Transportation Archives

December 12, 2004

This Week in Green Design

We have a new addition to our Sustainability Sundays lineup: Justin Thomas of Metaefficient. Meatefficient "searches out products that we believe are more effective and healthier for individuals and the world, yet are comparable in price to mainstream products." We're glad to feature the best of what Justin's found lately, here on Worldchanging:

EcoResin Furniture
EcoResin Furniture

3Form has just introduced a new line of furniture made with Varia Ecoresin. Varia is manufactured under strict OHSA approved standards and is free of VOC's, solvents and emissions. 3form ecoresin and Varia are built to exceed LEED accreditation insuring at least 40% post industrial recycled content, and are free from plasticizers and stabilizers.

Self-Contained Watering System

The Oasis Automatic Plant Watering System by Claber is a programmable system that distributes up to 6 gallons of water to as many as 20 plants. It is a completely independent system, needing no connection to a tap or electrical main. It runs on one 9V battery.

December 19, 2004

The Week In Green Design

Each week, Justin Thomas of Metaefficient gives us a peek into new finds in sustainable design. Metaefficient "searches out products that we believe are more effective and healthier for individuals and the world, yet are comparable in price to mainstream products." We're glad to feature the best of what Justin's found lately, here on Worldchanging:

100% Corn-Based Packaging Now In Use

Cargill Dow's
line of 100% corn-based bioplastic "NatureWorks Packaging" is now being used by a number of food companies to package fresh produce and salads. Dow Chemicals, a partner in the Cargill Dow company, has a questionable environmental and ethical track record. However, the Natureworks product is making breakthroughs for bioplastic into the food packaging marketplace. For example, Del Monte Fresh Produce is converting from PET containers to NatureWorks PLA packaging for fresh-cut pineapple, melons and fruit & vegetable medleys. Newman’s Own Organics will offer several organic salad varieties in two-piece, rigid tubs made from NatureWorks PLA. Club Fresh is using NatureWorks PLA for cut melon, fruit mixes & diced vegetables. We hope to see more manufacturers adopt biodegradeable packaging soon.

LED Christmas Lights
Energy Efficient LED Xmas Lights

These LED lights extremely energy efficient and are replacements for the those fallible conventional Christmas lights. LED Christmas lights are bright, don't burn out or break and are cool to the touch.

Reclaimed Wood Furniture
Reclaimed Wood Funiture

These attractive tables and chairs are designed by Scrapile. They are made of reclaimed scraps of wood from local wood shops. The unique texture comes from the combination of the various types of wood that is recovered. Scrapile is run by Brooklyn-based designers Carlos Salgado and Bart Bettencourt. For more information contact: Carlos Salgado.

January 2, 2005

This Week in Green Design, 1/2

Every Sunday, Justin Thomas of Metaefficient brings us the best in the week's green design breakthroughs. Here's 2005's first installment:

LED Floodlights

Enlux, a company in Arizona, has created floodlights built from LEDs. They did this by removing the diodes from their individual plastic housings and clustering them on a heat-dissipating circuit board, known as a light engine. They also created finned aluminum housing that spreads the heat across its surface. The 22-watt floodlight ($80) gives off about as much brightness as a 45- to 65-watt incandescent bulb. The real energy efficient comes in with the colored floodlights, which are ten times as efficient as their incadescent counterparts.

Human-Powered Snow Thrower

This new snow throwing tool, called a "Whovel", uses your body weight to lift and throw snow and slush. After suffering repeated back injuries, the company founder began working on snow removal designs that could reduce back injuries, while avoiding the many problems associated with gas-powered snow blowers.

Solar Shower

This looks interesting — it's a solar shower that heats 5 1/2 gallons of water with a built-in solar collector. Created in Europe, the imported shower is able to heat water to 140°F in 1-2 hours in sunny weather. The manufacturer claims that the shower is capable of capturing heat from the ambient temperature in the air on hot, but cloudy days. It hooks up to a regular garden hose, and allow you to adjust the water temperature from warm to cold (cold water is delivered directly via the garden hose).

