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Title: Sustainability

Sustainability means surviving to infinity.
Conventional economic view
Ecological economic view
Biased to Man-made capital (buildings
Biased to Natural capital (natural resources
ecosystem services)
Examples of Natural Capital
Natural resources - water, minerals, biomass
and oil Ecosystem services - Land which
provides space to live and work - Water and
nutrient cycling - Purification of water and
air - Atmospheric and ecological stability
- Pollination and biodiversity - Pest and
disease control - Topsoil and biological
productivity - Waste decomposition and
Very Weak (Solow-) Sustainability
SD is achievable as long as the total of natural
capital (KN) plus the man-made capital (KM)
remains constant. i.e., KN KM constant
Conventional Economic View It is okay to reduce
KN stocks as far as they are being substituted by
increase in KM stocks. Rationale Increasing
man-made stocks provide high incomes, which lead
to increased levels of environmental
protectionism. (Substitutability Paradigm)
Very Weak (Solow-) Sustainability
Criticism What about the following
substitutions to maintain KM KN
constant? Boats for Fish Pumps for Aquifers
Saw mills for Forests
(Substitutability Paradigm)
Weak (Modified Solow-) Sustainability
SD is achievable by maintaining KN KM
constant only by preserving the non-substitutable
proportion and/or components of KN stocks.
Rationale Upper limits on the non-substitutable
proportion and/or components of KN stocks are
needed to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem
resilience to meet the human needs. Problem
Yet there is no scientific consensus over the
set of physical indicators required to monitor
and measure biodiversity and ecosystem
resilience. Eg How much CO2 could be emitted?
Strong Sustainability
SD is achievable only when KN constant.
(Non-substitutability Paradigm)
Rationale Non-substitutability of some
components of KN Uncertainty about ecosystem
functioning and their total service value
Irreversibility of some environmental resource
degradation and/or loss Scale of human impact
relative to global carrying capacity (scale
effect) Eg greenhouse effect, ozone layer
depletion and acid rain
Criticism of Weak Strong Sustainabilities
They both assume a centralized decision-making
process and a decision-maker who decides on
behalf of society among alternative programs
and plans. In reality, virtually all economic
decisions are decentralized among many much
narrower interests, namely individuals, family
groups, or firms. Even with the best concerns
for the welfare of future generations and the
planet, most decision-makers optimize within a
much narrower context. Eg Purchase of a car
Source R. U. Ayres, Viewpoint weak versus
strong sustainability
Natural Capitalism
Industrial Capitalism recognizes the value of
money and goods as capital. Natural Capitalism
extends recognition to natural capital and human
capital. Problems such as pollution and social
injustice may then be seen as failures to
properly account for capital, rather than as
inherent features of Capitalism itself. Eg
Polluting with a car or not being able to afford
a car will be seen as a failure of the political
system forcing it to seek remedies.
Source P. Hawken, A. Lovins and H. Lovins,
1999 Natural Capitalism Creating the Next
Industrial Revolution.
Natural Capitalism
The "next industrial revolution" depends on four
central strategies - conservation of resources
through more effective manufacturing processes
- reuse of materials as found in natural
systems - change in values from quantity to
quality - investing in natural capital, or
restoring and sustaining natural resources
Source P. Hawken, A. Lovins and H. Lovins,
1999 Natural Capitalism Creating the Next
Industrial Revolution.
Radical resource productivity
Radical Resource Productivity (or Eco-efficiency)
means doing more with less for longer.
An (engineering) drive to dramatically increase
the output per unit input of resources (such as
energy, man-made materials natural resources
such as air, water, or minerals).
Radical Resource Productivity (or Eco-efficiency)
The Industrial Revolution led to a radical
increase in labour productivity and capital
productivity at the cost of exploitation of
natural resources which are considered abundant.
What is needed now is a radical increase in
resource productivity because it can slow or
reverse resource depletion, reduce pollution
caused by the inefficient use of resources, and
save money.
Source http//
Radical Resource Productivity (or Eco-efficiency)
  • World Business Council for Sustainable
    Development (WBCSD) has identified the following
  • seven elements of eco-efficiency
  • - reduce the material requirements for goods
  • - reduce the energy intensity of goods services
  • - enhance material recyclability
  • - maximize sustainable use of renewable resources
  • - extend product durability
  • increase the service intensity of goods
  • - reduce toxic dispersion

