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Category Archives: Eco Gadgets

Modern Brickies are ‘Taking the Pee’

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‘Liquid gold’: students make world’s first brick out of human urine.

The bio-brick created by students in Cape Town mixes urine with sand and bacteria, which they say is a world first. Article from The Guardian newspaper.

Urine bricks created by students at the University of Cape Town.

Creating a truly sustainable construction material is now a possibility

Vukheta Mukhari

“Students in South Africa have created the world’s first brick made from human urine.

The bio-brick was produced by students from Cape Town, who collected urine from specially designed male urinals at the university’s engineering building and mixed it with sand and bacteria.”

More from the article … “Bio-bricks are created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation, said Randall, similar to the way seashells are formed. Loose sand, which has been colonised with bacteria that produces urease, is mixed with the urine. Urease breaks down the urea in the urine, producing calcium carbonate, which cements the sand into shape.

While regular bricks are kiln-fired at temperatures of 1,400C and produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, the bio-bricks do not require heat.”

Original article:

How to Fix Corroded Battery Terminals

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Original Article

By lonesoulsurfer in TechnologyElectronics14,62911033

Introduction: How to Fix Corroded Battery Terminals

About: I’ve always liked pulling things apart – it’s the putting back together again that I have some issues with. More About lonesoulsurfer »
Many a time I’ve managed to get my hands on some electronic gizmo only to find that the battery compartment totally corroded. It’s usually one of the main reasons I think that people throw toys and whatever else takes batteries away.

The corrosion is caused by potassium hydroxide which can leak out of alkaline batteries (these are the usual types of batteries you put inside toys etc). All batteries discharge, either through use or just slowly through the production of hydrogen gas which forms pressure in the battery. Eventually that pressure will find a way out through a seal or as the battery ages, through corrosion or rust in the outer shell.


Once a leak forms then the best thing to do is to get rid of the battery and neutralise the acid. However, if you don’t get to it in time, then the corrosion will grow and spread out of the battery which causes oxidisation and corrosion of the terminals making your device caput.

This Instructable will go through a couple of ways that you can fix your device to bring it back to life again. The first is the most extreme corrosion where the terminals have to be replaced, the second is a small amount of oxidisation which only needed the acid to be neutralised and the terminals to be cleaned.

You can take precautions though to stop this happening such as not mixing different battery types in the same device, replacing all of the batteries at the same time, storing in a dry place and at room temperature, and removing batteries for storage of devices. I’m inherently optimistic (and also lazy) so I’ve never taken any of these precautions but it’s definitely good practice, especially with expensive electronic goods.

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Step 1: Parts and Tools

Your parts are going to be any electronic goods that need terminal cleaning and/or relacing. The following though will come in handy when you are going this type of work


1. Battery Holders. I have a bunch of these lying around which are good for projects. You can also use the terminals from them to repair other electronic goods.

2. Small files

3. Baking soda

4. Small paint brush

5. Needle nose pliers

6. Ear cleaners

7. Wire cutters

8. Soldering iron

9. Rubber gloves – to protect your skin from the potassium hydroxide. I have touched it before and it does mildly irritate the skin so it’s best to use gloves when handling.

10. Eye protection – self explanatory

Don’t use your fingers to try and remove the batteries. Although the acid isn’t very strong, it will still irritate your skin (I know as I’ve touched it before!).


1. Place a set of rubber gloves on and some safety glasses

2. Use a small screwdriver to pull the batteries out. The glasses here are very important as it is easy to flick small pieces of the corrosion whist pulling out the batteries.

3. Sometimes that batteries can be so corroded that they virtually weld themselves to the terminals. In this case you will need to use a large screwdriver and maybe some pliers to remove them. You’ll probably rip out the terminals as well so be careful you don’t pull any wires out at the same time

4. Dispose of the batteries in a plastic bag.

Next thing to do is to remove all of the corroded terminals. It can be tricky sometimes to do this if they are severely corroded as bits can break off and the grooves in the battery holder can get clogged-up.


1. Use a small, thin screwdriver and push this between the top of the terminal and the battery holder. This should bend out the terminal

2. With a pair of needle nosed pliers, grab hold of the terminal and pull it out.

3. If the terminal has solder points, make sure you de-solder or cut the wires and cut them away to be able to remove them easily

4. Dispose of the corroded terminals once removed

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Step 4: Cleaning the Battery Cover
Picture of Cleaning the Battery Cover
Picture of Cleaning the Battery Cover
Picture of Cleaning the Battery Cover 2 More Images
The battery holder that I fixed came away from the torch so make it easy to wash and clean. However, this might not always be the case as it will depend on what type of electronics you are cleaning.


1. You can neutralise any leftover acid with some vinegar or baking soda and water paste. I use the baking soda trick in the other example I do in the Instructable.

2. Next if possible, wash out the bottom of the battery holder and clean any of the old acid away from the case. If you can’t remove the battery holder, then you are going to have to be a lot more careful when cleaning the area. Use a damp cloth instead of running water and remove any leftover acid

3. Next, you may need to remove any pieces of terminal or corrosion that is in-between the grooves that the terminals sit in. Use something thin and sharp to remove anything lodged inside the grooves.

4. Lastly, give the area a clean with some Isopropyl Cleaning Alcohol to remove any last traces of the acid.

In some cases, the corrosion is so bad that you need to replace the terminals inside the battery compartment. One of the easiest places to get these is from old battery holders. You could also grab the terminals out of any old electronic parts


1 If your battery terminals have tabs on the back, make sure you lift these up first. You might also need to de-solder any wires on them if you got the terminals out of a toy etc.

2 Next, use a small screwdriver to push them out of the battery holder. Just place the tip of the screwdriver into the bottom of the terminal and lift it out of the battery holder. They are held in place by a couple of grooves in the side of the battery holder so should come out relatively easily.

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Step 6: Modifying the Battery Terminals

Chances are you will need to modify the battery terminals so they will fit into the batter holder You can do this pretty easily with some wire cutters and a dremel if you have one.


1 First, try and fit one of the terminals into the battery holder grooves. If it does fit, then you can probably ignore this step and move onto the next. If not, then you will need to modify it.