January 9, 2005

The Week in Sustainable Design

Book: Earthbag BuildingEach week, Justin Thomas of Metaefficient gives us a peek into new finds in sustainable design. Metaefficient "searches out products that we believe are more effective and healthier for individuals and the world, yet are comparable in price to mainstream products." We're glad to feature the best of what Justin's found lately, here on Worldchanging:

Earthbag Building

What is Earthbag Building? Well, plainly enough, it's a method of building using bags filled with earth.

This newly released book, Liquid Gold,is the first comprehensive guide to all the tools, tricks, and techniques for building with earthbags.

Having been introduced to sandbag construction by the renowned Nader Khalili in 1993, the authors developed this "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" over the last decade. A reliable method for constructing homes, outbuildings, garden walls and much more, this enduring, tree-free architecture can also be used to create arched and domed structures of great beauty ó in any region, and at home, in developing countries, or in emergency relief work.

More about Earthbag Building.

Lead-Free Garden Hoses


Some garden hoses leach lead and other chemicals into the water. The problem is that they are made of PVC, which uses lead as a stabilizer. Consumer Reports tested 16 brands of garden hose sold at national chains and on the internet. In some hoses they measured 10 to 100 times more lead than the EPA considers safe coming out of a faucet. The hoses they found to be lead-free are: Gardener's Supply Company Hose, Teknor Apex Boat & Camper Self-Straightening Hose, Swan Marine/Camper Hose and the Better Homes and Gardens Kink-Free Hose. Also available is the Handi-Hose (pictured above) which is a compact flat hose, approved by the NSF and FDA for drinking water.

Using Urine to Grow Plants

Using Urine to Grow PlantsThis book, Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants, by Carol Steinfeld explains how urine can be utilized as a resource! Urine contains most of the nutrients in domestic wastewater and usually carries no disease risk. Starting with a short history of urine use — from ritual to medicinal to even culinary — Liquid Gold shows how urine is used worldwide to grow food and landscapes, while protecting the environment, saving its users the cost of fertilizer, and connecting people to the nutrient cycles that sustain them.


Home Page: Liquid Gold

January 16, 2005

The Week in Sustainable Products

Each week, Justin Thomas of Metaefficient gives us a peek into new finds in sustainable design. Metaefficient "searches out products that we believe are more effective and healthier for individuals and the world, yet are comparable in price to mainstream products." We're glad to feature the best of what Justin's found lately, here on Worldchanging:

Micro and Pico Hydropower

17104.jpgIf you own property that has access to a stream or river, and want to produce your own electricity, then Hydropower should be your first choice. The cost of equipment is lower, and the kilowatt per dollar return is much better than any other alternative energy source.

The most important element to have when producing hydropower is what is called "drop". The greater amount of change in a stream's elevation, the better it is for producing electricity. A small stream with a good drop is better than a larger stream with a small change in elevation, because the turbine needed to tap a small stream is smaller, easier to install and less expensive. Hydropower often produces an excess of power, when used as a direct AC system. This excess can then be used to heat your water or warm your house, for example.

Turbines are available from Alternative Energy Store, Backwoods Solar or Real Goods.

A recent post at Alternative Energy Blog pointed out that villagers in Vietnam are using $20 "Pico Hydro" turbines (300W and 500W) to power their homes, because it is cheaper than buying power from the grid. Apparently these turbines are not available in the U.S. — the only web site selling them is in Nepal.

More details on setting up hydropower systems can be found in this NREL document (PDF).


Continue reading "The Week in Sustainable Products" »

January 23, 2005

This Week in Green Design, 1/23

Each week, Justin Thomas of Metaefficient gives us a peek into new finds in sustainable design. Metaefficient "searches out products that we believe are more effective and healthier for individuals and the world, yet are comparable in price to mainstream products." We're glad to feature the best of what Justin's found lately, here on Worldchanging:

Solar Tubes: Very Efficient Heating

Apricus makes a unique solar hot water heater which is 30-40% more efficient than flat plate solar systems. The secret to the performance is the use of cylindrical evacuated glass tubes to absorb the heat from the sun. Because the tubes are cylindrical, there is always a surface area that is perpendicular to the sun. The tubes also house a vacuum between two layers of glass. Why a vacuum? A vacuum is an excellent insulator. The insulation properties are so good that while the inside of the tube may be 304°F (150°C), the outer tube is cold to touch. This means that solar tube water heaters can perform well even in cold weather when flat plate collectors perform poorly due to heat loss. More information: Apricus

Slow Sand Filters

Slow sand filters are perhaps the most efficient means of producing clean drinking water.

