Cleaning Drains the Safe and Responsible Way

Conventional drain cleaning solutions usually contain sodium hydroxide, also known as soda lye or caustic soda. While not considered a pollutant, it does have adverse effects on the human body such as skin and respiratory irritation as well as hair loss. Additionally, sodium hydroxide is corrosive to metal, which means it can damage pipes causing water damage and draining other hazardous chemicals and metals into the ground. However, several alternatives exist which contain safer, more natural ingredients and are less likely to harm the user and the environment.

Drain Cleaning

Drain Cleaning

Mechanical Cleaning

In the event that a plunger fails to unclog a pipe, there are more intensive and effective ways to clear a pipe mechanically. Drain snakes are long pieces of plastic that can reach down into pipes to pull out clogging materials. Drain augers require more work and power but are more effective at clearing blockages and, as a last resort, professional services provide industrial grade unclogging. While these methods are reliable, they can be damaging to old or already compromised pipes.

Home Made Remedies

A common homemade recipe requires a few materials that most households already have or can easily obtain. The recipe calls for two cups of baking soda, four cups of boiling water and one cup of vinegar. The process begins by pouring half the baking soda down the drain and following it up with two cups of boiling water. Next, the rest of the baking soda is added, then the vinegar is poured down the drain, and the drain is immediately plugged. The ingredients will react and fulminate and are washed down with the remaining boiling water when the reactions cease.

Baking Soda Drain Cleaner

Baking Soda Drain Cleaner

Eco-Friendly Drain Cleaning Solutions

With the rise of the green movement, many companies have created alternative drain cleaning products made with more natural and safe ingredients. Some manufacturers make drain cleaners that are made from natural enzymes that break down solid waste and are readily biodegradable. Others make a natural drain and septic cleaner that uses bacteria to break up blockages. The bacterial enzymes are not harmful to humans and do not corrode pipes after prolonged exposure.

Another Step Towards a Safe and Green Future

Caustic drain cleaning methods are not a threat to the ecosystem on the level of climate change or plastic pollution in the oceans, but it is an easily preventable risk. Technology and mass production has opened the door for affordable and accessible environmentally responsible solutions. There are enough alternatives that everyday people can easily do to keep them and their environments safer.

Savona – The first City of LEED for Cities in Europe

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), creators of the LEED green building rating system, and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the organization that certifies all LEED projects globally, announced that Savona, Italy, which is home to more than 62,000 people, is the first city in Europe registered for its LEED for Cities program.

 Savona

Savona

LEED for Cities

LEED for Cities combines sustainability, social equity and human experience with technology and analytics and is based on LEED – the world’s most widely used program for green buildings and communities.

Francesca Galati, General manager for Europe and the Middle East, BEE

Francesca Galati, General manager for Europe and the Middle East, BEE

Francesca Galati, the general manager for Europe and the Middle East from BEE, advocated LEED for Cities to the City of Savona. She said, “LEED for Cities represents a unique opportunity to grow awareness about health, wellness, and sustainability at the urban scale, and Savona will become the case study for the European Region.”

It provides cities with a framework for measuring and managing the performance of water consumption, energy use, human experience, waste, and transportation. LEED for Cities is administered through GBCI’s Arc performance platform.

LEED for Cities

LEED for Cities

ARC & BEE

Arc is a performance based platform. With Arc, LEED-certified buildings can benchmark against themselves and other similar buildings locally and globally.

BEE has always been a pioneer in promoting sustainability in the built environment. We have already had more than 200 projects worldwide. Besides being the advocated LEED for Cities to the City of Savona. At BEE, we work closely with USGBC in implementing Arc in our existing projects and developing new projects.

BEE is also on the forward of Arc related services. BEE offers QLEAR, a cloud-based, real-time intelligent building management platform that allows our team to analyze different aspects of a project’s performance and wellness including air, water, lighting, noise, energy, gas, etc. This innovative system provides direct integration with green building certifications such as LEED, WELL, RESET, and Arc.

