Tag: Sustainability

Insights into Sustainable Cleveland

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A sustainable city is a thriving city.  The city of Cleveland, Ohio is participating in a series of ten-year plans to create a thriving city for its citizens and visitors. Promoters of these projects hope to unite Cleveland citizens to build a collective vision for a viable future. During the autumn of 2009, the city began formulating a plan of action to create eco-friendly environments in the city, a plan known as Sustainable Cleveland.  Since the start of Sustainable Cleveland, the citizens of the city have worked to develop and achieve goals.  

The vision has been to make Cleveland a green, bright city with a blue lake, shaping the communities into something better, and to enhance the city’s natural environment.  The achievements may create health benefits, financial stability, uniqueness, and more opportunities for all people.

Green City Blue Lake: What Does This Mean?

Green city blue lake is one of the driving ideas behind Sustainable Cleveland.  GreenCityBlueLake is actually an institute of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  The museum works with the Sustainable Cleveland action plan to promote ecology and create healthy living environments where people can flourish.

One goal of the initiative is to make Cleveland, Ohio a metropolitan area that exists harmoniously with the natural environment.  The goal is to make Cleveland a green, ecologically friendly city that respects the blue lake that borders it, Lake Erie.

By researching solutions, bring citizens together, communicating ideas, demonstrating ideas, and working for change, the GreenCityBlueLake Institute plans to create a sustainable Cleveland.  Since 1992, this institution has led multiple eco-projects in the Ohio city.  Some of its achievements include:

  • Bike lanes
  • Lorain-Carnegie Bridge
  • City of Cleveland Office of Sustainability
  • Cleveland Carbon Fund
  • Cleveland EcoVillage
  • Cleveland Environmental Center
  • Cleveland Water Alliance
  • Climate Change Planning (Northeast Ohio and Cleveland)
  • Ohio Smart Growth Agenda
  • Balanced Growth Program (Lake Erie)
  • PNC SmartHome

Ten-Year Celebration

In 2019, Sustainable Cleveland celebrated its tenth birthday.  Not only was it ten years since the birth of Sustainable Cleveland, but the year also marked exactly fifty years since the devastating fire on the city’s Cuyahoga River, a fire caused by pollution.

Although Sustainable Cleveland’s 2009 plan originally mentioned ten years, it did not technically have an end date.  Cleveland’s sustainability thus continued in 2019 as Sustainable Cleveland 2019 and was poised to continue beyond that.  Since the beginning of its sustainability efforts, the city has focused on key areas that could benefit people and the environment.

Since 2009, Cleveland’s sustainability efforts have accomplished many different achievements, including energy efficiency, healthy local food, clean water, less waste, and much more.  They have engaged thousands of people through different professional and social environments to make Cleveland an eco-friendly city.  Some achievements of Sustainable Cleveland and Sustainable Cleveland 2019 include:

  • Improving air quality and water quality
  • Enhancing the lives of animals in the area
  • Developing bicycle infrastructure (more than seventy miles)
  • Initiating the Cleveland Tree Plan and the Cleveland Tree Coalition
  • Reaching a tree canopy goal (50,000 new trees by 2020)
  • Distributing 4,000 free rain barrels to Cleveland residents
  • Promoting solar energy
  • Decreasing Cleveland’s carbon footprint
  • Encouraging people to live in Cleveland

While this is a list of recent accomplishments, there is also a long list of other goals and accomplishments of the city’s sustainable efforts. 

What Is the Future of Sustainable Cleveland?

While Cleveland has achieved so much from 2009 to 2019, people can do even more to make it a more livable place.  The sustainability team developed an updated Climate Action Plan (CAP) that included nearly four hundred stakeholders, raising the stakes even more.  While developers built this plan on previous work, the plan included priorities such as:

  • Social and racial equality
  • More green jobs
  • Climate action
  • Business leadership

This new plan for sustainable Cleveland seems much greater, but it is still realistic and achievable.  It will require help from workers, businesses, Cleveland citizens, and organizations to make this great city even greater.  It is more than just creating a better-looking city.  It is about creating a healthy, nature-filled environment where everyone can thrive.

