News Article | April 21, 2017
Want to recycle or compost more? Try moving the bins closer, new UBC research suggests. The study shows that placing bins 1.5 metres away from suite doors drastically boosts recycling and composting rates by 141 per cent. The findings highlight how small changes in convenience can have a big impact on performance. "We know people care about the environment but having the desire to recycle and compost doesn't always translate into behaviour changes," said Alessandra DiGiacomo, the study's lead author and a PhD student in the UBC department of psychology. "Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that people composted and recycled much more when we made it more convenient." Since convenience has been shown to change other types of behaviours, such as choosing healthier food options, the researchers predicted that convenience would also increase composting and recycling behaviours. To test their theory, they placed bins in three different locations: a garbage disposal area (the least convenient option), at the base of an elevator in a building (a more convenient option), and by elevator doors on each floor (the most convenient option). The experiments were carried out at three multi-family apartment buildings in Vancouver's west side neighbourhood and in two student residence buildings at UBC. For 10 weeks, the researchers examined and weighed the waste. They found that when compost bins were placed on each floor in the apartment buildings, instead of on the ground floor, composting rates increased by 70 per cent, diverting 27 kilograms of compost from the landfill per unit per year. When recycling stations were placed just 1.5 meters from suites in student residences, instead of in the basement, recycling and composting increased by an average of 141 per cent, diverting an average of nearly 20 kilograms of waste from the landfill per person per year. "The findings show a minor change in the environment can have a huge impact on behaviour," said study co-author Jiaying Zhao, professor in the UBC department of psychology and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. "Traditional views are that we have to educate people about the importance of recycling and composting, but we believe that's the wrong model because people already know. Simple factors, such as convenience, can be key to helping us become more environmentally friendly." The findings have big implications for waste management and environmental policy, highlighting unique aspects of human behaviour. While people have a desire to do better, Zhao said intentions don't always predict behaviour. "We call this intention-action gap," said Zhao. "What psychologists can do is change the environment a little bit so that our actions can follow through on our intentions. We need to provide solutions and alternatives to current practices to help people recycle and compost more." The study, published this month in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, was co-authored by David Wu, Peter Lenkic and Alan Kingstone in the UBC department of psychology, and Bud Fraser of UBC Campus and Community Planning.
News Article | December 4, 2015
Amid a changing climate, population growth, rapid development, and pervasive urbanization, an unprecedented threat to the world’s food and water supply is more apparent than ever before. In fact, it is predicted that 70 percent more food will be needed by 2050 and the demand for water will triple. "To date, we’ve met the food and water challenge to a significant extent through technology, as exemplified in the 'green revolution,' but there are still significant problems to solve. We’re optimistic that MIT will have a major role in meeting the world’s challenges around food and water supply," John Lienhard, director of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT, said in the opening remarks at the third annual MIT Water Summit held Nov. 13-14 on campus. "Workshops such as this are critical to raise awareness and build momentum towards solving the grand water challenges of our world," said Elfatih Eltahir, associate department head and a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). "The Water Summit was a wonderful opportunity for open and transparent discussions that helped in reaching better definitions of water problems and paved the way for new and innovative solutions." An MIT Water Club team — comprised of MIT graduate students Reetik Kumar Sahu, Anjuli Jain Figueroa, Alexis Fischer, Matthew Willner, Brendan Smith, and Isadora Cruxen — organized this year’s Water Summit into three conversation panels: Interpret, Innovate, and Implement. The team brought together more than 200 members of the MIT and non-MIT communities to discuss the role of climate change in global water challenges. Over the course of two days, several representatives from academia, government, and industry were invited to present. "The biggest risk to our water systems is our social norms," Col. John Henderson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. "We, as a society, may not be adapting fast enough." Of course, the path leading to full adaptation to climate change is far from clear, he added. The Interpret panel included Henderson, Camille Touton of the U. S. Department of the Interior, Scott Doney of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), Manoj Fenelon of the Aspen Institute, and MIT graduate student Jordon Hemingway as moderator. One major hindrance that Fenelon said prevents climate adaptation is the way the problem is framed. "How do you explain the challenge in a way that causes people to realize it is bigger than their individual interests?" he asked. To emphasize, Touton said that 50 percent of the world is in severe drought — a negative impact of climate change that many do not directly experience. Using open water data to visualize the impact of drought and climate change on water resources, she said, is one aspect of the problem that her department investigates and reports to the public. "The world is teeming with answers, but are we