2 Trim the sides of the terminal with some wire cutters and try to push into the grooves again in the battery holder

3 I also had to add a small slit into the terminal in order for them to fit which I did with a dremel.

4 Once you have modified, it’s then time to add them to the battery holder


1. The first thing to do is to determine the orientation of the terminals. You need to make sure that the spring section on the terminal will be touching the negative part of the battery and the flat section is touching the positive.

2. Usually you can just look on the bottom of the battery holder and there will be images or the orientation. If not, then work out where the positive wire is going to be connected to the terminal and use this as a guide on the orientation of the terminals.

3. Place the terminals into the battery holder grooves and push into place. If they are a little loose then usually the batteries will hold them into place. However, you can slightly bend the terminal and push it back into the grooves which will make the fit a little tighter.

4. Once you have all of the terminals in place, solder the positive and negative wires to the solder points on the terminals.


1. Before you screw everything back into place, add some batteries and make sure everything works as it should.

2. If everything works ok – replace the screws and covers and whatever else needs replacing to finish off your part

3. Lastly, give it another test and make sure it works

4. Now if you don’t want to have to do this all over again, go back to the intro and follow the precautions

This is really the most extreme case of having to fix battery terminals. The next sample, I think is more common and is more oxidisation of the terminals due to some leakage of the batteries. It’s easier too to fix!

I found this cool, vintage mike at the tip and wanted to try and get it going again. Initially I tested it not knowing that it needed an AA battery and thought it was probably something to do with the wiring. After un-screwing the case however I discovered that it needed a AA battery to run. The battery had been in place for some time and the terminals were oxidised and had some minor corrosion damage. I could have replaced the terminals but decided it would be easier just cleaning them


1. Remove the old battery with a screwdriver and dispose of. Even though there was not as much damage and leakage as the first sample, I still made sure that I wore gloves and eye protection

2. You can see in the images that there is a little corrosion and acid on the end of the terminal but that the terminal itself looks relatively unaffected structurally.

3. The brown streaks you can see running through the middle of the battery holder is actually glue that has discoloured over time, not corrosion

4. The next step is to neutralise the acid

Next thing to do is to neutralise any residual acid left of the terminals. There are a couple ways you can do this; one is with vinegar (I didn’t have any on hand so didn’t go with this option) two, with baking soda which is what I used.


1. First thing to do is to make a paste with the baking soda and a little water. You want to make it not too runny as the water could affect the electronics in whatever you are fixing. However, at adverse is true as well, too thick and it won’t spread well. You need to find the goldilocks mixture somewhere in the middle

2. Once you are happy with the mixture, add a little to each terminal with a small paint brush or something similar

3. Wipe off any excess from the terminals before it dries.

4. Now that the acid has been neutralised, it’s time to clean-up the terminals

You need to remove any oxidisation and corrosion from the terminals. I find that the best thing to use is a small file but you could use sandpaper as well


1. Use a small, fine file on the terminal until the oxidisation and any corrosion is removed. You may not be able to get it all off but sure you get as much as possible.

2. Once you have removed the oxidisation, give the terminals a clean with some isopropyl alcohol

3. You can sometimes remove the terminals from the grooves without having to undo any screws or removing any wires. It sometimes makes it easier to file if you can do this – just be careful that you don’t break any wires etc.


1. Once the terminals are clean and back into place, you can add a battery/s and test.

2. As before, it’s best to test before you screw everything back into place

That’s it! Hopefully you have managed to bring something back to life again with only a little bit of work.

Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments

Did you make this project? Share it with us!

Good article, and I’m glad to see that I’ not the only one who tries to save electronic toys, instruments, etc. However, baking soda only works on the old acid-zinc or carbon batteries, not on alkaline, NiCAD or NiMH ones.

Direct from

To clean any leakage of the following battery types, Alkaline, NiCAD and NiMH batteries, use either one tablespoon of boric acid in one gallon of water or a mixture of equal amounts of diluted vinegar or lemon juice with water (50/50 ratio).
BTW, the term is oxidation, not oxidisation. A strong base (also called caustic, or alkali) can be just as destructive or harmful to skin or eyes as a strong acid. Some metals are affected as much or more by caustics than acids (such as aluminum or zinc – which includes brass, which is a copper/zinc alloy frequently used in battery terminals). From personal experience, handling cement (strong caustic) or concrete – either wet or dry – for any length of time with bare hands will be painful lesson to anyone careless enough to do it.

13 minutes ago on Step 10

You may clean with vinegar, but do not nuturalize acid with it; it is acidic.

24 minutes ago

My problem is that the battery compartment of my Apple key board is jammed due to battery corrosion inside. Any bright ideas how to unlock it?

25 minutes ago

Very good instructions! Done this many times myself. I would only add that I also use a water displacement/penetrating oil (e.g., WD40, Kroil) during the sanding phase as it helps cut through the surface rust.

31 minutes ago on Introduction

Great info. I’ve had many instances where the batteries have leaked after prolonged non-use. I’ve always wondered if just removing the oxidized terminals would do the trick, only to find that any little bit of acid left will cause the batteries to leak again. Thanks so much for educating this non-scientific person. 🙂

33 minutes ago on Step 7

I never thought of the idea of snagging the springs and terminals out of those Radio Shack battery holders. Great idea.

(Please change your references to acid. KOH is actually a base and using baking soda seems counterproductive. Still, great article and thanks.)

34 minutes ago

Great tips and information, thanks for the I’ble!

8 hours ago on Step 10

Vinegar is acid so it won’t neutralise acid from the battery- the baking soda is alkaline so it will work

2 replies
Question 36 minutes ago on Introduction

If the corrosion is caused by potassium hydroxide, which is an alkali and comes from alkaline batteries, why do you call it acid and talk about neutralising it with vinegar, which is also an acid? Since it is alkaline, you cannot neutralise it with baking soda, which only reacts with acids.

44 minutes ago

Another tool that helps in cleanup is a fiberglass scratch brush, such as:

48 minutes ago on Introduction

I thought vinegar was an acid (acetic acid?) – so how can it neutralize acid?
But an excellent and useful article. Never occured to me to cannibalize cheap battery holders.