Ideas for a Sustainable Future

We often hear about how fast our world is aging and how air pollution, waste, and other factors are ruining the good things we have.  To keep the environment as healthy and life-filled as possible, it is up to us to make sure it is healthy and clean.  People in the past would often view fossil fuels and as limitless resources and treat nature as a giant dumping ground.

Trash, debris, air pollution, and other things dirty the once-clean and healthy earth.  These conditions made Sustainable Cleveland not only a want, but a need.  The driving forces behind Sustainable Cleveland are more than just climate action and cleaning up a city.  It is also about transforming an economy.

Multiple projects related to Sustainable Cleveland have created more opportunities for businesses of all kinds.  They have also aimed to make Cleveland a more attractive home.  Although many people may benefit from the city’s sustainability efforts, the number of Cleveland residents continues to decrease.  The Sustainable Cleveland team has developed different ideas to bring people to the city:

  • Open space and recreation district

A new zoning plan that will create more public parks, gardens, open spaces, and areas for recreational activities.

  • Midtown mix-used district

Another new zoning plan but instead of parks or gardens, this plan encourages compact land development that is pedestrian-oriented.

  • Live-work overlay district

This plan permits the use of older, unutilized buildings for a combination of uses, such as living and working.  Recycling these older but usable buildings saves time, money, and energy.

  • Urban lot sizes

Instead of using large amount of land for houses, smaller, urban-style lots recreate the look of older cities and reduce sprawl.

  • Transit-oriented development

Public transportation systems may reduce asthma rates, pollution, and household transportation expenses.  Rail stations and transit stops may make transportation more accessible.

  • Housing trust fund

The city is exploring financial incentives for green or high-performance building.  The Cleveland Community Development Department dedicates funds to support affordable housing.

  • Pedestrian-oriented development

Pedestrian-oriented development (POD) strives to increase pedestrian convenience.  It focuses on building and parking lot placement to make it easier and less dangerous for people.

Conclusion

After a successful decade, Sustainable Cleveland has no intention of disappearing in future decades.  Its plans have improved the life of Cleveland residents and may continue to so in the future.

Renewable Energy in the United Kingdom: A Data-Driven Infographic

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Renewable energy generation in the United Kingdom has increased by 230% since 2009, according to a series of new reports by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial. The future looks promising for renewable energy in the UK, which now accounts for almost a third of the total electricity generation in the UK.

The steady growth of renewable energy in the United Kingdom is related, to some extent, to the increasing concerns about climate change among the UK population. A survey conducted by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy reveals that 71% of the respondents are concerned about climate change in 2017 compared to 66% in 2013. Furthermore, 79% of the respondents support renewable energy in 2017 compared to 74% in 2016.

The biggest source of renewable energy in the UK is wind, which accounts for 13.8% of the total renewable electricity generation in the UK. Infact, UK is the best location for wind power in Europe.

In terms of electricity generation by country, Scotland generates most of its electricity from renewable resources (42.92%), followed by Northern Ireland (25.33%), England (23.15%) and Wales (12.33%).

While renewable energy is gaining ground in the United Kingdom, coal is being used less and less as an electricity source. By generating more and more renewable electricity, the UK is spearheading the sustainability movement in Europe.

Greenmatch.co.uk has created a data-driven infographic titled ‘Renewable Energy in the United Kingdom’ that visualises the main findings of the reports.

 

Green Investments and Private Equity

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Green investments, which has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, provides a strong linkage between the financial industry, environment protection and economic growth. Private equity, as an independent player, is playing a vital role in financing green projects and is now well-positioned to fund development projects worldwide. Last year, the venture capital and private equity investment in clean energy firms was a whopping USD7.5billion.

Green private equity helps project developers and entrepreneurs in securing venture capital for sustainable and green projects. Investors and funds make direct investments into private companies which lead to delisting of public equity.

