21 Oct 2011:
Database Highlights Projects
That Convert Runoff into Public Resources
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has launched a public database
of 479 projects that use green infrastructure techniques to divert and process urban stormwater before it reaches rivers, lakes, estuaries and other waterways. By using such methods as rain gardens, green roofs, and bioretention — which replicates the uptake and storage of chemicals and sediment by wetlands — designers say the projects have improved the quality of water in their cities and towns, while converting urban stormwater into a valuable resource for communities. Most of the projects listed — including the restoration of an Atlanta brownfield site into a public park and the transformation of a dilapidated Bronx playground into a recreation area that captures and filters stormwater — represent redevelopment or retrofits that have returned unproductive or out-of-use space to the public. Significantly, ASLA found that the deployment of such “green infrastructure” strategies tended to lower development costs, primarily by doing away with expensive, hard runoff-treatment options.
10 Oct 2011:
Urban Growth in China
Will Test Social Welfare System, Report Says
A new report predicts that more than 100 million people will move from China’s countryside into cities and towns over the next decade, a wave of urbanization that could strain the nation’s social welfare system. According to the government’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, China’s total urban population will likely reach more than 800 million by 2020
, compared with about 670 million in 2010, as an increasing number of rural residents seek higher incomes in China’s cities. The report, based on a survey of migrant populations in 106 cities, warns that China’s “overall urban capacity” must be strengthened to handle such a surge in population. Even after migrant workers move into cities and towns, they are typically still registered as rural residents, and thus receive little or no social security and must pay high fees to send their children to public schools. “The migrant population strongly desires to be absorbed into the areas where they live, but there is a stark conflict between supply and demand
of urban public services,” the report warns.
05 Oct 2011:
China’s CO2 Emissions Growth
Mainly Driven By Construction, Study Says
A new study says the explosive growth in China’s construction sector is now driving the country’s steep increase in carbon emissions
, reversing a long-term trend in which consumption and exports were the dominant factors. According to the study, published in journal Environmental Science & Technology
, increased capital investment in infrastructure projects has fueled an expansion of the energy-intensive construction industry in recent years. Until 2002, the most critical factor driving Chinese CO2 emissions was the growth of consumption and factory production for exports, said Jan C. Minx of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and lead author of the study. From 2002 to 2007, however, researchers found that improved energy efficiency actually offset the rise in emissions from increased consumption. But emissions continued to skyrocket during that period — with the average annual CO2 emissions growth rivaling the UK’s total CO2 emissions— largely because of growth in the construction sector and related energy-intensive products such as steel and concrete.
15 Sep 2011:
Empire State Building
Becomes The U.S.’s Tallest LEED Structure
The Empire State Building in New York City has been awarded LEED Gold certification
following a two-year retrofit that is expected to cut energy use in the landmark building by 38 percent by 2013. Two years
Empire State Building
ago, the owners of the 102-story building began renovations they say will cut energy costs by $4.4 million a year, including a retrofit of windows, improved insulation, and renovations to the cooling plant located in the basement. Malkin Holdings, which supervises the building, also agreed to buy 55 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually from Green Mountain Energy, a renewable energy and carbon offset retailer. Over 15 years, the renovations are expected to reduce the building’s carbon emissions by 105,000 metric tons. The green upgrades are part of a $550 million initiative known as the Empire State ReBuilding Program, which includes a litany of sustainable practices, from the use of eco-friendly cleaning and pest control supplies to installation of meters that allow tenants to manage their own energy use. The tower is now the tallest building in the U.S. to receive LEED certification.
