Mobility and sustainability specialist Daniel Madariaga is a strong advocate of improving Mexico's infrastructure in a way that also benefits the environment. In Mexico, environmental problems are cause for concern in the same way that they impact the well-being of its residents. For example, each year Mexico loses 380,000 acres of forest and jungle land. In May 2019, residents of Mexico City were invaded by PM 2.5 particle smog, which caused great concern in the public health sector. These particles affect the respiratory system in much the same way as aerosols 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 most pressing environmental problems in Mexico are air pollution, deforestation and the lack of clean water. These are both separate and highly interconnected problems. However, solutions to these problems are also interconnected. As the population grows, more wooded land is cleared to build homes, and more vehicles are on the road every day. As more emissions are released, global warming continues to take hold.
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. Rapidly changing conditions lead to unexpected events, especially in regards to climate and vegetation. Environmental problems are also issues that affect quality of life, especially in large cities where industrial activity is at its peak.
In response to the increasing 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 achieving our environmental and green goals.
What does green construction do? Reduce the impact traditional construction methods create by using ethical and sustainable materials. In addition, natural resources are preserved while reducing pollution. Green buildings are created with the environment in mind as well as the quality of life for 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 off the coast of Mexico, they took the seaweed and created a solution. By cleaning the seaweed and putting it to use, they were able to preserve the precious ecosystems of the beaches and create a building material that is stronger and more cost-effective than concrete.
These sargassum bricks they 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 construction material can cut construction costs by at least half. Sargassum bricks gained international attention, and although Madariaga hopes they will be used in more Mexican states, many countries are embracing the practice in their own green building.
Daniel Madariaga places a strong emphasis on the use of technology and innovation to improve the way we live and interact with our environment. 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. Businesses can become certified by meeting strict standards that demonstrate their commitment to greener construction and maintenance.
Another point Madariaga highlights is the importance of policies that help drivers use their vehicles more efficiently. While automobiles 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 top solutions in more environmentally friendly cities like automated parking.
Because a lot of emissions are generated after the ride is over, and drivers are simply looking for a place to park, he proposes a convenient and green solution. Smart parking allows drivers to quickly and easily find empty parking spaces. Automated or robotic parking goes one step further, allowing 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 sped up 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 it provides a market that "has taken advantage of technology and its rapid evolution to design almost immediate and positive impact solutions." He believes that when a large city implements multiple automated and smart parking structures, it benefits both citizens and the environment.
Residents will see better air quality, as well as easier travel, when drivers are free from having to drive trying to find a parking spot. The physical footprint of these innovative parking structures is much better than that of a traditional parking lot, and takes up 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. Along with cleaner energy and incentives that promote the use of electricity over 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 businessmen, officials, environmentalists and ordinary citizens working hand in hand, we can promote a sustainable society.