Sustainable engineering      Hans Lyklema   Wageningen University      Wageningen, Nov. 10th 2011                         ...
KLV 125 years: congratulations! What     about another 125 years?• Over the past 125 years society has changed drastically...
Engineering Sustainable?• Sustainable: maintaining the earth in a  condition allowing decent human life for a  long period...
The p.p.p. mantra• In alphabetic order: people, planet, profit• The three p’s are not equally important• Tell us your sequ...
The p.p.p. mantra -2• The three p’s are not equal• For sustainability the only valid response is:  Planet >> people >> pro...
Anchoring of sustainability• How to proceed if we cannot trust extrapolation  from recent trends?• The basic laws of natur...
Basic laws of nature• All people are mortal• The First Law of Thermodynamics• Matter is indestructible• The Second Law of ...
Basic laws of nature          Relevance for sustainability• All people are mortal. Basic law of biology.  Uncontested• The...
Essence of the Second Law• In physical parlance, it describes the increase  of entropy• In mundane language, it states tha...
Ecological pressure• Some natural resources are abundant, in  particular solar energy. Many bioproducts can  be recycled w...
Two kinds of indicators• Integrated ones  One number to quantify the quality of the  environment• Individual indicators fo...
The ecological footprint (EF).It is the best integrated indicator we have so far:    1. It is relatively simple to compute...
The basic formula• For a country:  EF = B x <EFpp>      • B = population      • <EFpp> = average footprint per person• For...
Basic task• For sustainability, the product• EF = B x <EFpp> must be reduced by at least a  factor of two. Which one of th...
Action proposals for engineersAction proposals can be sorted according totheir time scales1. Very short term (today)   Cel...
Action proposal-22. Short term (~ several years)   Continue present activities but try to   become more conscious about th...
Action proposal-33.   Longer term ( ~ one generation)     Are the new projects really needed?     –   Government buildings...
Action proposal-44. Long term (125 years and over)   Consider a situation with fewer people but   continuing demand for fa...
Final wishHope that over another 125 years there is    enough reason for my successor to          congratulate you again  ...
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Presentation Main Conference Hans Lyklema

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Presentation Main Conference Hans Lyklema

  1. 1. Sustainable engineering Hans Lyklema Wageningen University Wageningen, Nov. 10th 2011 1
  2. 2. KLV 125 years: congratulations! What about another 125 years?• Over the past 125 years society has changed drastically• It will continue to change drastically over the coming 125 years• →Beyond predictions made on the basis of extrapolations of present trends• →Beyond present opinions such as  economic growth is a must  money must be invested to protect the environment  the BNP reflects the quality of a society  values of goods can be expressed in euros  democracy is the best political system 2
  3. 3. Engineering Sustainable?• Sustainable: maintaining the earth in a condition allowing decent human life for a long period • Brundtland report • Long time →125 years or longer• Engineering: completing things optimally within external constraints • Quantification, even if not all information is available • Common sense 3
  4. 4. The p.p.p. mantra• In alphabetic order: people, planet, profit• The three p’s are not equally important• Tell us your sequence and we shall tell you what you are 4
  5. 5. The p.p.p. mantra -2• The three p’s are not equal• For sustainability the only valid response is: Planet >> people >> profit No profit without people and no people without planet 5
  6. 6. Anchoring of sustainability• How to proceed if we cannot trust extrapolation from recent trends?• The basic laws of nature did not change over the past 125 years and will not change over the coming 125 years• → a hold for achieving sustainability of our planet And, hence, of mankind 6
  7. 7. Basic laws of nature• All people are mortal• The First Law of Thermodynamics• Matter is indestructible• The Second Law of Thermodynamics• You cannot eat your cake and have it 7
  8. 8. Basic laws of nature Relevance for sustainability• All people are mortal. Basic law of biology. Uncontested• The First Law of Thermodynamics. No perpetual motion. Energy is indestructible. Uncontested• Matter is indestructible, except for nuclear reactions• The Second Law of Thermodynamics. No perpetual motion of the second kind. Understood??• You cannot eat your cake and have it. Unless you can recycle it. Is that always possible? 8
  9. 9. Essence of the Second Law• In physical parlance, it describes the increase of entropy• In mundane language, it states that it is impossible to upgrade matter and/or energy without external energy source • Upgrading: waste water purification, changing heat into work, recovering waste phosphate from surface water, reclaiming lithium from batteries, etc.• → An ecological price has to be paid for recycling 9
  10. 10. Ecological pressure• Some natural resources are abundant, in particular solar energy. Many bioproducts can be recycled with impunity (“crade to cradle”)• Others are not (area, potable water, minerals, fossil fuels,……)• → if we heed Brundtland we must measure our ecological stock and adjust our economic metabolism to it• → Need for one or more indicator(s) 10
  11. 11. Two kinds of indicators• Integrated ones One number to quantify the quality of the environment• Individual indicators for each contribution – Clean air, potable water, energy, dust, greenhouse gases, CO2, etc.• Individual indicators appear more specific, and hence transparent, but the problem is that the are interconnected 11
  12. 12. The ecological footprint (EF).It is the best integrated indicator we have so far: 1. It is relatively simple to compute 2. The notion is easily understood by a broad audience 3. Its unit (hectare) is readily conceivable 4. It shows similar trends as other integrated indicators, like LCA analyses, entropy computations,… 5. It is insensitive to financial arguments 12
  13. 13. The basic formula• For a country: EF = B x <EFpp> • B = population • <EFpp> = average footprint per person• For each country (or city or groups of countries,….) EF can be computed and compared with that for mondial sustainability • Technology does not occur in the equation!• For The Netherlands the present EF is already too high by AT LEAST A FACTOR OF TWO. • Living Planet report 2010, based on data of 2007….. 13
  14. 14. Basic task• For sustainability, the product• EF = B x <EFpp> must be reduced by at least a factor of two. Which one of the two or something of both?• The choice is the product of two taboos and beyond engineering 14
  15. 15. Action proposals for engineersAction proposals can be sorted according totheir time scales1. Very short term (today) Celebrate the better achievements of KLV over the past 125 years 15
  16. 16. Action proposal-22. Short term (~ several years) Continue present activities but try to become more conscious about the ecological price tags Few things are really sustainable, notwithstanding slogans, like: sustainable development, economy, residential areas, engineering ??? Often projects are called “sustainable” on the basis of only one indicator Be aware of the Al Gore farce Do this for yourself and for your competitor 16
  17. 17. Action proposal-33. Longer term ( ~ one generation) Are the new projects really needed? – Government buildings in The Hague. Over the past decennia their volume has tripled. Are the Netherlands now three times better governed? – Fast railway from The Hague to Groningen saves ~20 minutes over present rail and 35 minutes with 1938. How will the saved time be spent? 17
  18. 18. Action proposal-44. Long term (125 years and over) Consider a situation with fewer people but continuing demand for facilities: right up the street of engineers 18
  19. 19. Final wishHope that over another 125 years there is enough reason for my successor to congratulate you again 19

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