SBI Reports has been leading industrial market research reporting for more than a decade. The brand established SBI Energy to address the complex nature of the Energy and Resources industry. SBI Energy reports capture data vital to emerging energy market sectors on a global scale. Growth of energy technology, manufacturing, construction, transportation and investment is exciting in its innovations and opportunities, and integral to the advancement of security and science.
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 …
The world is going green. Of this I have no doubt. As I sit here writing about green building materials and construction on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, it is becoming abundantly clear that “green” in all its forms has become mainstream.
Sure, everyday products such as detergents and cleaning products have been available and advertised for years. Organic foods are widely available, if still a little pricey. EnergyStar labels can be readily found on products ranging from light bulbs to appliances, as they have been for many years. References to energy efficiency, electric automobiles, wind and solar power, and water conservation among many other “green” concerns are replete throughout the media in all its forms. I have even overheard casual conversations about pending cap-and-trade legislation on several occasions.
What I have found lacking in the green marketplace is a concerted effort to advertise green building products and green construction. Although large well-known building supply centers – particularly The Home Depot and Lowes – now carry green building products and materials they have not done anything other than rudimentary and unimaginative advertising. One still has to look hard to find green building products in these stores as they are not very well displayed. Instead of large and distinctive signage indicating the location and proclaiming the benefits of green building products, one still has to look carefully at labels on each product. Where’s the differentiation? Where’s the call to action? Why isn’t this a bigger deal?
However, I have lately seen some indications that green building materials and construction is taking flight. While researching and writing this report I paid particular attention to casual mainstream media references to these topics as this would be a sign (at least to me) that green building materials and construction were no longer “special” topics. While such references were few and far between, in the past month I have seen several TV commercials from home builders touting their new “green” homes. The April 2010 issue of U.S News & World Report was devoted to the “Future of Energy” with a number of articles devoted to green construction and renovation. The April 22, 2010 edition of USA Today included “Blueprint for a green house”, an in-depth article about one woman’s experience in building a custom green home and some lessons everyone should consider when building “green”. While these are but a few examples it seems to me that the words “green” and “construction” are at last being “heard” through mainstream consumer media sources and have become part of the normal discourse and lexicon.
This is not to say that green building materials and construction have “arrived”. It only means that people are now starting to notice. The benefits of building green still need to be delivered to the masses and the costs for green products and construction still need some improvement. However, as the economy improves and home sales spick up, there will be a great opportunity to deliver this message.
One of the ways I think the benefits of building green can be delivered to the masses is to emphasize the unique products that have been developed and the advantages of using them. Having experienced the insulation capabilities of adobe brick (which is made from dirt and straw - can’t get much “greener” than that!) while living in New Mexico, I think much interest could be generated from products that are green and “out of the ordinary”. Oryzatech’s Lego-like STAK BLOCKS (made from rice straw) and Black Mountain’s sheep wool insulation are examples of two unique building products that are green and perform better and last longer than “standard” building products and could generate consumer interest.
I’d also like to use more green building products since I am doing several remodeling projects on my house. However, unless I see these products in a store or a home show or advertised in the newspaper I’m unlikely to find and use them. I’ll look on the internet but if shipping is too expensive I’ll buy something else locally. This just about sums up the biggest issue with green building materials – people don’t know about them and when they do, they are often hard to find (or too expensive). So, I’m hoping for a breakthrough in these two areas (soon). There’s a lot to do around the house.