Day: May 30, 2013

‘Personal Climate Control,’ Lasers, and the Wild Future of Thermostats

Read the full story in Atlantic Cities.

Buildings are the largest consumer of energy in the United States, with residential and commercial properties together accounting for about 40 percent of the country’s energy use. Most of that, in turn, comes from all the effort it takes to heat and cool these places with a kind of ham-handed precision.

“We heat our homes during the day when nobody is there, and we heat our offices during the night when nobody is there,” says Carlo Ratti, the director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab. Even when people are there, we heat whole apartments just because someone is curled on a couch in the living room. And we cool whole office buildings to accommodate a couple of people in a conference room.

Perhaps you see where Ratti is heading with this: “Can we use technology,” he asks, “in order to put the energy where the people are?”

A Very Brief History of Why It’s So Hard to Get From Brooklyn to Queens

Read the full story in Atlantic Cities.

Ever try to get from Brooklyn to Queens, two of the most populated boroughs of New York City? Without a car, it’s nearly impossible, as most subway lines require one to go through Manhattan first.
I was recently at an event and speaking to a Brooklyn business leader who grew up in Queens. He told me he remembered going to Brooklyn frequently as a child, for shopping and even for high school. Every time I meet someone who grew up in Queens of a certain age, they will tell me that they remember going to Brooklyn all the time. For them, going “downtown” meant going to Brooklyn. So what happened? How did the two neighboring boroughs become disconnected?