In order to measure, disclose, and be accountable to internal and external stakeholders for organizational performance towards the goal of sustainable development, your organization should have sustainability report. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a network-based organization that produces a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world. The reporting framework sets out the principles and performance indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance. Sustainability reports based on the GRI framework can be used to demonstrate organizational commitment to sustainable development, to compare organizational performance over time, and to measure organizational performance with respect to laws, norms, standards and voluntary initiatives .
There are five phases in the GRI reporting process :
1. Prepare : plan your GRI sustainability reporting process
- Imagine your organization’s GRI sustainability report.
- Develop an action plan.
- Hold kick-off meeting.
2. Connect: talk and listen
- Identify stakeholders.
- Prioritize stakeholders.
- Dialogue with stakeholders.
3. Define: focus your efforts
- Select topic.
- Write a recommendation.
- Decide on report content.
- Discuss and set goals.
4. Monitor: build your report
- Check process and monitor activities.
- Ensure quality of information.
5. Report: check and communicate
- Choose the best way to communicate.
- Write the report.
- Finalize the report.
- Launch the report. Prepare for the next cycle.
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Water is a foundation of food and life. Next to air, water is our most precious resource. A person will die in about three days without water or any other fluids. There is approximately 72 percent of the earth covered in 326 million cubic miles of water. However, 97 percent of that is salty ocean water and not suitable for drinking. Only three percent of all the water is fresh water, and only one percent is available for drinking water. The other two percent is locked in ice caps and glaciers .
From the picture above, water can change states among liquid, vapor, and ice at various places in the water cycle. The balance of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time. Even though the total amount of water on earth remains constant, but the availability of that water changes with weather, season, and human use. The issue of water conservation is not about “saving” water, but it is about having enough fresh water at any given time and place to meet our needs. In order to have enough fresh water, we can do so by saving water, and ensure that water is clean and healthy by keeping the water, the ground, and the air free of pollutants as much as possible .
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Carbon dioxide (CO2) helps air absorb heat from the sun. The more CO2, the greater warming of the earth. In my opinion, the first step to reduce the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere is to reduce your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2, which was induced by your activities in a given time frame. Most of your activities are relating CO2 emissions. When you drive a car, the engine burns fuel which creates a certain amount of CO2, depending on its fuel consumption and the driving distance. When you heat your house with oil, gas or coal, then you also generate CO2. Even if you heat your house with electricity, the generation of the electrical power may also have emitted a certain amount of CO2. When you buy food and goods, the production of the food and goods also emits some quantities of CO2 .
There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Lisa Wise, an executive director of the Center for a New American Dream, gave us 15 ways of everyday choices and actions you can do to reduce your carbon footprint :
1. Buy organic and local.
2. Pay attention to packaging:
- Try to go to stores or co-ops that keep packaging minimum,
- Take reusable bags to the grocery store.
3. Ditch bottled water:
- Try buying a reusable water bottle or canteen for your water.
4.Energy-proof your home:
- Make sure all of your windows close properly,
- Keep your heating and cooling systems properly maintained,
- Switching from incandescent to compact florescent light.
5. Go native:
- Use native plant species to landscape around your home or business.
6. Try window shopping or browsing first:
- Ensure you are only buying things you really need.
7. Take a direct flight.
8. Switch water heaters to vacation mode.
9. Unplug it:
- Try using a power strip for groups of electronic items, one flick of the switch and it’s all off.
10. Keep your car:
- Keep your car in good running condition,
- Try more eco-friendly modes of transport when possible, like buses, trains, a bicycle, telecommuting or even walking.
11. Chuck your microwave:
- A freezer full of meals is actually more energy-intensive — it costs more to freeze foods, ship them cold, display them frozen in the grocery store and keep them frozen in our homes.
12. Use cold water (for laundry).
13. Have the family over:
- Cooking and entertaining for larger groups is more efficient and, per person, a lot less expensive.
14. Make time for errand:
- Try bundling errands together to reduce how far you need to travel.
15. The Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
The link below is the video that will show you some more tips to reduce your carbon footprint:
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Biodiesel is clean burning alternative fuel that contains no petroleum fuel but made from domestic renewable resources such as soybean oil. It is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. From sustainable perspective, biodiesel should be used because it is better for the environment. It is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions comparing with petroleum diesel. 
Even though we can substitute petroleum fuel that made from non-renewable resources (fossil fuel) with biodiesel, the biodiesel is only being used in some limited areas. There are some disadvantages of biodiesel that we need to improve such as:
- Biodiesel may start to solidify between 4-5°C (40°F) depending on the oil used. It can lead to cold weather starting problems during the winter time.
