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I think most people are at least somewhat aware of water issues but there does not seem to be a concerted effort to conserve water or use it more wisely. At least in the United States, I think most people take clean, safe, available water for granted. Water is a necessity for life but many millions of people lack access to water, much less water that is potable. So it was with some interest that I read an article last week discussing water as a “right”. This was from a company perspective about its use of water and its commitment to be a better steward of the water it uses within its operations and the communities in which it operates. In July, the United Nations took this a step further when the General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing that access to clean water is a fundamental human right. It took this long to do this?
Passing a resolution and making it effective are two different things. There is still a long way to go before water problems are resolved and this is not limited to Sub-Saharan Africa where many millions of people have to forage for water. China, a growing and modernizing country, has severe water problems of its own. A report last week described water reaching crisis levels in Beijing and other areas of the country. Although China has spent tens of billions of dollars building dams and reservoirs, hundreds of Chinese cities continue to face water shortages and deteriorating water quality, even while industrial firms continue to pollute water sources. With 40 percent of its population living in the dry regions of the country, China really has no easy fix for its water problems.
If China is having problems fixing its water problems, I wonder what will befall poorer countries that lack the funds and other resources that China has been able to bring to bear. Water is certainly a human right (as it must be) but global cooperation will be required to make this a reality. A few days ago a report surfaced about two tribes in Pakistan that have been fighting over irrigation water. Over 100 people have been reported killed and five villages burned in the dispute. Kind of makes one glad to be living in the United States.
But wait – farmers in the Klamath River Basin in Oregon have broken into facilities that control irrigation water to redirect to their farms. The once guaranteed but now cut-off irrigation water is pitting farmers against the government. Lawsuits have been filed in Northern California alleging that the state, in a backroom deal, illegally turned over the publicly-owned Kern Water Bank to an agency controlled by giant corporations. Plans to pump water from rural Nevada to supply Las Vegas were overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court. Kansas and Nebraska regularly fight over water withdrawals from the Republican River. The list goes on. I guess it does not matter where you live – water problems abound.
Although I don’t really need it, I installed a reverse osmosis water treatment device in my home. I could get by on tap water but I have the luxury of being able to afford a product that can actually improve the clean, safe, piped-in water I already have. The treated water tastes better than tap water and it makes clear ice cubes to boot. Many people throughout the world actually need a product like this but cannot afford it (making clean, safe water a universal right is not going to be easy). What I do need is a water softener since the water in my area is very hard. I have one of these as well. Guess I’m all set, water-wise that is. Now, if I can just get motivated to find the right air cleaner to get rid of all the pet dander from the birds and the dog …
Green building renovations are defying the downward spiral seen in the general market for renovation work. As a result, green building retrofits that promote efficient energy usage are anticipated to increase substantially through 2015 and emerge as the “new normal” in the building industry, according to leading market research firm SBI Energy in the recently released report Green Building Materials and Construction, 2nd Edition.
Green renovations currently account for about 7% of the total renovation market, and are anticipated to grow to 13% of the market by 2015. Much of the sector’s growth can be attributed to stimulus funding throughout the world for energy efficiency improvements, though green building materials have shown that they are cost effective alternatives to standard building components and are increasingly in demand by businesses and homeowners alike. Rising energy costs and diminishing fuel resources will also continue to push energy efficiency measures, both for construction and for manufacturing.
“The majority of the world’s buildings are old and waste energy. We anticipate the building industry will see a significant increase in green building renovation to make structures more energy efficient, particularly since these types of retrofits pay for themselves after only a few years,” says Bernie Galing, SBI Energy analyst and author of the report.
In the green construction arena, an increasing number of builders are building more green homes and offices as a means to differentiate themselves from their competitors and as a way to weather a poor building environment. Green homes and buildings are not only in high demand, but they command a price premium when they are purchased or sold. In addition, green rental properties have higher occupancy rates and also command higher rents. With better designs, improved green building materials, and advanced construction techniques, green buildings are more durable, last about twice as long, use less energy, and have less of an impact on the environment than standard construction.
Global Green Building Materials and Construction, 2nd Edition provides a comprehensive assessment of both green building materials and green construction, cost considerations that have limited their growth, government incentives that have spurred their growth, consumer and business demand, potential opportunities for additional growth, and an assessment of developing technologies that are making green building products and green construction the “new normal”. Projected growth through 2015 for both of these markets is provided including discussion of economic conditions, environmental impacts, consumer-business-builder acceptance, stakeholder concerns, and government activities as they affect growth rates.