asking the right questions?" Fenelon added. Perspectives unrelated to science — such as considering water as a right rather than a luxury — may result in interesting and efficient approaches to the challenge. Leveraging branding, for instance, was one such approach explored by the panel. "I would be interested to see brands engage in civil work," Fenelon said. "Consumers would be buying not just a brand, but a movement." In agreement, Doney added it’s not the destination that matters, but rather how quickly society manages to get there. When it comes to climate change and the global water supply, the rate of change heavily impacts the natural ecosystems. However, the panelists agreed, the key to truly engaging open interest is to pitch the science behind climate change in a way that attracts stakeholders and, more importantly, the general public. The future is about radical transparency In their remarks on how technological innovations and research have led to more resilient water systems, the Innovate panelists — Noel Bakhtian, lead strategic coordinator on Energy-Water Nexus activities for the U.S. Department of Energy; Marcus Quigley, founder of OptiRTC; Anarug Bajpayee, co-founder and CEO of Gradiant Corporation; Mark Ellison, U.S. affiliate of IDE Technologies; and MIT graduate student and panel moderator Divya Panchanathan — offered a hopeful, yet guarded, perspective. For Quigley, the world needs a future of “radical transparency” of data. With an open explanation of the reality of water, he postulated that this approach will transform the manner in which we act and develop regulations around water management. "We need to be creative with data science and make water information more meaningful for the public to digest," he said. Noting society’s hesitancy to trust new innovations in the water sector, Bajpayee suggested some of the challenge may also lie with people’s misconception of the value of water. "People think water is free when it’s not," he said. "Something is paying for it. Explaining this openly and clearly may help people appreciate how important it is to conserve energy and water." When it comes down to it, Quigley continued, our perception on what we think the world should look like is irrelevant. The gateway to water management is about delivering the outcomes people expect, and furthermore educating them on why they should expect those outcomes from a political perspective. The panelists contended that the world would benefit from focusing more on a transparent understanding of the projected outcome and less on what society portrays as an ideal world. One way to achieve this may be for water businesses to expand their reach beyond one idea and emphasize an entire market or specialized sector. "The most successful companies are those who have evolved along the way," Bajpayee said. "Water entrepreneurs should build businesses around an entire platform, not just one innovation." Climate change is no longer about belief, but fact To close the Water Summit on the second day, keynote speaker Curt Spalding of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for New England introduced the Implement panel with a discussion on the hard evidence and implications of climate change. Spalding said 70 percent of the population accepts that climate change is happening, and, because of this, progression is being made to both mitigate and adapt to the reality. "Adaptation is a priority and is integrated into every decision made by the EPA," he said. However, it’s not always as high a priority as it should be for others, he added. Spalding emphasized the need to communicate complex data to the implementers for real movement to be made in the fight against climate change. This notion was further explored in the panel, moderated by MIT graduate student Alice Alpert, and comprised of Edgar Westerhof of ARCADIS U.S. Inc., Stephen Estes-Smargiassi of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Dennis Carlberg of Boston University, and Larry Susskind, the Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at MIT. According to Susskind, the hindrance to true innovation in policy implementation is mainly the lack of collaboration between leaders and the public. "No decision is ever going to be completely correct, so we will have to collaboratively adapt as things evolve," he said. Estes-Smargiassi agreed, and added that it is equally important to embrace any potential opportunity to build resiliency — even if the timing or innovation is not perfect. "Each opportunity that we fail to grasp, puts us further behind," he said. "Let’s figure out which steps we should take now to continue to move ahead later." Particularly, participatory planning is a crucial part of resiliency planning; otherwise, he explained, there may not be buy-in. Corporation mitigation efforts and sponsoring of events, such as the international Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015 in Paris, has a powerful effect in changing the public image of what’s being done today. While concrete conclusions may not necessarily be drawn from efforts such as these, confidence is built for the long-term. And this, the panelists agreed, is effective in the process of managing water in a time of a changing climate. "The MIT community is deeply motivated to contribute," Lienhard said. "Our students and faculty are bringing their insight, innovation, and technical excellence to bear on the challenge of water management." Sponsors for this year's Water Summit included Arcadis, Association of Student Activities, MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, CEE, the Coop at MIT, Desalitech, Environmental Policy and Planning Group, Gradiant Corporation, J-WAFS, MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives, MIT Brazil, the WHOI, Pepsico, and WRI Brazil.u
News Article | December 9, 2016