49 minutes ago

I’ve found that lemon juice, an old toothbrush & the disposable variety of nail file do the job nicely.

Tip 49 minutes ago

For really fine wire, I burn the plastic and while its still warm just pull it off.

50 minutes ago

if you don’t have vinegar or don’t like the smell of vinegar – lemon juice will also do the trick, and again the corroded residue is a base not an acid so needs a mild acid to remove it.

21 hours ago

Spot on with everything you stated. I’ve been down this road a few times my self. And if you don’t have other battery holders to donate parts from, you can always use a tin can (not aluminum types) and cut out your own terminals. They solder that same and are not that hard to form into replacement terminals. Always better then throwing away the electronic item. Thumbs Up!


I agree for bakin soda (a base from the chemical point of view) able to neutralize acid residual. But using vinegar (containing acetic acid) imho is a non sense, even if could it be acts as a deagreasing agent.

Make a solar garden lamp out of a jam jar

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Make a solar garden lamp out of a jam jar;

Megan Treacy
Technology / Gadgets
March 26, 2013


solar garden lamp

credit: Ugifer

Instructable user Ugifer put together this DIY project for a solar garden lamp for a science experiment that he was doing with his daughter and her friends and he’s given us permission to share it with you all. The skills and lessons taught would make it great for parents and educators to share with kids as an introduction to green tech, but it would also be a great beginner level project for those just getting into making their own electronics.

Ugifer says, “It’s simple and fairly quick to do so although it does involve some soldering I don’t expect that we will have trouble doing this with our small group of carefully supervised 7-year-olds.

The idea for this project was inspired by this article over at Evil Mad Scientist although the circuit is modified to be a little more efficient. Because it’s made up from a simple set of parts it would make an ideal beginner’s electronics kit.

This is a nice, sustainable-energy kit, with all the power for the lamp being sourced from renewable solar energy. It uses scavenged jam-jars as the enclosure but could also use some scavenged parts such as toroids from old CFLs.”

What you’ll need

solar garden lamp kit

credit: Ugifer

The parts that you will need are:


5V 70 mA Solar pannel (around 60x60mm)
Twin AAA-size battery holder
2 AAA-size NiMH rechargable batteries (around 1000 mAh works well)
Circuit board (see last step for Eagle files)
2N3906 general purpose PNP transistor (or equivalent)
2N3904 general purpose NPN transistor (or equivalent)
1N5817 low forward voltage schottky diode (general purpose – e.g. 1N914 – diode would probably work)
Slide switch
Ferrite bead/toroid (scavenge from an old compact fluorescent lamp if you only need a few)
LED (high brightness – diffused ideally but I only had water-clear so scratch it up with sandpaper)
22K resistor*
4K7 resistor*
1K resistor
1nf ceramic capacitor (some parts of this ‘ible refer to a 2n2. Either seems to work fine)
30 cm 22-guage solid copper wire (from an old ethernet or telephone cable works well)

Optional items::

Old (empty) jam or pickle jar to house your circuit (we will assume you are using this).
Sparkly things (e.g. acrylic jewels) for the bottom of the jar (makes it look pretty)
Glass paints (could be included in kit)
Small double-sided sticky pad (optional but useful)


Soldering iron & solder
Drill press or punch
Hot glue gun & glue (epoxy would be fine but slower). I use low-temp hot glue with the kids.
Metal file
A little tape to hold things in place
Medium grade sandpaper (tiny bit)
Helping-hands type tool also very useful

* These resistors may need adjusting depending upon the performance of your solar cell and LED. The 4K7 and 22K make a voltage divider that controls the light level at which your LED comes on. Increase or leave out the 22K for darkest switch-point. Decrease the to switch on when it’s lighter. But be careful – depending on your solar cell you may need a pull-down to make the PNP switch on fully. A 100K trim-pot would probably work well if you wanted to control this.

The circuit

 solar garden circuit

credit: Ugifer

As indicated, the circuit was inspired by this article at Evil Mad Scientist. Thanks to Windell et al. for that.

The schematic is shown in the picture.

Essentially, the circuit can be divided into the charging part to the left, the light sensing part in the middle and the LED lighting part on the right.

During the day, the voltage across the solar cell is high and current flows through the diode to charge the NiMH battery. Charging at up to C/10h amps (where C is the capacity of the battery in amp-hours) is supposedly safe for continuous trickle-charge. So with 1000 mAh batteries we should be able to handle 100 mA. Our 70 mA solar cell in practice generates 50-55 mA in UK direct summer sunlight so we are safe by a factor of 2 there – pretty much ideal for fairly quick charging but keeping the battery pack in good condition.

When it gets dark, the voltage across the panel drops. This can consume significant current from the battery (so-called “dark current”, which sounds like the evil side of the force to me). Hence the diode. I have used a low vF diode to reduce how much of or energy we burn getting past it. We can tap into this voltage drop to turn on the light when it gets dark. That’s where the PNP transistor comes in.

By making a voltage divider between the solar panel and ground and attaching this to the base of the PNP, we sink a very small emitter-base current when the solar panel stops pulling a voltage. This allows a larger emitter-collector current to flow. The voltage divider between the solar cell and ground can control the switch-point voltage and thus the light level at which our lamp comes on.

Once our PNP turns on, a current flows to the lamp circuit on the right of the diagram (and board).

From here we have a “joule thief” circuit for the LED light. Explanation of this is rather beyond this summary but, once again, Evil Mad Scientist comes to our rescue: see here for a great Joule-thief articleand here on Wikipedia for a more in-depth explanation. The overall effect is that we light a 3V white LED from a 2.4 V rechargeable battery and can continue to use the battery as its voltage drops. The capacitor is not an essential part of the circuit but it’s great for efficiency. Without it I was finding 100mA being drawn from the battery! With a 1nf capacitor that drops to around 18mA but the LED is just as bright.

Finally, the switch isolates the joule-thief part so that we can continue to charge the battery but have the lamp turned off. If you turn this off then the 5-10 mA that are generated in the shade might just allow you to charge the battery in the winter to give you light about one night a week!

Add the panel to the jar lid

 solar garden lid

credit: Ugifer

As a first step, we need to attach the solar panel to the lid of the jar and pass the connecting leads through. We want to do this in a way that will seal the hole so that we can leave our lamp outside without it filling with water or bugs!

