A Billion Acts of Green
22 April was Earth Day 2011 and for 41 years Earth Day has inspired and mobilised individuals and organisations worldwide to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability.
This year, the Earth Day Network has started the Billion Acts of Green campaign to deliver a billion pledges to world leaders at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to spur action against climate change. Over 100 million acts of green have already been pledged to the campaign, which sets them well on the road to success for delivering a billion acts next year.
COST's Earth System Science and Environmental Management domain (ESSEM) is a scientific resource to support decisions related to environmental issues, especially in the context of competition for natural resources, urban development, risk management and development of environmental policies. This scientific domain aims at improving natural resource management for minimising environmental degradation.
However, it is not just within this domain that the problems of environmental protection and sustainability are tackled. Here, we take a closer look at a variety of scientific networks tackling the theme of sustainable energy under three other COST domains: Transport and Urban Development (TUD), Forests, their Products and Services (FPS) and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). By taking a cross-domain look at the problem of sustainable energy, we highlight both the horizontal and vertical approach of COST to the important societal themes affecting us all with solutions being found through science and technology.
COST Action C24 'Analysis and Design of Innovative Systems for Low-Exergy in the Built Environment: COSTeXergy' aims to develop and define practical design support instruments in order to demonstrate the practical applicability of the energy concept to the built environment. This Action has published very informative proceedings from a conference held in 2010 on the future for sustainable built environments with high performance energy systems.
Continuing with the theme of energy strategies for the built environment, COST Action C23 closed in October 2009, and dealt with 'Strategies for a Low Carbon Built Environment' and published a European Carbon Atlas as a result. The main objective of this Action was to investigate, across the European Union, how carbon reductions could be achieved through appropriate design and management of the urban built environment, which involved a two pronged approach, by:
- minimising energy use and associated emissions from buildings,
- examining the indirect energy impacts of infrastructure developments.
Another approach to sustainable constructions is tackled by COST Action C25 'Sustainability of Constructions: Integrated Approach to Life-time Structural Engineering'. Having ended in December 2010, this Action promoted science-based developments in sustainable constructions in Europe through the collection and collaborative analysis of scientific results concerning life-time structural engineering and especially the integration of environmental assessment methods and tools for structural engineering.
Under the FPS domain, COST Action FP0902 will finish in May 2013, and aims to harmonise forest energy terminology and methodologies of forest operations, as well as biomass availability calculations, thereby building the scientific capacity within forest energy research and supporting the technology transfer of the forest biomass procurement chain and sustainable forest management. This Action promotes the increase of the use of forest biomass for energy as laid out in EU strategies, by identifying the most suitable research methods to be harmonised and standardised throughout the EU. Their results will contribute to a more solid basis for the decision-making on biomass supply on both the national and EU level.
COST Action IC0804 is undertaken under the ICT Domain, and looks at energy efficiency in large scale distributed systems. This Action fosters original research initiatives addressing energy awareness and saving, in order to increase the overall impact of European research in the field of energy efficiency in distributed systems. Ending in 2013, it will support and raise consciousness about energy saving for a variety of different audiences: system administrators, experienced scientists and engineers, industry CEOs and the general public.
We wish the Earth Day Campaign for a Billion Acts of Green the greatest of luck in getting a billion pledges, and urge you to join in too. With the work carried out throughout all the COST Domains, the work of networks such as Earth Day and every single individual commitment, we look forward to a more sustainable future!