Radical Resource Productivity (or Eco-efficiency)
Increasing efficiency could result in Rebound
Effect Example of Rebound Effect In Scotland,
about a 66 efficiency increase was realized in
making of steel per unit amount of coal
consumed. It was however followed by a tenfold
increase in total consumption of coal.
Radical Resource Productivity (or Eco-efficiency)
Increasing efficiency could result in Rebound
Effect Example of Rebound Effect A consumer
saved 90 electricity by replacing an inefficient
light bulb by a 90 more efficient one. He/she
may forget to turn the light off and/or may leave
it on for prolonged periods.
Radical Resource Productivity (or Eco-efficiency)
Increasing efficiency could result in Rebound
Effect Example of Rebound Effect A family
purchased a hybrid car which is 50 more
efficient than a standard car. It paid half as
much for petrol to go a km. Therefore it may
decide to drive the car more.
Radical Resource Productivity (or Eco-efficiency)
Purposeful sustainability policies and
incentives for sustainability orientated
behaviour change are needed to make efficiency
savings meaningful. Otherwise efficiency saving
can lead to rebound effects that lead to even
greater resource consumption due to either
making a process much cheaper or removing the
financial incentive for behaviour change.
On critical elements
Calculation of Global Sustainable Limiting Rate
of Zinc Consumption
1. Virgin material supply limit The reserve base
for zinc in 1999 was 430 x 1012 g (430 Tg), so
the virgin material supply limit over the next 50
years is 430 Tg / 50 years 8.6 Tg/yr.
2. Allocation of virgin material Allocating the
available zinc equally among all the worlds
population gives approximately 8.6 Tg/7.5
billions people 1.15 kg/(person.yr)
Source Graedel, T.E. and Klee, R.J., 2002.
Getting serious about sustainability, Env. Sci.
Tech. 36(4) 523-9
Calculation of Global Sustainable Limiting Rate
of Zinc Consumption
3. Regional re-captureable resource base
Assume 30 zinc recycling rate. And, if the
system is in steady state and if 30 of the 1.15
kg/(person.yr) is recycled, then each person in
the region actually has (10.3)(1.15) 1.5
kg/(person.yr) of zinc available.
4. Current consumption rate vs. sustainable
limiting rate In 1999, the U.S. on average
consumed 1.6 Tg for a population of 260 million
people, which translates to a U.S. per capita
zinc consumption of 6.2 kg/(person.yr).
Source Graedel, T.E. and Klee, R.J., 2002.
Getting serious about sustainability, Env. Sci.
Tech. 36(4) 523-9
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A direct-drive permanent-magnet generator for a
top capacity wind turbine would use 4,400 lb of
neodymium-based permanent magnet material.
300 kg per 2 GW wind power
Inside the Baotou Xijun Rare Earth refinery in
Baotou, where neodymium, essential in new wind
turbine magnets, is processed
The lake of toxic waste at Baotou, China, which
as been dumped by the rare earth processing
plants in the background
Villagers Su Bairen, 69, and Yan Man Jia Hong,
74, stand on the edge of the six-mile-wide toxic
lake in Baotou, China that has devastated their
farmland and ruined the health of the people in
their community
Whole system design
Whole System Design
optimizes an entire system to capture synergies.
What is synergy?
Synergy means combined effort being greater than
Source http//
Synergy in Ecosystem
Mutualism both populations benefit and neither
can survive without the other
Protocooperation both populations benefit but
the relationship is not obligatory
Commensalism one population benefits and the
other is not affected
Antagonism (the opposite to synergy) in Ecosystem
  • Amensalism - one is inhibited and the other is
    not affected

Competition ones fitness is lowered by the
presence of the other
Parasitism one is inhibited and for the other
its obligatory
Whole System Design
Take a look at an age-old example of synergy
Whole System Design
A modern example of synergy
Pumping is the largest use of electric motors,
which use more than 50 of worlds electricity
use. One heat-transfer loop was designed to
use 14 pumps totalling 71 kW by a top Western
firm. Dutch engineer Jan Schilham cut the
designs pumping power use by 92 to just 5 kW
(using the methods learned from the efficiency
expert Eng Lock Lee of Singapore)
Source http//
cations/PDF_Papers/ LovinsLovins1997.pdf
Whole System Design
How was that possible? The pipes diameter was
increased. Since friction reduction is
proportional to diameter5, small pumps were
enough. Pipes were laid out before the equipment
installation. The pipes are therefore short and
straight, with far less friction, requiring
smaller and cheaper pumps, motors and inverters.
The straighter pipes also allowed to add more
insulation, saving 70 kW of heat loss with a
2-month payback.
Source http//
cations/PDF_Papers/ LovinsLovins1997.pdf
Whole System Design
What about the cost? Optimizing the lifecycle
savings in pumping energy plus capital cost of
the whole system showed that the extra cost of
the slightly bigger pipes was smaller than the
cost reduction for the dramatically smaller pumps
and drive systems. Whole-system life cycle
costing is widely used in principle, but in
practice, energy-using components are usually
optimized (if at all) over the short term,
singly, and in isolation.
Source http//
cations/PDF_Papers/ LovinsLovins1997.pdf
Whole System Design
Traditional engineering design process focuses on
optimizing components for single benefits rather
than whole systems for multiple benefits. WSD
requires creativity, good communication, and a
desire to look at causes of problems rather than
adopting familiar solutions, and it requires
getting to the root of the problem.
Source http//
Whole System Design
  • A future example Centre for Interactive Research
    on Sustainability (CIRS) building in British
  • all heating and cooling from the ground
    underneath the building
  • all electricity from the sun
  • use 100 day-lighting during the day
  • use no external water supply
  • depend on natural ventilation and sustainable
    building materials
  • treat all waste produced
  • minimize the use of private automobiles
  • have hospital operating room levels of air
  • improve the productivity and health of building