We are starting by putting a hole in the jar lid. To do this, I’m using a small drill-press but that’s as much to get small girls comfortable with using power-tools as for any real need. A punch into a block of wood would work well too, I’m sure. However you do it, you’ll want to clean up the hole with a file and thread the wires from the solar panel through.

Next, cover the solder points on the panel with hot-glue or epoxy and then glue the panel to the jar. I’m using blue-sparkly glue so that you can see it but normal glue is fine!

Finally, make sure you fill the hole with glue to keep out those bugs!

Lay down some components

 solar garden board

credit: Ugifer

Next, we want to start populating the board.*

Since my group will be taking turns at the solder station, we’ll do several components at a time. On your own you might prefer to add them individually:

The resistors are easiest and can go in first – either way round. Bend the legs out a little to hold them. I am not using the 22K resistor to ground but if you include it then your light will come on at slightly higher light levels.

The diode is equally easy but needs to go with the stripe at the end shown on the board.

Then add the two transistors. The PNP (marked 3906) goes to the top left and the NPN (marked 3904) goes to the bottom right. Make sure the case goes the same way around as marked on the board (flat edge towards the bottom).

Finally for this step, add the LED. You can leave as little or as much lead length as you wish but the longer lead (positive / anode side) goes nearest the right hand edge of the board. I was expecting that to be marked on the boards but it didn’t come out. It’s on the current version.

Now, for each component, carefully solder the leads to the bottom side of the board and clip them close with side-cutters.

*Throughout this ‘ible, the pictures of the board are of my first “proof of concept” board which had a track missing (long story) and lacked the 1 nf capacitor. The final board design is shown in a later step and is very similar but I haven’t actually had them fab’ed yet.

The Toroidal transformer

solar garden toroidal

credit: Ugifer

The Joule Thief part of the circuit requires a small hand-wound toroidal transformer that we will make and add in this step.

I’m using ferrite beads around 9.8mm wide by 7.5mm deep with an 6.5mm diameter hole. Whatever the size you use, you’ll want enough wire for 6-8 turns. For beads the size of mine, take about 20-30 cm of a pair of insulated 22-gauge solid copper wire (I use wire from an old 3-pair telephone cable). Contrasting colours make life easier. Push the wires through your torus leaving around an inch (2.5 cm) sticking out at one end. Now loop the long ends round until you have made 6-8 loops spread evenly round your bead. My beads are pretty much full after 8 turns of this wire.

I have made a few joule thieves and in my experience the ferrite bead is the most likely part to cause a problem. Some types of beads work and some don’t and I have not yet devised a way to tell before trying them.

Cut down the leads to an inch at most (say 2cm-ish) and strip the ends. At this point it’s handy to use a small sticky-pad to hold the torus in place.

Now take a wire of one colour from one end of the torus and the other colour from the other end and put them into holes 1 and 2. The other ends go into holes 3 and 4 so that the hole in the torus now points across the board. It should fall naturally so that the wires connect from holes 1 to 4 and 2 to 3, but check or it won’t work! Bend the wires out a little to hold them, turn the board over and solder it.

Power connectionssolar garden power

credit: Ugifer

All that is left to attach is the power switch, the battery and the solar cell. These go in the marked spots towards the edges of the board.

Place the switch in its holes and hold in place with a little tape. Turn over the board and solder. The switch has much more thermal capacity than anything else we have soldered in this project so the solder tabs will take a moment to heat up – don’t panic!

Same with the two power sources: Red to the + terminal, black to the -, tape in place and solder.

You now have the complete circuit. If you insert charged batteries and cover the solar cell you should see the LED light up.

Final assembly

solar garden final assembly

credit: Ugifer

Finally, hot-glue the board to the back of the battery holder with the LED pointing as you wish. For a very wide-necked jar you could glue the battery holder flat to the underside of the lid and leave the LED sticking “up” (really down) from the board (not pictured).

For most jars you will have to bend the LED past the end of the battery holder and glue the end of the holder to the lid of the jar (as shown).

If you used a water-clear LED you may wish to scratch it up with some medium grade sandpaper at this point to diffuse the light a little.

You can put some acrylic jems, pieces of metal, shiny plastic or glass (or indeed 10 carat flawless diamonds if you wish) into the bottom of the jar to scatter some of the light and give a pleasant effect. Once they are inside, screw up the jar.

Finally, take some glass paints and paint a stained-glass effect onto the jar. Or have your 6-year old do it.

A day of full UK sunshine should provide more than enough charge for one night’s light, and a full battery should hold enough charge for several nights, so in summer you might keep alight every night. In winter that’s not so likely, at least in the UK. There is a surprising difference between the charge developed in shade (5-10 mA) and in full sun (50 mA+) so find a sunny spot if you can.

You now have a pretty, self-charging, LED garden light.

Home Thermostat – that learns your lifestyle.

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The reason we will put a pellet stove in our new home and not a traditional stove that burns wood, is simple.  It’s easier to use. We are fed up stoking the fire and cleaning the ashes from the grate – AND ashes from everwhere else in the room.

Most of that comes from the simple automation that is built into the stove.   Plus unlike a standard wood stove, a pellet stove allows one to set the temperature necessary to maintain comfort using a standard thermostat.

Using the stove means we use 1/2 tank LPG in 18 months.

There’s a company called Nest that has built a smart thermostat.  What makes it interesting is that it learns from how you use it.  Over time, it anticipates your needs (like turning down the temperature at 10 pm every night) and does it automatically.

Further, since it is Internet aware and wireless, you can control if from anywhere (i.e. from your smart phone).

Now, although this tech looks pretty simple, I suspect this device and others like it are the start of a big market for home automation. Essentially, smart systems connected to sensors around your home that makes running a home at peak efficiency, easier than ever.

Nest, with it’s ergonomic/simple approach to design, is certainly going to try to become a leader in this market.



