Loccioni Group – Sustainable&Innovative

Last Thursday was a very exiting day for RESD Students: We had the opportunity  toloccioni resd visit the Loccioni Group Company in the Marche region. What we saw there was impressive, they call them self an Open company, that enables to all its stakeholders (customers, suppliers, competitors, the public community, visitors) to enter in the company ant interact with it. This Openness is key when it comes to the creation of new business opportunities and enhances networks and technology applications.
In fact, when we arrived there at 9:30 am after a 1,5 h bus ride from Rimini, we were welcomed in a very open way. No visitor badge, no security check, no stickers on the cameras of our smartphones that would prevent taking pictures of the production site. Our guides told us that Loccioni was founded in 1968 and offers today measures and test solutions to improve the quality of products and processes for the manufacturing and service industry. Around 400 employees build up products like in a “tailor’s shop”, which means that Loccioni offers tailor made solutions for their customers, where every product is customized. What really impressed me were some numbers about the company, with 33 as average age and more than 50% of all employees with a university degree, Loccioni is definitely not like the average Italian company.
After visiting the production site  and a super tasty pizza offered by them, RESD students participated in a group work that was somehow a simulation of what the working day in such a company looks like.

The trip to the Loccioni company was a good opportunity to see how a modern buisiness approach can substitute the so called dominant business paradigm, and that also other companies could follow an approach like them.

A big THANK YOU to all the people that helped to make this trip possible!

Is online shopping sustainable?

I personally considered Online shopping to be very sustainable. Saving a trip to the store and getting some serious discount was the highlight for online shoppers. I stopped buying online lately due bad experience with the quality of the product but I always thought that at least it saves you time via e-commerce.

But what about the emissions from fleets of delivery vehicles bringing orders to houses? Delivery trucks also contribute substantially to the burden of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, in the air, which is associated with many effects on human health. Especially when the product is returned (which happens in great number) there is likely to be more trips from the firm’s driver and not to mention, sometimes you are not at home and they have to return to your house again.

An increase in the number of home shopping purchases increases travel time, traffic delays, and vehicle emissions of the transportation network as a whole, the researchers say. While some previous studies suggest that e-commerce is associated with lower carbon emissions than traditional retail, other researchers have warned of a “rebound effect,” which occurs when gains in efficiency merely stimulate new consumption. Something similar may be going on in Newark, the results suggest.

But a recent study in Newark, Delaware suggests that the knock-on effects of online shopping may worsen traffic congestion and transport-related carbon emissions.Researchers at the University of Delaware conducted a survey of downtown Newark residents’ shopping habits and preferences and used the responses to calculate the quantity of goods purchased through home shopping.They also got information from delivery companies about the number of trucks on the road and the number of packages per truck, and used this to determine how many delivery trucks are required to distribute home shopping purchases.Finally, the researchers used transportation simulation software and data from local transportation authorities to determine the effect of delivery trucks on the transportation network, focusing on an area of downtown Newark that includes a portion of the university’s campus.They conducted similar analyses in 2001, at the dawn of the online shopping era, and again in 2008. They reported their results in a recent paper in the International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology.

Read this journal to know more about the ill effects of Online shopping.

 

Source: Laghaei J. et al. “Impacts of home shopping on vehicle operations and greenhouse gas emissions: multi-year regional study.” International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology

meet NOOR, the largest concentrating solar power plant on Earth

Two weeks ago, the moroccan King Mohammed VI opened the biggest solar power plant on earth: a 3500 football-field area covered with solar power plants called Noor (arabic for light).

With a huge investment of about 3,9 billion dollars the moroccan government build up this huge plant, which is so special because of its moving mirrors, that heat up liquid salt up to 400 °C which then power a steam turbine to create energy. The most awesome feature of this kind of technique is that this heat can be stored up to 8 hours and produce energy also during nighttime. The overall power capacity of the plant is 580 MW, but it wont finish here, up to 2020 Morocco wants to produce up to 2000MW of electric power coming from solar energy.

Morocco is with is 3000 hours of sunlight annually a perfect place for this kind of energy production. The fact that Morocco has to import nearly 97 % of its energy consumption makes this kind of investment also a big step of the countries energy independence.

Have some nice pics here:

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“M’illumino di meno” day

Today an article written by our fellow RESD student Ruggiero Rippo! Enjoy it as much as we do!