GBCI Europe

“Cities face many challenges in this day and age – citizens are demanding more transparency and information about the places where they live, work, learn and play,” said Kay Killmann, managing director of the new GBCI Europe office. “And now more than ever, local governments are laboratories of innovation and social problem-solving.”

The European market has been a particular focus for USGBC and GBCI. In April 2017, GBCI Europe was launched to further facilitate the growth of a sustainable built environment locally and across the globe. GBCI’s expansion into Europe will help facilitate the growth and advocacy of LEED, and GBCI’s other sustainability programs in the European region. The new office will also provide local, on-the-ground support to clients in the region and improve access to GBCI’s sustainability programs and resources.

Leaders, especially in growing cities, have enormous opportunity to initiate a dynamic dialogue with citizens and invite them to contribute to the city’s progress. LEED for Cities is a framework that provides both citizens and their leaders with a detailed view of citywide performance.

(Original release please see here.)

Why Sustainability in Buildings

Sustainability is a broad term describing a desire to carry out activities without depleting resources or having harmful impacts; avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance, while a sustainable building is the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition.

Sustainable Buildings

Sustainable Buildings

Buildings and the Environment

In the United States, buildings account for 39% of the total energy use, 68% of the total electricity consumption, 30% of the landfill waste, 38% of CO2 emissions, and 12% of total water consumption (source: USGBC). Thus, buildings have a huge influence on the environment, and this is why we need to focus on sustainable buildings.

Sustainable Buildings

Sustainable buildings focus on several different aspects, such as energy, water, transportation access, materials, health, and well-being, etc. A sustainable building has a lot of benefits; it maintains or improves the quality of life for its occupants and harmonizes within the local climate, tradition, and culture. It also conserves energy and water and reduces a number of hazardous substances to which humans and other organisms are exposed. It benefits the local and global ecosystem thought the entire building lifecycle. Sustainability in buildings not only protects the environment we live in but also saves money and increases the quality of the workplace environment thus increasing productivity. This is clearly a win-win decision in long term.

As the world continues to focus on sustainability for the planet, our definition of sustainability is moving beyond environmental protection to include humans in the ecosystem as well. In the coming years, buildings will no longer be considered green if they only do less harm. More of the places where we live, work and learn will begin to actively and intentionally protect and restore our health.

Retail & Hospitality Sustainability Trends

Sustainability has many benefits: lower operating costs, increase occupants’ health and guest experience, increase competitiveness by improved brand recognition and customer loyalty, increase employee retention and satisfaction, and reduced resource consumption and emissions. The improvement of brand awareness through “doing good” is becoming one of the focus of advertising campaigns for retail and hospitality companies specifically.

Environmental Performance

A report by the U.S. Green Building Council states the hospitality industry’s annual environmental footprint is $4 billion in energy use, 1.2 trillion gallons of water use and several million tons of waste. LEED buildings enjoy an increase in cost-savings, decrease in annual operating costs, higher ROI for a building and an increase in asset value. The impact on the economy of hotels is equally impressive in scale: $163 billion in direct sales and $41 billion in profits. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, over 90% of retail energy costs are attributed to HVAC and lighting and the total retail sales of consumer goods in China hit $4.84 trillion in 2016. Retail and hospitality are two of the biggest economic and environmental influence in the world, and this is why sustainability is especially a growing trend within these sectors.

Customer Demands for Sustainability

Sustainability is not only a call for environmental protection, but also a customer demand. 58% of consumers report taking a company’s impact on the environment into consideration when purchasing, and almost three-out-of-four Millennial (73%) are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings.

Customer Demands on Sustainability

Customer Demands on Sustainability

LEED in Retail and Hospitality

USGBC estimated up to 1.2 million people experience LEED-green building certified retail locations each day. The retail report also reveals nearly 8,000 retailers worldwide participate in LEED. Green construction in the hospitality sector has also increased by 50% from 2011-2016 and represented 25% of all new construction in the world. Name brand such as Starbucks, Nike, Gucci, Prada, Shangri-La Hotel Group, The Parisian Macau, Rosedale Hotel, Sai Kung Hotel, and many other companies participate in the LEED green building program.