14 Sep 2011:
Majority of Big Companies
Adopt Climate Strategies, Survey Finds
A new survey conducted by the UK-based Carbon Disclosure Project finds that for the first time a majority of the world’s largest public corporations are including steps to combat climate change as part of their business strategies
. In a survey of 396 of the world’s 500 largest companies, 68 percent said they now have strategies for dealing with climate change, compared with 48 percent last year. And 45 percent of respondents reported reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of climate strategies, compared with 19 percent last year. The Carbon Disclosure Project
also found a correlation between companies with focused carbon strategies and stock market performance, with those companies addressing the issue earning double the average return from 2005 to 2011. “Companies yet to take action on climate change will have to work hard to remain competitive as we head towards an increasingly resource constrained, low-carbon economy,” said Paul Simpson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project. The survey found that the energy sector had the lowest proportion of companies setting emissions targets in the latest survey, while the utilities sector delivered the best climate change performance.
22 Aug 2011:
Growth of Urban Areas
Poses Long-Term Threats, Study Says
A new study says the explosive growth of urban areas worldwide over the next two decades poses significant risks to human populations and the global environment
, from the loss of agricultural land and wildlife habitat to increased vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Using satellite data on urban growth, the study calculates that the world’s total urban area quadrupled in size from 1970 to 2000 — an increase of about 22,400 square miles. By 2030, that urban footprint will expand by another 590,000 square miles to accommodate the more than 1.47 billion additional people expected to be living in the world’s cities, according to the study, conducted by researchers from four U.S universities — Yale, Arizona State, Texas A&M, and Stanford. “[Cities are] going to be growing and expanding into forests, biological hotspots, savannas, coastlines — sensitive and vulnerable places,” said Karen Seto, an associate professor of urban development at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and lead author of the study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE
18 Apr 2011:
Global Market for E-Scooters
and E-Motorcycles to Surge, Report Says
The global market for electric motorcycles and scooters is expected to surge
, with the number of vehicles projected to jump from 17 million in 2011 to more than 138 million by 2017, according to a new report. The two-wheel electric vehicles, which are already popular across Asia, will become increasingly common elsewhere as the rising cost of petroleum-based fuels and government incentives will drive market growth, according to the report by Pike Research. “They are relatively low cost to own, do not take a lot of space, and are easy to maintain, therefore making them attractive for city dwellers,” said Dave Hurst, a senior analyst for the Colorado-based clean-technology research firm. While the market for electric scooters will be six times greater than electric motorcycles in most markets, e-motorcycles are expected to be the more popular choice in some parts of the world, including North America, because of their higher speed and greater range. According to the analysis, the growth of electric vehicles will spur an increased demand for batteries, with the market for lithium ion batteries for e-motorcycles expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 24 percent from 2011 to 2017, and the market for lithium ion batteries for e-scooters predicted to increase at 19 percent.
12 Jan 2011:
Effects of Poverty, Pollution To Be Researched in Long-term EPA Study
The U.S. government will award $7 million in grants for research into the cumulative health effects of environmental pollution and social factors
such as stress and poor nutrition in low-income communities. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) typically limits its research to the effects of individual pollutants and chemicals, this initiative
will target neighborhoods that are exposed to multiple factors that scientists say can amplify the effects of toxic pollutants. The grants will support research into the combined effects of metals and stress on the central nervous system; disparities in air pollution risks; the effects of stress and traffic pollution on childhood asthma; and the reasons that some ethnic groups are more susceptible to environmental health risks. “This research could pave the way for more interdisciplinary work that is responsive to community concerns and environmental justice,” said Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development.
11 Jan 2011:
Study Evaluates Markets
For High-Speed Rail Systems in the U.S.
A new study identifies the high-speed rail corridors in the U.S. with the greatest potential
to attract ridership in the nation’s so-called “megaregions.” The study by the group America 2050 scores 7,870 potential rail
corridors using 12 critical factors, including population, employment concentrations, rail transit accessibility, and air travel markets. In addition to obvious potential markets such as New York to Washington and Los Angeles to San Diego, the study cites other megaregions with the potential to have well-developed high speed rail systems, including Chicago to Milwaukee and Dallas to Houston. The study encourages the federal government to conduct a similar evaluation to decide where investment in high speed rail systems should be concentrated. The study only considered rail lines that extend from 100 to 600 miles, a distance at which trains can compete with automobiles and aviation.
