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Table of Contents

Review of Books on Green Buildings – Part 9


Chapter 8 – Gaining Capital


  1. How people ignore the living systems
  2. The resource puzzle
  3. Innate quality provider
  4. One teaspoon of good grassland
  5. Nature's workers thrown out of business
  6. $33 trillion and counting
  7. Substitutes or complements?
  8. When the limiting factor changes
  9. Subsidizing global wastes
  10. Taxing waste, not work
  11. The first sustainable company

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This chapter is about restructuring value and reinvesting it as natural capital. Business innovation in terms of waste reduction can be started with a series of events and processes. Ultimately, this series leads back to the very biological processes, the main source of life from which all resources is derived. Traditionally, the link between industry and living systems has been greatly ignored. To exemplify, Biosphere 2 experiment show that there are some resources which no money can replenish. Only a very few human-made substitutes can genuinely replace the various array of natural benefits from nature.

No human being or group can ever reconstruct a watershed, pool of genes, topsoil, wetlands, sea forms, pollinators, or even a troposphere. We can never create a whole ecosystem. As the famous author said, we cannot interrupt the sophisticated inter-relationships of the ecosystems without damaging it. The genuine possibility of an instant, dramatic change in the system is something we should highly acknowledge. Our lives are filled with natural mechanisms for which a slight revision or force can cause rapid changes which are not good. There are many trigger mechanisms which we should really know and if we are not very cautious, we might miss science's warnings about the possible outcomes of our present ways.

Chapter 9 – Fundamental Make Up of Nature


  1. The technological roots
  2. Forests and cultural memory
  3. Brains and bytes
  4. The biggest advantage is downstream
  5. Multiplying savings
  6. Gaining by a factor of 26
  7. Small trees, big beams
  8. 400 million pallets annually
  9. Paper grown on field


This chapter deals with applying biologically inspired new design to the forestry industry. Paper is the number one manufactured product. New western paper manufacturing factories carry huge operations worth less than one trillion dollars. A small city and a big paper mill use the same amount of energy. Paper factories transform one whole forest into around two hectares clear-cut per mill daily into thousands of various highly utilized products brought by a train loader. (Hawken, Lovins, & Lovins, 2008) Its production extensively produces great wastages but paper costs a little and it is very available and no one even bother to think about its gigantic impact on the environment.

Most of us use papers and then throw it away without caution. A typical American employee is said to use one paper sheet each 12 minutes one paper ream each individual from one to seventeen or eighteen days. Each of us also disposes an estimated 1,600 to 3,200 ounces of paper annually. (Ibid.)

Similarly, the fibers we used for textiles share the same story. It comes from many resources; it includes paper, lumber, tire-cord, rayon, and cigarette filters. Non-tree plants are also extracted for cotton, flax, vegetable plastics, fabrics, ropes, etc. Like paper, fiber production also has a very great impact on the environment. Most "natural" fibers are grown in unsustainable methods. Traditional cotton production takes about two and a half tons of water. Imagine its toll on the environment.

Chapter 10 – Life’s Food


  1. The product of our doing
  2. Chemically dependent exhaustion
  3. Wholly made of oil
  4. Sustainable fiber and food
  5. The productivity of place
  6. When food requires passports
  7. Ducks and rice
  8. Climate and dirt
  9. Unfarming
  10. Chock-full of life


While many consider the industrialization of farming as a technological success, there are some setbacks to it. In the last half century, major crop production has more than doubled. There are many high yielding, quickly maturing crops which increased the world's food production. All the arable lands are extensively used. While about 1 to 4 billion more acres are potentially arable globally, concentrated on the developing countries, it would cost more to irrigate, drain, and link these agricultural lands to markets than crop prices now compensate.

Intensification is the only conventional way to continue extending world food production to support the ever growing demands of the increased population. But then, we tend to ignore that agricultural intensification leads to diminished agricultural returns. Industrialization and urbanization (i.e. the construction of a heavily subsidized interstate highway system) allow food to be transported to longer distances. On the average, food crops can travel 1,300 miles in the United States. It can also be processed in ever more sophisticated but costly ways.

The food sector utilizes about 10-15 percent of all energy in the industrialized countries. The data is greater in the United States. Even with technological advances improving efficiencies, only about two-fifths of this energy goes to food processing, packaging, and distribution. About two-fifths of the energy is used to refrigeration and cooking by final consumers. Only one-fifth is actually utilized on the farm, half of that in the form of chemicals applied to the soil.

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Chapter 11 – Water Solutions


  1. Drilling to supply water to China
  2. There are more water than rivers
  3. Let us save the aquifer
  4. Drying with Xeriscapes
  5. Everywhere in the house needs water
  6. Rainwater and dirt water
  7. Building an urban watershed
  8. Wastewater means food
  9. Supplying water to the community


We live on an aqueous planet. The earth is covered by three-fourths of water. However, fresh, clean water is getting scarce. The solution to reducing supplies of freshwater is not to try countering it with increased supplies. Humans already use one-fourth of the earth's whole water in its natural flow. Additional dams might increase available runoff modestly but these are costly and ecologically damaging. In short, no water supply substitute or strategy could keep up with the current rate of the rapidly growing population growth and its subsequent demand.

Industrialized countries blunder with water the same way they err with energy. They deplete non-renewable water supplies and look for more water instead of productively using inexhaustible sources and enhancing their supply by restorative grazing, farming, and forestry. They depend on the highest-quality water for even menial tasks such as toilet uses.

Good news is that this mind-set is changing. Various ready and emerging techniques make it possible to significantly increase water productivity directly where it is utilized. These technologies and management practices and new ways to implement and reward are coming. All the exhausted waters from natural resources can be made to feed the world in the coming century while protecting the natural capital on which our ecosystem depends.