LEED in Retail and Hospitality

LEED in Retail and Hospitality

Business does well by doing good. This is the future trend of the industry. It is poised to transform the market by creating healthy, smart, efficient, responsive, resilient, and above all else, sustainable buildings.

Connecting Young Minds @ Nature Works Hong Kong

BEE proudly supported The Nature Conservancy’s “Nature Works Hong Kong” program again this year, which inspires young minds from all over Hong Kong to implement sustainability initiatives in their schools. The program, administered by world-renowned education providers Seeds Training, takes students from local and international schools across the region and gives them the tools and skills necessary to structure sustainability programs that can be executed in the schools.

 

Nature Works Hong Kong

The students are given the option to split into different groups, each with a topic of focus. They are then even the resources and professional knowledge they need to develop their idea into an implementable plan, which is then pitched back to their schools over a period of two months. Nature Works not only allows students to learn about different sustainability topics but it also teaches them business skills such as public speaking, economic valuation, and project management.

This year Alessandro Bisagni of BEE spoke to the students on the topic of building performance data management and the importance of having data to reach actionable solutions. He gave real-life examples of how QLEAR, BEE’s real-time building intelligence platform, has helped clients around the world improve the performance and health of projects.

BEE looks forward to supporting Nature Works Hong Kong in the future and continuing to foster an interest in sustainability for younger generations.

Nature Works Hong Kong

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About Nature Works Hong Kong:

Nature Works Hong Kong (NWHK) Environmental Innovation and Leadership program is a free opportunity for students to develop entrepreneurship and leadership skills by creating real-world environmental conservation initiatives. Our vision is to leave a sustainable world for future generations, in Hong Kong and around the world.

About Seeds Training:

Seeds Training designs and delivers training programs that build life, leadership, and learning skills in students, teachers, and professionals around the world. Since 1993, we’ve worked with thousands of schools, companies, and non-profits to craft experiential training programs tailored to the unique needs of different organizations. We create powerful learning experiences by using methodologies such as brain-based learning (developing learning capacity), social and emotional learning (building empathy and emotional intelligence), and experiential learning (game-based simulations for learning).

China’s 13th Five-Year Plan and Sustainability Trends

China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) targets “maintaining medium-high growth” with five focus areas: innovation, coordinated development, green growth, openness, and inclusive growth. In the “green growth” section, the Chinese government plans to support the growth of local energy-saving and environmental protection industries, and turn them into globally competitive firms.

2016-2020, China's 13th Five Year Plan

2016-2020, China’s 13th Five Year Plan

Water and Greenhouse Gas

Official reports state that 20% of China’s arable land and 33% of its surface water are polluted. Moreover, more than 80% of underground water used by farms, factories, and households are too polluted to drink in or bathe in. Even worse, China is the world’s largest CO2 emitter, accounting for more than 25% of global CO2 emissions.

Air Pollution and Energy Consumption

After air pollution levels in northeast China reached hazardous levels in 2013, improving air quality was elevated to be one of the top priorities addressed by the Chinese government. The Chinese government responded by establishing more than 1,400 air monitoring stations nationwide. Real-time data for 6 pollutants: PM10, PM2.5, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide was made publically available by the end of 2014. By signing the Paris Agreement, China also committed to reducing energy intensity by 15%, reducing the number of polluted days by 25% and reducing the number of days when PM2.5 exceed limits by 18%. The strictest management system for water resources was also implemented and a national monitoring system was established for groundwater.

Build Environment

China is making great efforts to reduce pollution and build environmental-friendly cities by promoting a green and low-carbon industry system and establish a green development fund. These funds will be used to support environmental infrastructure, capacity building and green industry development in Belt and Road countries.  China’s 13th Five-Year Plan set the goals of working to achieve the environmental goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and enhance environmental cooperation by 2030. China has also committed to increasing the number of “green buildings” from 2% to 50% by 2020. This is the time when green buildings and sustainability come into play.

