريع الوقود الأحفور على الصعيد الاقتصادي ودوره الهام في  استحداث عدد كبير من فرص العمل وملايين الوظائف الخضراء في قطاعات مثل الطاقة المتجددة ونظم النقل المستدام والزراعة وحماية البيئة والصناعة والأبحاث والتنمية والإدارة والنشاطات والخدمات  علاوة على أنّ إمكانات النمو الوظيفي في هذا القطاع هائلة.

من هذا المنطلق، لا ينبغي أن يكون النقص في الموارد المالية وفي توفر التكنولوجيا المتطورة في هذه البلدان الشماعة التي تعلق بها هذه الأخيرة عجزها عن استخدام هذه الطاقة الصديقة للبيئة. وبالتالي، يتوجب على منظمة الأمم المتحدة وبرامجها المتخصصة في مجال البيئة والتنمية، والمؤسسات المالية الدولية وخصوصاَ صندوق النقد الدولي والبنك الدولي والمنظمات الإقليمية وتحديدًا الاتحاد الأوروبي والبنوك والصناديق المالية العربية، مساعدة الدول الإفريقية الفقيرة ودول غرب آسيا من أجل الاستفادة من الكميات الهائلة من الطاقة المتجددة التي تتوافر لديها، وذلك من خلال تقديم المساعدات المالية ونقل التكنولوجيا وتشجيع الاستثمار في هذا القطاع الحيوي.

في الختام، إن تغيير العادات الطاقية لبلد ما ينبع أساسا من إرادة شعبه. لهذا ، يجب أن تتظافر الجهود لرسم استراتيجية ناجعة تحول دون استنزاف الموارد وخسارة التنوع البيولوجي ولا مكان فيها لأي مصدر طاقة  مضر بالبيئة وفي طليعتها  الوقود الأحفوري .

Hima: Integration of Religion and Conservation

hima-conservation-islamRevisiting the earliest days of rural, pastoral- and agriculture-based societies offers thought-provoking answers to solve today’s crises. At the highest levels of international concern, Islam’s formalized system of “Hima,” or Nature Conservation, is receiving optimistic attention. One of the reasons why Hima is an interesting solution for today’s conservation needs is because it developed under a similar set of crises.

Relatively speaking, the ratio of human population to accessible natural resources in the days of Moses was just as dire as today’s challenges. It is possible to recognize the development of Hima by following the early days of Prophet Moses, God’s peace be upon him, as the following history is related in the Torah, the Bible and in the Quran

The Elevation of Hima in Islam

In Islam, believers are warned repeatedly to obey the set limits, and recognize the prescribed boundaries, or “hudood,” of the Hima as formalized in the following verses of the Holy Quran:

Those are limits (hudood) set by Allah: those who obey Allah and His messenger will be admitted to gardens with rivers flowing beneath to abide therein (for ever); and that will be the supreme achievement. But those who disobey Allah and His messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a fire to abide therein: and they shall have a humiliating punishment! [Quran 4:13-14]

In Makkah, the area around the Ka’abah, or the “Sacred House,” is the most famous Hima or “Sacred Precinct” in Islam. Behaviors, rights and responsibilities associated with the Hajj Pilgrimage are highly formalized for this Hima in the Quran:

O ye who believe! violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of Allah, nor of the Sacred Month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlands that mark out such animals, nor the people resorting to the Sacred House, seeking of the bounty, and good pleasure of their Lord. But when ye are clear of the Sacred Precincts and of pilgrim garb, ye may hunt and let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah: for Allah is strict in punishment. [Quran 5:2]

A Model for Natural Resource Management

In his article, Hima as a Model for Natural Resource Management in West Asia and North Africa, Dr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi covers Islam’s elevation of the Hima system. Defining the hima as the Arabic translation for “a protected place” or “protected area,” Al-Jayyousi explains that in the original concept, access to this place was declared forbidden by the individual or group who owned it. However, mandatory public sharing, with codified community cooperation and joint protection eventually became the norm.

