ALE PICKS THE TEN MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY COUNTRIES
Edited by Jodi Summers
Every year, Yale University releases an Environmental Performance Index (EPI), calculating national environmental factors such as a country’s environmental health, air pollution, water resources and productive natural resources. So let us present to you the most recent top 10 winning countries who can boast the title of the most eco-friendly nations in the world.
1 – Switzerland
Switzerland’s hard-line legislation on pollution makes it one of the world’s most eco-friendly nations. Switzerland’s strategy is to continue to foster cooperation between organizations and individuals. To make sure everyone is acutely aware of how precious the environment can be, Switzerland charges for their water and waste management services as well as establishing severe environmental taxes. Prevention is the third key tenet, shown by the 2006 development of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), to sustain natural resources and develop safety measures for natural hazards.
2 – Norway
Overcast Norway is the home of the world’s largest solar production plant, owned by REC Group. Norway has also taken emissions seriously, and is now planning on becoming carbon neutral by 2030, not 2050 as originally expected. The change in anticipated timing has been reduced because of what Norway has learned by funding green projects abroad and reducing at-home driving and flying.
3 – Sweden
Sweden’s mandate for a country free of fossil fuels by 2020 puts it as the third most eco-friendly country on the planet. Already, a majority of Sweden’s power is either nuclear or hydroelectric. Solutions for automobile and flight transport include ethanol and animal waste conversion. Additionally, Sweden is one of the world leaders working on harnessing the power of waves. At the University of Uppsala, Sweden is developing “wave power” which converts waves into 4x as much energy as solar power in the same amount of time, with no waste and no emissions.
4 – Finland
Finland is experiencing a remarkable recovery from industrialization, using initiatives to clean up water and air quality in industrial areas, and practicing land preservation. Bravo as Finland has managed to reverse deforestation. The country’s forests are now growing at a greater rate than they are being deforested, showing an environmental gain even with the annual timber harvest. Finland can also be attributed with starting the United Nation’s Environmental Program (UNEP) Task Force for Sustainable Building and Construction, which looks not only at the sustainability of the building, but of the resources and process used to construct it.
5 – Costa Rica
With 5% of the world’s biodiversity contained in one country, Costa Rica has always been on the forefront of environmental conservation. Did you know that a full quarter of the nation is devoted to park preservation? That helps the country score high on the EPI list. Couple their conservation efforts with the fact that Costa Rica uses hydroelectric power in 80% of the country, and add on their 5% gas tax which funds environmental programs, and Costa Rica comes in fifth.
6 – Austria
It’s very impressive that Austria’s environmental conservation measures are enforced by all levels of government, from federal to municipal authorities. For example, waste disposal is a highly regulated department encompassing everything from individual waste to corporate chemical, air and agricultural pesticide pollution. Water quality and forest preservation, are extremely high on Austria’s list of priorities, thus the quality level for Austria’s lakes and rivers is among the highest in the world. The development of Austria’s National Protective Forest Plan has also helped in keeping the nation’s natural beauty pristine.
7 – New Zealand
New Zealand‘s relatively small population in relation to land mass has helped preserve this nation’s natural resources. While automotive emissions and industrial pollutants are still problematic, New Zealand is working hard to develop restrictive legislation and alternative energy sources. The nation was host to the 2008 World Environment Day, and has developed the Environmental Risk Management Authority, which regulates the introduction of non-native species and environmental components so as not to threaten New Zealand’s pristine atmosphere.
8 – Latvia
The Baltics weigh in. By monitoring and reducing water pollution, Latvia’s salmon crop and freshwater bodies are all in the range of “good.” Taken steps toward improvement, Lativia has begun dismantling pollutive farms to reduce fertilizer and insecticide chemicals and allow room for the return of natural forests. Since obtaining freedom from the Soviet Union 1990, Lativa has decreased stationary pollution by 46% and wastewater by 44%, devoting a major portion of environmental funds to water treatment and energy conservation techniques.
9 – Colombia
Beating Costa Rica, Colombia is home to 10% of the world’s species, giving the country a wealth of ecological diversity. While Colombia has had problems in the past concerning deforestation, the detrimental effects of the coca trade, and political strife involving their natural oil deposits, these factors have served to motivate Colombia towards energy conservation and new, less politically tumultuous resources. Colombia has also begun programs for the cultivation of natural parks that support the growth of native medicinal plants with preserves such as the Orito Igni-Ande Medicinal Flora Sanctuary, a 10,626 hectare preserve.
10 – France
The French government is very aware of the problem of climate change. Their strict environmental protection measures are incorporated into the national Constitution and reviewed every year with the eventual goal of 54 million tons of saved C02 by 2010. France is one of the few in the Kyoto agreement to cut such a large amount of emissions so quickly. The country’s laws are comprehensive, covering every layer of production from supplier to producer to consumer. This has helped make France the number one producer of renewable energy sources in the EU, 78% of its energy being nuclear powered, which in turn has reduced nitrogen oxide and other hazardous emissions by 70%.
GLOBAL DEMOGRAPHICS ARE SHAPING REAL ESTATE TRENDS
Edited by Jodi Summers
Global Demographics: Shaping Real Estate’s Future offers recent research from the Urban Land Institute about the effect of global demographic change on real estate.
“Over the next 20 years, demographic megatrends — and their variations by continent — present the real estate industry with tremendous opportunity to not only grow, but to better serve the people real estate is designed for,” said David Jacobstein, senior advisor to co-sponsor Deloitte LLP ‘s Real Estate practice. “Mature economies — especially growing ones — offer attractive investment opportunities, but emerging markets require vast quantities of infrastructure, as well as residential, retail, office, and hotel properties to support their burgeoning populations.”
Findings from the report include:
The aging of the world’s population is arguably the single most dramatic demographic trend today, with three key trends emerging:
v In 2006, almost 500 million people worldwide were 65 and older.
v By 2030, individuals 65 and older are projected to increase to 1 billion — equaling one out of every eight people on earth.
v The most rapid increases in the 65-and-older population are occurring in developing countries, which will see a jump of 140 percent by 2030.
Real estate implications
v Retirement housing is the primary real estate beneficiary of global aging, with the U.S. senior housing industry set to benefit from the opportunity to produce new products.
v Rapid consolidation of senior housing operators will result in more professional and cost-effective management.
v Investor interest will continue to grow because economic cycles have little effect on dementia and nursing care facilities.
v There is increased demand for affordable senior housing and senior housing options in ethnic communities.
As of 2007, 3.3 billion people — half of the world’s population — live in urban areas. With that number expected to increase to 60 percent by 2030, five key trends are emerging:
v One billion people live in slums, with 90 percent of this population occurring in developing countries.
v At least 133 million city dwellers in the developing world lack durable housing.
v Twenty percent of urban dwellers in emerging nations are overcrowded, with more than three people per bedroom.
v Only two-thirds of the world’s urban population has access to tap water, with only 46 percent having access in their homes.
v More than 25 percent of the world’s urban population lacks adequate sanitation.
Real estate implications of these urbanization trends include:
v Investing in infrastructure — whether new or established — is essential to the viability of long-term commercial real estate projects. Privatization of infrastructure through public/private partnerships with investment funds are becoming increasingly important, with notable examples occurring in the United States, Spain and France.
v Better land use controls should be implemented to prevent high-density, informal communities from developing and reduce outward urban sprawl because both trends present difficulties to residents in terms of infrastructure, safety and lifestyle.
v There is increased demand for housing and retail as a result of a growing workforce.
v In stagnant or shrinking populations, new construction must be viewed as replacement properties — even if that entails older building demolition to maintain vacancy rates — as has occurred in continental Europe.
v Emerging markets can leap from traditional, organic models to contemporary multi-use projects and residential communities if ground level infrastructure is established.
v The lack of mortgage availability in the emerging market is the greatest limitation on new development.
CHINA’S GREEN PROPERTY MARKETS ARE ABOUT TO EXPLODE!
By Jodi Summers
China’s secondary and tertiary markets are beginning to play a greater and greater role in the country’s real estate market, and analysts are speculating that China’s property market could quadruple in size by 2020.
The information comes courtesy of a report from at Jones Lang LaSalle titled China40: The Rising Urban Stars report.
“China’s Tier II and Tier III cities are dynamic centers of economic development and continued growth,” says Michael Klibaner, head of research Shanghai. “Massive infrastructure investment makes these markets increasingly accessible at a time when interest in China has shifted from being export oriented towards a focus on the domestic market.”
Analyzed in the report were the 40 top Tier II and Tier III cities which will be a strong future investment value. Each city was further analyzed for it real estate strengths. For office, Tianjon, Chongqing and Nanjong made the list; in retail Changsha, Wuhan and Wenzhou; and in Logistics Chengdu, Qingdao and Zhengzhou.
The country also has new cities under construction. Dongtan’s master plan outlines the world’s first green city, every block engineered in response to China’s environmental crisis. It’s like the source code for an urban operating system. “We’re not focused on the form,” project architect Alejandro Gutierrez explains. “We’re focused on the performance of the form.” He and his team imagine a city powered by local, renewable energy, with superefficient buildings clustered in dense, walkable neighborhoods; a recycling scheme that repurposes 90 percent of all waste; a network of high tech organic farms; and a ban on any vehicle that emits CO2.
William McDonough had drafted a master plan for building the city of Huangbaiyu as a “cradle-to-cradle” model city. Phase 1 construction, with forty new homes built using advanced construction is close to completion.
“The future evolution of China’s cities and their real estate markets will be driven by a rich combination of factors that are strongly influenced by government policy,” the report states. These policies focus on urbanization, with plans in place to see the city population explode to 850 million people by 2020. “The government’s ideal end vision of the urbanization process is a country wide network of environmentally sensitive cities each with their own unique competitive advantages and strong trading connections.”
Energy-saving fluorescent lamps will continue to be rule rather than the exception in China, and more efficient LED lighting will be widely used for parking lot and street lighting, among other applications. Growth areas are being designed with mass transit in mind.
“We are confident that more business park hotspots will emerge as experienced developers and investors penetrate further into China’s Tier II and Tier III cities,” says Tammy Tank, head of business parks in China.
Info courtesy of
by Jodi Summers
Sacre bleu! Los Angeles is a better real estate…according to Forbes.com. In a recent top 10 article called World’s Best Places For Real Estate Buys, Ten cities investors will target in 2009 our beloved Los Angeles was #7 – after San Francisco and before Paris.
Washington D.C. topped the list this year, thanks to the proposed $1 trillion swell of government spending. As Forbes notes, “At present, D.C. has the lowest unemployment rate in the country–4.1%, compared to the 7.2% national average. With President Obama’s stimulus package recommending $1 trillion in new spending, it’s unlikely government jobs–and those they support–will be leaving the District anytime soon.”
Not many investors were looking at L.A. in 2008, as we were hammered by the subprime crisis and a massive volume of foreclosures. As we all know, our perceived property poverty curtailed spending and our whole local economy limped along. We were 19th on the 2008 Forbes World’s Best Places For Real Estate Buys, so this 12-point rise is a huge boost for real estate morale.
As far as green development goes, the Los Angeles Green Building ordinance –is being heralded as “the most far reaching plan of any big city in America to promote green building practices in the private sector.” The ordinance intends reduce the City’s carbon emissions by more than 80,000 tons by 2012, the equivalent of taking 15,000 cars off the road – a bolder objective than any other major city in the country. (Now if they’d only find a way get 15,000 cars off the road.)
“It’s all about perception,” notes a local investor. “If people perceive Los Angeles is a good value, then it becomes a good value, and prices grow strong.”
Good news for local property owners – sales surged 102%in the residential sector, according to Radar Logic, a derivatives firm, and Forbes notes that this wave “has that market hinting at a bottom.”
The 2009 Top 10 Best Places For Real Estate Buys
1. Washington, D.C.
2. London, U.K.
3. New York, N.Y.
4. Tokyo, Japan
5. Shanghai, China
6. San Francisco, Calif.
7. Los Angeles, Calif.
8. Paris, France
9. Houston, Texas
Please note Forbes’ rankings come from the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate, a research association that tracks where member investors are finding the best opportunities around the world.
CALFORNIA IS THE MOST ENERGY EFFICIENT STATE
by Jodi Summers
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), California is tops in employing energy efficiency as a way to grow its state economy while meeting electricity demand, combating global warming, and contributing to U.S. energy security. Following California was Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Washington State, Minnesota and Massachusetts (tied), Wisconsin, and New Jersey.
The ACEEE based this finding on its State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which rates and ranks state-level action on model energy efficiency policies, programs, and practices.
“The top ranked states are demonstrating great leadership in promoting energy independence with cost-effective energy efficiency investments,” Maggie Eldridge, a research associate at the organization and lead author of the report, said in a statement announcing the findings. “By setting innovative policies and programs that help consumers save energy, states are using energy efficiency as the first line of defense
against rising energy prices while increasing our nation’s energy security, fostering economic prosperity, and combating global warming.”
In ranking the 50 states and the District of Columbia, ACEEE examined eight energy efficiency policy areas: utility-sector and public benefits programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes; combined heat and power; appliance efficiency standards; “lead by example” practices in state facilities and fleets; research, development, and deployment; and financial and information incentives.
“We looked at things like investment in smart growth [development], money spent on public transportation, and tax incentives for hybrid vehicles,” said Max Neubauer, ACEEE policy program research assistant and co-author of the report. Moreover, he adds, the group looked at what percentage of a state’s revenue are spent on energy efficiency and looked at how strict the states enforce the building codes.
As the leader, California scored a 14.5 (out of 20) in the “utility” section and had perfect scores in five other categories, losing two points (out of six) in the transportation section and losing two points (out of three) in the financial and information incentives section. It had a total score of 40.5.
Second-ranked Oregon scored high in the utility section (13.5), but did poorly in the lead by example and research and development sections. It scored a 37 overall.
Connecticut also had high marks in the utility section (15.5), but also lost points in building codes (four out eight), research and development (0.5 out of two), and financial and information incentives (one out of three). Final score was 36.
Vermont scored a near-perfect 19 (out of 20) in utility and public benefits, but its other sections were unimpressive, leading to a score of 33.
The most improved states since last year’s scorecard were Idaho, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Virginia. “These states have stepped up efforts in various important ways, such as setting aggressive new energy savings targets, ramping up funding for programs, or improving efficiency of the state’s own public buildings and vehicle fleets,” Neubauer explained.
This is the second year that ACEEE has done the scorecard report. The 2008 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard report can be downloaded at
Info courtesy of:
HOW GREEN IS YOUR GOOGLE?
When was the last time you considered the environmental impact of Google searches Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research.
While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2; boiling a kettle generates about 15g. “Google operates huge data centers around the world that consume a great deal of power,” said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist who did the research on the environmental impact of computing. “A Google search has a definite environmental impact.”
Google is secretive about its energy consumption and carbon footprint. It also refuses to divulge the locations of its data centers. However, with more than 200m internet searches estimated globally daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the internet is provoking concern. A recent report by Gartner, the industry analysts, said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines – about 2% of global CO2 emissions. “Data centers are among the most energy-intensive facilities imaginable,” said Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Banks of servers storing billions of web pages require power.
Though Google says it is in the forefront of green computing, its search engine generates high levels of CO2 because of the way it operates. When you type in a Google search for, say, “energy saving tips”, your request doesn’t go to just one server. It goes to several competing against each other.
It may even be sent to servers thousands of miles apart. Google’s infrastructure sends you data from whichever produces the answer fastest. The system minimizes delays but raises energy consumption. Google has servers in the US, Europe, Japan and China.
Wissner-Gross has submitted his research for publication by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and has also set up a website www.CO2stats.com. “Google are very efficient but their primary concern is to make searches fast and that means they have a lot of extra capacity that burns energy,” he said.
Get the whole story @ http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article5489134.ece
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