LOGAN, UTAH, USA -- Too little water. Too much water. Pollution. Salt water. Lack of infrastructure. Encroaching sea levels. These are challenges faced by water managers around the globe and, in particular, by the world's so-called 'megacities,' termed as such because they're inhabited by more than 10 million residents. "Megacities face continual population growth, urban expansion and climate change, all of which create tremendous stress for water infrastructure and have implications for human health and social equity," says Utah State University graduate student Enjie Li. "Yet, each city represents varied situations with complex challenges." With USU faculty mentors Joanna Endter-Wada, professor in the Department of Environment and Society and Shujuan Li, associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Enjie Li tackled the subject of megacity water management in a paper selected by the American Water Resources Association for its 2016 William R. Boggess Award. The honor recognizes authors of a paper published in the association's journal the previous year and selected as that year's outstanding submission. A doctoral candidate in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management in the Department of Environment and Society, Enjie Li is lead author of the paper, published in JAWRA in June 2015. The paper characterizes and compares, on a global scale, water challenges faced by the world's 28 United Nations-designated megacities as they face mounting pressures to provide the critical resource for their residents. The research was supported by iUTAH through a National Science Foundation grant. The three USU researchers were recognized in a formal ceremony during the 2016 AWRA Annual Conference held Nov. 13-17, in Orlando, Fla. "We explored these megacities from four different perspectives: geographic context, development trajectory, rate of population growth and forms of urban expansion," says Enjie Li, who received additional support from USU's Office of Research and Graduate Studies, the USU Ecology Center and the USU Center for Women and Gender to present the research in Beijing, China at the 2013 AWRA Specialty Conference, "Water Resources for Megacities: Challenges and Solutions." Though supplying water is a major challenge for all of the study sites, she says, each city's situation is unique. For example, Beijing and Mumbai struggle to supply sufficient drinking water, while dealing with too much stormwater. Los Angeles and Tokyo have the capability to recycle water to meet drinking water quality standards, but face social opposition to use of this water source. "These challenges have serious implications - especially when you consider one in eight urban dwellers currently lives in one of the world's megacities," Enjie Li says. "Further, conservative growth projections by the U.N. predict another 13 cities will become megacities by 2030." Though the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, with a population of about 1.14 million, is long from approaching megacity status, it also faces growing pressure from urbanization - especially in terms of water resources. "There are common threads between big cities and little cities and we have much to learn from megacities," says Endter-Wada, who serves as a team member for the statewide, NSF-funded iUTAH project. "Utah is growing rapidly. It's easier to prepare for challenges, than to fix problems after the fact."
Craig A.P.,University of New South Wales |
Hanger J.,Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital |
Loader J.,Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital |
Ellis W.A.H.,University of Queensland |
And 6 more authors.
Vaccine | Year: 2014
Background: Many koala populations around Australia are in serious decline, with a substantial component of this decline in some Southeast Queensland populations attributed to the impact of Chlamydia. A Chlamydia vaccine for koalas is in development and has shown promise in early trials. This study contributes to implementation preparedness by simulating vaccination strategies designed to reverse population decline and by identifying which age and sex category it would be most effective to target. Methods: We used field data to inform the development and parameterisation of an individual-based stochastic simulation model of a koala population endemic with Chlamydia. The model took into account transmission, morbidity and mortality caused by Chlamydia infections. We calibrated the model to characteristics of typical Southeast Queensland koala populations. As there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of the vaccine in real-world settings, a variety of potential vaccine efficacies, half-lives and dosing schedules were simulated. Results: Assuming other threats remain constant, it is expected that current population declines could be reversed in around 5-6 years if female koalas aged 1-2 years are targeted, average vaccine protective efficacy is 75%, and vaccine coverage is around 10% per year. At lower vaccine efficacies the immunological effects of boosting become important: at 45% vaccine efficacy population decline is predicted to reverse in 6 years under optimistic boosting assumptions but in 9 years under pessimistic boosting assumptions. Terminating a successful vaccination programme at 5 years would lead to a rise in Chlamydia prevalence towards pre-vaccination levels. Conclusion: For a range of vaccine efficacy levels it is projected that population decline due to endemic Chlamydia can be reversed under realistic dosing schedules, potentially in just 5 years. However, a vaccination programme might need to continue indefinitely in order to maintain Chlamydia prevalence at a sufficiently low level for population growth to continue. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
News Article | December 8, 2016
