More and more people are now waking up to the fact that our planet Earth is being destroyed and we might not have anywhere else to go after it is destroyed. This destruction certainly did not happen overnight, but it was catalyzed by the industrial revolution and the march of progress.
“When we speak of environmental violence, we are referring to the direct damage to the environment by humans, but also the violent response from the natural world as a result of human degradation of the environment and the violence humans do to one another because of their effects on the climate,” writes Bandy X. Lee M.D., M.Div.
Technology made life much easier but at an incredible environmental cost. Man forgot about how to live off the land without causing too much impact by his activities and became reliant on petroleum, coal and heavy use of other Earth’s finite resources.
A Greener Earth For Future Generations
Several programs over the years have been instituted to help reverse some of the damage caused by urban environments. These programs made several recommendations. Some big recommendations have to be implemented at the state level and others small enough need to be integrated into an individual’s lifestyle without trading the conveniences of modern life, like air-conditioning.
A good example is the LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system which as of writing is the most popular and widely used certification for green building in the world. Its rating system can be used by architects, real estate developers and even people who want to make their home eco-friendlier. They recommend developers who build apartment complexes to install wind turbines instead of diesel generators to minimize air pollution in their area.
“Much of the present pollution is either not captured by the senses in principle or not captured because it is removed from experience,” writes Joachim I Krueger Ph.D.
Cities like Beijing and L.A. should serve as examples of what happens when air pollution goes unchecked. In addition to installing wind turbines, real estate developers are recommended to build more mixed-use properties that have office spaces, healthcare, education and shopping facilities nearby, so residents do not have to travel far from their residences. This plan will, in turn, lessen the number of vehicles on the road.
What Happened To All The Water?
A human can live without food for two weeks or more but only three to four days without water. Clearly, water is integral to our survival, and that is why residences are advised to monitor and manage their water consumption intelligently. Before a building can receive a LEED certification, it must satisfy specific water requirements.
Residential buildings located in areas that receive high amounts of annual rainfall are advised to collect rainfall to be used in swimming pools, irrigation, in bathrooms and if there’s enough budget to install purifiers and filters, to make rainwater potable.
There are water filters that use natural materials like coconut shell granular activated carbon (a proprietary blend by LifeSource Water Systems®) that will not add to salts and brine to surrounding soils. These salts contaminate nearby streams and water sources. What is the point of going the length of collecting rainwater and treating sewage water if it can’t be reclaimed due to the high sodium content?
My House Is Poisoning Me
So far the focus has been on reducing the damage done to the planet due to the activities of man. However, what about the occupants of these buildings? What can be done to ensure they are in optimum health and enjoy the benefits of living in a beautiful eco-friendly environment?
For starters, residences with LEED certifications usually incorporate natural materials that are free from formaldehyde and other toxins, and the effort to acquire does not lead to further environmental damage. These materials include wood, bamboo and clay to name just a few.
Clay has terrific temperature regulating properties especially during hot days. It retains the cool nocturnal air as long as the windows are kept closed. Using insulating load bearing bricks or monomer bricks will also lower a residence’s utility bills especially in hot climates where air-conditioning is very important. As an added safety bonus, clay will not produce harmful toxic gases during a fire, making the firemen’s job a lot easier.
Is That All?
It is not possible to discuss all the possible ways a residential complex can reduce its carbon footprint while maintaining the safety of its residents in one article. However, property developers and residents are advised to visit websites like Sustainable Org and USGBC Org to learn in depth on actions they can take.
“As Pogo said, ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’ All of us are implicated in demanding and using the products that are causing pollution,” writes Susan Clayton Ph.D.