San Antonio Family First In Texas With Dow Powerhouse Solar Roof

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PV tilesYale Environment 360: U.S. scientists say that emerging photovoltaic technologies will enable the production of solar shingles made from abundantly available elementsrather than rare-earth metals, an innovation that would make solar energy cheaper and more sustainable.<br /></p>
<p>San Antonio Family First In Texas With Dow Powerhouse Solar Roof</p>
<p>The Ross’ family-owned business, Ross Electric Co., was chosen to connect Powerhouse below the rooftop. The family was able to see the installation hands-on, and decided to be one of the first in the country to install this total residential roofing solution that not only protects like a standard asphalt roof but also generates solar electricity, turning the roof into a source of value and savings. Said Ross: “I am proud to invest in my home with such an innovative and good-looking product. I expect that my Powerhouse roof will reduce my utility bills by about 40 percent and will increase my home value overall.”<br /></p>
<p>Newswise — PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 21, 2012 — With enough sunlight falling on home roofs to supply at least half of America’s electricity, scientists today described advances toward the less-expensive solar energy technology needed to roof many of those homes with shingles that generate electricity.</p>
<p>James C. Stevens, Ph.D., helped develop Dow’s PowerHouse Solar Shingle, introduced in October 2011, which generates electricity and nevertheless can be installed like traditional roofing. The shingles use copper indium gallium diselenide photovoltaic technology. His team now is eyeing incorporation of sustainable earth-abundant materials into PowerHouse shingles, making them more widely available.</p>
<p>“The United States alone has about 69 billion square feet of appropriate residential rooftops that could be generating electricity from the sun,” Stevens said. “The sunlight falling on those roofs could generate at least 50 percent of the nation’s electricity, and some estimates put that number closer to 100 percent. With earth-abundant technology, that energy could be harvested, at an enormous benefit to consumers and the environment.”<br /></p>
<p>Image text: "The solar tiles can generate a potential 500 watts per 100 square feet, and they’re basically ready to go from the day they’re installed."
Yale Environment 360: U.S. scientists say that emerging photovoltaic technologies will enable the production of solar shingles made from abundantly available elements rather than rare-earth metals, an innovation that would make solar energy cheaper and more sustainable. Antonio Family First In Texas With Dow Powerhouse Solar Roof

The Ross’ family-owned business, Ross Electric Co., was chosen to connect Powerhouse below the rooftop. The family was able to see the installation hands-on, and decided to be one of the first in the country to install this total residential roofing solution that not only protects like a standard asphalt roof but also generates solar electricity, turning the roof into a source of value and savings. Said Ross: “I am proud to invest in my home with such an innovative and good-looking product. I expect that my Powerhouse roof will reduce my utility bills by about 40 percent and will increase my home value overall.”

Newswise — PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 21, 2012 — With enough sunlight falling on home roofs to supply at least half of America’s electricity, scientists today described advances toward the less-expensive solar energy technology needed to roof many of those homes with shingles that generate electricity.

James C. Stevens, Ph.D., helped develop Dow’s PowerHouse Solar Shingle, introduced in October 2011, which generates electricity and nevertheless can be installed like traditional roofing. The shingles use copper indium gallium diselenide photovoltaic technology. His team now is eyeing incorporation of sustainable earth-abundant materials into PowerHouse shingles, making them more widely available.

“The United States alone has about 69 billion square feet of appropriate residential rooftops that could be generating electricity from the sun,” Stevens said. “The sunlight falling on those roofs could generate at least 50 percent of the nation’s electricity, and some estimates put that number closer to 100 percent. With earth-abundant technology, that energy could be harvested, at an enormous benefit to consumers and the environment.”

Image text: “The solar tiles can generate a potential 500 watts per 100 square feet, and they’re basically ready to go from the day they’re installed.”

Green-powered site for Green products

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Jeff has just started up a e-commerce website Made in USA Store llc,  website is powered by wind power. selling green eco-friendly unique products made in USA

eliminate the carbon footprint from shipping overseas, go green buy products made in the country you live in. have you seen the pollution trail from the cargo ships?. I have first hand and it’s one dirty nasty trail polluting our ocean and air. creating a bigger carbon footprint than it make to manufacture the product. is shipping from China green? do you make a green product made in USA i would like to know about it.

Great idea  a green-powered site selling products from one’s own land – saving jobs and transport-costs too.

From hats, to honey – from children’s toys to clocks – lots more too – sauces, carry-bags, sweatshirts to waterbottles.

Notes & References; Sustainable Tourism; by Peter O’Connor.

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Notes & Refs; Sustainable Tourism; by Peter O’Connor.


Table of Contents

Notes & Refs; Sustainable Tourism; 1

Strategic Planning. 3

Community Involvement; 4

Brundtland Report. 5

Technology, Museums and Sustainability; 5

Birth of the Participative Web; 6

References. 7

Resources. 8

The Museum as Lived Place: Bunratty Folk Park, Ireland. 9

Sustainable tourism management practice; 9

Tourism Policy and Planning: 10

Tourism Ireland; 10

Birth of the Participative Web. 10

 Sustainable Tourism

In the very first volume of Journal of Sustainable Tourism 1993 the co-editors of the journal pointed out that over the last half century of peace the developed nations have enjoyed “exceptional periods of both peace and economic expansion …. The post-war era has brought beneficial changes, notably in decolonisation and self-determination”. (Bramwell,B. & Lane, B. 1993). Added to that is ease and speed of transport. For the first time in man’s history we are free to roam the entire world at relatively low-cost and with great ease. For much of the post-war period the growth models of Rostow and Myrdel were unchallenged. Bramwell & Lane; Journal of Sustainable Tourism. Volume 1, Issue 1, 1993. The desire to push for change and economic development was “unchallenged”. However from the mid-6o’s onwards the ideas of continuous growth began to be questioned as unrestrained growth was seen to have the potential to cause irreversible damage Environmentalism was born when scientist Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring 1962 was printed and began to inroads in the thinking of many – even the Times of London started to feature articles from 1953 onwards but though that was minimal and steady there was a(modest) explosion of 300% from 1965 to 1973 (Brooks et al 1980). Sandbach and others point to similar phenomena in other ‘developed’ countries. With this came the rapid development of environmental pressure groups – leading eventually to Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, CND and ever more radical groups. The later publication of The Ecological Principles of Economic Development  by Dasman, Milton and Freeman developed work carried out by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources at (IUCN) Geneva. They in turn developed The World Conservation Stratagy – launched in 1980 on the global stage and this in turn lead to the Brundtland Report in 1987. However even in 1990 when Nelso Mandela was released amid a wave of optimism as Conor Mark Jameson reminds us in Silent Spring Revisited pg 151of the situation in Britain of the Green Bill which did nothing about the shortcomings of the SSSI’s at a time when the industrial-scale stripping of the peatlands (just like currently in Ireland) had become frightening in scale. Even the then prime minister was encouraging people to buy peat – to burn. Prince Charles was a lone figure standing against this – in the end less than 4% of raised peatbogs survive in Britain. In Ireland the figure is (currently) much higher but only because foreign (Dutch mostly) groups have bought parts of bogs and bequeathed these to the state with the proviso that they (and the surrounding areas) must be maintained (this has forced the Irish authorities to protect large areas of peatlands – to comply with the terms of the bequeaths). Around this time 10% of all UK corncrakes survived in Co Fermanagh. Researchers worked with farmers yet in 2 years the numbers fell from 70 to 17 and in the rest of that part of the province went from 60 to 10 even in spite of help from RSPB and late harvesting. Scotland and the free-part of Ireland followed these studies with their attempts the following year – to mixed response.