This year on the 19th of February all of us can make a big difference. On this day the

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©RAI 2016

largest broadcasting initiative takes place, to raise awareness about energy consumption and sustainable mobility. The event, called “M’illumino di meno” (“I enlighten myself less”), is at its 12th edition and speaks to all of us: citizens, private associations and public institutions. The campaign is supported nation wide and on a European level by different public authorities, such as the Presidency of the Italian Republic, the Italian Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, and the European Parliament. Participating is very easy. Just take some simple actions that affect our daily routine: turn off all the unnecessary lights, ride the bike on your way to work or to the university, minimize the use of electric appliances. Basically, have a zero energy impact for one single day! The people involved in the project have achieved sensational goals through the years; for example: they organized concerts where the spectators cycle to produce electricity; they managed to “switch off” the main monuments in our cities like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Coliseum in Rome. Even Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament in 2008, declared that “the event has a symbolic value with a tangible effect”. In fact, even if the event has a short length, it achieved to drastically reduce the energy waste. In 2007 and 2008 the demand of energy, few minutes after the event has started, was respectively 300 MW and 400 MW lower than usual. This is a huge amount of energy saved! Therefore, the possibility to make a difference, even if just for one day, is concrete. As the slogan of the campaign recites: “Sol Omnia regit”, “Everything depends on the sun”, we are all summoned to a conscious use of our resources, starting with changing our habits.

 

For more information just follow the link : http://caterpillar.blog.rai.it/milluminodimeno

Thanks and big thumbs up to Ruggiero Rippo for your partecipation on SteamGreen!

Exotic Renewable Energy Plants: Tidal Energy

Tidal Energy power plants are definitely some kind of an exotic form for energy production. That’s because most tidal power plants are just pilot projects that are only build for research purposes and do not create a very big amount of energy in their lifetime. Tidal energy is one form of hydropower energy that gets obtained from tides and is then converted in useful electricity. In ancient times and in the middle ages tide mills have been used to mill grain, and nowadays axial or cross flow turbines are used to produce the electrical energy that is needed in modern times. As the gravitational attraction of the moon moves huge amounts of ocean water on certain coastlines or trough lagoons, tidal power plants were build in this strategic positions, there are 4 main types of tidal power generators: Tidal stream generatorstidal barragesdynamic tidal power and a tidal lagoon.

Unfortunately the issues that come with tidal energy are fairly big, from environmental concerns on marine life (also given the danger of blade strikes and the acoustic output). From a technical and maintenance point of view corrosion in salt water and fouling have a big impact on the plants and make them hardly economically efficient.

Even tough there are some massive problems to face when it comes to significant tidal power generation, there are some steps in the right direction, like a 3,4 MW tidal power generator in the East China Sea.

Check out tidalenergytoday.com for more news on the argument!

 

Life transitions can help to instil better environmental behaviours

You are most likely to change your habits if you are changing your city, a job or even a country. Maybe that’s why people say that their life changed once they moved to some other country. Different language, people or food can have a very positive effect on you. At least the researchers of University of Bath (Bath?! Really??) think so too.

“The study tested the habit discontinuity hypothesis, which states that the behavior change interventions are more effective when delivered in the context of life course changes. This assumption was that when habits are (temporarily) disturbed, people are more sensitive to new information and adopt a mind-set that is conducive to behavior change. A field experiment was conducted among 800 participants, who received either an intervention promoting sustainable behavior, or were in a no-intervention control condition. In both conditions half of the households had recently relocated, and were matched with households that had not relocated. Self-reported frequencies of twenty-five environment-related behaviors were assessed at baseline and eight weeks later. While controlling for past behavior, habit strength, intentions, perceived control, biospheric values, personal norms, and personal involvement, the intervention was more effective among recently relocated participants. The results suggested that the duration of the ‘window of opportunity’ was three months after relocation.”

Check the link below to read the actual scientific paper for more details.

We all can’t move to other location but we can try to change our lifestyle to be more sustainable. Maybe following Meatless Monday’s or going to office twice in a week by public transport, walking more or using less plastic.

Source: ScienceDirect, University of Bath

Is the Earth full?

If you enjoy TED Talks as much as I do then you will certainly enjoy the following speech by Paul Gilding, a famous author (The Great Disruption) and consultant in the field of sustainability and resources.

