Bennett - Editor
Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.
I don’t know about you, but the Olympics seemed to come and go so very quickly. It was a good result for the New Zealand athletes and for what seemed an absolute age, the Australians were anything but their usual cocky, self-assured selves. So how did the London 2012 Olympics really pan out from a sustainability perspective? Overall, they appeared to do very well and look to have mainly achieved their aim as being the most sustainable Olympics ever. Some of the statistics associated with construction are truly impressive, for example two thirds of steel used in the roof’s construction consists of old, abandoned gas pipes and a whopping 97% of construction waste was diverted from landfill. Well done London.
And it seems that the United Kingdom is determined to continue this green trend into more sporting events. Gary Neville, the England football coach is helping kick off a new campaign to encourage sports teams, governing bodies and fans to reduce their environmental impact. Measures such as using organic pitches, solar powered lawn mowers and recycling all water used in irrigation are all steps being made to see these aims become practical outcomes.
Not that sustainability is something that stands in isolation. It can be part of a thriving industry if the whole business is well thought out in advance. We look at the $7 billion a year surfboard industry, which is in the process of transforming itself into something more sustainable. In doing this, the industry is working with consumers to introduce measures that will be widely accepted and actually make sense to the surfing community. It is a great example of a business philosophy that could be repeated over and over again in many different business sectors.
Which leads to the challenges some investors have in finding well-managed companies. Of course, it helps to define what a well-managed company might be from an investor’s perspective. For example a poll of chief investment officers at a recent investment conference revealed that 80% of them had investment horizons of one year or less, and for a staggering 53% of them, it was only three-months. I don’t know about you, but I would be rather reluctant to base all my fiscal decisions around such truncated timelines and would suggest this is more akin to gambling than investing. No indications that Soros or Warren Buffet are changing their investment strategies in favour of short-termism anytime soon.
Which is why when the likes of Soros and Buffet decide to invest, they really do the numbers. With the age of big data, there is now almost too much available to crunch, so we need to be smarter in how we undertake the analysis. Given that the primary pillar of sustainability is efficiency, it appears that taking the time to examine sustainability metrics is likely to pay useful dividends. As after all, an efficient business is a good business.
Our next two articles examine how taking big data and turning this into useful information is the key to unlocking sustainability metrics. And also making these metrics industry specific, for example in the telecommunications industry where reporting in kWh/GB of data provides meaningful insights into how efficient the operation is. The same applies to buildings where metrics of kWh/m2 and kWh/m3 are useful in gauging how energy intensive the building’s operations might be.
Our next article takes us to the sunny Pacific isle of Tokelau where the switch from diesel to solar powered electricity is about to commence. From September 2012, the NZ$7 million project will see the installation of three solar electricity grids (one on each main island) comprising 4,032 solar panels, 392 invertors and 1,344 batteries. A very bright investment, if you will forgive the intended pun.
Shifting to the road, we look at the successful road test by Volvo of an autonomous road train project. The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project represents the beginning of a new era where the organised chaos of individual drivers can be blunted by an autonomous follow-the-leader approach that has clear benefits for road safety, congestion and vehicle fuel consumption.
Our final article is probably one of the more tongue in cheek ones we have included. We are not about to make any further comments about the Caecilian – a type of legless amphibian, safe to say that the contributing writer - Jess Zimmerman, seems to have enjoyed the opportunity to inject their own sense of humour into the article.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.