Slow sand filters rely on biological processes for their action rather than physical filtration or disinfection. They require no electricity, no chemicals and no filter changes.

How is this possible? The secret is that slow sand filters work through the formation of a gelatinous layer called the hypogeal layer or "Schmutzedecke" on top of a layer of fine sand. This layer consists of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, rotifera and a range of aquatic insect larvae. As a Schmutzedecke ages more algae tend to develop and larger aquatic organisms may be present including some Endoprocta, Snails and Annelid worms.
The Schmutzedecke is the layer that provides the purification for water treatment -- the underlying sand provides the support medium for this biological layer. As water passes through the Schmutzedecke, particles of foreign matter are trapped in the mucilaginous matrix and dissolved organic material is adsorbed and absorbed and metabolised by the bacteria fungi and protozoa.

The water draining from a well managed slow sand filter can be of exceptionally good quality with no detectable bacterial content.

Blackburn and Associates produce a slow sand filters for residental use.

February 15, 2005

A Bad Idea, But A Real Question

Image Courtesy DOE/NRELThe recently-appointed head of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Joan Borucki, advocates replacing the 18 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax in California with a "tax by the mile" system charging a fee for distance traveled in California, as determined by a Global Positioning System device installed into every vehicle, and collected at the gas pump. The reason? California car buyers have put so many hybrids and other high-mileage vehicles on the road that the amount collected in California in gas taxes since 1998 has declined by 8% (inflation adjusted), even while miles traveled has increased by 16% in the same period.

This would mean that someone considering switching from a 15 mile-per-gallon truck to a 45 mile-per-gallon hybrid sedan for a 30 mile commute would pay the same amount of tax for the trip.

This system is currently being considered in Oregon, under the "Road User Fee" label, and a test of 250 vehicles in Eugene, OR, is set to begin later this year. Other states are watching the results of the Oregon tests and the California discussion. As proposed, however, the "tax by the mile" system won't fly. There are too many problems with the plan's design. Nevertheless, the longer-term issue of declining gas taxes still has to be dealt with. Read on for more.

Continue reading "A Bad Idea, But A Real Question" »

February 20, 2005

Smart Grids, Grid Computing, and the New World of Energy

Lightning_Paris.jpgMoving to a post-fossil energy infrastructure is no small task. Leave aside the politics of the problem for a moment, and look at the logistics: replacing coal, oil and gas-fired power plants with cleaner, renewable technologies isn't simply a matter of unplugging one and plugging in the other. Renewable sources often requires wide spaces to generate useful amounts of power, and need to be situated in areas most conducive to their generation needs (sunny regions for solar, windy for turbines, the ocean for wave, etc.). Moreover, there is great value in adding in small, local generation (often referred to as micro-generation) to the mix, from wind micro-power, micro-hydro and rooftop solar panels to more exotic technologies like Stirling Engines, plug-in hybrids, and potential future developments like photovoltaic curtains.

Such a model of diverse, widespread sources of power generation is typically called "distributed energy," and it has some definite advantages over the current, largely centralized infrastructure. Distributed power can be more robust against accident or attack on the power grid: knocking down a 5 megawatt wind turbine would be bad, but not nearly as disastrous as abruptly taking a 1,000 megawatt coal power plant off the grid. Distributed power also allows greater resource flexibility: the more varied the resources used to generate electricity, the less likely are disruptions resulting from limited availability of one of them. This latter is particularly important due to the variable nature of wind and solar. Output from a given wind or solar farm will rise and fall with local conditions, but the overall availability of electricity from multiple locations and resources can still be consistent.

But distributed energy is currently more costly than centralized power (PDF). Some of that cost comes from managing the complexity of variable power generation, changing usage patterns, and a multiplicity of sources. Distributed energy resources will have to be managed more like a computer network, complete with abundant routers and switches. The success of distributed energy is ultimately dependent upon the increasing availability of computer-enabled power networks, or "smart grids." And smart grids for distributed power, in turn, will increasingly rely upon the availability of distributed computing.