In the Arab peninsula, where the natural environment is characterized by aridity, fluctuation and uncertainty, cooperation over shared resources becomes essential to securing the livelihoods of local communities. Through public participation (shura) and reaching consensus through consultation, the community-based management model of hima contributed positively to saving and protecting natural resources, rangelands and forests for 5000 years, and providing the enabling environment for managing conflicts. The deep understanding of the cycles of nature, seasonal variations and carrying capacity informed social innovation in community-based natural resource management.

Islam contributed to the value system and ethical dimension of hima along with the rational imperative and judgement for measuring trade-offs between human rights and nature conservation. The Prophet Mohammad declared that free access to public water is the right of the community and said that “people are partners in three resources: water, pasture, and fire.” The notion of social justice and equity (adl) for all people, regardless of their culture or belief system, is the cornerstone of Islamic values. Islamic law has devised and formalised specific rules for formulating public policies and making trade-offs between public and private interest. Maslaha (public interest) may lead to an understanding of sustainability in its broader terms. [Dr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi Hima as a Model for Natural Resource Management in West Asia and North Africa]

Need for Authentic Convictions

Wide-scale adoption of Islam’s concept of Hima could effectively slow down the runaway machine that has become global development. With well-protected boundaries, and strongly enforced penalties, the Hima system has at its core the goal of preserving life. New fuel-efficiency would be a built-in benefit when conservation is backed up by Islam’s teachings against waste, damage, and abuse. Hima boundaries are further protected by the Islam’s guideline that “whatever leads to something prohibited is also prohibited.”

Climate change and human intervention is threatening many wildlife species in the Middle East

However, although most countries have currently established environmental protection agencies, S. A. Hamed sums up the dilemma we need to consider, when confronting the drunk drivers of the Earth’s riding mowers:

“Unless communities are well-informed and consulted during the development planning process, new projects and programs will not benefit from local knowledge and may never gain the support of the community.

Movement towards environmentally sustainable development by any society involves more than establishing an environmental protection agency, raising environmental awareness, or providing technical training. It requires comprehensive efforts on all fronts to strengthen the sustainable development institution as a whole and to shift the priorities of the society at large.

No significant progress in history was ever accomplished without an ethical emphasis, sincere loyalty, genuine affection, and authentic convictions.” [S. A. Hamed, “Capacity Building for Sustainable Development: The Dilemma of Islamization of Environmental Institutions,” in Islam and Ecology, p. 409]

Conclusion

As responsible stewards of God’s creation, sharing our faith is critical in promoting conservation ethics in our families and throughout our communities. These qualities, “ethical emphasis, sincere loyalty, genuine affection, and authentic convictions,” are as miraculous as water in the desert, because we can all share them in common, even among diverse faiths and belief systems. With them, and with each other we can work together successfully to restore creation to its rightful glory.

Note: This article first appeared on Edenkeeper, a site dedicated to environmental stewardship. The unabridged article is available at this link.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

On Recycling of Fluorescent Bulbs

All fluorescent bulbs contain mercury. In fact, the standard fluorescent bulb has about 20 milligrams of mercury. It is clear that these lamps must be managed properly to protect human health and the environment. The risk of leaving mercury deposits in landfill is high; therefore, recycling seems the most conscientious and environmentally safe recourse. A comprehensive fluorescent bulb recycling strategy will not only help in environment protection but can also promote new business growth and job opportunities.

An analysis of the lighting industry shows a trend shifting from the usage of incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs and LEDs. Incandescent bulbs use more energy, are more costly and are less effective than fluorescent bulbs in the amount of artificial light they produce as fluorescents produce more lumens than incandescents.

Usage of fluorescent bulbs, however, is not entirely without risk because they contain mercury, a chemical compound that can have debilitating effects on humans upon prolonged exposure. Because of its unique properties, the most effective way to dispose of mercury-bearing wastes is through recycling.

