Research Paper: Draft Sustainability Plan Going Green and the New Meadowlands Stadium

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Environmental Sustainability: a Global Effort

In this author's opinion, environmental sustainability needs to be a group effort. The problem with past efforts to deal with environmental sustainability is that the efforts have been too compartmentalized. In recent experience, cooperation on the part of business, government and international organizations in cooperation has shown real progress to mitigating the environmental sustainability problems that add so much to global environmental change.

The counterargument to environmental sustainability is that this is not government's responsibility or that whatever is done on private property is the owner's business. The simple counter to this is that the water is rising. Global change is here and in our face and unless we get together and cooperate, we are done.

Environmental sustainability is a hot news item and this author did not have to go far to find this out when they read a news release from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Team with regard to the new Meadowland's stadium and it's green construction design. The EPA is promoting green construction and operations projects and educating about major development projects (shopping malls, sports stadiums, etc.). This is due to the sheer size of the environmental impact they have. Indeed, every component of the projects' design, construction, operation and maintenance as well as waste generation dwarf the environmental concerns of smaller construction projects such as homes and businesses ("The "green team," 2010).

The EPA Region 2 "Green Team" is helping developers incorporate more sustainable construction, operation and maintenance projects. The Green Team tailors the information specifically for each project on technologies and practices that can help project sponsors improve their energy and water efficiency, reduce waste and increase recycling, incorporate the use of clean fuels and vehicles, the use of environmentally-friendly building materials, landscaping products and landscaping practices and save money in the process. In addition to the Meadowlands, other major northern New Jersey and New York City development projects that signed agreements with the EPA included DestinyUSA, New York Mets, Montclair State University, St. John's University, Cushman and Wakefield, Monmouth University, Raritan Valley Community College, Stony Brook University Hospital, Rutgers University, Hartz Mountain Industries, Inc. And North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System (ibid.).

Of course the jewel in this crown for EPA Region Two is the memorandum with developers of the New Meadowlands Stadium which will house the New York Giants and the New York Jets sports teams. EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou stated that "This ambitious, comprehensive plan set forth by the two team ownership groups is a blueprint for new sports venues everywhere. The agreement was very complex and the goals were to cut the stadium's annual water use by 25%, making the Meadowlands 30% more energy efficient that Giants Stadium, increasing total recycling by 25% and to recycle 75% of construction waste ("New meadowlands to," 2009).

The Meadowlands project is a very important example. 40,000 tons of recycled steel will be used to build the stadium, including 20,000 tons of steel from Giants Stadium when it is demolished. The seating in the stadium will be made partially from recycled plastic and scrap iron. The stadium itself is to be built on a former brownfield. The air pollution from construction vehicles is to be reduced by using cleaner diesel fuel, engine filters and shortening engine idle time. Environmentally friendly concrete is used in the construction. Water consumption was to be reduced. Energy efficiency will be increased in the building, including providing mass transit options for fans. Traditional concession plates were to be replaced by plates, cups and carries made with compostable alternative materials (ibid).

The area of northern New Jersey is certainly not unique with regard to the need for environmental sustainability in the planning and execution of large scale building projects. This is the case on a planet-wide basis as well. In the age of globalization, it is critical to develop a global outlook with regard to dealing with global problems in the area of environmental sustainability that touches so many of us in common. In addition, just as in New Jersey, humanity is finding that it is necessary to unite the efforts of government, business and community organizations in a concerted effort to engage in the planning and execution of these projects. Seemingly, the days are over when the jobs could be compartmentalized. The issues are so complex that without this concerted effort, resolutions are not possible. In addition to environmental sustainability and environmental issues directly related to the projects themselves, subjects such as economic sustainability, impacts upon agriculture and resource management come into play.

Wealth and trade are key components in the resolution of problems of environmental sustainability. The United Nations (UN) itself has recognized this. Poverty stricken nations frequently do not have the resources to combat problems of pollution. In a very recent UN news release, a very senior official underlined that trade is a vital tool in transitioning the present global economy to a green one and that it is important that developed nations help underdeveloped ones make this shift in response to global climate change. "We just cannot avoid confronting the environmental issue," stressed Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), at the start of a two-day Geneva meeting of experts on the linkage between trade and environmental sustainability. According to Dr. Panitchpakdi, poorer countries will need stepped-up assistance to acquire the technologies that they need to ensure that their economic growth is environmentally friendly. He further pointed out that inequalities in resources and technology could result in only a few countries while everyone pays the costs of environmental damage. This makes the $100 billion per year pledged for developing countries to adapt to and mitigate climate change at a December, 2009 UN conference in Copenhagen critical if the goals set are to be met by 2020. In addition, critical new green technology needs to be transferred from the developed to the developing countries. Environmental sustainability is a "wonderful concept but what it means and how it happens is the issue," said Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Conference Secretary-General for Rio+20. In this way, a green economy can be shaped to serve the greater goal of environmental sustainability for all of the world's peoples (United Nations, 7 October 2010).

The author feels that the UN leaders have identified the key element here and that is global cooperation. Only in this way can the environmental sustainability movement succeed in its efforts to mitigate climate change before it is too late.

Africa has provided experiences that illustrate the above points succinctly. One of the big reasons for people in the Third World to have a lot of cynicism about efforts on to promote environmental sustainability is that in the past corruption has hampered the efforts. Indeed, as the current recession illustrates, there is a lot of corruption to go around in both the developing and the developed worlds. However, in Africa the corruption is at such a high level in terms of its permeation of the government and society that it is at such serious levels that it hampers the functioning of free markets. These are the very free markets that the UN officials quoted above hope to facilitate the exchange of information, money and efforts to facilitate environmental sustainability. While in many countries in Africa have been problematic, in a Journal of Environmental sustainability article that examples that can be found in African countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Egypt have demonstrated that it is not completely impossible to attack corruption. The then vice president of Zambia made this a prime challenge when he declared that "In response to this demand of the people, and it its desire to rid our country of the vice of corruption my government has adopted an attitude of zero tolerance of the scourge and has accordingly made the crusade against corruption a top priority (Kadembo, 2008, p. 58). According to the article's author Ernest Kadembo, sees the call for internationalization as exactly the thing that intellectuals fleeing Africa's corruption, poverty and repression have been waiting for years for. While the continent's condition is admittedly dire, Kadembo believes that this can mitigated by calling for radical action. This is necessary to keep corruption from killing the very marketing process itself (ibid, 62). His first recommendation lies in the creation of principled governments that will respect the rule of law and are transparent in governance and accountability. Secondly, he urges the education of the people so that they can be more organized and take up the challenge of questioning leadership or to demand accountability. The resources will have to come from international sources, just as the UN officials surmised. Kadembo's third recommendation is the call for appropriate legislation and monitoring. Finally, he recommends the citizens of Africa to support international efforts to sponsor accountability and transparency that will be conditional in order for international aid. There is a limit to what can be asked of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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