Travels in India 2

This article looks into week 2 of my holiday to India and Sri Lanka in December 2019.

When I released my post last week, I was in Alleppy and about to travel further south in Kerala to Varkala. I had hoped to do this journey by train, but after turning up to the train station, we were told that the train was not for a few hours and that it was running very late. So we decided to get a taxi to Varkala.

Travelling on roads in India is an interesting experience. Most of the roads apart from major highways are dual carriageway’s. This makes for frequent overtaking by fast moving vehicles of slower moving vehicles.

There will be many times when you are certain that you will hit into an oncoming vehicle, but everything seems to work itself out.

Travelling to Varkala has been a big highlight of my trip. The weather there was amazing, they have a very beautiful beach, which I have included a picture of below as well as friendly locals.

The area also had very beautiful sunsets and I have included a picture of one below.

Some of the food that I had in Varkala was of an exceptionally high standard. I have included a picture of an Aloo Paratha that I had for breakfast one day. This is my favourite thing to have for breakfast when travelling in India.

After spending a few days in Varkala I got the train back to Kochi, where I stayed for 1 day, before flying to New Delhi.

New Delhi is certainly an interesting place, with a lot going on. Around the Main Bazaar area in the new town, you can find many shops, restaurants and places to eat, including rooftop cafes, which are a nice place to get away from the street and relax.

The old town is reasonably similar, but with narrower streets.

Near to the old town in New Delhi you can visit the Red Fort. This is definitely worth visiting as it is an impressive structure.

It is hard to tell from the picture, but the air pollution was bad on the day I went to visit it.

This is probably the most disappointing thing about New Delhi as after being in the city for a few days it is likely you will pick up a small cough due to the heavy air pollution in the city.

Nearby to the Red Fort, you can also visit the Paranthe Wali Gali. This is a district of shops, not dissimilar to Brick Lane in London, although these shops in New Delhi all specialise in selling paratha, which is one of my favourite things to eat in India.

On Friday I am heading to the Magnetic Fields festival in Rajasthan. So I am pre-populating this article for release on Sunday when I am away. I have been impressed with the festival’s commitment to sustainability and it should be a great event.

What you need to know

This article looked into week 2 of my holiday in India in December 2019.

If you are planning on visiting India, definitely make time to visit Varkala as it is a beautiful place.

New Delhi is also worth visiting as there is nowhere else in the world quite like it.

Rajasthan is also very beautiful and is definitely worth visiting if you have time.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. Have you visited India, if so what did you make of it?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka.

TRAVELS IN INDIA 1

This is the first in a series of travel posts that I will do during my visit to India & Sri Lanka in December 2019.

If you fly into Mumbai it is definitely worth spending a couple of days there.

I have put a picture of the Gateway of India above. It was a nice day when I visited his monument and it is one of the cities biggest attractions.

The next best place I visited in Mumbai was Chowpatty beach. This was a lot better and cleaner than I expected it to be.

There are quite a few food and drink vendors at the back, as well as travelling salesmen who come up to you when you are sitting down. So you are never far away from something to eat or drink.

After Mumbai, I headed to Kerala and this was the part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most. Kerala’s slogan is Gods own Country and this is certainly a very beautiful place.

The beach in Alleppy is amazing and I have posted a sunset picture of it below.

If you visit Alleppy, one of the biggest attractions is the backwaters. Which you can easily visit by boat from this location.

I have posted two pictures of the tour that I did into the Alleppy backwaters above. I did a day tour, which included breakfast and lunch. But you can do overnight tours.

The lunch that I got on the day tour was absolutely incredible. It was not just some of the best Indian food that I have ever had, but possibly one of the best meals I have ever had.

What you need to know

This article looked into highlights from week 1 of my travels in India.

I would recommend visiting Mumbai at least once as it is a mind blowing city. But after a couple of days, that will probably be enough as it is quite intense.

I would definitely recommend visiting Kerala as it is extremely beautiful, the people are super friendly and the food is amazing.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. Have you visited India, if so what did you make of it?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka

AVIATION & CARBON EMISSIONS

This article looks into aviation and carbon emissions. It follows on the back of last week’s article, which looked into carbon offsetting. The aviation industry is expected to be a major purchaser of carbon offsets so these two issues are closely interlinked.

Jp Valery

The selection of this theme is influenced by my personal life, as I am travelling to India soon, where I will be flying from London to Mumbai.

Looking into the carbon emissions associated with this outbound flight, for 1 economy seat, where the impact of radiative forcing is accounted for, this comes to 1.08 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (greenhouse gasses).

