Showing posts with label sustainable development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sustainable development. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Using Solar Panels in San Diego Schools to Save Costs and Protect the Environment

The cost of education is going up in San Diego and it has nothing to do with curriculum. According to an article in UT San Diego the cost of electricity for public schools in San Diego County bounced to $30 million (1). Over half of these school districts saw their electricity bills explode to over 43% in the past six months. Officials are upset as the costs are crushing their budgets and soaking up resources. An evaluation of the long-term nature of this problem and the possibilities of implementing solar panels is beneficial. 

Installing solar panels on the roof and facilities of San Diego schools is not an impossibility as the idea as it has already been completed in Orange County Schools. The project costs $17 million dollars and is a 20 year commitment that generates 6.6 million kilowatt hours of solar energy per year that removes the equivalent of the pollution of 12,000 cars per year from the environment (Yarbrough, 2010). 

The benefits of solar program will need to be calculated through a thorough feasibility study of the use of energy, the investment costs of solar panels, and the options for financing to ensure that it makes sense. If it creates a net positive value for the school district and the length of the school buildings themselves then it should be a project worth considering. 

The other issue is the use of electricity and whether or not there are other ways to save on costs. Massachusetts’s School District changed their lighting, thermostat control, and energy monitoring to save money (Connell, 2014). The conservation of energy can take a nice bite out of the cost of running the schools and can lead to tertiary learning about other ways to improve the schools. 

There are no easy solutions but one of the ones that are most likely are using alternative sources of energy and starting to spark San Diego into a place where sustainable development is a viable option. Projects like water desalination and solar panel inclusion help create multiple sources of resources. Better monitoring and using technology to reduce waste in those systems further helps the city make it to the next stage of development. 

Connell, J. (2014). A massachusetts school district’s pioneering path to solar. Environmental Design & Construction, 17 (8). 

Yarbrough, S. (2010). Going solar in Orange County Schools. Sustainable Facility, 35 (1).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Technological and Labor Skill Advancement Increases Economic Output

Economic systems have both inputs and outputs. When outputs exceed the total inputs, the system is seen as unsustainable. A paper by Brestschger and Valente (2011) delves into a method of measuring the sustainability of resource rich countries. Even though their focus is on oil producing countries, they do have some broader implications. 

Most studies seem to rule out the concept of technological progress and trade gains to determine economic viability. Technology has the ability to lower the cost of transactions and increase overall outputs. Thus, technological advancement can lead directly to an export market and more sustainable system. 

Net investment is a concept that focuses on the net increases in all the productive assets of the local economy. Such net investment are measured by adding all of the technology and labor productivity increases and subtracting things like depletion of natural resources. The more information available the more accurate such evaluations become. 

The model proposed by the authors includes an expression of net investment from:

1. International trade in different types of inputs
2. productivity growth in final sections
3. cost-reducing technology in resource extraction

A large percentage of resource-exporting countries are unsustainable because of negative net investments. This means they are losing resources and not hedging the influx of capital to ensure that sustainable growth beyond these resources occurs. According to net investment, the economic capital flow is moving outward.  

If w were to apply the findings of this study to other areas using a similar schema we would conclude that economies that can raise their value of products and export them on the market have net inward flows of value. The wealth of an area increases while those countries that export resources without raising the values significantly are less sustainable.  Technology and local labor skill have the ability to convert lower value products to higher value outputs that increase local wealth. When considering global economies hubs can use local technology and skills to purchase lower value inputs from other places in the world and develop them into higher value products that are sold on the market to increase the wealth of an area. 

Bretschger, L. & Valente, S. (2011). International trade and net investment: theory and evidence. International Economics and Economic Policy, 8 (2).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Economic Development through a Cultural and Financial Lens

In the Hispanic villages of northern New Mexico a quest for the development of culturally appropriate and economically sustainable hubs has created new methodologies.  It was a push to move the villages from a colonial area design to something new and more progressive. The author Kristina Fisher (2008) discusses how business development and agricultural improvement can be fostered through non-profits. 

The War on Poverty and The New Deal created much activity in the region but communities soon when back to their traditional ways of life.  Some questioned the logic of these programs and the ability to raise local Hispanic communities out of poverty. In 25 years since the non-profit Ganado del Velle was created it used the hub and spoke model to create interrelated economic development projects that led to higher levels of local development. 

The model used incubation with hub and spoke model to develop the natural and cultural resources of the valley. Some of their works included concepts such as weave making, marketing outlets, time sharing, resource sharing, entrepreneurship, better farming, and showcasing artistic and food products.  They were able to bring products and services to the local market while raising the income of residents. 

The previous and traditional practices of the local people were no long sufficient for the modern economy. The locals were left in poverty and unable to compete. Success came through four principles:

-Invest in people and empower them to do the work they love. 

-Utilizing and sustaining the natural and cultural resources of the area. 

-Change the economic structure to reduce dependency and increase opportunity. 

-Provide financial support for research, marketing, businesses, and development. 

The Ganados model was seen as a success through its balance of leaders, financing, and hub and spoke non-profits that coordinated entrepreneurial activities. Each non-profit focused on the development of skills and bringing the proper financial resources to the forefront so that individuals could develop businesses. They focused on developing off of the existing culture and methods of the area, created money making avenues, connected their products to the market, and attempted to diversify their productions. A major problem learned in the process is that success did not reach its full potential due to inter-conflict that drew resources away from group members. 

The model was seen as successful to the local people and their financial growth. They were able to take simple farmers and small artisans and find greater outlets for their work by opening a retail outlet within a metropolitan area and showcasing their work.  Each component of the hub was built to enhance the other businesses.  Even though the model used a non-profit it is not confined to that type of entity alone. Any type of business, committee, or other organization may engage in hub development for philanthropic or revenue generating purposes.  It was a process of teaching people how to maximize their profits and providing the outlets to market their products effective.  Some businesses may find value in raising local value of products by bringing them to market and earning a percentage from this increased value making both the individual artisan and the business more financially successful.

Fisher, K. (2008). Reclaiming Querencia: The quest for culturally appropriate environmentally sustainable economic development in Northern New Mexico. Natural Resources Journal, 48 (2).