Chapter 12 - Making Sense of the Weather and Making Profits


  1. A few drops of air
  2. The atmospheric bathtub
  3. Molecules flapping
  4. A tea-cozy for the planet
  5. What we can't mimic
  6. Climate protection at a profit
  7. In God we trust; all others bring data
  8. More than efficiency
  9. Why nuclear power can't help
  10. If Karnataka can do it
  11. Everybody is a winner


This chapter discusses how to end the threat of global warming and accumulating profit. Climate change is a serious issue. The atmosphere is made up of 1-2,800th of carbon dioxide. Together with the other gases, its tiny amount can contribute to the warming of the earth's atmosphere by about 59F. Hence, even a minutely small increment of carbon dioxide can raise the earth’s temperature significantly.

During the industrial age, the burning of fossil fuel, cutting and reducing of the forests, plowing prairies, and other human activities have raised the carbon dioxide concentration by 0.036 percent. This is the highest level in the last 420,000 years. Much more, this concentration is constantly increasing by half a percent annually.

The warming of the earth’s atmosphere alters every aspect of its climate. A warmer earth also means more volatile weather with more and worse extreme events such as natural calamities like tornadoes. Warmer oceans can cause currents to shift and change and this means more frequent and severe tropical hurricanes and typhoons or El Nino. Warmer oceans also decimate kill coral reefs. As the earth catches more heat, it drives more convection that transport heat flows from hotter to colder areas. This also means changes in snowfall, more melting icecaps and glaciers.

Chapter 13 - Making Markets Grow


  1. Unstoppable market vigilance
  2. A very cheap a future
  3. The legends of a free market
  4. Skewed markets imply lost capital
  5. Playing with the switches
  6. A systematic arrangement of wastebaskets
  7. "Satisficing"
  8. When regulation collapse
  9. Golden carrots
  10. Plain vanilla motors
  11. Building a market in nega-resources
  12. Alternate yearly report


This chapter discusses how to develop market principles for both short- and long-term gains. Capitalism can be considered as extremely good at harnessing such powerful motives like greed and envy. The free markets are so successful that they became the vehicle for fugitive, indiscriminate financial growth, which badly affects the natural capital.

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To counter the market’s forces’ misuse, abuse, or misdirection is to heed for a retreat from capitalism and to seek heavy-handed regulation. However, in confronting the issues, natural capitalism does not intend to discard market fundamentals nor dislodge its valid and important principles or its influential mechanisms. Natural capitalism only promote the vigorous employment of markets for their proper use as an instrument for solving the problems we have while better understanding the capitalist boundaries and limits.

The aim of natural capitalism is to expand the logical principles of the market to all the material sources we value, especially in the present context of industrialization and inefficiencies traditionally accepted in the markets systems. It also tries to find guarantee that all types of capital so that it is prudently taken care of by the trustees of money capital.

Chapter 14 - Human Resource Capitalism


  1. Parachuting cats into Borneo
  2. Ceasing the waste of people
  3. Curitiba's interlinked solutions
  4. Instant travel without freeways
  5. Subways on the ground
  6. Simple, quick, gay, and cheap
  7. When waste isn't waste
  8. No hunger tolls
  9. A venue for living
  10. A symbol of the possibilities


This chapter exemplifies the case of natural capitalism with the use of an urban setting/context. The author said that the lessons in what not to do can be usually found in urban areas. In short, by trying to optimize one aspect in isolation, the entire system is jeopardized. The hidden links which were previously unacknowledged becomes the one to create disadvantage in the future.

It exemplifies this lesson by citing the Borneo case in the 1950s. During that time, many Dayak villagers were stricken with malaria. So, the World Health Organization tried to solve the problem with a simple and direct solution. They sprayed DDT and it seemed to work. Mosquitoes died and malaria was eliminated. Yet, there were an expanding web of side effects that were not pre considered.

As a result, the roofs of the Borneans’ houses started to collapse. This was due to the DDT which also killed tiny parasitic wasps that had subsequently controlled nipa hut-eating caterpillars. The point is that our goal should be to solve or avoid each problem in a way that also confronts other simultaneous problems without creating new problems. This system approach acknowledges the underlying causal relationships and shows the places to turn problems into solutions. The social contexts and the communities must be managed with the same regard for integrated design as buildings, the same frugally basic engineering as lean factories and the same ingenious drive as great corporations.

Chapter 15 – A Dream of a Luscious Planet


  1. Pangloss meets Cassandra
  2. The dilemma of an expert
  3. Reds and blues, whites and greens
  4. Building the operating manual
  5. The largest movement in the world
  6. A discreet curriculum
  7. Turning back several hundred years
  8. Reclamation of the future
  9. Declarations, mandates and principles
  10. Hence, it is possible


This chapter asserts that there is an increasing movement to a stronger and sustaining economy. It likens the environmental debate with the environmentalists as Cassandra and the businesses as Pandora. It also considers the apologists as Dr. Pangloss. This chapter asserts that the media highlight the accomplishments such as the increasing average life spans, higher standard of living, etc. However, there are contradictory trends in the environment and society which should not be featured as mutually exclusive.

It created a matrix of four worldviews on the mental and the emotional paradigms that business, citizens, and governments use to negotiate and select between economics and environment. The Blues are generally free-marketers. They have an optimistic bias to the future based on technological developments and economic stability. The Reds represent the assorted types of socialism. The Greens view the universe in terms of ecosystems and they focus on damage, depletion, pollution, and population growth. Finally, the Whites are the integrators and do not totally contradict or affirm any of the three other views. This chapter asserts that a successful business in the new period of natural capitalism will respect and acknowledge all four paradigms. It will acknowledge that solutions depend in knowing the inter-relations of problems, which have to be tackled in its entirety.

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