I’ve been giving some thought to how I will approach making my home and life smart and sustainable. It’s been quite difficult to come up with something robust and systematic as this is a project that will be ongoing over many years, rather than being a discrete project with a finite period of implementation.
Central to the project will be the formulation of a vision. This will set the scope and parameters of the project (i.e. how much of my life will it extend to and what I want to achieve overall). Then, for each mini-project or significant purchase, a specification will be prepared for what it needs to achieve (for example this could be the purchase of a new television or a project such as getting a new kitchen). By their nature, specifications will be performance-based. Performance will have technology elements (e.g. a mobile phone may be required to have 3G connectivity) and sustainability elements (e.g. a new kitchen may be required to have all wood from sustainable sources). The setting of specifications could get tricky when technological requirements and sustainability goals conflict, but in these cases I will try to have to revert to the vision to try to keep me on the correct path.
After applying the specification it may be that a number of products meet the brief. In these cases, the shortlist of products will be subjected to a comapritive appraisal of their sustainability performance. This is something I have some experience of through my work, and I will be looking to develop an appraisal method to guide me in this respect.
So, going forward the first thing I need to do is set the vision. This will require a certain amount of crystal ball gazing to see where technology is headed over the coming years and that is the next big thing I will be focussing on.
cnet uk posted a story earlier this week referring to an AFP report regarding alleged unsafe conditions at a samsung plant in korea. the article states:
“A South Korean court last month ruled there was a connection between the deaths of the two workers and conditions in the semiconductor factory, which uses harmful chemicals. Samsung has hit back at the judgement, citing a study that it commissioned itself that concluded the factories were safe.”
samsung refers to a study it commissioned which found its operation to be within acceptable industry standards, but has not made this report public. i am also sceptical when the term “acceptable industry standards” is used. it almost implies that some level of harm is acceptable. contrast this to the UK construction industry, where i have some experience. despite significant hazards the aim is consistently for zero accidents, with one of my clients stating “we believe that all harm is preventable.”
i currently own a samsung tv, and was quite excited about the forthcoming samsung windows phone, but will need to look closely at these allegations relative to the performance of competitors when coming to choose my next mobile phone.
what is a smart sustainable home? there are clearly two aspects to this. taking the smart part first, there is an emerging trend for integrating technology in the home, with lighting and media controls integrated and much, much more. take a look at this video on bbc news for microsoft’s take on this.
what about a sustainable home? this is something that has been growing steadily for years, particularly in the last decade with an increasing number of people improving their homes’ energy efficiency and even generating electricity at home.
to some, a smart sustainable home must sound counter-intuitive, and there are inevitably some conflicts. more tech around the home must mean more energy use for one. and then there are the other aspects of sustainability. much tech is made in countries where abuse of labour is known to occur – look at the recent reports of abuse at factories supplying apple (i’m sure they’re not alone in this). economically there are also aspects to be considered, not least whether i can afford any of this!
so plenty of challenges ahead. right now i’m trying to buy a house and i’ve got plans for that place which i will be looking into in this blog.