PlayCore, a Chattanooga based company that promotes its mission and values by giving back to communities in a variety of ways, bestows its annual Hero award as a way to recognize the inspirational individuals they meet throughout the course of business. This year, the PlayCore Hero Award was given to Dr. Keith Christensen, Ph.D., for his valuable partnership and ongoing dedication to inclusion. Christensen is a faculty member in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning and a faculty fellow with the Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD), at Utah State University. At the CPD, Keith is actively involved in researching the planning and design of socially inclusive environments, human rights, and social justice. His research also focuses on social integration of individuals with disabilities in communities, physical activity behaviors of individuals with disabilities, and employment in relation to the planning and design of the built environment. In addition, Keith has developed and continues to direct the Beyond Access program, a national technical assistance program on inclusive play environments for children with disabilities. “Thank you for this recognition,” said Keith. “I feel strongly that children with disabilities need places without barriers to their fully participating in play with their friends, families, and communities; and am grateful to have found partners in the people of PlayCore who feel the same. I am honored to partner with PlayCore in advocating for places where children can experience play rather than disability.” PlayCore is proud to partner with Keith and the CPD to help champion inclusive play initiatives. For nearly a decade, Keith has partnered with PlayCore on inclusive initiatives. These benchmark initiatives have helped to establish PlayCore’s leadership in the field of inclusive play, including the development and expansion of the best practice planning and design guide, Me 2: 7 Principles for Inclusive Playground Design™, new innovations for the playground, and the promotion of play environments where people of all ages and abilities can participate in meaningful play. Bob Farnsworth CEO explains, “We are continually inspired by the people we encounter, people who have made a career of giving back selflessly, with complete dedication to improving the communities they serve. These are the true heroes of any community, devoting their time, knowledge, and expertise, in order to make a difference. Their dedication mirrors PlayCore’s mission and values, so we wanted to find a way to recognize them and honor their commitment.” The award was presented at the 2016 National Recreation and Park Association Conference in St. Louis, MO, on October 5. In support of the award, PlayCore has made a $1500 donation to Keith’s chosen charity, Common Ground Outdoor Adventures. About PlayCore: PlayCore helps build stronger communities around the world by advancing play through research, education, and partnerships. The company infuses this learning into its complete family of brands. PlayCore combines best in class planning and education programs with the most comprehensive array of recreation products available to create play solutions that match the unique needs of the each community they serve. Learn more at http://www.playcore.com
Wang K.,Dalian University of Technology |
Zhang X.,Dalian University of Technology |
Chen Z.,Concordia University at Montréal |
Zhou F.,Environmental Planning |
Nie X.,Transport Planning and Research Institute
Water Resources | Year: 2015
Mathematical model analysis is very important in investigating the water exchanges and tidal prism in the reconstruction engineering projects around coastal bay. Based on the accurate simulation of tides, the mathematical model method is more economical and efficient than traditional measurement method and physical experiment model in the first evaluation of initial design. A robust numerical model with high accuracy is explored in this study for a systematic consideration of hydraulic interactions within different water zones in coastal reconstruction project. Application of the developed tidal model to a reconstruction project in the Dalian Laohutan Bay of China is presented in details. The developed tidal model with a refined meshing algorithm has been validated through measured field data with reasonable agreement. Then, the validated model is used to examine water exchanges and the tidal prism under different engineering reconstruction scenarios. The engineering solutions that satisfy the requirements of both project demands and environmental protection have been obtained. © 2015, Pleiades Publishing, Ltd.
Chen Z.,Concordia University at Montréal |
Han S.,Concordia University at Montréal |
Zhou F.-Y.,Environmental Planning |
Wang K.,Dalian University of Technology
Water Resources Management | Year: 2013
The design of the urban sewage system is site specific, and it makes the use of three-dimensional (3D) model an alternative to a field study or a laboratory experiment. However, the use of 3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in the study of the urban sewage system has been generally limited to the study of a single structural component with simplified assumptions. In this study, the 3D model that adopted the renormalized group (RNG) k-ε turbulence model, the volume of fluid (VOF) free water surface model and the particle tracking approach was verified comparing the predicted flow field data with the measurements in laboratory scale experiments. Then, the model was applied to optimize the design of the combined sewer system (CSS) in the city of Edmonton with multiple hydraulic structures. Considering the details of predicted flow characteristics and the behaviors of the suspended solids, the final design was chosen and implemented to reduce the water pollution induced by the direct combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharge to the receiving water body. It is shown that the proposed 3D CFD modeling approach is a cost-effective tool to design the municipal sewer system. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
News Article | October 29, 2016