Continue reading "Smart Grids, Grid Computing, and the New World of Energy" »

May 8, 2005

Consume Green

greenshopper.jpgIn the beginning, there was the Whole Earth Catalog, and it was good.

Today, if you want to get advice on how to construct a green(er) life through consumerism, you have myriad choices. If you want your advice from the remnants of dead trees, you can check out Plenty, Green*Light, and a bunch more. Those who prefer bits to atoms can go with (among others) Treehugger, HippyShopper (for the UK regiment), Metaefficient, even our own Bright Green Living Wiki. All of these provide advice from a perspective that's green first, consumer second. But what if you're more of a traditional type, and have a strong aversion to tie-dye?

Continue reading "Consume Green" »

May 22, 2005

World's First Commercial Wave Farm

We've argued for awhile that hydrokinetic power -- tidal power, wave power, ocean current power and the like -- is the potential dark horse winner in the race to build breakthrough clean renewable power generation. Hydrokinetic power can avoid much of the "intermittency" problem of wind and solar (i.e., that the power source isn't always available) as well as the NIMBY "visual pollution" argument brought up by wind opponents. It's further back along the cost and development curve than wind and solar, but it's moving along swiftly.

Latest example: the Scottish firm Ocean Power Delivery -- the current leader in hydrokinetic technology -- is set to build the world's first commercial wave farm off of Portugal. When deployed in 2006, the three wave power generation units will provide 2.25 megawatts to 1,500 homes. And if all goes well with the initial build, OPD is set to deliver an additional 30 units, for a total of 20 megawatts of generation.

The wave power unit is called the "Pelamis:"

The Pelamis is a semi-submerged, articulated structure composed of cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints. The wave-induced motion of these joints is resisted by hydraulic rams, which pump high-pressure oil through hydraulic motors via smoothing accumulators. The hydraulic motors drive electrical generators to produce electricity. Power from all the joints is fed down a single umbilical cable to a junction on the sea bed. Several devices can be connected together and linked to shore through a single seabed cable.

A novel joint configuration is used to induce a tuneable, cross-coupled resonant response, which greatly increases power capture in small seas. Control of the restraint applied to the joints allows this resonant response to be 'turned-up' in small seas where capture efficiency must be maximised or 'turned-down' to limit loads and motions in survival conditions.

Each Pelamis unit generates up to 750kW of power, although actual output will vary with wave intensity. The Portugal wave farm will run about €8 million (roughly $10 million) -- not cheap by any means, but a worthwhile investment in a promising source of clean power.

(Thanks, Paul at Eyeteeth!)

May 29, 2005

Triple Bottom Line, Down Under

ba_logo.jpgAustralian national research institute CSIRO and the University of Sydney have just published a report entitled Balancing Act -- A Triple Bottom Line Analysis of the Australian Economy, which looks at sustainability and the ways in which it can be embedded in the Australian economy. (Triple Bottom Line Analysis explicitly includes ecological and social costs and benefits in addition to traditional economic measures.) The report is massive, four PDF volumes amounting to nearly 100MB total, and is a wide-ranging look at the intersection of economic development and environmental responsibility.

Balancing Act provides an overview of the Australian economy using a set of ten environmental, social, and financial indicators. The environmental indicators are water use, land disturbance, greenhouse emissions and energy use; the social indicators are employment, government revenue and income; and the financial indicators are operating surplus (or profits), exports and imports.

Continue reading "Triple Bottom Line, Down Under" »

June 19, 2005

It *Can* Happen Here

Building a new public transportation network in a sprawling city and suburb rings is difficult -- witness the timid, almost irrelevant metro rail system built in Los Angeles over the 1990s, for example. But difficult does not mean impossible. Keith Schneider at the Michigan Land Use Institute looks at a success story, in a piece entitled "In Denver’s Transit Breakthrough, A Lesson For Detroit." Although directed explicitly at the political wrangling over sprawl in Detroit, its message can apply well to any large urban/suburban/exurban city. Schneider explores the conditions that allowed Denver, Colorado, to build out a useful, well-regarded and busy transit network, and to continue to expand the network's reach.

