Sustainability of water infrastructure investments to be ensured by science-based process.
The Climate Standards Board has approved a new standard for climate-resilient water bonds, providing investors with a verifiable, science-based screening process to evaluate bond investments earmarked for financing sustainable water-based infrastructure projects.
The new standard, or ‘Water Climate Bonds Criteria’ is a key segment of the Climate Bonds Standard, and will certify water investments that have:
- Carried out climate vulnerability assessments considering past, present and future climate risks and environmental losses and;
- Created resulting adaptation and/or mitigation plans.
Water-related infrastructure needs are enormous, with the American Water Works Association (AWWA) estimating that the cost of repairing and expanding U.S. drinking water infrastructure will top USD 1tr in the next 25 years.
Projects as diverse as energy or industrial water efficiency, reuse, catchment or watershed restoration and/or large-scale water supply infrastructure development could be included.
The Criteria will provide assistance to corporate, municipal, city based and other bond issuers seeking to ensure their bond offerings for water-related infrastructure, or water systems within industrial and manufacturing processes, maximise sustainability and environmental factors.
Development has been led and supported by a Consortium convened by the Climate Bonds Initiative that includes Ceres, the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), CDP, and the World Resources Institute (WRI) together with a Technical Working Group (TWG) that includes additional water expertise through representation from other NGOs, industry experts and water authorities.
Co-ordinating the development of the criteria through the TWG is Lead Specialist Dr John Matthews, of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), which is supported by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).
An FAQ is available here.
Phase I of the Climate Bonds Water Criteria has focussed primarily on screening grey (built) water infrastructure projects and assets.
Phase II development is now underway, beginning the process of extending the scope of the Criteria to include ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation for investments in green (nature based) water projects and assets.
Water infrastructure is vastly underfunded and this is especially true for sustainable water infrastructure, which is critical for helping us adapt to the extremes of climate change.
Consortium Representative Statements
John Matthews – Water TWG Lead Specialist, AGWA Consortium Representative:
“The Technical Working Group’s work concentrated on the resilience and greenhouse gas impacts of water investments as expressions in concrete and stone, embedded in a matrix of economic and ecological systems. I am exceptionally proud of how the TWG tackled this issue with sophistication and an eye to practicality and implementation.”
“These goals mark an abrupt shift in how many issuers and investors have seen climate change as a distant, abstract issue, to something that influences their investment and sustainability strategy.”
Monica Freyman – Director, Investor Initiatives, Ceres Water Program:
“Water infrastructure is vastly underfunded and this is especially true for sustainable water infrastructure, which is critical for helping us adapt to the extremes of climate change- whether drought, violent downpours or flooding. Approval of the Water Climate Bonds Criteria will be extremely helpful in catalyzing credible growth in this hugely important market.”
Cate Lamb – Head of CDP Water Program:
“CDP is delighted at today’s announcement, which represents another step on the road from Paris. Delivering a low carbon, water secure future may be one of the defining challenges of the 21st Century. The Climate Bonds Water Standard represents a significant contribution to overcoming this challenge and enhancing resiliency.”
Sean Kidney – CEO Climate Bonds Initiative:
“The need for all water usage systems and infrastructure, both small and large, to be designed in anticipation of a climate impacted future is undeniable. Today’s water investments must be built upon anticipation of the changing conditions to be faced in forthcoming decades.
“The Water Criteria is a sound basis to assist investors to evaluate and assess resilience and adaptation and sustainability characteristics of water projects and infrastructure.”
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.