Groupe Renault has received a Climate Leadership Award from the international organization Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), in acknowledgement of the company’s efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a ceremony held at the French Environment Ministry on 25 October 2016. The CDP awards programme analyses data from thousands of companies worldwide to evaluate their commitment on shrinking their carbon footprint. Groupe Renault joins the select ‘A-List’ of companies that CDP considers world leaders in countering global warming. On behalf of 827 investors accounting for around $100 billion in assets, CDP draws up its yearly list on the basis of a detailed analysis of the low-carbon endeavours of more than 2,000 companies worldwide, across all business sectors. Jean-Philippe Hermine, Vice-President, Strategic Environmental Planning, Groupe Renault said: “We’re honoured to achieve the maximum ‘A’ rating in acknowledgement of our commitment to countering global warming. Renault was the world’s first automaker to commit publicly to shrinking its carbon footprint, and one of the first to take up this challenge by investing massively in the development and wide-scale market release of affordable electric vehicles. Through ongoing innovation in electric vehicles, involving greatly extended travel range for example, we’re advancing toward our goal of lasting and substantial reduction in our carbon footprint.” Through a firm, pioneering stance on environmental responsibility, Groupe Renault shrank its overall carbon footprint by more than 17 per cent from 2010 to 2016. Shrinking its carbon footprint is a major objective for Renault, and features prominently in the company’s strategic plan. It is taken as a performance indicator, and as a management pointer in all company functions, targeting improved environmental awareness and lower energy consumption. In 2011, Renault became the world’s first automaker to publicly set itself a target figure on carbon footprint reduction. The first objective was a 10 per cent reduction in overall carbon footprint per vehicle sold worldwide by the end of 2013. Renault achieved this goal then committed to further efforts in the form of an average reduction of 3 per cent per year during its 2016: Drive the Change plan. The company was thus targeting an overall carbon reduction approaching 17 per cent from 2010 to 2016. By the end of 2015, Renault had already shrunk its carbon footprint(1) by 17.2 per cent with respect to 2010, ahead of its 2016 deadline. For the year 2015 alone, the reduction in CO emissions achieved by Renault was equivalent to the yearly CO emissions from a city the size of Barcelona(2). Groupe Renault’s carbon footprint figure includes: emissions of greenhouse gasses (predominantly CO ) generated during the vehicle lifecycle (production of energy for powering the vehicle, plus the provision of materials involved in vehicle manufacture); and emissions across all its business operations (design, manufacture, transport, sale of vehicles and parts, and all business support functions). To shrink its carbon footprint, Renault addresses all these aspects. The electric vehicle is an effective and immediately available answer to today’s climate-change concerns: it emits no CO while driving(3), and its overall carbon footprint, already smaller on average than that of an equivalent internal-combustion vehicle in Europe, will continue to shrink with the development of renewable energy sources for generating carbon-free electricity. Renault has been a pioneer of the electric vehicle in Europe, and leads the European market for electric vehicles with its range: ZOE, Twizy and Kangoo Van Z.E. Europe’s biggest-selling electric car, which now boasts a record travel range of 250 miles(4). Renault has put more than 100,000 electric vehicles on the road since 2011, and in doing so has avoided the discharge of 125,000 tonnes of CO into the atmosphere. Renault also works on carbon reduction across all its business operations: in manufacturing, engineering, transport and sales. Renault is constantly improving the energy efficiency of its production facilities, by making increasing use of renewable energies. A good example is the carbon-neutral Tangiers facility in Morocco, the only one of its kind in the automotive industry, which uses a biomass boiler fuelled by local agricultural residues. In 2015, 91 per cent of the plant’s energy needs were met from renewable energy sources, thus avoiding the discharge of more than 90,000 tonnes of CO into the atmosphere per year. Click here to read the CDP report
Han S.-S.,Concordia University at Montréal |
Chen Z.,Concordia University at Montréal |
Zhou F.-Y.,Environmental Planning |
Lu X.-Q.,Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Water Resources Management | Year: 2014
Surface flow constructed wetlands (SFCWs) have been widely used to treat various types of wastewater and stormwater due to the advantages such as low costs for operating and maintenance compared with conventional treatment systems. In SFCW, the flow pattern, which is determined by the geometric features including bed morphology and vegetation distribution, significantly influences the removal processes of suspended solids and other pollutants. In this study, a three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics model, that integrates hydrodynamic model and the Lagrangian particle tracking model, is applied to determine the effectiveness of a SFCW in removing suspended solids based on the predicted flow characteristics and distribution of suspended solids in the wetland. After the validation, the three-dimensional numerical model is applied to illustrate the three-dimensional internal flow pattern in the wetland. The predicted concentrations of suspended solids at several cross-sections in downstream direction are compared with the field sampling data and also the results from a traditional first-order decay model. The results show that the 3D model performs reasonably well predicting complex flow fields associated with complex wetland geometry. This study indicates that the 3D model is an effective tool to support the management and operation of field SFCWs. Also, it can help to improve the design of SFCWs providing better understanding of interactions among the geometric features, the flow characteristics and the contaminants behaviors. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.