Where the impact of radiative forcing is not taken into account, this only reports a figure of 0.57 tonnes of greenhouse gasses. This is obviously dangerously misleading and why it is so important to account for radiative forcing when reporting on greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

The UK department for the environment defines radiative forcing as the influence of non-co2 climate change effects of aviation. This includes elements such as water vapour, contrails and NOX emissions.

I think it is important to put the impact of the emissions from that 1 flight in some context. The average carbon emissions per head of population in the UK comes to 9.1 tonnes per annum.

So just that 1 flight alone, would be responsible for 11.8% of a person’s carbon footprint. Which for something which lasts only a few hours is a sign of just how energy and carbon intensive this activity is.

This is why technological innovation that lowers the carbon emissions associated with flying is so important.

You are not going to connect London to Mumbai via high speed rail or passenger ship. The only realistic option is to fly. This makes sustainable aviation essential.

What you need to know

This article looked into carbon emissions and aviation.

We looked into the carbon emissions associated with 1 flight from London to Mumbai and the problems associated with not accounting for the impact of radiative forcing.

I don’t believe that aviation has committed some kind of original sin and I believe that technological breakthroughs will make a sustainable and connected future possible.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation sector?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka.

CARBON OFFSETS & SUSTAINABILITY

This article looks into carbon offsets and sustainability. Do these various initiatives offer a pathway for high-carbon industries to rapidly decarbonise? Or are they misleading customers and corporate stakeholders as to the true sustainability of a business?

Ian Livesey

There is no doubt that this was all kicked into the mainstream with Easy Jet’s promise to become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its entire network, announcing that it would offset all jet fuel emissions through a variety of carbon offsetting mechanisms.

This all sounds wonderful, but if everything was as easy as paying others to reduce carbon emissions, so that high carbon industries could continue to emit high volumes of emissions and reduce their contribution towards climate change at a slower rate, then why was this not thought of earlier? The reason, is that what is sold as a bonified solution that stimulates progress is a murky world where emissions may be falling, staying the same or in some cases increasing.

Kevin Anderson, who I have written about before as he is a major authority on climate change was quick to step in with his perspective that carbon offsets do not work as they are portrayed. You can find images of his Twitter thread below.

Kevin Anderson Tweet 1

Kevin Anderson Tweet 2

Kevin makes two really good points in his Tweet. One is that the science and mechanics around carbon offsets is far from settled. The other is around total emissions, rather than efficiency. If you buy planes or other machinery that is marginally more efficient, but you buy more of them and use them more, the carbon reduction gains from improved efficiency will be cancelled out by the increased volume of carbon emitting activity.

In his Tweet, Kevin shares a link to his 2012 article in Nature The Inconvenient truth of carbon offsets. I will pick out what I consider to be the best bits from this article.

Kevin shares the following opinion:

“Offsetting is worse than doing nothing. It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.”

He goes on to explain that:

The science underpinning climate change makes clear that the temperature rise by around the end of this century will relate to the total emissions of long-lived greenhouse gasses between 2000 and 2100.

Kevin then moves on to make what I consider his most valuable argument:

The promise of offsetting triggers a rebound away from meaningful mitigation and towards the development of further high-carbon infrastructures… If offsetting is deemed to have equivalence with mitigation, the incentive to move to lower-carbon technologies, behaviours and practices is reduced accordingly.”

Overall, from Kevin’s analysis, it is hard to take anything positive about carbon offsetting.

Then towards the end of the week, I saw another article on carbon offsetting doing the rounds that really caught my eye. It came from the most unsuspecting of sources, CNN.

CNN article

I was really impressed with quality of this article and for taking on the challenge of explaining to the public that there are no easy solutions. Carbon offsetting is not a panacea for high-carbon, energy-intensive industries to become sustainability leaders overnight.

The only thing that I would improve about the CNN article, is that it is important to include the impact of radiative forcing when talking about the impact of carbon emissions from the aviation sector. Failure to do this portrays an unrealistically low carbon impact from this sector.

But I have to say that it is positive to see a major news outlet such as CNN take on a challenging subject such as carbon offsetting and explain to their readers that this does not offer a magic bullet to addressing climate change.

What you need to know

This article looked into carbon offsets and sustainability.

We looked into the Easy Jet carbon offset guarantee that was recently announced.

We looked into the rebuttal by Kevin Anderson and his 2012 article in Nature.

We also looked into a surprisingly good article in CNN by Julia Buckley which exposes the limitations of carbon offsets.

The key takeaway should be that the whole process of carbon offsetting is fraught with limitations. Some sides of the argument would say that it is an overall negative activity as it distracts from reducing emissions and facilitates increased investments in high-carbon industries. There are those who say it is either a harmless activity or something which is an overall positive in helping to lower emissions in high-carbon industries until such a time that technology allows them to be responsible for fewer emissions.

