Estudios de Caso: Sustentabilidad y Cambio Climático

En la práctica de la educación y capacitación sobre sustentabilidad y protección ambiental, los estudios de caso sirven como ejemplo para transmitir y destacar conocimiento proveniente de distintos campos que se aplica para enfrentar desafíos y problemas.  A continuación se presentan estudios de caso de la literatura especializada, y se exponen en el lenguaje original en el que fueron publicados.

Estudio de Caso 1: Cost-Neutral Carbon Neutrality in Five Years

In 2009, American University (AU), Washington, D.C., published a strategic plan declaring “an active pursuit of sustainability” as one of the institution’s ten transformational goals for the next decade. The university created an Office of Sustainability and charged it with campus sustainability planning, implementation, and reporting. A year later, the university published a climate action plan and issued four sustainability policies designed to steer campus facilities toward sustainability and, in particular, carbon neutrality.

In one year, the university has halved emissions and developed plans to mitigate the remaining emissions several years ahead of the ten-year schedule. The climate plan, “Carbon Neutral by 2020,” sets forth four emissions mitigation strategies:

  1. Reduce consumption
  2. Produce renewable energy on campus
  3. Support renewable energy off campus
  4. Support carbon offset projects
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Estudio de Caso 2:  Solar Energy. Is solar energy a cost-effective alternative energy source for pumping water in rural areas?

This study, conducted by five rural electric cooperatives in the State of Wyoming, USA, with the help of Sandia National Labs and the University of Wyoming, examined photovoltaic-powered water pumping systems installed in seven rural areas in Wyoming. A major objective of the project was to introduce and test alternative energy sources in rural areas located far from the established electricity grid. The study found that indeed photovoltaic-powered systems were cost-effective for these sites and were denoted as satisfactory sources of energy by the system owners.

Photovoltaic pumps use solar panels to collect and convert solar energy into electricity which is then used to power the electric water pumps. Systems may include batteries or sun trackers although these are not necessary. The systems have few moving parts and are relatively easy to maintain. Owner feedback from the study asserted that an example of the maintenance required was simply to clean the modules periodically due to the accumulation of dust and bird droppings. On days with insufficient sunlight to run the system, a battery or generator may be used as a back-up power supply.

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Estudio de Caso 3: Water Management.  How does Mendoza’s water management system fare with external market factors?

Water resource management in Latin America is currently problematic. The difficulties experienced can be traced back to the initial establishment of water rights. In the fifteenth century the Spanish colonizers replaced the pre-existing social control of water in Latin America with their own European-based system. The system again changed when the countries of Latin America gained their independence. Their newly drafted constitutions declared water to be a public good and a function of local, provincial governments.

Mendoza, Argentina is just one province in Latin America that is experiencing difficulties, to which Mendoza’s climate is partially responsible. The area is primarily arid, receiving less than 200 millimeters (around 7.8 inches) of rainfall annually. Four rivers are tributaries to a river that does not even reach the sea. The northern and central parts of Mendoza are not equipped with irrigation regulatory structures, but the southern area has an elaborate series of hydroelectric dams.

Despite the arid climate, Mendoza is economically reliant on agriculture, specifically grape cultivation. It is estimated that grapes, for wine production, constitute 75% of Mendoza’s agricultural activity. The grape dependency was powered by two distinct forces: 1) the Mendoza-Buenos Aires railroad constructed at the end of the nineteenth century, bringing in an influx of Spanish and Italian grape cultivation specialists and 2) an increasing demand for wine. By 1930, a restricted water supply was inhibiting agriculture.

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Estudio de Caso 4: Sustainability Solutions: Minimizing Waste and Maximizing Value

One of the greatest challenges facing higher education institutions today is balancing long-term sustainability goals with current economic financial pressures. Waste Management, working in tandem with university leaders, can help create environmental solutions that also make sound financial sense. And we have a track record to prove it. For this reason, Waste Management is working in tandem with university leaders to help create environmental solutions that also make sound financial sense.

At the University of New Hampshire and at Arizona State University, the Waste Management Sustainability Solutions team joined with university staff and students to discover solutions that maximize the schools’ existing resources to develop environmentally friendly plans that deliver bottom-line results.

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) was looking for a way to stabilize increasing energy costs, which were growing at an annual rate of 18.9 percent. In addition, the school wanted to utilize an efficient, alternative energy plan. The result was the first landfill-gas-to-energy project in the nation to power virtually an entire college campus.

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Estudio de Caso 5: Energy Savings Helps Independence Community College Make Needed Infrastructure Improvements

Challenge: One of the most critical issues for Independence Community College, Kansas, was uncertainty about the budget for facilities renovations and repairs brought on by declining state revenues and a slight reduction in enrollment. Stakeholders’ concerns prompted the college to pursue an investment-grade energy audit to determine ways energy usage could be reduced while still providing a comfortable learning environment across the campus.

ConEdison Solutions was engaged to assist the college with energy equipment improvements to all ten campus buildings. Several key items were identified as part of the “Systems Portfolio and Master Plan” developed for the community college with critical input from the board of trustees, the president, administrators, faculty, staff, and students.

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Estudio de caso 6: Quantifying Carbon Footprint Reduction Opportunities for U.S.Households and Communities

ABSTRACT: Carbon management is of increasing interest to individuals, households, and communities. In order to effectively assess and manage their climate impacts, individuals need information on the financial and greenhouse gas benefits of effective mitigation opportunities. We use consumption-based life cycle accounting techniques to quantify the carbon footprints of typical U.S. households in 28 cities for 6 household sizes and 12 income brackets. The model includes emissions embodied in transportation, energy, water, waste, food, goods, and services. We further quantify greenhouse gas and financial savings from 13 potential mitigation actions across all  household types. The model suggests that the size and composition of carbon footprints vary dramatically between geographic regions and within regions based on basic demographic characteristics. Despite these differences, large cash-positive carbon footprint reductions are evident across all household types and locations; however, realizing this potential may require tailoring policies and programs to different population segments with very different carbon footprint profiles. The results of this model have been incorporated into an open access online carbon footprint management tool designed to enable behavior change at the household level through personalized feedback.