Tag Archives: Sustainability

The Self-Sustaining, Solar-Powered Emergency Shelter: We’re Going to Need It

daiwa edv-01

At next month’s Little Tokyo Design Week, the Japanese company Daiwa House will be showing off the EDV-01, a self-sustaining, solar-powered emergency structure. It’s a temporary structure, much like a FEMA trailer, that’s meant to house emergency workers as they deal with hurricanes, fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and their aftermath.

But the EDV-01 promises to do so much more than a regular trailer. The prototype’s hydraulic legs adjust automatically to uneven terrain, leveling out the structure. It draws its power from solar panels and also collects and condenses water to provide basic utilities to the structure. There’s a bathroom, a kitchen, and storage space. The second floor, which comes collapsed around the main structure for easier transport, has two bunks and a desk. The shelter is designed to be trucked into disaster areas, but once it’s set up, it can function for a month with no additional inputs. It looks like the type of emergency structure that, dirty and dented, ends up as the home base of one of the last remaining members of the humanity in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Daiwa intends to develop this trailer into a commercial product that would be available to lease for governments in need; the company says it wants to get manufacturing costs down and have a better sense of what customer interest would be before it starts churning them out. The company will likely find customers: A 2009 report by the International Organization for Migration found that extreme weather events displaced 20 million people in 2009. (In comparison, conflict and violence created 4.6 million internal refugees.) As climate change scares up more frequent and more intense disasters, emergency workers and evacuees are going to need futuristic tools like this one to help them respond.

Daiwa’s business began as a supplier for construction sites, and it’s an industry leader in temporary housing. Emergency response trailers make sense as a business endeavor. But across the economy, more businesses are looking to profit from opportunities the changing climate will create. A new report underwritten by the United Nations, World Resources Institute, and Oxfam found that among the businesses connected to the U.N.’s Caring for Climate initiative, 86 percent saw a business opportunity in “responding to climate change risks or investing in adaptation solutions.”

Those businesses are a self-selected group, but it’s encouraging that at least some fraction of the private sector is looking to create innovative solutions to the problems climate change will cause, rather than denying they exist. The strategies that they’re sharing right now tend towards the general—a global beverage company, for instance, recognizes that water shortages will hurt its business and wants to prepare for that eventuality. An electricity company uses climate impact modeling to imagine how climate change could affect its business. Those responses aren’t as tangible as a solar-powered emergency structure, but they’re connected to the same reality: Climate change is coming, and we’re going have to respond to it, one way or the other.

Picture via Inhabitat

The Self-Sustaining, Solar-Powered Emergency Shelter: We’re Going to Need It

daiwa edv-01

At next month’s Little Tokyo Design Week, the Japanese company Daiwa House will be showing off the EDV-01, a self-sustaining, solar-powered emergency structure. It’s a temporary structure, much like a FEMA trailer, that’s meant to house emergency workers as they deal with hurricanes, fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and their aftermath.

But the EDV-01 promises to do so much more than a regular trailer. The prototype’s hydraulic legs adjust automatically to uneven terrain, leveling out the structure. It draws its power from solar panels and also collects and condenses water to provide basic utilities to the structure. There’s a bathroom, a kitchen, and storage space. The second floor, which comes collapsed around the main structure for easier transport, has two bunks and a desk. The shelter is designed to be trucked into disaster areas, but once it’s set up, it can function for a month with no additional inputs. It looks like the type of emergency structure that, dirty and dented, ends up as the home base of one of the last remaining members of the humanity in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Daiwa intends to develop this trailer into a commercial product that would be available to lease for governments in need; the company says it wants to get manufacturing costs down and have a better sense of what customer interest would be before it starts churning them out. The company will likely find customers: A 2009 report by the International Organization for Migration found that extreme weather events displaced 20 million people in 2009. (In comparison, conflict and violence created 4.6 million internal refugees.) As climate change scares up more frequent and more intense disasters, emergency workers and evacuees are going to need futuristic tools like this one to help them respond.

Daiwa’s business began as a supplier for construction sites, and it’s an industry leader in temporary housing. Emergency response trailers make sense as a business endeavor. But across the economy, more businesses are looking to profit from opportunities the changing climate will create. A new report underwritten by the United Nations, World Resources Institute, and Oxfam found that among the businesses connected to the U.N.’s Caring for Climate initiative, 86 percent saw a business opportunity in “responding to climate change risks or investing in adaptation solutions.”