On this argument I am likely to side with Kevin Anderson as he is a major authority on climate science. If they are even slightly less effective than they are promoted as being and if they distract even remotely from mitigation activities and increase emissions in the short run, then they are a negative force. The onus is on the providers of the offsets and the companies wishing to be declared as carbon neutral to prove that they are leading to overall carbon emissions reductions.

As with most things in life, things that seem simple very often turn out to be a great deal more complicated than originally thought.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about the effectiveness of carbon offsets?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

FORESTRY ≠ DEFORESTATION

This article looks into forestry and deforestation. These are often confused as being the same thing, when in fact they are very different.

nelu-paps-TqJ2J90TS24-unsplash

This article is based on the work of Patrick Moore and his excellent book Green Spirit: trees are the answer, which I read recently. I don’t agree with him on everything, but I respect his opinions as he backs them up with evidence. But on forestry, he is a major authority in this field, with significant experience.

In his book, Patrick explains the following:

It is not surprising that many people associate deforestation and destruction of forests with logging. After all, the first stage of deforestation is the removal of trees. But deforestation is a two-stage process and the second stage is by far the most critical in determining the fate of the forest. The second stage involves human activity directed at making sure the forest is not allowed to grow back after it has been cut.”

Patrick brings thing closer to home, with the following helpful explanation:

We tend to think of deforestation as something that happens in other countries when in truth most of us live in and are surrounded by areas where forests once thrived, but are now occupied by cities and farms.

Patrick goes on to explain that:

It is important to remember that the initial clearing of land is not sufficient in itself to cause deforestation. Left alone, land that was forested will eventually return to forest after it is cut down. It is only by determined and continuous effort that our farms, cities, and industrial areas are prevented from returning to a forest similar to the one that was removed.”

What you need to know

This article looked into forestry and deforestation.

What should be clear from everything that we have looked at, is that forestry and deforestation are not the same thing.

The deforestation occurs when the land that was once forested is converted to another permanent use.

An ideal situation is for seeds to be planted in the area where logging has taken place. But even if nothing is done, trees will once again emerge and grow to maturity.

Deforestation has far more in common with agriculture, urbanisation and primary industries such as mining and quarrying than it does with forestry. If managed sustainably, a forest can supply timber in perpetuity.

To be sure, there is some forestry that leads to deforestation. But instead of widespread and incorrect linkages between forestry and deforestation, we should be encouraging the increased use of wood and be planting more trees as it is the world’s most abundant renewable resource.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to promote sustainable forestry?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS

This article looks into some of the key areas that need to be considered in order to make a building as sustainable as possible.

Sawyer Bengtson

It is once again based on the analysis of Simon Sturgis and his excellent book Targeting Zero.

If you look at the chart below from ourworldindata.org sustainable buildings have the potential to influence carbon emissions in the residential buildings segment, the manufacturing industries & construction segment and the electricity & heat production segment. It is not unusual for buildings to be connected to 40% of a countries carbon emissions. Therefore, a strategy that focusses on buildings that are low carbon in their construction and operational phases is likely to prove to be a successful one to tackle carbon emissions at a global scale.

carbon-dioxide-co2-emissions-by-sector-or-source

There are a number of design choices which will affect how sustainable a building is, we will go through each of these in turn.

Existing resources

Simon explains that you should:

Establish which materials, structure and fabric already on site are suitable for reuse within the project.”

Simon goes on to explain that:

Part of the conceptual approach is to consider what the next architect/ engineer would do with your building when it comes to future refurbishment. Can your building be dismantled and recycled in its entirety? Can the components be reused at the same level, i.e. not just at a lower use level? The ideal is for nothing to be wasted, and everything to be reusable.”

This is a level of thinking that needs to become commonplace as soon as possible.

Environmental strategy

Simon begins with the following excellent explanation:

The relationship between operational and embodied emissions and their collective mitigation is key to a low carbon building.”

Simon then explains what services should be omitted to improve the sustainability of the building:

Omitting mechanical systems omits a large part of a building’s regulated operational energy use, and the embodied costs of the plant.

Primary structure

Simon begins by highlighting that:

The key to a low carbon structural system is to select the optimal system not just for the immediate requirement, and for the desired life expectancy, but also for future flexibility.”

Simon then expands on that with the following statement:

Some solutions such as steel or timber can be designed for easy dismantling and reuse. Concrete, using cement replacements, recycled content in steel, and recycled aggregate can be relatively carbon-efficient, particularly if durability and long life are required.