Private Sector

While the Chinese government has done a lot for environmental protection, businesses are also addressing sustainability. Many big retailers such as Starbucks, Nike, Prada, and Gucci have committed to building more sustainably and are participating in the LEED green building program. Hospitality, commercial, educational, industrial and health care sectors are also successively joining the sustainability family. There are a number of benefits to being a sustainable business: improved brand image, increased competitive advantage, increased productivity, reduced costs, reduced waste, and employees and investors attraction and satisfaction.

Sustainability is the new trend not only for governmental initiatives, policies and agendas but also for customer demand and market demand. China has joined the sustainable building movement and plays an important role. Under the guidance of the 13th Five-Year Plan, we should expect more innovative practice in moving to a more sustainable future in China.

(Source: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission: The 13th Five-Year Plan)

Shining a Light on Solar Solutions

One of the simplest changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint and save on energy bills is to something you already have in your home: light bulbs. Switching indoor bulbs to CFLs is a great start, but using solar lighting is an even better way to cut costs and create a unique decorative look that has almost no maintenance costs. When it comes to outdoor lighting, wiring lamps and lights can be an ordeal, but solar lighting doesn’t require cords or plugs, which is a huge benefit if you’re looking to get creative with it! Solar lights come in all shapes and sizes, often cost less to install than traditional lighting, and are totally self-sustaining, making them an ideal choice for tricky to reach places or those places where you need to rely on them constantly.

Shining a Light on Solar Solutions

An Easy Switch to Solar Lighting

You can use solar lighting to replace existing light features you already have, like a driveway, patio, or outdoor garage lights and won’t need to worry about switching them on or off at night because they charge during the day and cost you nothing when they’re on! Lining your walkways with solar lights can make them safer and easier to navigate in the dark, or placing little solar lights on your mailbox, house number, curb, or fence posts mean you’ll have a much easier time parking when it’s late out without worrying about what you might hit.

Get Creative

Solar lights are also a great way to breathe life into recycling as well. Old mason jars, wine bottles, or even tin cans can be transformed into rustic-chic outdoor lighting without the price tag. Simply take a cord of solar twinkle lights and pop them through holes in the bottles or cans to create DIY light bulbs with that are totally unique. There are plenty of different ways to use solar lights for decoration, so the only limit is your imagination! Another great way you can use solar lighting is a long-lasting replacement for candles. Whether you want to childproof a jack-o-lantern or scatter them on the table at a dinner party to avoid burning guests’ sleeves, solar lights leave no ash, no messy wax, no fire hazard, and no smoke.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solar lighting solution, there are many companies that offer creative solutions, often at a fraction of the cost of a traditional contractor or electrician. Everything from highlighting a water feature at night, to creating the perfect patio space, to a project only you can imagine is possible!

Eating Sustainably in an Effort to Give Back to the Environment

You might be reading this because you have decided to make a change and live more sustainably. While food trends come and go, there is always an opportunity to thank the environment for providing us with all of the delicious plants, meat, herbs, and spices we consume.

No matter which way you decide to eat, there is a bigger issue we must remember – and that is the toll our eating habits take on the environment. Food production affects the environment in serious ways, having an impact on climate change and habitat destruction. Knowing ways to eat sustainably will ultimately be a positive choice for both your health and the environment.

How Eating Sustainably Can Help Your Health

The main value in almost any diet is to avoid intaking loads of processed foods, which are linked to many autoimmune diseases and health conditions. Turning to whole, sustainable foods will dramatically reduce an individual’s consumption of sodium, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Since many people eating processed foods face weight gain and feeling fatigued throughout the day, individuals turning to foods from the Earth can consequently lose weight. In the long term, this may help a person to avoid diabetes, cancer, and even allergies. Eating sustainable meats, fruits, and vegetables can also help sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as eating less dairy, which is usually a cause of indigestion and stomach pain, should help relieve the symptoms. These types of dietary choices are a staple of the paleo diet, which is one of the known diets to help people gain more muscle and lose unneeded fat.