Equity for renewable energy projects can come from a utility that is financing the whole project; or from the developer who is contributing partial equity (usually 20% to 40%) of the investment cost; or it may originate from outside investors such as infrastructure funds, private equity funds and insurance companies. Capital for private equity can be used to finance new technologies, expand working capital, make acquisitions, or to strengthen balance sheet.

Whether they are venture capital in a start-up electric vehicle company or the financing of a solar power project, green technologies represent investments that are crucial to our transition to low-carbon economy. The prime beneficiaries of private equity are renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transport, forest management, water management, sustainable land use and other low-carbon projects, all of which are urgently required in the developing world.

Green private investment is a major enabler for financing needs of green projects.

Green investments are a major enabler for local, regional and international financing needs of green projects. In recent years, environment awareness has rapidly increased in the developing countries and it is expected that business opportunities for private equity firms will also show an upward trend.

Short-term sustainability issues, such as water management or energy management, and longer-term issues like renewables and waste management, are already on the radar and the coming years will witness a heightened activity from private investors and equity firms in developing countries. To sum up, green private equity promises to play a big role in aligning financial systems with the financing needs of a sustainable world.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

Green SMEs in Developing Countries: Challenges and Opportunities

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With ‘green’ being the buzzword across all industries, greening of the business sector and development of green skills has assumed greater importance in the developing world. Around the world, SMEs, startups and entrepreneurs are playing a vital role in the transition to a low-carbon economy by developing new green business models for different industrial sectors. Infact, young and small firms are emerging as main drivers of radical eco-innovation in the industrial and services sectors.

What are Green SMEs

A judicious exploitation of techno-commercial opportunities and redevelopment of business models, often neglected by established companies, have been the major hallmarks of green SMEs. For example, SMEs operating in eco-design, green architecture, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability are spearheading the transition to green economy across a wide range of industries. The path to green economy is achieved by making use of production, technology and management practices of green SMEs.

Categories of Green Industries

Environmental protection Resource Management
Protection of ambient air Water management
Protection of climate Management of forest resources
Wastewater management Management of flora and fauna
Waste management Energy management
Noise and vibration abatement Management of minerals
Protection of biodiversity and landscape Eco-construction
Protection against radiation Natural resource management activities
Protection of soil, groundwater and surface water Eco-tourism
Environmental Monitoring and Instrumentation Organic agriculture
Research and Development Research and Development

Key Drivers

The key motivations for a green entrepreneur are to exploit the market opportunity and to promote environmental sustainability. A green business help in the implementation of innovative solutions, competes with established markets and creates new market niches. Green entrepreneurs are a role model for one and all as they combine environmental performance with market targets and profit outcomes, thus contributing to the expansion of green markets.

Some of the popular areas in which small green businesses have been historically successful are renewable energy production (solar, wind and biomass), smart metering, building retrofitting, hybrid cars and waste recycling.  As far as established green industries (such as waste management and wastewater treatment) are concerned, large companies tend to dominate, however SMEs and start-ups can make a mark if they can introduce innovative processes and systems. Eco-friendly transformation of existing practices is another attractive pathway for SMEs to participate in the green economy.

Major Challenges

Green SME sector in developing countries has been growing steadily, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated.  One of the major obstacles has been poorly-designed regulation. Lack of clear policy direction and enablers are hindering growth and competitiveness of green SMEs. Product market regulations which stifle competition pose a big hurdle to SMEs operating in renewables, energy, environment and sustainability sectors.  For example, state-owned companies in the Middle East have almost complete monopoly in network industries which have large environmental impacts (electricity/energy sector) or control strategic environmental services (water and waste management sector).

Restructuring of the SME sector in developing countries is essential to allow small businesses to grow and prosper, thus catalyzing a steady transition to a green economy. SMEs account for vast majority of production units and employment across the developing world. Needless to say, participation of SMEs is essential in the transition to a low-carbon economy, thus paving the way for greening the business sector and development of green skills across all industrial segments.

Participation of SMEs is essential in the transition to a low-carbon economy

Green SMEs require strong government support for growth, which is unfortunately lacking in many developing nations. The most pressing challenges are

  1. Increasing disconnect between education and market needs and
  2. Disorientation of research and development from industry priorities and trends.

