Better efficiency

A new notion is entering peoples minds: using natural resources much more productively — efficiently — is profitable and better for the environment. By integrating design factors we can achieve large resource savings in solutions that work better and cost less.

We now use natural resources extremely inefficiently. Many resources are non-renewable and renewable resources — ex. trees and fish – are being used faster than they’re being renewed. Depleting resources in this way is an unsustainable proposition

But most importantly inefficiency wastes money for all: families, corporations and reduces the funds available to achieve worthy social goals.

Using resources more productively creates wealth, spurring new industries, products and economic activity. It postpones depletion of non-renewable resources and enables sustainable use of renewable resources. It buys time to solve problems caused by growth.

Efficiency, or productivity, is doing services with fewer resources – often with better performance.

Whole-system design means optimizing the entire system. Do not define problems to narrowly, but identify their causes or connections. Systems thinking may reveal lasting, elegantly frugal solutions with multiple benefits. Sometimes it can enable us to transcend ideological battles and unite all parties around shared goals.

We are embedded in systems: families, communities, industries, economies, ecosystems. The machines we rely on are also systems, having profound effects on the human and biotic systems around them. Leveraging, artful integration is made possible.

Environmental damage arises from an effort to meet human needs. Goals and means must be found in a positive approach in the transition to a sustainable society.

We must work with markets to achieve high leverage by harnessing competitive forces and the economic self-interest of firms and individuals. The intention is to turn environmental problems into profitable opportunities: develop new technological and design concepts that work better, cost less, enhance efficiency, and substitute plentiful for scarce resources.

It is important to pay attention to demand. Try to find the best and cheapest way to do each desired task— do not simply expand supply without regard to the right amount, quality, and scale. We must reframe the question as, “What are we trying to do, and what’s the best and cheapest way to do it?” We also shift from producing goods to providing services.

Nature offers extraordinary design solutions. Natural systems operate in closed loops with no waste. Every output is either returned harmlessly to the ecosystem as a nutrient, like compost, or becomes an input for another process.

The standard industrial model of our age is a linear sequence of “take, make, and waste” — extract resources, use them, and throw them away. This erodes our stock of natural capital by depleting resources and replacing them with wastes.

Reducing the wasteful throughput of materials — eliminating the idea of waste — can be accomplished by redesigning industrial systems on biological lines that change the nature of industrial processes and materials, enabling the constant reuse of materials in continuous closed cycles, and often the elimination of toxicity.

Shift the business model away from the making and selling of “things” to providing the service that the “thing” delivers. Natural and human capital becomes essential.

The corporate world is a necessary part of the solution. Corporations possess the combination of skills, resources, agility, and motivation — profit — to address humanity’s most pressing challenges.

Keep up a search for interconnections between issues normally viewed as unrelated.

We face a new pattern of scarcity: abundant people and labor-saving machines and diminishing natural capital. 
Natural capital is the earth’s natural resources and the ecological systems that provide vital life-support services to society and all living things.

These services are priceless, since they have no known substitutes. Yet current business practices typically fail to take into account the rising value of these assets. Natural capital is now being liquidated by wasteful use of resources such as energy, materials, water, fiber, topsoil. 

The next industrial revolution, will be a response to changing patterns of scarcity. It will force changes and create opportunities.

We must try to develop ways – through natural capitalism – to make natural resources — energy, minerals, water, forests — stretch five, ten, even 100 times further than they do today. Biologically inspired production models seeks to reduce waste and eliminate the concept of waste.

In closed-loop production systems, modeled on nature’s designs, every output either is returned harmlessly to the ecosystem as a nutrient, like compost, or becomes an input for another manufacturing process. Industrial processes that emulate the benign chemistry of nature reduce dependence on nonrenewable inputs, make possible often phenomenally more efficient production, and can result in elegantly simple products that rival anything man-made. 

The present business models rests mainly on the sale of goods. In new models value is delivered as a continuous flow of services — ex. providing illumination rather than selling light bulbs. This aligns the interests of providers and customers in ways that reward them for resource productivity. 

The next industrial revolution will make it possible to downsize companies’ unproductive resources -  tons, gallons, kilowatt-hours – to allow people to foster the innovation that drives future success.

Source: RMI web

Example: China produces 50% of the world´s cement, and in this production emits 26 times the CO2 of the whole of Norway. In this production the Chinese are now changíng from burning coal to burning waste. This reduces the CO2 emissions a lot and at the same time removes mountains of waste. The burning process introduces new high temperature technology that also removes environmentally dangerous metals. The process involved is complex with monitoring of various substances so that they can be destroyed or utilized. DDT is practically completely destroyed by the incineration.

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