To put this into perspective – according to RSPB; sand martins have declined in numbers by 92% since the publication of Silent Spring.

Around this time a ‘league table’ of Europe’s offenders against nature saw Spain heading the league with 57 threats of legal action for violation of directives- ignoring legislation and putting roads across wetlands. 12 of the most important wildlife sites in European Mediterranean area were under threat. This compares to legislation against Belgium (46 warnings) and UK (31 warnings). EU figures.

Strategic Planning.

Under the heading Sustainable Tourism: An Evolving Global Approach the point is made in the introduction that reference to sustainable tourism is now made in most strategic tourism planning documents. Yet, despite its common use, definitional arguments exist over its meaning and subsequent operational functionality. In addition to this, literature on sustainable tourism rarely discusses its development prior to the publication of Our Common Future (World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), 1987) and its relevance to current conceptualisations of tourism. Sustainable Tourism


Indeed, the mid 1800s saw the focus of economics rest squarely upon industrialisation, economic-growth and prosperity. … Economic models such as those by Rostow (1960) and Myrdal (1959, cited in Oppermann, 1993) were based upon this notion and were successful in developing a form of “colonial-style tourism that created little value for the denizens of the area visited. Nor indeed little understanding of the local issues learned by the visitors. In their excellent workbook on Sense of Place the Lake District, Cumbria Sense of Place Toolkit points out that each and every area/locality has particular distinctive qualities that make it special in some way. “By recognising and valuing these qualities, tourism businesses can use them to improve their marketing and promotional activities and enhance their customers’ experience of the area”. A ‘Sense of place’ can be hard to describe, but essentially it covers all those attributes that make a locality special and unique and give it a sense of identity. (

Community Involvement;

A paper by Anne Hardy, Robert J. S. Beeton & Leonie Pearson (pages 475-496) analyses the context within which sustainable tourism has been developing and the conceptualisations used. The paper argues that sustainable tourism has traditionally given more focus to aspects related to the environment and economic development and that more focus should be given to community involvement. (Hardy, Beaton & Pearson) 2002). This is a major theme in the paper by Stoma Cole who spent time in Indonesia working with various villages 2006 – ‘08 (among them; Wogo & Ngadha villages) to develop sustainable tourism ventures that were in the community, run by the community and were seen as independent of government administration in a country where this author felt that the government seems to micro-manage to the nth degree during an extensive visit in mid-1990’s. Community-managed tourism businesses tend to work well especial outside of urban areas because they are seen as providers of employment, economic-drivers but just as importantly they bring a sense of local pride that is inestimable in value as was seen in late 1960’ – early 70’s Co Clare when Bunratty Castle became famous. Alongside the castle is an extensive folk park, particularly popular with families, tourists and schools. It provides visitors a glimpse into Irish life in the 19th century: This features reconstructions of historical cottages and buildings, recreating the general feel of the 19th century with a period style village main street. Old tools, furniture and artefacts are displayed, with the village kept alive by some inhabited shops, an old home bakery and peat fires in cottages. Recently the governing body of Bunratty has installed QRcodes and many other technically advanced ‘gadgets’ that allow visitors a chance to ‘go deeper’ into the history or technique of a particular artefact or building/feature.

Often the sight of participants scanning QR codes, recording comments, or opening a token also led onlookers to strike up conversations. People were particularly interested in the content recorded by others; their stories, comments, and reflections provided different perspectives on what they encountered.  ().

Brundtland Report.

Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development; Our Common Future

In the Brundtland Report we read “Environmental degradation, first seen as mainly a problem of the rich nations and a side effect of industrial wealth, has become a survival issue for developing nations. It is part of the downward spiral of linked ecological and economic decline in which many of the poorest nations are trapped … Despite official hope expressed on all sides, no trends identifiable today, no programmes or policies, offer any real hope of narrowing the growing gap between rich and poor nations. And as part of our “development”, we have amassed weapons arsenals capable of diverting the paths that evolution has followed for millions of years and of creating a planet our ancestors would not recognize.”

The downward spiral of poverty and environmental degradation is a waste of opportunities and of resources. In particular, it is a waste of human resources. These links between poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation formed a major theme in the analysis and recommendations of the Brundtland report which stated that “what is needed now is a new era of economic growth – growth that is forceful and at the same time socially and environmentally sustainable”.

