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    Carbon Positive House among top 10 global sustainability innovations for 2015

    Nathan Johnson

    Carbon Positive House (CBH) by Australia’s ArchiBlox has been shortlisted for the international 2015 Sustainia Award, a program organised by Danish sustainability think tank, Sustainia.

    CBH is one of 10 building industry or manufacturing solutions announced as a finalist for the award which identifies and celebrates groundbreaking sustainability ideas from all over the world. 

    The former Sustainability Award winner will compete against a host of initiatives that Sustainia believes could be part of a sustainable future if they were implemented on a large scale.

    The top 10 have been trimmed from the organisation’s Sustainia100 publication which features 100 new stories from the forefront of sustainability innovation from 151 countries. Sustainia100, which received over 1,500 submissions from businesses around the world, is available for free download here.

    ArchiBlox will now have to wait until 6 December to learn if they’ve won the Sustainia Award, to be announced at an awards ceremony in Paris which will coincide with the 2015 Sustainable Innovation Forum and COP21.

    See finalists related to the architecture, engineering and construction sector below (courtesy of Sustaina):

    CARBON POSITIVE HOUSE, ARCHIBLOX (AUSTRALIA)

    136_archblx_cpos_2195_WEB.jpgPhotography by Tom Ross

    More than 15 per cent of the world’s total energy consumption is used in residential homes. Archiblox has created a prefabricated house with minimal energy usage and environmental footprint that is liveable, accessible, and affordable. The prefabricated modular design makes construction more energy efficient. When in place, the home generates more electricity than it uses. The energy efficiency is achieved with the use of double-glazed windows, solar panels, and water-efficient fixtures. Sliding flexible garden walls reduce sunlight infiltration in the summer; in winter, the walls are retracted to achieve a tighter thermal envelope. The structure’s small size, 53sqm, also ensures a reduction in electricity consumption, while its open plan maximizes usable area. The prefabricated modules can be flexibly composed, and installation takes just five weeks.


    MICRO-FINANCED OFF GRID SOLAR POWER BY MOBISOL (GERMANY)

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    Image: The Changer

    The electrification rate in rural Africa is around 15 to 20 per cent. These households thus rely on noxious kerosene for lighting and diesel generators for appliances. Mobisol’s solution provides reliable solar electricity paid for via a mobile payment system enabling users to power devices such as lights, phones, radio, and TV in off-grid areas without environmental damage. The solar home systems are connected to a battery, and the excess electricity produced can be used to run businesses such as mobile phone charging services and barbershops, which generate extra income and benefit the local economy. Mobisol systems come with an extended warranty and a full service package for three years, including free maintenance. Through an integrated GSM modem, technical data are tracked and monitored in a Web-based interface, enabling technicians to identify problems and make repairs within 48 hours.


    GREEN BONDS FINANCE CITY CLIMATE ACTION BY CITY OF JOHANNESBURG (SOUTH AFRICA)

    56_Skyline-original.jpgImage: C40 cities

    The city of Johannesburg has issued green bonds that finance investments for projects mitigating climate change via renewable energy and sustainable urban infrastructure. Johannesburg’s green bonds are worth approximately $143 million, and will help fill gaps in much-needed development finance for climate-friendly city projects. One of the city council’s green programs includes the installation of 43,000 solar water heaters that will collectively save the equivalent of 22.5 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year. Green bonds have taken off over the past year as a new source of funding, with great potential to drive sustainable developments. According to the World Bank, 2014 was a record year for the green bond market, which more than tripled compared to the year before and reached over $35 billion in new issuances. The City of Johannesburg experienced great interest from investors as the bond auction in 2014 was 150 per cent oversubscribed.

