Why we will crash at some moment
Travelling around the Netherlands I am amazed constantly by the materials choices made by project developers or architects. Last week I passed a recently (low energy) refurbished office building (ASR in Utrecht, left) , and I see white , pre-formed façade elements. Most logically this can be assumed as being some kind of plastics, maybe even biobased? When at home I find the project description on the web, and it turns out to be Aluminium , Aluminium? Yes, Aluminium. How on earth can they choose for Aluminium, the champion material in environmental impact, for something simple as façade cladding? Its a sustainable material, they claim, meaning durable. They have no clue . While at another recent building they could have seen a similar façade made from plastic, and yes, even biobased plastics. Its a demonstration project (Enexis, Maastricht). Looks the same feels the same , then why aluminium?
I will never understand.
And mind you, I don’t think we will have solved this soon. Already 30 years ago we were trying to get all roofs oriented south for future solar energy devices. And 20 years ago I chaired a discussion panel during the national building trade fair, in which members of parliament of all major parties committed to do something about this, to develop roof regulations. Nothing of that, we are in 2015, and still we are surrendered to the random choices by planners and architects. I think its scandalous, that they collectively neglect to contribute to support lowering the environmental impact.
So before we will have a world full of biobased plastics and building elements, it will take some time.
But lets get back to aluminium again. There is a strange thing in the Netherlands going on. A few months ago a aluminium factory went bankrupt, because of energy prices . And a aluminium factory needs a lot of energy. So I had the impression that finally the market was doing its work: when prices of energy rise, the worst products go first. However, this is not how it works. After local protests about increasing unemployment a cheaper price is negotiated ( by importing from Germany) , the company is saved and up and running again… Wait, that’s not all the story: this is in the province of Groningen, where all the Dutch gas originates. And this province is struck with more and more earthquakes, since the gas bubble is getting empty , and the soil is settling now. The locals all protest again , demanding to stop gas pumping, since their houses are cracking. The same locals that wanted to save the aluminium factory, with its huge fossil fuels burning, which is (partially) causing the earthquakes. Do you understand this?
On top of that Google has decided to build one of its large European data centers in the same province, The locals were happy to close the deal. Again, causing a lot of fossil fuels to be extracted from beneath their houses.
Well just lets wait, this way its probably a matter of time until the whole province disappears in one, large earthquake. Including the aluminium factory….