It’s the stuff horror movies are made of. Billions of cockroaches (the larger American kind, not the small, fast brown German roaches we all know and hate) are being held captive in a secure escape-proof facility. The air is warm. The humidity is high. The crunch, crunch, crunching is loud.

Then there’s an earth tremor. The fail-safe moat designed to capture roach escapees so fish can eat them has drained through a fissure. The fish are dead. The roaches – billions and billions of them – are invading the city. Desperate for food, they’re eating everything in their path.

And you thought The Birds was a scary movie.

But this scenario except for the earth tremor is real. It’s taking place in China where cockroaches are being cultivated in facilities to eat food waste that is piped in to the insects. Being non-discriminate eaters, they crunch away on just about everything and, after dying in about six months, are cleaned, processed and fed to farm animals as sources of protein.

If you haven’t stopped reading yet, for various provinces in China this ecological solution is working out well. It’s a burgeoning business in a country with a huge population and limited food waste landfills. Also, so far, there have been no large-scale escapes from cockroach Alcatraz.

In addition to providing nutrients for farm animals, the processed roaches are being used medicinally and for beauty products in China. For the latter, I assume the fragrance is Ewww de Roach.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

I write about green and sustainability subjects, from whales to widgets, most often focusing on New York City and the real estate, building and design industries and how green affects property value. But with so much change going in the planet – land and sea, climate, technology, laws and restrictions, energy types and usage and a myriad of other areas – it’s interesting to explore what green jobs are geared up for the greatest growth.

If you’re looking to enhance your professional credentials, make a career segue or change, or are just starting out to find a compatible path, here are some considerations.

Using National Geographic as our primary source, their first pick for one the fastest-growing green jobs is a subject I’ve explored – urban farmers to which I’ll add beekeepers. Whether urban farms such as the Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard, or ecological green roof such as at the Javits Center, urban farming has become a green job specialty. You can add underground, hydroponic and river barge farms as subspecialties.

Next up according to NG are water quality technicians. Even New York City’s famous water goes through numerous quality checks to prevent pollutants from getting into it on its way from the Catskill/Delaware watershed.

With manufacturing topping the list for the majority of green jobs (about 1/6 of the U.S. total), the design and engineering of new “clean” cars that reduce air pollution and reliance on non-renewable fuels is a fast-growth area.

Next is recycling where paper especially is a success story in the U.S., followed by (no surprise here) scientists who will analyze, measure and recommend new ways to create sustainable environments.

Green builders is one of my favorite growth areas. This is about more than green roofs, carpet from recycled materials, thoughtful energy usage, new forms of energy, even net-zero in New York City. It’s also about absorbable concrete, homes made of discarded materials, structures using easily renewable bamboo, recycled steel, reclaimed wood, sheep’s wool insulation. We’re not going back to thatch roofs and peat fires, but you get the idea. Aligned with green builders are green designers who understand and appreciate the nuances of building beautifully and sustainably.

Solar scientists and technicians are a big growth area, as are new forms of energy production such as from ocean waves and combustion, as well as wind energy workers. Biofuels wind up National Geographic’s list.

Other sites added conservation biologists, environmental educators and urban planners.

I’m going to add some other growth areas including environmental marketers, writers, social media mavens, graphic designers, artists – the people who can communicate even the most complex scientific principles through words and visuals.

Lastly, I have to acknowledge my own profession which is commercial real estate appraisal, especially in light of my being a LEED-AP BD+C and the only such appraiser accredited in New York City. The tremendous growth of green buildings has led to a demand by property owners, government agencies and financial institutions for the art and science of appraising green buildings. It’s a growth career with outstanding opportunities to consider.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

#6 – Size Matters

“Would you like to supersize that?” has new meaning beyond fast food. Solar farms are growing bigger all over the globe. The reasons:

· PV solar panel costs are going down.

· The panels are readily available for immediate construction.

· The time frame for generating solar is shorter than other energy forms.

· Huge solar sites tend to be off the grid and, thereby, less expensive.

