Solutions to Water Crisis at Shanghai Summit

May 5, 2010

I caught up with Karen Weber, founder of Earth Our Only Home, Inc. and Boston GreenFest just hours before she embarked on her trip to the World Green Roofs Conference and Shanghai Summit on Solutions to the Water Crisis.

This groundbreaking summit, organized by Earth Our Only Home, Inc. explores green roof design and related technologies to address the growing drinking water shortages in China, India and neighboring countries. Hoping to find solutions as a facilitator and activist, Weber has assembled delegates from China, India, Taiwan, Korea, US, Canada, UK and Germany to share perspectives and expertise, identify challenges, connect technologies, discuss policy and finance, and to develop realistic timelines for action.

China and India are in need of short-term and long-term solutions that work with nature not against it. Now is the time plan for the future infrastructure. India plans to build the equivalent of 70 “New York Cities” over the next 20 years. It is unknown how many cities China is planning to build.

The concern is that buildings are being built without green roofs (with vegetation) resulting in hot cities that will not function in an organic way. Weber explains, “Utilizing green roofs will help regain the natural balance, creating a beautiful and cooler space that will foster the proper cycle of water. It will make a garden from the dessert, maintain cloud cover and help continue the normal water cycle. It helps the oxygen and carbon dioxide equation.”

India has mandated rainwater capture systems for buildings and homes, but there are concerns. Depending on the receptacle used, open roof collection systems will cause the water to become stagnant and open to mosquitoes, and if it’s not properly installed in the basement, it could be foster illness.

Roofs can serve as a primary filter for the collection of drinking water and help continue the water cycle. It provides moisture back into the hydrologic cycle restoring the natural balance of how water moves in and out of the atmosphere. Surprisingly, green roof design has never been linked to drinking water before.
Professor Brad Bass of University of Toronto also shares this vision.

Weber explains, “The goal is to envision how the building growth can be done to make it healthy and sustainable. Now is the time to put green roof design into the planning and policy. It puts China in a leadership role. It also makes the return on investment very economical.”

What are your thoughts?

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