Sustainable Buildings
Whole System Design
Humane (occupants are happy, healthy and
Green (siting, water, energy, and material
efficiencies reduce the building footprint)
Smart (fully adaptive to new conditions while
being cost competitive)
Sustainable Buildings
Whole System Design
Like the engineering profession itself,
engineering education is compartmentalized, with
minimal consideration of systems, design,
sustainability, and economics. The traditional
design process focuses on optimizing components
for single benefits rather than whole systems for
multiple benefits. This, plus schedule-driven
repetitis (i.e., copy the previous drawings),
perpetuates inferior design.
Source http//
Whole System Design
Worked Examples on WSD from Natural Edge
Project, Australia Example 1 Industrial Pumping
Systems Example 2 Passenger Vehicles Example 3
Electronic and Computer Systems Example 4
Temperature Control of Buildings Example 5
Domestic Water Systems
(Uploaded at
Source http//
Whole System Design
Rocky Mountain Institute started a Factor Ten
Engineering (10XE), a four-year program to
develop and introduce pedagogic tools on
whole-system design for both engineering students
and practicing engineers. The focus is on case
studies where whole-system design boosted
resource productivity by at least tenfold,
usually at lower initial cost than traditional
engineering approaches.
Source http//
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
Study nature, observe its ingenious designs and
processes, and then imitate these designs and
processes to solve human problems.
Nature knows what works, what is appropriate,
and what lasts here on Earth.
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
Janine Benyus
Author of Biomimicry Innovation Inspired by
Nature, a book that has galvanized scientists,
architects, designers and engineers into
exploring new ways in which nature's successes
can inspire humanity.
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
Termite mounds include flues which vent through
the top and sides, and the mound itself is
designed to catch the breeze. As the wind
blows, hot air from the main chambers below
ground is drawn out of the structure, helped by
termites opening or blocking tunnels to control
air flow.
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
Eastgate centre (shopping centre and office
block) at central Harare, Zimbabwe is modelled on
local termite mounds and is ventilated and cooled
entirely by natural means.
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
Super-grip gecko tape modelled after geckos feet
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
Trapped air on the rough surface of the lotus
leaf reduces liquid-to-solid contact area. Due
to self-attraction, water forms a sphere. Due
to natural adhesion between water and solids,
dirt particles on a leaf's surface stick to the
water. The slightest angle in the surface of
the leaf causes balls of water to roll off the
leaf surface, carrying away the attached dirt
Source http//
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
GreenShield coats textile fibres with liquid
repelling nano particles in order to create water
and stain repellency on textiles, and results in
a 10-fold decrease in the use of environmentally
harmful fluorocarbons (the conventional means of
achieving repellency).
Other products inspired by the Lotus Effect
include Lotusan paint and Signapur glass finish.
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
Fiber that can stop bullets is made from
petroleum-derived molecules at high-pressure and
high temperature with concentrated sulfuric acid.
The energy input is extreme and the toxic
byproducts are horrible.
Spider makes equally strong and much tougher
fiber at body temperature, without high
pressures, heat, or corrosive acids. If we could
act like the spider, we could take a soluble,
renewable raw material and make a super-strong
water-insoluble fiber with negligible energy
inputs and no toxic outputs. Janine Benyus, 1997
Biomimicry (or Bionics)
  • Nature runs on sunlight
  • Nature uses only the energy it needs
  • Nature fits form to function
  • Nature recycles everything
  • Nature rewards cooperation
  • Nature banks on diversity
  • Nature demands local expertise
  • Nature curbs excesses from within
  • Nature taps the power of limits
  • Janine Benyus, 1997

Biomimicry (or Bionics)
  • Nature fits form to function
  • An owl can fly silently to avoid being heard or
    seen. - A penguin uses its "wings" to swim due to
    the large portion of water in their environment.
  • Anymore.

Biomimicry (or Bionics)
  • Nature taps the power of limits
  • we humans regard limits as something to be
    overcome so we can continue our expansion. Other
    Earthlings take their limits more seriously,
    knowing they must function within a tight range
    of life-friendly temperatures, harvest within the
    carrying capacity of the land, and maintain an
    energy balance that cannot be borrowed against.

Biomimicry (or Bionics)
We flew like a bird for the first time in 1903,
and by 1914, we were dropping bombs from the sky.
Perhaps in the end, it will not be a change in
technology that will bring us to the biomimetic
future, but a change of heart, a humbling that
allows us to be attentive to nature's lessons. -
Janine Benyus, 1997
How to evaluate innovation?
We need to consider how an innovation will impact
the planet. So ask these questions Does it run
on sunlight? Does it use only the energy it
needs? Does it fit form to function? Does it
recycle everything? Does it reward cooperation?
Does it bank on diversity? Does it utilize
local expertise? Does it curb excess from
within? Does it tap the power of limits? Is it
Source http//