The mobility and sustainability specialist Daniel Madariaga is a strong advocate for the improvement of Mexico’s infrastructure in a way that also benefits the environment. In Mexico, environmental problems are cause for concern as well as impacting the well-being of its residents. For example, every year Mexico loses 380,000 acres of wooded land and jungles. In May 2019, residents of Mexico City were invaded by a smog of PM 2.5 particles, which caused great concern in the public health sector. These particles affect the respiratory system in a very similar way to the spray and are especially harmful to children. In the absence of regular sources of drinking water, Mexico has developed the habit of consuming bottled water that rises 4 times above the level of any other country surveyed.
These concerns are really pressing, although Daniel Madariaga and other environmental specialists promote the use of green structures and technology to minimize environmental impact and improve the lives of citizens. The history of Mexico’s environmental struggle is clear, this specialist believes that Mexico may be on the road to a more sustainable position, with policies that work with the surrounding environment.
The scope of environmental problems
The most pressing environmental problems in Mexico are air pollution, deforestation and lack of clean water. These are both separate and very interconnected problems. However, the solutions to these problems are also interconnected. As the population grows, more wooded land is cleaned to build houses and every day there are more vehicles on the road. As more emissions are released, global warming continues to strengthen.
Construction, for example, is estimated to contribute to up to 50% of climate change, 40% of drinking water pollution and 23% of air pollution.
Climate change, of course, affects the future, and it is also affecting our present. The rapidly changing conditions lead to unexpected events, especially with regard to climate and vegetation. Environmental problems are also issues that affect the quality of life, especially in large cities where industrial activity is at its peak.
A change for environmental well-being
In response to the growing impact of human activity, some prominent people are finding ways to reduce our footprint and improve the lives of citizens. As Daniel Madariaga points out, green building and smart solutions are essential to achieve our environmental and ecological goals.
What does green building do? It reduces the impact that traditional construction methods create, by using ethical and sustainable materials. In addition, natural resources are preserved while reducing pollution. Green buildings are created taking into account the environment, as well as the quality of life of the residents.
These buildings often use recyclable materials, although Madariaga and others have gone a step further by using readily available natural resources. When a literal ton of seaweed, sargassum, appeared on the coast of Mexico, they took the seaweed and created a solution. By cleaning the seaweed and putting them to use, they were able to preserve the beautiful ecosystems of the beaches and create a building material that is stronger and more profitable than concrete.
These sargassum bricks can be used to build anywhere, and are more durable than other materials. The functional life of these bricks is up to 120 years, and using them as building material can reduce construction costs by at least half. Sargasso bricks gained international attention, and although Madariaga expects them to be used in more Mexican states, many countries are adopting the practice in their own ecological construction.
Daniel Madariaga places a strong emphasis on the use of technology and innovation to improve the way we live and interact with our surroundings. He points out that responsible and effective leadership is a key factor in creating true environmental change. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEEDS, provides a program that certifies green building. Companies can obtain certification by complying with strict standards that demonstrate their commitment to greener construction and maintenance.
Another point that Madariaga highlights is the importance of policies that help drivers use their vehicles more efficiently. While cars are a necessary part of many people's lives, there are ways that cities can help citizens reduce daily emissions. He sees one of the main solutions in more environmentally friendly cities such as automated parking.
Because many emissions are generated after the trip ends, and drivers simply look for a place to park, it proposes a convenient and ecological solution. Smart parking allows drivers to quickly and easily find empty parking spaces. Automated or robotic parking goes one step further and allows drivers to reduce emissions from the moment they arrive at the parking kiosk.
By making use of cutting-edge AI technology, the parking process is accelerated and cleaner electric power is used to transport vehicles to an open space. According to Daniel Madariaga, this is the preeminent way for Mexico to reduce its carbon footprint, and provides a market that "has taken advantage of technology and its rapid evolution to design positive and almost immediate impact solutions." He believes that when a large city implements multiple automated and intelligent parking structures, which benefit both citizens and the environment.
Residents will see better air quality, as well as an easier trip, when drivers are free to drive trying to find a place to park. The physical footprint of these innovative parking structures is much better than that of a traditional parking lot, and occupies only about half the space of a traditional model. In turn, more natural land is conserved. According to Madariaga, these computerized parking lots can provide hundreds, or even more than thousands of additional parking spaces.
To truly maximize the benefits of using technology in construction, ethical, renewable and sustainable sources must be used. Together with cleaner energy and incentives that promote the use of electricity on fossil fuels, it is possible to reduce the environmental impact of Mexico's largest cities faster than expected.
The movement for change is developing as fast as our technology, and with entrepreneurs, officials, environmentalists and ordinary citizens working side by side, we can promote a sustainable society.