- Transportation and storage of biodiesel require spatial management. Therefore, it will not flow at the low temperature which can cause problems for customers with outdoor storage tanks in colder climates. It can’t be transported in pipelines. It has to be transported by truck or rail, which increases the cost.
- We cannot use biodiesel alone in vehicle that has the rubber pipes and fuel components. It will react with the rubber over time, and using it for more than a month may lead to fuel leaks and seal problems.
- Biodiesel alone should be avoided in newer vehicles with DPF (particulate filters) fitted because it reacts with the chemical additive injected into the fuel system at intervals by the ECU (engine control unit).
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Green Roof is a roof of the building that is covered by vegetation, growing media, and plant over a water proof membrane. It may include addition layers such as root barrier and drainage and irrigation system. We can separate the benefit of green roof into 2 main sections: 1) Environmental Benefit and 2) Financial Benefits.
For the environmental section, a green roof can control temperature of the building to be at comfort level. If the weather is too cold, a green roof can warm the building up by adding mass and resistance value. On the other hand, a green roof is also able to keep the building cool in the summer by evaporating cooling. Moreover, a green roof is also reducing noises for the building near airports, factories or busy freeways.
Not only can the green roof improve what inside the building but also outside of the building. Typically, a green roof can reduce storm water run-off by 50 to 90% that minimize the impact on existing sewer systems. It also cools and humidifies surrounding air and creates a microclimate which has beneficial effects within the surrounding area. Green roofs create biodiversity, encouraging wildlife, such as birds, butterflies and insects, to remain within urban areas. Finally, Green roof vegetation can filters out dust and smog particles around the building. Nitrates and other aerosol contaminants are absorbed out of the air and rainfall and bound within the soil.
For the financial benefits, we can reduce energy accost of the building by a green roof because it can control temperature of the building. A green roof can increase life expectancy of the roof. It is much like a PMR (Protected Membrane Roof) that can protect the membrane from climatic extremes and physical abuse. Moreover, it can increase real estate value by making building an amenity to be used by the buildings occupants.
Ever though a green roof has a lot of benefits but it has some disadvantages as well. Some kinds of green roofs are high initial cost on waterproofing system structure because water is retained on the roof and the possibility of roots penetrating the waterproof membrane. Because of high weight, some existing buildings cannot be retrofitted with certain kinds of green roof because of the weight load of the substrate and vegetation exceeds permitted static loading.
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Mangrove forests are forests in deltas between rivers and oceans, which provides lots of sediment (sand and mud). Most trees of this kind of forest are mangroves that are tropical maritime trees or shrubs of the genus Rhizophora. Mangroves have special aerial roots that collect sediments and slow the water’s flow, helping to protect the coastline and preventing erosion. Moreover, mangroves also have salt-filtering tap roots that enable them to thrive in brackish water (brackish water is salty, but not as salty as sea water) .
Mangrove forests are really necessary to the overall environment for many reasons including:
- Being important nursery grounds and breeding sites for birds, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, reptiles and mammals.
- Being a renewable source of wood.
- Being accumulation sites for sediment, contaminants, carbon and nutrients.
- Being offer protection against coastal erosion.
Over the past 50 years, there are approximately one-third of mangrove forests around the word that have been lost. The major reasons for destruction are urban development, aquaculture, mining and overexploitation for timber, fish, crustaceans and shellfish. During the late 70’s and early 80’s, mangrove areas were also used for unsustainable commercial shrimp farming .
Nowadays, many countries realize that mangrove forests are valuable ecological and economic resources. They have adopted mangrove restoration and conservation programs. At the same time, they also launch the strict legislation to protect mangroves.
The link below is a video that will allow you to get more understanding about the benefit of mangrove forests for the environment and human being.
http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/en/videos/categories/viewvideo/52/wetlands/mangrove-forests-for-coastal-restoration References: 1. http://www.mbgnet.net/salt/sandy/mangroves.htm 2. http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FENC%2FENC29_03%2FS0376892902000231a.pdf&code=e1cc363cce87e2737fc0936b8a4b398c
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Waste Reduction Blog: Recycling Codes for Plastics
Plastics are materials that human uses in most manufactories such as packaging, electronics, toys, credit cards, clothing, or even building supplies. There are more than 10,000 kinds of plastics which can be mixed with other elements in many different ways depending on the purpose of usage.