Technology, Museums and Sustainability;

We see more and ever more technology in use in museums and folk-parks (eg Bunratty Co Clare) where QR codes, re cording comments (see above) are in use but also becoming more common and viable is a technology that one carries with them on a note-book, smart-phone or other device where one can listen/watch articles/notes/videos about a section of wall/building/tree/top of a mountain ot whatever. GPS-enhanced one simply walks/drives along routes where experts/locals have told their stories/played music/sang or other media-enhancements mean that one has a ‘personal-guide’ with one and can accept differing layers of knowledge – from superficial to extremely in-depth at the touch of a (virtual) button. These media-units can be played before –during or after a visit and of course can be upgraded 24/7. An excellent example of this technology is supplied by John Ward of Navigatour ( The company offers native apps for both Android and iPhone, cross platform apps that work on most GPS devices and are also partners with Trip Advisor to allow for maximum tourist exposure with your app. Navigatour claim that pride themselves in producing native apps that truly reflect the character of an area, rather than simply offering tourists a variety of commercial partners selling their wares. The visitor needs to know what makes a place special and that is what can be highlighted – the quirky, the hidden, the unique brought together through text, pictures, audio and visual media that will enthuse visitors to an area. This author can be heard speaking about the area on various clips of the Blackwater Valley. ( ‘Meandering of the River’, ‘Dromore View’, ‘Kiltera Standing Stones’, ‘Villierstown’, ‘Dromona Gate Lodge’, ‘The Henley of Ireland’, ‘Glenribbeen’.

In recent years there has been a dramatic rise in the number of participatory media technologies that museums have begun to use to engage with the visitors and indeed to ensure these visitors promote the venture/museum while or shortly after attending. The use of; Web 2.0. Blogs, wikis, podcasts, vodcasts, photo and video sharing, virtual environments, tagging, annotation and other authoring tools offer people better and more immediate ways to engage with museum content processes through co-creation and interactive cultural experiences and not rely on the written word/tour-guide alone. (Russo & Peacock; 2009). Arguably, these platforms and tools are creating new relationships between institutions and the public. We contend that to create sustained participation in social media spaces, museums need to reconsider their relationships with the public and thoroughly explore user motivations and intentions for participation in social media activities. We suggest some ways in which museums might design and evaluate their social media initiatives to ensure their success and sustainability, and offer some questions for further research.

Birth of the Participative Web;

Great Expectations: Sustaining Participation in Social Media Spaces; Museums and the Web; Angelina Russo, Swinburne University of Technology, and Darren Peacock, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.

See Resources below or go direct to; Birth-of-the-participative-web


Bunratty; Bunratty Castle”. 2011-05-18 also Shannon Heritage;

Bramwell,B. & Lane, B. Sustainable Tourism: An Evolving Global Approach; Journal of Sustainable Tourism. Volume 1, Issue 1, 1993

Brundland Report; Oxford University Press. 1987 Accessed 12-01-2013.

Carson,R. Silent Spring; Houghton Mifflin, Cambridge, Ms, USA 1962.

Ciofli,L.&McLoughlin, turf-fires-fine-linen-and-porter-cake M. FORUMS XIX.5 September + October 2012, Page: 18.

Cole, Stroma; Information and Empowerment: The Keys to Achieving Sustainable Tourism 1998

Cumbria Tourism; Accessed 12-01-2013.

Hardy,A. Robert J., Beeton S. &  Pearson,L. Sustainable Tourism: An Overview of the Concept and its Position in Relation to Conceptualisations of Tourism; Journal of Sustainable Tourism; Volume 10, Issue 6, pages 475-496;  2002.  DOI:10.1080/09669580208667183

Jameson, Conor Mark;  Silent Spring Revisited; Bloomsbury NY, Berlin, London 2012.

Kiel, C. Sightseeing in the mansions of the dead, School of Environment, University of Gloucestershire, UK.

Ward, J. Navigatour

Russo, A., & Peacock D. Great Expectations: Sustaining Participation in Social Media Spaces; Archives & Museum Informatics, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA 2009. ( – accessed 13-01-2013).



Cumbria Tourism is committed to developing ‘sense of place’ as an asset for visitors and tourism businesses to use. This toolkit provides you with the means of accessing the rich environmental, cultural and historical facets of Cumbria for yourself. Discover woodlands brimming with wildlife, upland hay meadows awash with wild flowers, sandy expanses of beach backed by rolling dunes, ancient prehistoric stone circles, Roman forts, Anglian and Norse art, Norman churches, medieval abbeys, classical Georgian elegance, Victorian architecture, not forgetting the distinctive flavours of traditional and modern Cumbria foods. The historical, cultural and environmental resources of Cumbria are just waiting to be tapped to enhance your customer’s experience of all the county offers.                     

Sense of Place by Cadwyn Clwyd – Rural Development Plan for Wales.

Summary of project

The project aims to develop a sense of place in rural Flintshire through combining the area’s unique natural, cultural and heritage assets to develop the tourism product in the area. The project will seek to develop a sense of place in all areas within rural Flintshire. It will also use environmentally designated areas such as the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Halkyn Mountain SSSI and SAC and the Dee Estuary SSSI and Natura 2000 site to develop a sense of place in the area. It is noted that the project does not intend to create a new brand for the area, its intention is to develop the tourism offer and foster a sense of place in rural Flintshire within the context of Borderlands – the North Wales regional marketing initiative and Visit Wales.

The Museum as Lived Place: Bunratty Folk Park, Ireland

A concern for place experience, or how people connect to locations in ways that are personal and meaningful, is key when designing the augmentation of visitor activities at a heritage institution, especially one specifically trying to communicate authenticity and character through the physical environment and its fittings. The curatorial goal of living history museums is to provide reconstructions of everyday life in times past by showcasing material and engaging visitors through costumes and crafts. Living history museums offer a unique multisensory and immersive experience often not possible in enclosed museums that includes smell and taste as important ways of exploring what is on display. A living history museum showcasing a collection of 32 historic dwellings with period-appropriate fittings, Bunratty Folk Park is appreciated by many visitors for its authentic charm and for allowing the exploration of ways of life of Ireland’s rural past. The park comprises farmhouses and craftsmen cottages (shown in Figure 1), a manor house, a fully reconstructed village street, and other environments, such as farmyards, gardens, and animal enclosures;

Sustainable tourism management practice;

 Sustainable Tourism Management, CABI, 1999  John Swarbrooke; Sustainable tourism is attracting enormous attention today throughout the world. This book provides an up-to-date, comprehensive coverage of the practice and management of the subject. It offers a range of definitions of sustainable tourism from different sectors of tourism and different parts of the world. Key issues and current debates are also discussed and a range of examples of sustainable tourism management practice are given. The book is designed to be interactive, with group and individual exercises and discussion points to further understanding of the subject.