From 1994 to 2001, the Denver region built 16 miles of light rail line. Next year, 19 more new miles of light rail will connect the downtown to its southeastern suburbs. And the good news keeps coming: Last November, by a 58 to 42 percent margin, the region’s voters approved a new, $4.7 billion sales tax that will vastly expand the system, adding 119 more miles of light and commuter rail, 18 miles of rapid bus routes, and 57 new stations. [...]

Continue reading "It *Can* Happen Here" »

July 3, 2005

The Week in Sustainable Vehicles (07/03/05)

Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the week's sustainable mobility news, looking at the ongoing evolution of personal transportation. Take it away, Mike:

Assisted by the first sales of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, June posted the second-highest levels of hybrid sales yet, with 19,223 units sold. This is behind only April 2005, with its 20,974 units.

For the first six months of 2005, hybrid sales rose to 92,558, some 2.5 times the 36,276 sold during the first six months of 2004.

The Highlander Hybrid leapt to second place among all hybrids sold, with 2,869 units posted during its first month. Toyota's Prius continued its market-leading sales trajectory, with 9,622 cars sold. The Lexus RX400h hybrid came in with 2,605 units sold.

Combined, Toyota's hybrids accounted for 79% of the hybrids sold in June, with the Prius alone accounting for 50% of that. (GCC)

At the same time, however, heavy discounting by GM pushed its sales up 41% in June compared to the prior year to deliver the best overall sales month since September 1986. Countering the trend still experienced by other automakers, GM SUVs turned in an even more aggressive 66% improvement in sales. (GCC)

For the first six months of 2005, sales of hybrids increased more than 2.5 times from the prior year to 92,558. Sales of full-size SUVs in the first six months of 2005 dropped 10.6% to 815,617—some 8.8 times the level of hybrid sales.

After pushing close to $61 per barrel, the price of oil closed at $57.26 on Friday.

Continue reading "The Week in Sustainable Vehicles (07/03/05)" »

Density as Efficiency

EnergySavingsNUN.jpgNew Urban News has an all-too-brief article about research by John Holtzclaw of the Sierra Club and Jennifer Henry of the US Green Building Council comparing the energy efficiency of "high-density urbanism" to Energy Star-rated homes. The result was surprising, even to people already inclined towards dense urban environments: even the maximum Energy Star savings was beaten by moderately-dense development of 12 housing units per acre. At 48 units per acre -- a moderate apartment or condominium complex -- the energy savings were double that of maximum Energy Star. The savings arise largely from efficiencies in infrastructure and transportation. The combined effect of higher-density living and usable non-auto transit is called "location efficiency."

Some related findings:

• An average urban household uses 320 million British thermal units (mBTUs) annually, while an average suburban household uses 440 mBTUs (assuming 2.5 people/family). The difference is mostly in transportation and infrastructure.

• Access to transit yields significant energy savings, but not as large as increased density.

• The economic savings from enhanced location efficiency from 10 years of new construction are about $2.3 trillion, mostly from reduced auto ownership, according to a study by Holtzclaw with David Goldstein and Mary Jean Burer of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A number of questions arise from this line of research.

Continue reading "Density as Efficiency" »

July 17, 2005

DIY Circuit Monitoring

kondra.jpgOne rule of thumb is that it's easier to make changes when you know what you're changing -- that's one of the goals of "making the invisible visible." In particular, if you want to figure out how to reduce the amount of power you use in your home, you need to know where the power is going. In the past, we pointed to the Kill-A-Watt as a handy device for measuring the power consumption at a single outlet -- but what if you want more information than that?

David Vogt at Kondra Systems decided to test a power usage monitoring system he was going to implement for a corporate client by installing it in his own home. He took abundant pictures and chronicled his efforts at his website. The project required essentially rewiring his home -- but as a result, he ended up with a system that could track power consumption along every circuit, with usage graphs and over-consumption alarms.

His project may be too complex for most of us, but it does suggest an interesting alternative.