Supersize solar farms may be what propel widespread adoption of this renewal, but there are challenges to be met. One of the most significant is the means, such as electrical grids, by which a superfarm’s energy will be transmitted to populated areas. One of the other stumbling blocks is the ageless and endless NIMBY argument, even when the backyard is vast, undeveloped land.

Countries with large tracts of undeveloped, sunny land, such as Egypt, China, Morocco and India, are in the forefront of global supersizing. In the U.S., some of the largest farms are, logically, in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. The first commercial solar plants in the country were built in the 1980s in the California-Nevada Mojave Desert.

What then are countries with long, dark winters, extended rainy seasons and/or limited amounts of land to do? Japan, an island country of limited land and dense population and development, is exploring having a solar farm satellite by the 2030s that will beam energy to a vast number of antennas.

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By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

Would you like your solar panels in blue-black, blue-black or blue-black? For years, that’s been your only efficient choice. But researchers recently announced they’ve discovered a way to make the panels bright green.

Once we’ve gone green, can other colorations be far behind? Imagine terra cotta for roofs, green or brown for ground-level panels camouflaged by natural areas, and white, taupe and every other color for exterior walls and outbuildings.

Color panels are currently being made but they are only about 50% as efficient as the ubiquitous blue-black PV panels. The new green panels, which infuse color via “nanocylinders”, rather than a coating or reflective dye, are about 90% as efficient in generating electricity.

A new solar color palette may well incentivize installation for property owners who believe in sustainability principles, but want their solar to aesthetically blend in with their site and architecture.

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By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

You’ve seen the pictures. The stork wrapped and trapped in plastic. The tortoise with a stomach full of plastic pieces. The little seahorse swimming along with a Q-tip as his mate. The beached whale dead from eating plastic bags, plastic cups, flip flops and tangled string.

All the photos are sad and shocking. But the whale was in Indonesia and the turtle in Thailand. And what does it have to do with you?

If you’re willing to dive into a brilliant, in-depth article in the February 4th issue of The New Yorker, you’ll find your answer. The article focuses on a 22-year-old entrepreneur who is also a visionary, puzzle solver and environmentalist. His organization is called Ocean CleanUp which we’ve written about on Linked In and in our company blog.

Here’s a taste of the article’s contents… “…numerous studies have shown that microplastic is everywhere—in the melting ice of the Arctic, in table salt, in beer, in shrimp scampi. A study last year found traces of it in eighty-three per cent of tap-water samples around the world. (The incidence was highest in the United States, at ninety-four percent.)”

From the online journal PLOS One: “…more than 5.2 trillion particles of plastic were swirling in the planet’s oceans, and, in time, much of it would be ingested by ocean dwellers and by creatures that eat fish, including people.”

Microplastics are also on every beach in the world, including the one in front of the $20,000 a month Hamptons beach house you’re thinking about renting this summer.

Read all about it here:

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The subject of ocean pollution and the damage it does to the ecosystem requires a book. A very large, dense book. At present, it’s a disturbing read.

Every year, 1.4 billion pounds of trash enters the ocean. It consists of run-off pesticides, herbicides, detergents, oils, chemical fertilizers and untreated sewage. The latter is primarily plastic which erodes into micro-plastics and can be found on most of the world’s beaches including the one in front of the $20,000 a month house you just rented in the Hamptons.

According to the National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce), 80% of marine pollution comes from the land and includes anything purposely discarded or that flows into the ocean from sources like roads, farmland, industrial facilities, residential and commercial buildings through run-off.

New York City suffers from such a problem. During high rain and snowstorms, sewers become flooded by runoff. They, in turn, overcome the capacity of treatment plants, adding untreated waste water to storm water, with that overflow depositing pollutants directly into our waterways.

We’ve been a huge proponent of green roofs in the city, whether they are simply covered in native grasses, decorative or worked as urban farms, because they absorb storm water that would otherwise flood the streets and sewers.