Tourism Planning;

Tourism Planning: Policies, Processes & Relationships; Pearson Education, 2008; By Colin Michael Hal. Seen as the core learning resource for students of tourism planning; with, a wide range of international case studies and examples.

Tourism Policy and Planning:

Tourism Policy and Planning: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; David L. Edgell, Sr., Maria DelMastro Allen, Ginger Smith, Jason R. Swanson; Routledge, 2008. “From the perspective of economic policy, tourism for local communities is a vital economic development tool producing income, creating jobs, spawning new businesses, spurring economic development, promoting economic diversification, developing new products, and contributing to economic integration. If local and national governments are committed to broad based tourism policies, then tourism will provide its citizens with a higher quality of life while it generates sustained economic, environmental, and social benefits”.

Tourism Ireland;

Tourism Ireland (Fáilte Ireland’s ‘foreign wing’) Marketing Plan sets out our priorities for marketing the island of Ireland overseas, on a market-by-market basis and has been developed as part of a three year strategy.

Birth of the Participative Web

The second generation Web, or the ‘participative Web,’ can be dated from shortly after the turn of the millennium, although the term Web 2.0, by which it is also often known, was not coined by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty until 2004.  In 2007, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) offered the following definition of the participative Web as,

…characterised by increased participation and interaction of Internet users who use it to communicate and express themselves.

See; Birth of the Participative Web; Birth-of-the-Participative-Web

Plato’s Symposium contrasts two odes to Love, one presenting Love as sophisticated and reasonable and luxuriously fused in beauty the other as a street kid starved for beauty. And Plato opts for the latter as more real.

International Review of Sociology, Monographic On Modernization

Theory: Monographic Series, 3, 1991, Rome: Borla, 213-226.The Gro Brundtland Report (1987)

Or, The Logic of Awesome Decisions, By Joseph Agassi, Tel-Aviv University and York University, Toronto, Canada.  Critique of Brundtland Report.


Origins of the Sustainability Concept

It is generally acknowledged that the Club of Rome’s (1972) book ‘The Limits to Growth’ was the first modern day use of the term as we know it.  It subsequently came to public attention with the publication of the World Conservation Strategy (WCS) in March 1980.  The WCS was a strategy for the conservation of the Earth’s living resources in the face of major international environmental problems such as deforestation, desertification, ecosystem degradation and destruction, extinction of species and loss of genetic diversity, loss of cropland, pollution and soil erosion and was developed by a combination of government agencies, non-governmental organisations and experts from over 100 countries.

The WCS defined conservation as: “the management of human use of the biosphere so that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations.” (IUCN, 1980)

and had three specific objectives:

1.         To maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems (such as soil regeneration and protection, the recycling of nutrients and the cleansing of waters) on which human survival and development depend

2.         To preserve genetic diversity (the range of genetic material found in the world’s organisms) on which depend the breeding programmes necessary for the protection and improvement of cultivated plants and domesticated animals as well as much scientific advance, technical innovation and the security of the many industries that use living resources

3.         To ensure the sustainable utilisation of species and ecosystems (notably fish and other wildlife, forest and grazing lands) which support millions of rural communities as well as major industries

Following the WCS, in 1983 the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) was created as an independent commission reporting directly to the United Nations Assembly with Cro Harlem Bruntland as its chair.  By 1987 the WCED report ‘Our Common Future’, commonly referred to as the ‘Bruntland Report’ was published and sustainable development entered popular language.  According to the report, sustainable development is development that:

“meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Five basic principles of sustainability were identified in the report, which notably took the sustainability concept beyond the specifically environmental:

1.         The idea of holistic planning and strategy making

2.         The importance of preserving essential ecological processes

3.         The need to protect both human heritage and biodiversity

4.         To develop in such a way that productivity can be sustained over the long term for future generations

5.         Achieving a better balance of fairness and opportunity between nations

Supporters of the report point out that it included essential principles of intra-generational and inter-generational equity and persuaded many governments to endorse the notion of sustainable development

Critics of the report argue it contained inbuilt assumptions about the need for continued expansion of the world economy and that it failed to stress the radical changes in lifestyles and society that would be required to overcome the problems inherent in the western model of development (Mowforth & Munt, 2008)

The next notable stage in the development and dissemination of the sustainability concept was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (popularly known as ‘The Earth Summit’) which was held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, attended by 178 governments including 120 heads of state.  The purpose of the conference was to:

“elaborate strategies and measures to halt and reverse the effects of environmental degradation in the context of strengthened national and international efforts to promote sustainable and environmentally sound development in all countries.”

The results of the conference were seen to take six parts:

a)         An ‘Earth Charter’ or declaration of basic principles

b)         Agreements on specific legal measures

c)         An agenda for action – Agenda 21 – and the means to implement this agenda

d)         New and additional financial resources

e)         Transfer of technology

f)          Strengthening of institutional capacities and processes

Rio +20 will be held in June 2012.

The scope of the challenge of sustainable development was soon after outlined by Ekins (1993) who argues certain conditions need to be adhered to with respect to resource use, pollution and environmental impacts:

a)         Destabilisation of global environmental features such as climate patterns and the ozone layer must be prevented

b)         Important ecosystems and ecological features must receive absolute protection in order to maintain biological diversity

c)         Renewable resources must be maintained with sustainable harvesting measures rigorously enforced

d)         Non-renewable resources must be used as intensively as possible

e)         Depletion of non-renewable resources should proceed on the basis of maintaining minimum life expectancies of such resources, at which level consumption should be matched by new discoveries of these resources and technological innovation

f)          Emissions into the biosphere should not exceed the biosphere’s capacity to absorb such emissions

g)         Risks of life damaging events from human activity e.g. nuclear power generation must be kept at a very low level


Ekins, P (1993) ‘Limits to growth and sustainable development: grappling with ecological realities’.  Ecological Economics 8 pp 269-88

Meadows, D. Et al. (1972) The Limits to Growth, Universe Publications

Mowforth, M. and Munt, I., (2008) Tourism and Sustainability, Abingdon: Taylor and Francis

WCED (1987) Our Common Future Oxford: Oxford University Press.