Those businesses are a self-selected group, but it’s encouraging that at least some fraction of the private sector is looking to create innovative solutions to the problems climate change will cause, rather than denying they exist. The strategies that they’re sharing right now tend towards the general—a global beverage company, for instance, recognizes that water shortages will hurt its business and wants to prepare for that eventuality. An electricity company uses climate impact modeling to imagine how climate change could affect its business. Those responses aren’t as tangible as a solar-powered emergency structure, but they’re connected to the same reality: Climate change is coming, and we’re going have to respond to it, one way or the other.

Picture via Inhabitat

Japan Considering Solar Power for Every Single Building by 2030



Sam Biddle

Japan Considering Solar Power for Every Single Building by 2030

Both because they’re a country dedicated to teeny tiny carbon footprints, and because they’re likely not too hot on nuclear power at the moment, Japan is expected to kick off a universal solar panel initiative. Every building, twenty years.

The plan, making mandatory solar panels for all residential and commercial buildings, is likely to debut at the impending G8 summit, and would put Japan at the fore of the global alternate energy push. They’ve probably got what it takes to pull it off—we hope it switches over from plan to reality. [PhysOrg]

Photo by CoCreatr

Where the water resources are and where it goes cc @jfleck

Drawing water

Designer David Wicks compares rainfall against water consumption in his thesis project Drawing Water:

Drawing Water is a constructed landscape shaped by the relationship between where water falls and where it’s consumed within the United States. It builds images to expose the reality that water is channeled, pumped, and siphoned to locations far from where it falls. Although the paths are imagined, Drawing Water is based on real data and it reveals a clear truth about water resources and use.

The placement of each line represents a rainfall measurement, and the length and end placement is based on urban consumption. Lines pulled farther from its source change to black. The data comes from two sources: USGS for water consumption and NOAA/NWS for rainfall data provided.

Direct comparison of the two data sources seems kind of like an oversimplification of what is actually going on, so maybe someone who knows more about water flows and sources can chime in on the comments; but the end result is pretty and provides something to think about.

Watch the animated version in the video below. Reminds me of when I used to play with my U-shaped magnet and iron shavings.

[Drawing Water via Fast Company]

Don’t miss a thing. Follow @flowingdata on Twitter or grab the RSS feed for the latest on data graphics.

Paul Gunther: Move to Detroit Quickly While There’s Still Time

Demographers and scientists alike broadly predict that once the history of the 21st century is written, water will have emerged as the primary commodity driving the socioeconomic forces shaping world politics and the well-being of the global population estimated even by mid-century to exceed nine billion. (Almost a 30% increase from now for those keeping track…)

Whatever energy alternatives the vicissitudes of oil pricing and availability drive along the way, concerns with accessible power sources will pale alongside the specter of thirst and hunger arising from a shortage of the world’s most basic source of survival, H2O.

That’s why Detroit’s alarming population decline first reported this week in the Times signals what can only be a temporary passage in the patterns of global settlement beginning right here in America. The built world is going to need places like a city, named after the French word for strait, along a river dividing two of the greatest freshwater lakes on the face of the globe (by size, the fourth: Michigan, and the tenth: Erie).

2011-03-25-detroit
Photo: Bernt Rostad

With population exploding in inauspiciously stressed water zones across all continents including the deserts of the American southwest and Rocky Mountains’ dry eastern slopes and their nearby badlands, the limits to growth from lack of it will soon come into sharp focus. If not due merely to literal shortages initially made apparent by periods of drought, raising costs will accelerate the awareness, especially as a handful of large international corporate conglomerates are quietly privatizing the world’s aquifers and controlling their terrestrial consumption. Without natural supplies and rainfall, such corporate control will monetize ever more effectively the cost of quenching thirst and growing crops, not to mention meeting the needs of sanitation and industry.

Just 2.5 percent of the world’s water is fresh, and according to environment correspondent Alec Kirby of the BBC, “two-thirds of that is trapped in icecaps and glaciers.” (No reprieve therefore from global warming, as, whether one believes it’s caused by man or not, the lion’s share of the resulting melt-off turns salty from the first liquefied droplet.) He goes on, “The amount of fresh water available for human use is less than one percent of all the water on the planet.”

Which brings us back to Detroit and the colossal supplies surrounding it. It’s the Saudi Arabia of fresh water! (Add in the ease of navigation from its surrounding waterways, stretching as they do from the Atlantic to the Mississippi by lake and canal.)