However, plastics contribute up to 10% of our total waste stream. Moreover, they are composed mainly non-renewable resource petroleum that is limited and also creates pollution during production process. There are only 5% of plastics that we can recycle. Therefore, in order to do waste and pollution controls, everyone should decrease the usage of plastics and try to use plastics that are recyclable.
The American Society of Plastics has divided the types of plastics into 7 categories and has given each category a number, which can be found at the bottom of the plastic container. Each types of plastics have their own characteristics and suitable to be recycled in difference levels. The detail of each type is presented below.
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Agriculture Blog: Edible Forest Garden
At present, agriculture systems are dominant by monoculture systems in which the same crop is plant year after year, without practicing crop rotation or resting the soil. Most of farmers still use this system because they believe that this system will be able to harvest more yields than others . However, from an environmental perspective, monoculture is severely depletes a soil surface that has fertile nutrients, and generally reduces crop diversity, which makes a crop easy to become subject to the pests and diseases. Therefore, the farmers need to use chemical fertilizer and pesticide. If we still use the monoculture systems to feed the world, in the future we might face a lot of environmental problems in both direct and indirect ways.
Edible Forest Garden is one way to solve the problem. It is a kind of polyculture systems in which the crop rotation will be practiced; multiple crops will be harvested in the same space leading a diversity of natural ecosystems like in the forest. Edible forest garden is a sustainable method, which establishes self-maintained feature of the garden . All plants can get the most benefit one another in the most productive ecology systems so we need not to deplete the soil or use the chemical fertilizers/pesticides.
A forest garden is organized in up to seven “layers” . Within these, the positioning of species depends on many variables, including their requirements for shelter, light, moisture, good/bad companions, mineral requirements, pollination, pest-protection, etc. The layers consist of:
1. Canopy trees: This layer is the highest layer of trees.
2. Small trees and large shrubs: This layer is mostly planted between and below the canopy trees.
3. Shrubs: This layer is typically quite shade tolerant.
4. Herbaceous perennial: For this layer, it is several of which are herbs and will also contribute to the ground cover layer by self-seeding or spreading.
5. Rhizosphere: Any design should take account of different rooting habits and requirements of different species, even if root crops are not grown much. Various beneficial fungi can also be introduced into this layer.
6. Ground covers: There are mostly creeping carpeting plants which will form living mulch for the ‘forest floor’.
7. Climbers and vines: These are generally late additions to the garden, since they obviously need sturdy trees to climb up.
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Nowadays, most energy we use is non-renewable energy produced by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are hydrocarbon deposit such as petroleum, coal, or natural gas and are formed by action heat of the earth’s core and pressure from rock and soil on the remains of dead plant and animal over millions and millions of year . We cannot produce the fossil fuels in a short period of time. That is a reason why the world supply of fossil fuels is limited, eventually the world will run out of it and it will even be more costly to get the remaining supply of those fossil fuels. Moreover, the production of non-renewable energy from the fossil fuels causes air, water and soil pollution and also produces greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Therefore, in order to solve the energy sufficiency and pollution problems, we should seriously do research and develop renewable energy.
Renewable energy is energy that is produced by sources that we are able to reproduce in the short period of time and produce a little or no pollution or greenhouse gases from the production method. There are many kinds of renewable energy such as:
1. Solar energy is energy that comes from the sun. The Solar panels on the roofs of houses, building and other establishment are use to store the solar energy. The sun’s energy harnessed by the panels runs generators which provide electricity.
2. Geothermal energy is energy that comes from the heat inside the earth. It is a technology that involves boring a hole into the ground to take the heat from the earth’s crust. The heat that comes off is used to heat water and make steam to power generators to make electricity.
3. Biomass energy is energy that from the plant and trees. There is a wide variety of biomass energy sources, including tree and grass crops, forestry, agricultural, and urban wastes. It is the oldest source of renewable energy known to humans, used since our ancestors learned the secret of fire .
4. Hydro energy is energy that comes from water. Hydro energy can be obtained by using many methods of capture. The most common method of using energy from water is a hydroelectric dam, where water coming down through an area causes turbines to rotate and the energy is captured to run a generator .
5. Wind energy is energy that comes from wind. It captured by wind turbines and used to generate electricity. The costs of wind energy are going down as mass manufacture of turbines becomes more accepted.
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Nice to meet you everyone,
The link below is my introductory presentation video of class SUST5301. It will show you my background, my understanding of sustainability, and why I want be a master in sustainability.
Have a good class and enjoy the Video.
Supakorn\’s Introductory Presentation
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