Government agencies, business associations and NGOs need to play a bigger role in advocating more streamlined priorities for green growth across all industrial sectors. Green SMEs face significant barriers to entry despite their key role in developing locally appropriate technologies and eco-friendly business models.

Conclusion

Policy interventions for supporting green SMEs in developing nations are urgently required to overcome major barriers, including knowledge-sharing, raising environmental awareness, enhancing financial support, supporting skill development and skill formation, improving market access and implementing green taxation. In recent decades, entrepreneurship in developing world has been increasing at a rapid pace which should be channeled towards addressing water, energy, environment and waste management challenges, thereby converting environmental constraints into business opportunities.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

Sustainable Development in the Holy Quran

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In the Holy Quran, there are many verses which emphasize the great importance of environment protection and sustainable development, and the responsibility of human beings towards the environment. The man has the right to use the environment for getting the essential benefits like water, land, air, minerals etc. But there is no right given to man to damage the environment.

Awareness about Sustainable Development

The awareness about the sustainable development among the people is increasing. The people feel the necessity to include religious influence in maintaining the environment. The Learn Quran Online play a significant role in our lives to fulfill our responsibility as the Khalifah of Allah.

Sustainable development is not a new concept for Muslims. In the Quran, we can find more than 500 verses in which Allah guides us on matters related to the environmental sustainability.

Our Responsibilities

According to our religion Islam, human being is the caretaker or guardian of this environment. The Islamic perspective on sustainable development is that Islam can contribute to increasing human awareness of the environment and its sustainability. The Quran also explains the importance of the environment and explains the relationship of the surroundings with human life.

Thus, as Muslims, it is our responsibility to utilize the earth responsibly. We should maintain and preserve it honestly. The Quran teaches us to use it considerately and moderately. It is very important to pass the maintained environment to future generations. We have to handle our environment in a way that comprehends the worship of Allah.

The Quran is a guiding source for Muslims. Allah says in the Quran:

“It is He who has appointed you vicegerent on the earth…” 

Every person can share earth’s resources. Allah has also set a scale on all the resources. Our negative actions will produce the side-effects and cause ecological imbalance on Earth.

The Quran tells us

“The servants of the Lord of Mercy are those who walk gently upon the earth…”

Land Reclamation in Quran

According to the Quran, Allah rewards a person who brings a dead land to life. Land reclamation is highly encouraged in Islam. Preserving the land is very important because not only human beings but also animals, birds, and other creatures benefits from it. Allah regards this act as a charity in Islam. Allah says that He offers rewards for planting every sapling.

Protection of Nature

Nature protection is emphasized in our religion. Industrial development is not allowed in any such area. Allah says that all the things that He created on the earth have certain purposes. We should appreciate the wildlife and contribute to the protection of nature.

Water Rights

In the Holy Quran, Allah mentions the word ‘water’ 66 times. Water is very important for us because it has life-giving properties. There is a Quranic verse about water:

“And Allah sends down rain from the skies, and gives therewith life to the earth after its death: verily in this is a Sign for those who listen”

Monopolization of water is not allowed in Islam. Sustainability of water is very important. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) teaches us to use the water properly without wasting it. Quran not only encourages the protection of water but also forbids polluting it.

Environment Protection

We can only benefit from the environment if we contribute to its maintenance or conservation. People are ignorant in this regard so this ignorance has resulted in the environmental degradation. There is a need to raise awareness among the people. People should realize that it is their religious duty to conserve the environment. Allah, the Almighty, does not allow anyone to cause damage to the earth.

Conclusion

The protection and conservation of the environment is the religious duty of all the Muslims. We as Muslims believe in the sustainable development of our cities and our countries. The Muslim community should be responsible to protect the nature. It is our duty to raise awareness among the people on the basis of Quranic teachings. People should also follow the Quranic principles of mutual cooperation. Best Ways to Learn Quran Fast to know more about it.

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Salman Zafar