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Note for Sustainable Engineering - SE By Jyotirmayee Reddy

  • Sustainable Engineering - SE
  • Note
  • Sreepathy Institute of Management and Technology - SIMAT
  • Computer Science Engineering
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Module 1 - Introduction to Sustainable Engineering - SIMAT Several warnings concerning the instability of Earth’s life support systems have been raised in the recent times. In 1992, some of the world’s senior scientists from 70 countries, signed and sent an urgent warning “The environment is suffering critical stress…” to the government leaders of all nations as part of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the “Earth Summit”) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This marked the beginning of the concept sustainability. Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and wellbeing depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment. 2. SUSTAINABILITY- DEFINITION Sustainability is the ability to achieve continuing economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet and providing a high quality of life for its people. 3. SUSTAINABILITY- NEED & CONCEPT Sustainability has three components, which are inter-related, as shown in Fig.1: 1. Environment 2. Society 3. Economy Fig.1. Environment-Economy-Society Inter-relation Environment gives resources, raw materials to the Economy for production activities. Economy creates products and sells it to society for use. Production by Economy and Consumption by Society lead to the following environmental impacts. Page 3

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Module 1 - Introduction to Sustainable Engineering - SIMAT 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Exhaustion of Resources – Water, Petroleum, Forests Loss of Biodiversity - Extinction of Animal/Plant Species due to Water, Soil, Air Pollution Deforestation - conversion of forestland to farms, urban use etc. Ozone Depletion - reduction of the amount of ozone in the stratosphere due to the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFC/s emitted from the industries, rises to the Stratosphere. Sunlight breaks CFCs to release Chlorine. Chlorine reacts with Ozone and destroys it. Acid Deposition – results in acid rain, acid fog and acid mist. Desertification - type of land degradation in which a land region becomes dry, typically losing its water bodies, vegetation and wildlife. Eutrophication - form of water pollution occurs when excessive fertilizers run into lakes and rivers. This encourages the overgrowth of algae and other aquatic plants. Global Warming - gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and its oceans, caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases – Carbon oxides, Nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides, Fluorocarbons The environmental impact, caused by economy on production and society on consumption, leads to the following damages to human life. 1. Fresh water scarcity 2. Climate change 3. Exposure to toxics in food, air, water and soil 4. Emerging diseases 5. Food insecurity resulting in poverty 6. Energy scarcity due to depletion of non-renewable resources 7. Ecosystem damage and habitat loss due to pollutant discharges 8. Sea level rise The need of sustainability is to reduce these damages and create a livable planet earth for the future generations. For this, United Nations presented the following key sustainability concepts:- Intergenerational equity – Expects the present generation to hand over a safe, healthy and resourceful environment to the future generation. Intra-generational equity – Emphasize the technological development should support economic growth of the poorer section, so as to reduce the gap between nations. Sustainability means balancing environment, society and economy, as shown in Fig 2. Fig 2: Sustainability Page 4

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Module 1 - Introduction to Sustainable Engineering - SIMAT 4. SOCIAL- ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY CONCEPTS The concept of sustainability is based on the basis that people and their communities are made up of social, economic, and environmental systems that are in constant interaction and that must be kept in harmony. SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY There are six principles of sustainability that can help a community ensure that its social, economic, and environmental systems are well integrated and will endure. A community or society that wants to pursue sustainability will try to: 1. Maintain residents’ quality of life. Quality of life has many components: income, education, health care, housing, employment, legal rights. Each locality must define and plan for the quality of life it wants and believes it can achieve, for now and for future generations. 2. Enhance local economic vitality. A viable local economy is essential to sustainability. This includes job opportunities, sufficient tax base and revenue to support government and the provision of infrastructure and services, and a suitable business climate. 3. Promote social and intergenerational equity. A sustainable community’s resources and opportunities are available to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, cultural background, religion, or other characteristics. Further, a sustainable community does not deplete its resources and destroy natural systems. 4. Maintain the quality of the environment. A sustainable community tries to find ways to co-exist with natural environment and ecosystem. It avoids unnecessary degradation of the air, oceans, fresh water, and other natural systems. Page 5

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Module 1 - Introduction to Sustainable Engineering - SIMAT 5. Incorporate disaster resilience and mitigation into its decisions and actions. A community is resilient in the face of inevitable natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and drought if it takes steps to ensure that such events cause as little damage as possible. 6. Use a consensus-building, participatory process when making decisions. Participatory processes are vital to community sustainability... It encourages the identification of concerns and issues, promotes the wide generation of ideas for dealing with those concerns, and helps those involved find a way to reach agreement about solutions. ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY Environmental sustainability requires: 1. Maintenance of biodiversity (genes, species and ecosystems) 2. Protection of natural capital (air, water, soils etc) 3. Maintenance of the energy and material cycles of the planet 4. Health and resilience of all life support systems. This can be achieved by: 1. Reduce dependence upon finite, virgin resources like Fossil fuels, minerals and metals 2. Nature must not be subjected to increased concentrations of substances produced by society. This requires that consideration be given to the biodegradability of substances and the length of time it takes the earth to reabsorb them. 3. The physical basis for the productivity and biodiversity of nature must be not systematically degraded. This requires that we protect diverse and special habitats. 4. There must be efficient use and fair distribution of resources to enable humans to meet their needs. This requires a reduction in consumerism, especially among wealthy nations. ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY The economic sustainability ensures that the industry or business is making profit without creating much damage to environment/ecology. Economic growth is expressed in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is the total amount of production produced within a nation, within one year. Economic growth has to be sustainable, if it improves quality of human life. Thus population factor must be included to ensure fair resource consumption. Developed Country Developing Country Resource Consumption Population Not Sustainable Sustainable Sustainable Not Sustainable Page 6

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