Day: October 6, 2011

In Copenhagen, Gas Stations Morph Into Bike Repair Shops

Read the full post at Good.

It’s a rocky road out there for bicyclists riding car-dominated streets and freeways. With potholes, angry drivers, and the constant threat of a swift pancaking all posing hurdles, biking means always moving against the flow of traffic. But in Copenhagen, one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, an oil company is making things just a bit easier for the two-wheeled commuters.

Norwegian energy company Statoil ASA has installed bicycle care stations at select gas stations in Copenhagen, reports Copenhagenize. The bike stations were installed using unused wall space at existing gas stations, and feature a pull-down shelf to lift and hold bicycles during repairs, an air hose, paper towels, and gloves. Inside the stations are free bicycle care kits that can be borrowed for more involved repairs. Just imagine, instead of filling up on non-environmentally-friendly fossil fuels at the local gas station, you ride your bike there and revel in your tiny carbon footprint while taking care of your sweet ride.

EPA Seeks Letters of Interest for the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program

EPA’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program is an annual, competitive solicitation open to state, local, regional, and tribal governments, along with non-profits that have partnered with a governmental entity that want to incorporate smart growth techniques into their future development. Once selected, communities receive direct technical assistance from a team of national experts in one of two areas: 1) policy analysis, such as reviewing state and local codes, school siting guidelines, transportation policies, etc., or 2) public participatory processes, such as visioning, design workshops, alternative analysis, build-out analysis, etc. The assistance is tailored to the community’s unique situation and priorities. EPA provides the assistance through a contractor team rather than a grant. Through a multiple-day site visit and a detailed final report, the multidisciplinary team provides information to help the community achieve its goal of encouraging growth that fosters economic progress and environmental protection.

EPA will accept letters of interest from September 26 to October 28, 2011. For more information, visit: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia.htm.

Preserving history, improving buildings, brick-by-brick

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Generally, the best, least wasteful way to create a new, green building is to preserve and improve an existing one. But when the buildings in question are hundreds of years old, they can pose some special challenges, both from a preservation and energy efficiency point of view.

In San Francisco, the Presidio Trust, which manages the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park (and former Spanish, Mexican and finally U.S. military base) located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, is succeeding in its efforts to update the park’s landmark structures while preserving their history and making them drastically more energy efficient.

And in doing so, it’s using decidedly modern technology.

5 ways to get employees engaged with sustainability (+ 1 reason you should)

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

There is one really good reason businesses should make their employees a central part of their sustainability strategy: they will bring the best ideas for meaningful action.

What’s more, engaged employees are more productive, passionate employees, and sustainability offers them a concrete cause during an uncertain economic climate, according to a panel of sustainability managers speaking about the topic during the inaugural SXSW Eco conference.

Texas city’s government uses 100% renewable energy

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Earlier this month the city of Austin, Texas made a big green move. The municipal government transitioned all its buildings — from libraries to fire stations — to 100 percent renewable energy, making it the largest local government to be powered completely by renewables.

The city will subscribe to about 400 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy through Austin Energy’s GreenChoice renewable energy program. Nearly all of the energy will be produced at a wind farm in West Texas.

How technology can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Integrating our disconnected traffic systems — from traffic lights to personal on-board navigation — could reduce urban congestion and even air pollution, according to Liviu Iftode, a computer science professor at Rutgers University. Iftode, in collaboration with Rutgers colleagues and Mario Gerla of UCLA and his colleagues, recently received a three-year, $1.94 million grant, to study how wireless technology could improve traffic control and air quality. Below are excerpts from my recent interview with Iftode.

Steve Jobs: seven ways he taught us to ‘think different’

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Apple founder and chairman Steve Jobs taught us all a thing or two about innovation. When he launched Apple in the mid-1970s, it was at a time of great disillusionment and distrust with “Big Science” and the market system in general. The future seemed to belong to faceless technocrats — and the large, bureaucratic corporations that employed them, systematically stamping out new products to cater to every scientifically studied need.

Steve Jobs proved them all wrong. He was the anti-technocrat — an artist, entrepreneur, dreamer, revolutionary. He shook the business world out of its coma and made business fun. And made technology fun.

Here are seven ways Jobs taught us to “think different:”

Trends in U.S. design: services, social responsibility

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

An efficient way to trace how the American public understands and defines the concept and influence of “design” is to look at the nominees of the People’s Design Award. It’s an honor given in conjunction with the National Design Awards, one of the most prestigious prizes any U.S. designer could hope for.

How do you solve a problem like next-gen biofuels?

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Next-generation biofuels are often viewed as a transportation fuel panacea. A magic elixir that will wean the U.S. off of foreign oil without sending the economy into the dark ages. Advocates have promised next-gen biofuels will reduce greenhouse emissions and end the use of food crops for fuel.  Now a recent National Research Council report not only raises serious doubts about these often-touted benefits, but said it’s unlikely the U.S. will be able to meet its own biofuel production mandates.

In other words, when it comes to solving a problem like next-gen biofuels, it might be easier to catch a cloud and pin it down. Or hold a moonbeam in your hand. More importantly, the National Research Council questions whether the U.S. should even try because the environmental and economic benefits might not be there.

This post is not about sustainable cities; it’s about suburban jobs

Read the full post at SmartPlanet.

Imagine a community — urban, suburban or rural, your pick — that has more choices for housing.

More options to get where you need to go. Closer to jobs. Closer to stores. Closer to schools.

Insulated from the whims of oil prices in the Middle East. Clean water to drink. Crisp air to breathe.

Seventy-nine percent of Americans say they’re on board with this vision. (Just five percent oppose.)

But call it ’sustainability,’ ‘livability’ or ’smart growth’? Wave goodbye to your support.

A panel of experts gathered here at the inaugural SXSW Eco conference to debate the methods of achieving concepts most Americans support without allowing them to be mired in politics.

Their conclusion? Get the messaging right from day one.

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