Sustainable Ways to Maintain Your Diet

While eating less processed foods will help our health, it will also help us give back to the environment. After all, the Earth is the source of our well-being, and finding ways to utilize its sources in a mindful way is crucial to our avoidance of sickness and the verdure of the environment.

The best way to eat sustainably on any diet is to eat locally and seasonally, which will support local farmers, plant diversity, and the freshness of your diet. Prioritizing fruits and vegetables will reduce deforestation and freshwater withdrawals, and doing so is said to help prevent cancer, and to lower high blood pressure and blood sugar. Choosing foods that are organic is also good for the environment, as organically-grown food is produced with less potential harm and exploitation on the workers and the land.

Making small adjustments to eat more sustainably can have a great effect on the environment over time. Eating can always be done in an environmentally-friendly way, leading to positive benefits for both your body and the world around you.

Polluting the Brain: What You Need to Know About Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Air Pollution

Medical experts are beginning to link Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia to pollution in the air we breathe. Forms of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, can affect several aspects of one’s cognitive abilities, such as logical reasoning, memory, and performing necessary daily tasks. Dementia can be the result of infection, stroke, and other medical issues that affect the brain, but it seems that air pollution and the environment can also play a significant role.

air pollution and dementia

Pollution’s Effects on the Brain

A recent published study in Translational Psychiatry found that women, especially, had an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease the more that they were exposed to air pollution. Women who had a particular genetic variant, known as APOE-e4, were about three times as likely to develop the disease or another form of dementia due to pollution exposure.

The study also found a link between pollution and women with the genetic variant as creating a higher probability that those women would at least suffer some cognitive decline. Although their symptoms did not fit the bill for any form of dementia, their reasoning and memory skills were significantly lower than those of women without the gene variant or high pollution exposure.

Another study researched the effects of traffic pollution on Swedish residents. Researchers examined the air quality in which the 1,806 participants lived for a 15-year period. 191 participants had an Alzheimer’s diagnosis by the study’s follow-up, and 111 others had a vascular dementia diagnosis. Those who lived in areas with higher traffic pollution were more likely to receive a diagnosis.

Is It Too Late to Go Green?

As environmental policies grew throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the United States and Europe saw a steady decrease in dementia diagnoses. Researchers have more recently studied the trends in dementia and air pollution throughout the decades to prove the effects of pollution on the brain further. What they’ve found thus far is that an increase in eco-friendly policies and lifestyle changes has been steadily decreasing the incidences of dementia and Alzheimer’s all over the world.

Although creating an eco-friendly environment doesn’t happen overnight, working toward making cleaner, more breathable air may impact the future of those most at-risk for developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Supporting important environmental policies can be the first step towards creating a better outlook for the future of the air we breathe and the toll it takes on the health of the brain.

Reduce Allergies By Switching to Eco Cleaning Products

Did you know that using many big-name brand household cleaners, is actually similar to using hazardous waste? The stark reality is that each time you clean, you could be spreading toxic chemicals around your home. If you want to reduce the risk of your family developing allergies, then think about switching from toxic household cleaners. Many of the big-name cleaners contain a dangerous level of toxicity. Some cause immediate reactions like headaches. But continuous exposure could lead to serious disease. Toxic chemicals in household cleaning products that you should avoid include:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Ammonia
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)

 

Reduce Allergies By Switching to Eco Cleaning Products

Reduce Allergies By Switching to Eco Cleaning Products

Alternative healthy ways to clean

Even if the product claims to contain natural ingredients, you should always read the label first. But you can make your own products using natural ingredients. After all, it’s amazing what some vinegar and lemon juice can do. Knowing what ingredients to avoid in your cleaning products will help protect the health of your family and your home.