21 Dec 2010:
Digital Billboards Consume
Large Amounts of Energy, Analysis Shows
The growing number of digital billboards on U.S. roads and highways consume large amounts of energy
and are creating a wide variety of electronic waste, according to a new report. The new study says the typical digital billboard consumes about 30 times as much energy as the average American household. The digital billboards use more efficient LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting than traditional signs, but deploy so many of the LED bulbs on each billboard that energy use is high; traditional billboards use just one or two large bulbs to illuminate signs, according to the study
by Gregory Young, a Philadelphia-based urban planner. In addition, digital billboards are illuminated day and night, and require cooling systems that use more energy. And while LEDs, plasma and LCD screens are recyclable, reuse is not mandated, leading to a large surplus of “techno-waste,” said the study, published by the group Scenic America. The U.S. has roughly 800 digital billboards, compared with 450,000 traditional billboards. But use of the technology is expanding quickly, with more than 2,000 expected by 2012.
14 Dec 2010:
London’s New Black Cabs
Must Be Electric by 2020, Mayor Says
In a push to improve air quality in London, city officials will require that all new black taxi cabs be electric by 2020
. Under increased pressure to reduce the worst air pollution in Europe, London Mayor Boris Johnson says the city will refuse licenses
to any taxi older than 15 years beginning in 2012, a move that will remove about 1,200 black cabs from London’s roads. Beginning in 2013, the city will require that cabs undergo two emissions inspections annually. In Central London, vehicles account for about 80 percent of air pollution, with black cabs contributing about 20 percent of the emissions. The new policy in London comes as officials announced plans to install 4,000 new electric vehicle charging stations throughout the UK
, calling 2011 the “year of the electric car.”
08 Nov 2010:
Creating ‘Living’ Buildings
With Materials That Pull CO2 from Air
A new field, known as “ethical synthetic biology,” aims to combine chemistry, architecture, and climate science to construct buildings out of materials that extract CO2 from the atmosphere and convert the carbon into structural material
. For example, scientists at the University of Greenwich are exploring the possibility of using “protocells” — essentially bubbles of oil in watery fluids that are highly sensitive to light or chemicals — that pull carbon from the atmosphere to create a coral-like skin that would protect buildings. Neil Spiller, an architect and head of Greenwich's School of Architecture & Construction, said such protocells could possibly be used to create a limestone-like material that would petrify the pilings now supporting many of Venice’s buildings, slowing the city’s slide into the sea. At the University of Southern Denmark, researchers have succeeded in capturing carbon dioxide in solution and converting it into carbon-containing materials.“We want to use ethical synthetic biology to create large-scale, real world applications for buildings,” said Spiller.
29 Oct 2010:
China Makes Green Cars
A Priority in Latest Five-Year Plan
The Chinese auto industry will make development and production of electric and hybrid vehicles its top priority
over the next five years, according to its latest Five-year Plan. By 2015, China aims to sell 1 million “new-energy” automobiles, according to a report in People’s Daily
. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has already announced that the government will invest more than 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) over the next decade to make China the world leader in green car production. Meanwhile, in the UK, where a government subsidy next year will shave £5,000 ($7,960) off the cost of new electric cars, a company predicts that the next generation of green cars could be charged wirelessly
with the same technology that charges electric toothbrushes. The company, HaloIPT, this week demonstrated how electric cars can be charged wirelessly by parking over a transmitter pad, and predicted that one day vehicles might be able to re-charge by using roads outfitted with electrical systems that charge cars as they travel.
14 Oct 2010:
Starbucks In Trial Study
To Begin Recycling Its Coffee Cups
Starbucks is testing a new recycling program
at its 86 locations in New York City, a nine-week trial that company officials hope will eventually lead to the recycling of the 3 billion cups used by the chain
annually in the U.S. The company has added separate recycling bins just for cups — and not other recyclables — that are then picked up by the same hauling company that collects the company’s cardboard recyclables each night. By including the cup pickup in the existing loads, the company will not have to add new truck routes, said Jim Hanna, Starbucks’ director of environmental impact. The cups will be sent to a paper mill, where they will be converted into pulp used for paper towels and other products. During the trial, the company will test whether recycling the cups is profitable for the paper mill and whether the cups can be collected separately without customers tossing other trash into the cup recycling bin.
30 Sep 2010:
U.S. Home Energy Use
As High as in 1970s, Despite Advances
The average American household uses the same amount of energy it did in the early 1970s
, despite significant improvements in the efficiency of household appliances, according to a report in the Washington Post
. Even though appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators now use half the amount of energy that they did several decades ago, average household energy use has remained the same because houses have been getting bigger and because they now contain more power-hungry devices, such as computers, flat-screen televisions, video games, and digital video recorders. One sign of that growing demand from computers, TVs, and other gadgets is that while electricity accounted for 23 percent of an average household’s energy use in 1978, it now accounts for 42 percent, according to the Post
. Even though household energy use has essentially remained flat for the past 40 years, the number of households has increased significantly as the U.S. population has grown from 203 million in 1970 to nearly 310 million today, pushing up overall energy use.
23 Sep 2010:
Study Projects 4.7 Million
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations by 2015
As increasing numbers of electric vehicles enter the global market over the next few years, more than 4.7 million charging stations will be accessible worldwide by 2015
, with nearly 1 million of the those expected
in the U.S., according to a new study. Of the 974,000 charging stations predicted in the U.S., about 64 percent will be charging units in residences, according to Pike Research
. Across Asia and Europe, where multi-family housing is more common, only about 35 percent of charging stations will be residential, with a greater percentage of consumers relying on public or commercial stations to charge their vehicles, according to the study. In addition, North America will see a higher percentage of plug-in hybrid vehicles, which require less charging infrastructure because they have smaller battery packs and gasoline engines that allow vehicles greater range.
06 Jul 2010:
U.S. Government Introduces
Nation’s Largest ‘Zero-Energy’ Building
The U.S. government next month will open what it calls the nation’s largest zero-energy building
, a 222,000-square-foot structure on the campus of the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory that designers say will consume 50 percent less energy than typical buildings and will generate whatever power is needed on-site. While solar panels will produce energy for the building, a research facility located on the department’s Golden, Colo. campus, the building is also designed to utilize techniques and technologies that employ natural light and the planet’s tendency to heat and cool. The narrow design will allow daylight to enter all work spaces; “smart” sensory technology will alert
U.S. Department of Energy
The new “zero energy” building
occupants when they should open or close windows based on indoor and outdoor temperatures; thick, three-layered walls will control indoor temperatures by absorbing outdoor heat during the day; and a low-energy radiant system will control temperatures through a series of pipes inside the floors that circulate hot or cold water depending on the season. “We went back to simple design techniques that were used before there were electric lights and before we had air conditioning compressors,” said John Andary, a principal at Stantec, the project's design consultant.
15 Mar 2010:
New London Tower Will
Generate 8 Percent Of Its Own Electricity
A new 42-floor London skyscraper will be the world's first building to incorporate wind turbines in the design
, an innovation developers say will generate 8 percent of the building’s electricity needs. The Strata Tower, a 408-unit apartment building scheduled to open in July, will be topped with three 19-kilowatt turbines — each with five 29.5-foot blades designed to suck wind from various angles and accelerate it through tubes, generating as much as 50 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. It will also generate about £16,000 to £17,000 annually through the nation’s new feed-in tariff, the developers say. The £13-million tower, which developers hope will be a model in sustainable construction, will also utilize natural ventilation rather
Linda Nylind/The Guardian
The Strata Tower
than air conditioning. By 2019, government law will require carbon neutral design for all new buildings. Green building advocates described the Strata design as pioneering, but questioned whether wind turbines would become common in skyscraper projects. “I doubt wind power will become a common feature in high-rise inner-city projects,” said Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council. “But without this type of bold innovation, how would we ever know?”
20 Jan 2010:
‘Eco-bling’ in the U.K.;
CO2-Spewing Lawns in the U.S.
Installing wind turbines or solar panels on homes that are not well-insulated or energy-efficient amounts to little more than “eco-bling” that makes owners feel good but does little to reduce carbon emissions
, according to a study by the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering. To meet the U.K.’s goal of making all new homes and buildings carbon neutral by 2020 and slashing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, the report said, the government should focus on making new buildings highly energy-efficient, retrofitting older buildings to improve their energy efficiency, and investing in large-scale wind and solar projects. The report said that for wind turbines installed on homes to produce sizeable amounts of electricity, the turbines would have to be so large that their vibrations would damage residential structures. Meanwhile, a new study, to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters
, had some sobering news for homeowners hoping to reduce their carbon footprints: The study, conducted by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, said that the fertilization, mowing, and leaf-blowing of lawns produces four times as many greenhouse gases as the lawns themselves absorb
22 Oct 2009:
Food Recycling Program
A Major Success in San Francisco
San Francisco’s new food recycling program — the first in the U.S. that requires all food waste from homes, apartments, businesses, and restaurants to be recycled and composted — has been enthusiastically embraced by city residents
, officials say. Although the program was officially launched on Wednesday, city officials say residents have been recycling food for weeks and are already setting aside about half of the city’s 500 tons of daily food waste. The city requires residents and businesses to place food scraps in sealed buckets, and then collects the buckets and trucks them to San Francisco’s Organics Annex, where the food waste is composted. The compost is sold as fertilizer to area farms and vineyards. Seattle was the first U.S. city to require all households to recycle food waste, but San Francisco’s law covers businesses and apartments. Jared Blumenthal, the city’s environmental officer, said residents have strongly backed the food recycling plan because — overwhelmed by bad environmental news — this gives them something concrete to do. “This is not rocket science,” he said. “This is putting some food scraps into a different pile and turning them into compost.”
10 Jul 2009:
New Bus Systems Reduce
Traffic, Pollution in Developing Cities
Large, low-emission buses being introduced in developing cities from Mexico City to Ahmedabad, India are reducing congestion on crowded roadways and cutting pollution and carbon dioxide emissions
, all at a much lower cost than constructing subways. In Bogota, Colombia, city leaders took control of two to four center lanes of major boulevards for the TransMilenio rapid transit system. Small walls isolate the “tracks” of the bus lines from other traffic, and passengers are able to board the long, segmented buses from the center platforms of modern stations. Since 2001, the TransMilenio bus system has allowed the city to remove 7,000 small private buses from roadways and has slashed fuel use by more than 59 percent, according to a New York Times
report. As a result, TransMilenio last year became the only large transportation system allowed by the United Nations to generate and sell carbon credits. Climate researchers say that emissions reductions related to transportation will become increasingly urgent in coming decades, particularly in the developing world. Projects similar to Bogota’s TransMilenio are planned in Cape Town, Mexico City, and Jakarta, Indonesia.
30 Apr 2009:
Dubai’s Urban Sprawl
In these photographs, NASA satellites capture the explosive growth of Dubai on the Persian Gulf between 2002 and 2008
. These false-color thermal images of Dubai — one of the 7 United Arab
Emirates — depict vegetated areas in red, buildings in gray, and the desert in beige. The image at left, taken in October 2002, shows the early stages of construction of Palm Jumeirah, a vast commercial development built by dredging 3.9 billion cubic feet of sand from the gulf and depositing it in the shape of a giant palm tree. The finished look of Palm Jumeirah — which contains shops, hotels, and apartments and is protected from the gulf by 7 miles of rocky breakwater — can be seen in the image at right, taken in November 2008. That recent image also shows the exponential growth of Dubai, a city-state of 1.2 million and a major commercial hub in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region. Just to the east of Palm Jumeirah, the fairways of an irrigated golf course, pictured in red, can be seen.
17 Apr 2009:
Obama Unveils Major Spending
For High-Speed Rail Network in the U.S.
President Obama has proposed spending $13 billion as a “first step” toward building a series of high-speed rail lines connecting major metropolitan areas in the United States
. Among other places, the proposed lines — which would ultimately cost hundreds of billions to construct — would run from Washington to Boston; San Diego to San Francisco; Chicago to Minneapolis; Kansas City to Louisville, Ky.; Eugene, Ore. to Seattle, Wash.; Miami to Tampa, Fla.; and San Antonio, Texas to Tulsa, Okla. Obama said that $8 billion for the rail lines will come from his economic stimulus plan with another $5 billion to be allocated in the next several years. “High-speed rail is long overdue, and this plan lets American travelers know that they are not doomed to a future of long lines at the airports or jammed cars on the highways,” Obama said. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said his state hoped to receive a “significant portion” of the federal funds to help build a proposed $30 billion “bullet train” that would whisk travelers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours.
10 Apr 2009:
First Solar-Powered City in U.S.
Florida Power & Light and a real estate developer have announced that they will build the first solar-powered city in the U.S., a community of 19,500 homes, offices, retail shops, and light industry whose electricity will come from the world’s largest solar photovoltaic plant.
The $300 million, 75-megawatt plant will provide enough electricity to power the proposed community — Babcock Ranch — and to export electricity to other parts of Florida, according to Florida Power & Light. The community, located near Ft. Myers, is being developed by a former National Football League player-turned-developer, Syd Kitson, who says half of the 91,000-acre town will remain undeveloped green space. Kitson said the community will be a model of sustainability that features a smart power grid, recharging stations for electric vehicles, and homes built with the latest in energy-efficient technologies. Construction on the power plant and development is scheduled to begin next year; utility company officials say their solar plant will be built regardless of the status of the planned city.
23 Mar 2009:
Urban Residents Generate
Lower CO2 Emissions Than Suburbanites
People who live in large cities generate significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions
than those who live in rural and suburban areas, according to a report by the International Institute for Environment and Development. While the high concentration of population and businesses found in cities are often seen as a pollution “problem,” researchers found that “high densities and large population concentrations can also bring a variety of advantages for … environmental management.” For instance, while New York City emitted 58.3 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2005, the per capita average of 7.1 tons was about a third of the U.S. average of 23.92 tons per capita in 2004, according to the study. The density of buildings and high use of public transportation in New York contributes to the lower individual emissions, the report stated. Likewise, the 2006 per capita emissions average in London was about 6.18 tons – about 55 percent of the UK’s 2004 average of 11.19 tons. The report examined emissions data from cities worldwide. “The real climate change culprits are not the cities themselves but the high consumption lifestyles of people living across these wealthy countries,” said report author David Dodman.
16 Mar 2009:
Amsterdam Makes a Bid
To Become Leader in Energy Efficiency
Amsterdam will invest more than $1 billion over the next three years to become one of Europe’s leading “smart cities”
by installing sophisticated energy monitoring technology in households and funding other energy efficiency programs. BusinessWeek
magazine reports that city officials aim to install “smart grid” technology — which allows consumers to monitor energy usage in real-time and carefully control the operations of heating systems and appliances — in 200,000 homes and apartments. Such technology has enabled consumers to slash energy usage by as much as 50 percent, and Amsterdam officials plan to eventually install it in the city’s more than 600,000 households. The “smart city” program also will provide financing for roof insulation and energy-efficient lighting, will underwrite the purchase of electric garbage trucks, and will power electronic displays at bus stops with solar panels, among other measures. Accenture Consulting, which is working on the Amsterdam energy plan, is also collaborating with utilities around the world, including a program to install smart-grid technology in 60,000 Denver households this year.