External walls and cladding

Simon explains the key parameters for this area:

These are the initial embodied carbon costs construction, the lifetime carbon costs through maintenance and disposal, the potential for deconstruction and reuse, and the lifetime operational performance costs consequent on the design. The relationship between these parameters depends on required life expectancy and desired lifetime performance. Inappropriate choices can have significant unnecessary carbon costs.”

Interiors

Simon begins by explaining how interiors can become a carbon hotspot over time:

While the initial carbon cost of fitout may be comparatively small in relation to structure or cladding, the aggregate carbon cost can exceed these large initial capital cost items over the life of a building.”

Simon then explains what should be done about this:

From the outset, interiors decisions need to be strategic from a future maintenance perspective as much as aesthetic and cost driven. Natural finishes such as brick, which do not need a finishing layer or regular maintenance, fit a low carbon strategy on both counts.”

What you need to know

This article looked into the key considerations that need to be addressed in order to design and build a sustainable building.

They each need to be addressed in their own way to ensure that emissions reductions in one area or not replaced by emissions increases in another area.

What should be clear is that globally, buildings are a very significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. This will require significant change in order to make this sector less carbon intensive.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be addressed to create a low carbon building?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

WHOLE LIFE CARBON THROUGH THE RIBA STAGES

This article looks into whole life carbon through the RIBA stages. It is based on the excellent book Targeting Zero by Simon Sturgis. It is not just one of the best books that I have read on sustainable buildings, but is potentially one of the most important books on sustainability that I have come across, given the large percentage of carbon emissions associated with buildings.

download

Whole life carbon is an analysis based on the sum of the embodied and operational carbon emissions.

Embodied carbon emissions relate to the sourcing of raw materials, their transportation and fabrication into building components which are then delivered to site and  assembled.

Operational carbon emissions are the emissions of carbon dioxide during the operational or in-use phase of a building.

The thinking is that by considering these two aspects simultaneously as part of a whole life carbon analysis, you optimise trade-offs between the two, to maximise carbon emissions reductions. Looking at them in isolation can lead to decisions which may actually increase carbon emissions.

The RIBA Plan of Work is a document that outlines all stages in the planning, design and building process, from conception to completion on site.

This article will go through each of these stages in turn and look at Simon Sturgis’s analysis of how whole life carbon can be considered at each turn.

RIBA Stage 0 – Strategic Definition

Simon provides a number of reasons why a client would be interested in whole life carbon analysis.

  • Producing a specifically low carbon building
  • Pre-empting changes in standards and legislation to future proof the asset
  • Marketing advantages
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Circular economic considerations
  • Added value
  • Resource efficiency
  • A desire to mitigate climate change impacts

RIBA Stage 1 – Preparation and Brief

At this stage, a whole life carbon assessment would require a life cycle assessment. This encourages long term thinking about the building’s fabric and functional performance past practical completion.

RIBA Stage 2 – Concept Design

To be successful, whole life carbon thinking should be embedded within the design process from the outset.

The following life cycle considerations should be taken into account at this stage:

  • Climate change
  • Future building flexibility
  • Intended life and durability
  • Materiality
  • Deconstruction
  • Disposal

RIBA Stage 3 – Developed Design

The carbon intensity of the various structural and envelope options should be taken into consideration. Carbon budgets can be created using cost data available at this stage. This can be used as a baseline which improvements can be judged against.

RIBA Stage 4 – Technical Design

At this stage, building on the work done in the previous stages, low carbon choices are now integrated into the detailed drawings and documentation. It is important that the contractors selected are clear about the low carbon aims and aspirations of the project and are able to deliver on these during the construction phase.

RIBA Stage 5 – Construction

A key issue here is monitoring the actual carbon impacts of the project and how they relate to the carbon budget.

Reporting would be required at intervals of 3 to 6 months to ensure that contractors stay on top of the data and the project stays on track and within the carbon budget.

RIBA Stage 6 – Handover and Close Out

At this stage a final carbon review of the as built information would be undertaken to create an assessment of the whole life carbon impacts of the project.

There is an opportunity to learn lessons from any variations between the design stage carbon budget and the as built records.

RIBA Stage 7 – In Use

At this stage a post occupancy evaluation should be done to take account of the whole life carbon impacts.

How a building evolves over its life is very much down to decisions made at the design stages.

What you need to know

This article looked into whole life carbon through the RIBA stages. It was based on the excellent work of Simon Sturgis and I encourage all my readers to buy and read a copy of his book Targeting Zero.

What I hoped to show in this article is that there are opportunities to reduce whole life carbon throughout the RIBA stages. It begins with a client who is interested in the subject matter and willing to expend resources to investigate low carbon opportunities.

All of the gateways flow into one another and it is important that a decision is taken at the beginning to prioritise whole life carbon impacts.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to better promote understanding of the whole life carbon impact of buildings?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby