Water Journal : Water Journal September 2014
6 My Point of View WATER SEPTEMBER 2014 BEYOND LIVEABILITY: REGENERATIVE, RESTORATIVE, NET-POSITIVE INFRASTRUCTURE Cynthia Mitchell – UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures Cynthia Mitchell is Professor of Sustainability and Deputy Director at UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures. She is the recipient of national and international awards from industry and academia, a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Cynthia ‘fell’ into sewage treatment in the early ’90s and says she never really recovered from all the bad joke possibilities. She is passionate about improving the economic, ecological and social sustainability of our water and sanitation systems, through bringing together diverse disciplines, diverse organisations and civil society. WHAT DOES NET-POSITIVE INFRASTRUCTURE MEAN – AND WHY DO WE NEED IT? Across the globe, most of us now live in cities, and the way we live in cities is mostly unsustainable. We didn’t set out to be unsustainable – our intentions are generally to do the right thing. It’s just that working out what is the right thing to do is a genuinely difficult task that gets more complex the more we learn about the connected nature of things. Functional water, stormwater and sewage services are fundamental to functional people and functional cities. And, what ‘functional’ means has always reflected our expanding understanding of the world around us: historically, our function (or goal) was first to protect public health – and at the lowest cost – and then to reduce harm to the environment. In recent years, liveability has emerged as the new goal. NEXT-GENERATION THINKING One way to think about the idea presented here is as the next generation: beyond liveability. However, this idea is revolutionary rather than evolutionary: a ‘restorative’ or ‘regenerative’ system seeks to ‘do more good’ rather than to ‘do less bad’. And the reasoning is deceptively simple: doing less bad will not, indeed cannot, deliver a world where we can all live well. What we need instead is a net-positive approach. The impact of this kind of thinking has been profound in the product and green building spaces: “Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Water buildings have rapidly captured the public imagination, and are transforming expectations for the pace of change in the built environment.” (living- future.org/netpositive) Net Positive Energy + Water Building Conference, February 4-5, 2014, San Francisco. In ‘Cradle to Cradle’, McDonough and Braungart tell the story of how a ‘do less harm’ approach can lead to book designers choosing maximum recycled content for the paper as a trade-off between minimising the use of chlorine as a bleaching agent and minimising the use of virgin forest materials, thereby reducing the options for further recycling because of reductions in fibre length each time paper is recycled. A ‘do more good’ approach, if it chose to keep the traditional form of a book, might instead choose, as McDonough and Braungart did: a polymer-based material that is designed to be durable, for infinite cycles at the same quality; to BINTECH SYSTEMS WATER SOLUTIONS TOLL FREE 1300 363 163 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bintech.com.au • ULTRASONIC TRANSMITTERS AND CONTROLLERS • POINT LEVEL SWITCHES • MAGNETIC LEVEL GAUGES • SLUDGE LEVEL SYSTEMS • WIRELESS SYSTEMS LEVEL SYSTEMS • SELF CLEANING • SELF CALIBRATING • AMMONIA • NITRATES • FLUORIDE • SILICA • ZINC NEW INSTRAN ANALYTICAL MONITOR • BIOFILM ANALYSER • RESIDUAL CHLORINE • DISSOLVED OZONE • DISSOLVED OXYGEN • TURBIDITY NEW CRONOS ECONOMY ANALYTICAL CONTROLLERS • SUSPENDED SOLIDS • PH/ORP • CONDUCTIVITY • FLUORIDE ANALYTICALCONTROLLERSNEW!
Water Journal November 2014
Water Journal August 2014