29 Dec 2008:
Germany Builds Houses
That Use Almost No Energy to Heat
Architects in Germany and other countries are designing “passive houses” that have extra-thick insulation and special windows and doors
so almost no heat escapes and almost no cold seeps in.
A "passive house"
in Darmstadt, Germany
This design allows the homes to be warmed not just by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and from residents’ bodies. So far, the New York Times
reports, an estimated 15,000 passive houses have been built worldwide, most of them in Germany and Scandinavia. Earlier attempts at building sealed solar-heated homes failed because of stagnant air and mold. But passive houses use a central ventilation system that allows warm air going out to pass alongside clean, cold air coming in, allowing heat to be exchanged with 90 percent efficiency. “The myth before was that to be warm you had to have heating,” says Wolfgang Hasper, an engineer at the Passivhaus Institut near Frankfurt. “Our goal is to create a warm house without energy demand.”
21 Nov 2008:
Bay Area Unveils $1 Billion Plan to Become "Electric Car Capital"
San Francisco Bay Area officials have introduced a $1 billion public-private partnership to install electric car recharging stations and battery swapping centers
across the area’s highway system, an investment they hope will transform the region into the U.S.'s electric car capital. By 2012, the Palo
A charging station
Alto-based company Better Place – with support from local governments leaders – plans to begin installing stations in homes, businesses, government buildings and parking lots. In addition, the company will create mechanized battery swapping centers that would allow drivers to travel longer distances without having to recharge. While it would be the first such electric car
network in the United States, Better Place has already built similar infrastructure in Israel, Denmark and Australia. During an unveiling in San Francisco, local officials vowed to help streamline the permitting process and create incentives for businesses that use the system. “Our goal is to make the Bay Area – and eventually California – the electric vehicle capital of the world,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
10 Nov 2008:
Bicycle Sharing Programs Enjoying Widespread Success in Europe
Bicycle-sharing programs that allow riders to pick up a bike in one city location and ride it to another are growing rapidly in Europe t
hanks to new technology to keep track of the bikes and increasing environmental awareness. The New York Times
reports that cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Lyon, Pamplona, Rome, Dusseldorf, and Rennes, France have all become sites of successful bike-sharing programs. In Barcelona, a program called “Bicing” offers riders 6,000 bicycles at 375 stands throughout the city. Technology is key, as riders use electronic cards to rent bikes parked at mechanized docks, with the cost of the ride — often as cheap as 30 cents per hour — being deducted from their bank accounts. The bikes in Barcelona are often being rented 10 times a day and demand cannot keep pace with supply. Paris’ Velib’ program, with 20,000 bikes, has been an enormous success. The bike-sharing boom in Europe is prompting other cities, including Shanghai, to launch their own pilot programs.
07 Nov 2008:
New York Mayor Calls for Six-Cent Fee on All Plastic Bags
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a six-cent fee for all plastic shopping bags used in the city’s shops, delis and grocery stores, a so-called plastic bag tax
that could make the city greener and generate about $16 million a year, according to city officials. It would also make New York the first U.S. city to assess such a fee on plastic, although similar fees are common in Europe. A stiff 33-cent tax in Ireland, for example, prompted a 94 percent drop in plastic bag use within one year, according to the New York Times
. In New York, consumers would be charged 6 cents per plastic bag at the point of sale, with a penny going to the store owner as incentive for compliance, according to the Bloomberg administration. The proposal was praised by environmentalists. “It’s simple, it’s streamlined, it advances environmental objectives and it generates some funds,” said Eric A. Goldstein, a senior lawyer with the National Resources Defense Council. A similar tax will go before voters in Seattle next year.