The Atlantic Ocean (north and south) has a garbage patch with a density of 200,000 pieces of marine debris per square kilometer. Estimates are that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific contains 18 trillion pieces of plastic and 80,000 tons of garbage. 99% of it is plastic.

It doesn’t look like 18 trillion single use plastic bags and soft drink bottles because the plastic has been reduced to microscopic, suspended particles. But it’s there and doing extreme damage:

* An abundance of pollution creates ocean dead zones where marine life cannot survive. There are currently approximately 500 ocean dead zones.

* Because birds and sea mammals mistake plastic for food or unavoidably eat microscopic marine debris, according to UNESCO, “plastic debris causes the death of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. “

* Because debris requires oxygen to decompose, the levels of oxygen in the ocean declines, affecting marine animals ranging from sharks to turtles and penguins.

* Because pollution affects the food chain, humans who eat fish and other marine life can be exposed to health problems that include cancer and birth defects. (All those feel good/eat good/be healthy websites that promote fish protein either don’t know, or don’t tell you, that there’s a down side.)

We’ve written this before, but it’s worth writing again:

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
– Inspirational speaker and one of the world’s greatest explorers, Robert Swan

Thus, Part Two of this series will explore the many organizations that are fighting pollution and the innovative ways they’re doing it.

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Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

Energy savings is still the leading green building dynamic. In addition to substantial cost savings, new laws regulating energy usage and public reporting have upped the ante with regard to not only compliance, but also maintaining a good, green corporate citizenry brand.

2018 will see a groundswell of interest in one emerging trend: healthy buildings and wellness within them. Next are other trends worth noting.

Telecommuting is one on the rise as younger workers seek flexibility and self determination in their work and consider working from home to be a job perk, and employers seek to offset the brain drain of retiring baby boomers by keeping current employees.
Telecommuting reduces traffic congestion and, thereby, greenhouse emissions. Insofar as its impact on real estate, companies are reporting they save multimillions of dollars in real estate costs.

We’ve been proselytizing about green roofs for years, calling them the next great, green building revolution. Gorgeous, living architecture, green roofs are valuable to building owners and tenants alike. They create a sustainable environment for wildlife, reduce runoff, extend roof life, reduce AC and heating costs, serve as a fire and noise retardant, contribute to air quality, and greatly enhance a property’s marketability and value by providing viewable or useable garden and recreational space. They can also be used for sustainability points for certifications and give an owner bragging rights on their building’s green profile.

Trends in green roofs include greater emphasis on native plantings; “communities” of plantings that work together to improve the ecosystem; self-watering and fertilizing systems that take the emphasis off maintenance and place it on monitoring; and more easily moveable planting containers.

Seguing into the topic of wellness, which will be explored in depth in Part Two of 2018 Green Trends, is a connection between green roofs and building wellness – the growing popularity of free-standing, vertical living walls and gardens. It’s an easy, relatively inexpensive way to green up a reception area, lobby, conference or meeting space, office or landscape and can be purchased in various sizes, shapes and systems. Living walls add beauty, reduce energy costs, serve as sound barriers and are contributors to employees’ peace of mind.

Part Two will connect the dots between increased worker health and productivity, building value and going green.

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Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

Well over a year ago, in November 2016, we wrote about the future – New York City’s future to be exact – in a scenario where the city becomes the largest solar energy producer in the world.

The prediction incorporated solar panels, solar glass and electricity-producing glass coatings, solar storage, buildings functioning off the grid, and a net zero carbon foot print, as well as updates in fast-moving solar technologies.

Thus, we were quite gratified when Newsweek published an article a year later with similar information that included Michigan State University’s R&D of a fully transparent solar concentrator that can turn any glass, from your office window, home skylight and Smartphone screen, into the equivalent of a solar panel.

Having been prescient on this score, will our prediction that NYC will become the world’s largest solar energy producer be far behind? Stay tuned.

Read our article (Solar in the City: Skyscrapers Rock & Rule, November 2016) and many others on solar power in this blog’s Solar category.

Read the Newsweek article here:

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