Although this TED is from 2012 it is still accurate today, when he states that human mankind uses Earths resources in a way that is not sustainable citing the outcomes from the resources of the Global Footprint Network, according to whom 1.5 Earths would be needed to sustain our current economy and will grow even more over the next decades. The Australian former executive director of Greenpeace International claims that it is not possible that ongoing growth will lead to a disruptions all over the world, and that only a big crisis can change the actual situation. Unfortunately his speech is quite general and gives not clear answers on the question “how could humanity grow up and leave this area of no limits?”.

Personally I do not agree with Gilding on most of his statements because I think that he sees a lot of things in a very negative way (e.g. when he talks about the carbon bubble bursting or upcoming wars). What also bothered me while watching his speech was the necessity of a crisis from here earth and society should rise (somehow) like a phoenix from the ashes.

I suggest you to watch the TED and let me know what you think about this thoughts of impact people like Gilding think on our planets future!

Extreme weather is due to Climate Change. Really?!

Every once in a while, I meet someone who doesn’t believe in climate change. They say that all the changes are happening since the beginning of the time and will continue to be so it is quite normal for the Earth to be so warm or to be so cold. Well, I always partially agree with them. But since last century we can see more and more storms all over the world. Maybe 2 of them you might think as a normal phenomenon but we saw in UK,China and India among other countries made it clear that it is indeed happening due to Climate Change.
If you still do not agree, read this post where the scientist in UK did some research and Carbon Brief did further research on that research and then followed up some Question and Answers session to understand these disasters happening all over the world. Why I can a storm a disaster? Well, it completes ruins your city and daily routine and not to mention the financial problem it causes the government in the matter of days.

A series of storms – first Desmond, then Eva, and finally Frank – dumped 230mm of rain on the UK during December, triggering flooding across much of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland. The preliminary results – from three different approaches – indicate the human impact on climate was as large, or even larger, than the impact of natural fluctuations in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean – even during a strong El Niño event. Climate change and ocean variability each made the record rainfall totals 50-75% more likely, the researchers say, and doubled the chances of such a warm month. Random variability in weather also contributed to the severe conditions.

Do you still feel that Climate Change isn’t happening? Is Yes, then I am sure you believe that Santa Claus exist too!

Source: Carbon Brief, Climate Prediction

Sustainable Transport – step by step reducing impacts caused by transport

It was never easier then now to reach the most remote places on earth, or to get the most exotic fruits from the furthest South American rainforest, and no end is in sight. In fact, transport will be growing strongly in the upcoming decades; with the progressing globalization and cheaper technologies, the transport of persons and goods will reach much higher levels then nowadays, where transport systems have a significant impact on the environment accounting for between 20% – 25% of world energy consumption and CO2 emissions.  All this traffic will have a huge impact on the environment of the whole planet, so one way to avoid some very bad pollution, accidents, commuting problems ecc.. could be to make transport more sustainable in the sense of social, environmental and climate impacts. Obviously all this should happen in a framework where it is possible to take up the opportunities offered by increased mobility.

So which are the possibilities to reach this goals? One way are Green vehicles that have less envirmonmental impact than equivalent standard vehicles, speaking electric/hybrid vehicles for private use but also in public transport. In urban planning there is another way of keeping city centres sustainable in transport: increasing pedestrian areas and bicycle lanes as those two are the most sustainable ways of transport, but also carsharing are good ways to reduce the different kinds of impacts. The fast progressing electrification of cars can help substantially to keep cities and the environment in general clean.

If you want to see some empirical application of the stuff above check out Denmarks Campaign “State of Green” where they show how things are done in Denmark.

 

Soil is a non-renewable resource!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO declared 2015 the international year of soils, and if you haven’t heard and thought about why healthy soils are necessary for a healthy life I will tell you now.

Way too often we forget about soil as a resource that provides food, feed, ecosystem services, fuels ecc… that ensure that humanity could survive on earth. Unfortunately it is a finite resource and its degradation implies that precious soil will be lost forever due to  unsustainable cropping, forestry and urbanization to satisfy the demand of growing population. Today one third of global soil is already moderately to highly degraded trough erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, chemical pollution and nutrient depletion, states the FAO. In fact, the key messages for the 2015 year of the soil are easily understandable but yet important to remember: without soils no food production, no fiber and fuel harvesting. Damage to the soil is also a damage to biodiversity, which is hosted to one quarter on healthy soils. Soils help to slow down climate change and play a key role in the carbon cycle, while they store and filter water. Its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future.

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Here you can find some further information on the topic and a high res version of the info graphics you see above. Have fun and stay tuned.