    DESIGNING STREETS FOR WALKING AND BIKING BY CORPORATION OF CHENNAI, INSTITUTE FOR TRANSPORTATION & DEVELOPMENT POLICY AND CHENNAI CITY CONNECT FOUNDATION (INDIA),

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    Before and after shots: Image: Sustainia

    With more than 10,000 traffic crashes reported every year, Chennai has one of the highest rates of road deaths in India. In June 2012, the city government launched the Chennai Street Design Project to address this problem. This project aims to reclaim the city’s streets for pedestrians and cyclists by prioritizing modes of transport other than private automobiles. The policy requires at least 60 per cent of the city’s transport budget be allocated to constructing and maintaining infrastructure for non-motorized transit. This includes widening sidewalks, building safe bicycle infrastructure, better managing intersections, and even implementing street furniture. By 2018, the city aims to have built safe and continuous footpaths on at least 80 per cent of all streets, increase the share of walking and cycling trips to over 40 per cent, and, most significantly, eliminate pedestrian and cyclist deaths.


    SOLAR-POWERED DRIP IRRIGATION FOR SMALLHOLDERS BY SUNCULTURE (USA)

    Sunculture2.jpegImage: Sustainia

    More than 80 per cent of Kenya experiences low and unpredictable rainfall. Farmers are therefore unable to rely on rain-fed agriculture to meet their subsistence needs. Although diesel and treadle pumps are available in the market, the effectiveness of these technologies is constrained by high fuel costs and labor inefficiencies. Instead, SunCulture’s system relies on a renewable energy source and the solar-powered drip irrigation system delivers water directly to crop roots, resulting in yield gains of up to 300 per cent and water savings of up to 80 per cent, according to the company. Over 250 systems have been installed in Kenya, with a payback period of one three-month growing season based on fuel, fertilizer, and labor savings in addition to increased crop yields. To increase access, SunCulture also offers various payment options, including a financing scheme.


    3D SOLAR POTENTIAL MAPPING TOOL BY MAPDWELL, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (USA)

    3032294-slide-s-2-the-startup-can-map-the-solar-potential-of-every-single-home-in-your-city.jpgImage: Madpell

    Solar power is an abundant clean natural energy resource. Yet, in the United States, less than 1% of electricity production is solar power. Built upon technology developed by Mapdwell, the company creates detailed 3D solar models of entire cities, complete with building geometry and tree foliage. The tool crunches vast datasets and complex 3D data to visualize rooftop solar potential across communities for every hour of every day, based on historical weather data. End users in the mapped cities and communities simply type in their address to access detailed information for their property and the costs and benefits for going solar. They can then custom build a solar system based on how much they want to spend, how much electricity they want to generate, and other priorities. The tool is designed to provide everyone with the facts to support solar adoption, based on a powerful and scalable platform that allows any community to discover their untapped solar resources


    CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT FOR VOLUNTARY BEHAVIOUR CHANGE BY SEOUL METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT (SOUTH KOREA)

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    Seoul’s Eco-Mileage System is a citizen participation project that rewards households and commercial buildings with refunds based on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.With buildings and households accounting for 68.5 per cent of Seoul’s greenhouse gas emissions, in 2009 the Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to incentivize voluntary energy conservation measures. Within a few years, this system has been successful in both reducing emissions and engaging citizens. By means of this Eco-Mileage program, households and businesses in Seoul receive financial rewards for reducing their electricity, water, gas, or district heating consumption by at least 10 per cent compared to the previous two years. Participants are able to track their progress via an online platform, which provides energy conservation tips. Energy consultants are also available to provide tailored advice. According to the solution, around 1.46 million tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided since the program was founded.


    TURNING PLASTIC WASTE INTO A CURRENCY BY PLASTIC BANK (CANADA)

    Plastic pollution is a growing problem with as much as 12.7 million tons of plastic washing into the ocean each year and littering beaches across the globe. Rather than viewing it as garbage, Plastic Bank empowers local communities by offering them the chance to collect this waste, bring it to a Plastic Bank facility where it can be recycled and repurposed, and receive necessary goods and tools in exchange. The company also offers collectors access to 3D printers, enabling them to create goods for themselves and their community, and become small-scale entrepreneurs by selling items they’ve created. Plastic Bank also encourages businesses to take part in this initiative by buying Social Plastic – the recycled material from the company’s facilities. In doing so, Plastic Bank not only empowers disadvantaged communities to recycle their local waste and improve their livelihoods, but also encourages corporations to become more conscious of ethical plastic sourcing.

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