Continued illegal disposal of mercury wastes continues, resulting in unnecessary exposure to people and the planet; however, a grassroot movement to protect the environment has created momentum to generate a national law prohibiting the disposal of fluorescent bulbs in landfills.

en.lighten Initiative and Middle East

The UNEP/GEF en.lighten initiative was launched in September 2009 as a globally coordinated effort to accelerate the transition to efficient lighting and mitigate climate change, The objective of the initiative is to calculate the potential electricity savings, CO2 emission reductions and the economic benefits that could be realized from phasing out inefficient lighting and replacing them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Around 100 countries were analyzed globally, with 19 hailing from the MENA region.

Several countries in the Middle East are already taking measures to promote efficient lighting. Six countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and UAE) have already distributed tens of millions of CFLs in total.

Countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and Lebanon have announced ban on the sale of all incandescent bulbs by specific target years. Likewise Qatar has already announced plans to phase out use of incandescent bulbs. However, the promotion of CFLs demands a viable strategy to counter broken and disused fluorescent bulbs in order to prevent its harmful effect on the environment and public health.

Recycling Strategy

Proper disposal of mercury-contained fluorescent lamps is essential to prevent release of toxic materials into the environment. The manufacturers of fluorescent tubes are responsible for the proper labeling of mercury-containing lamps to alert customers to their hazards.

With the labeling of the symbol “Hg” on each lamp, individuals should recognize these products contain mercury. In United States, fluorescent bulbs and other types of energy-efficient lighting as well as nickel-cadmium batteries, pesticides and thermostats are regulated under the Universal Waste Rule (UWR).

Proper disposal of mercury-contained fluorescent lamps is essential

The UWR allows businesses, government agencies and other generators an opportunity to recycle bulbs and other types of universal waste at the end of life rather than manifesting and disposing of them as a hazardous waste. This can result in significant savings for the business or property owner. Recycling also helps protect our environment from potentially toxic materials.

Many governments and retailers are offering CFL recycling schemes that safely handle the mercury. Private industry has to partner with government to develop a plan to eliminate fluorescent bulbs in landfills.

To further encourage recycling, the cost of recycling should be initially absorbed by the manufacturers, who in turn, may pass the costs to the consumers. The consumer can then return the spent bulbs to their purchase point of origin. This has worked in other recycling sectors, and it can also work with mercury-containing devices such as fluorescent lamps.

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Solar Energy in Jordan

The solar energy potential in Jordan is enormous as it lies within the solar belt of the world with average solar radiation ranging between 5 and 7 KWh/m2, which implies a potential of at least 1000GWh per year annually.

Solar energy, like other forms of alternative energy, remains underutilized in Jordan. Decentralized photovoltaic units in rural and remote villages are currently used for lighting, water pumping and other social services (1000KW of peak capacity). In addition, about 15% of all households are equipped with solar water heating systems.

Jordan has major plans for increasing the use of solar energy. As per the Energy Master Plan, 30 percent of all households are expected to be equipped with solar water heating system by the year 2020. The Government is hoping to construct the first Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) demonstration project in the short to medium term and is considering Aqaba and the south-eastern region for this purpose. It is also planning to have solar desalination plant. According to the national strategy the planned installed capacity will amount to 300MW – 600MW (CSP, PV and hybrid power plants) by 2020.

One of the most promising potential investments in renewable energy worldwide will be installing more than 250 MW of concentrated solar power (CSP) in Jordan’s Ma’an development zone through different projects developed by the private sector. The upcoming CSP solar power plants in Ma’an would highlight Jordan’s strategy of sustainable energy diversification.

A solar power project in Jordan

The Ma’an Development Area enjoys about 320 days of sunshine a year, with a high level of irradiance that allows over 2500 million kWh of primary energy to be harvested annually from each square kilometre.  At full capacity, the planned flagship CSP plant could meet some 4% of the Kingdom’s electricity needs, reducing the reliance on electricity imports from neighbouring countries. Surplus energy could in turn be sold to Syria, Egypt and Palestine, whose networks are connected to Jordan.

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