Continue reading "DIY Circuit Monitoring" »

July 24, 2005

How To Do Decentralized Energy

greenpeaceuk_de.jpgAs most readers probably recognized, we spend a lot of time talking about decentralized energy here. Topics like mixed generation, regional generation, microgeneration, smart grids, smart home energy monitors, even odd schemes for peer-to-peer energy sharing regularly grace our site. But while the benefits of decentralized energy seem pretty clear to us, it's always useful to have a comprehensive document talking about the technological options, political impacts, economic benefits, environmental results and leapfrog surprises related to energy decentralization. Better still if the piece spoke directly about the implications for a specific community, rather than in general about the concept. Oh, and the material should have lots of big, colorful pictures, to attract the eye and engage the imagination.

Cue Greenpeace.

Greenpeace UK, to be precise. The organization has just released a massive (~75 page) report entitled Decentralising Power: An Energy Revolution For The 21st Century, looking at what it would take to move the UK aggressively towards a distributed power network. The capsule argument, from the report, touches on arguments familiar to WorldChanging readers:

Continue reading "How To Do Decentralized Energy" »

July 31, 2005

Waterbot and Feedback-Triggered Change

waterbot.jpgWe talk incessantly about "making the invisible visible," a Viridian-derived principle arguing that making people aware of various environmental conditions or choices that normally remain hidden allows for better decision-making, almost invariably in the direction of better use, efficiency and conservation. Typically, energy use is the target application of the principle, and it's easy to see why: aside from a single bill totaling up monthly consumption (or, for some people, quarterly consumption), we normally have no way of knowing how much power we're using, and are quite often wrong in our guesses about which appliances and gadgets are the most hungry for juice. But electricity isn't the only flow amenable to transformational revelation -- water has many of the same characteristics.

Ernesto Arroyo, Leonardo Bonanni, Ted Selker at MIT's Media Lab recognized the need for ways to clarify water consumption, and put some thought into what sorts of signals would both provide useful information and still allow for normal, necessary use of sinks and faucets. Their work resulted in the WaterBot (PDF):

Continue reading "Waterbot and Feedback-Triggered Change" »

August 14, 2005

The Sixth Wall

Photo by Emily Lesk, Marcela Delgado
Is the rooftop wasted space?

Architects and designers with a sustainability focus are increasingly looking at the roof as more than simply a covering for a building. The most salient aspect of a roof -- that it faces the sky, generally unimpeded by other structures -- triggers the most commonplace reconsiderations of the roof. Green roofs, white roofs, solar power roofs... all meant to take advantage of (or, at least, respond to) the roof's role as the face our buildings show the Sun.

But there could be more to the rooftop than this. Four interns at the San Francisco-based design firm McCall Design Group took the summer to embark on a study -- part urban anthropology, part design brainstorm, part philosophy -- of the roof, in particular the ways in which urban rooftops could have a greater role in our material environment than simply holding places for antennas and HVAC units. Calling themselves the "Groundless Interns," the four (Emily Lesk, Marcela Delgado, Javier Galindo and Jeremy Dworken) explored different ideas for reimagining the roof, putting their evolving concepts down online in a weblog. This weekend's San Francisco Chronicle looks at what they've accomplished.

Continue reading "The Sixth Wall" »

The Green House

colorado_court.jpgThe Green House,by Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne (2005, Princeton Architectural Press; $45), is one of those coffee-table books that could easily make one feel rather ashamed of one's current dwelling. Not only are the buildings presented in the book often achingly beautiful, they're built to meet current concepts of sustainability, integrating high-efficiency designs, recycled materials, low-water and low-energy requirements and so forth. Not only are the green homes better looking than where you live, the book implicitly taunts, they're better for the environment.

One is not likely to come away from The Green House filled with ideas for how to make one's own digs greener and more stylish, but that's not the point of a book like this. The Green House fits the Viridian model of making environmental sustainability something to be envied, and then emulated. The book focuses on about 30 different locations around the world, divided up by context -- city, suburb, mountain, waterside, desert. This undercuts any argument that such buildings are only possible in limited circumstances, even as the the photos make clear that each is a unique offering.

But paired with the photos is descriptive text that focuses rather explicitly on how each featured structure achieves its desired sustainability goals. The authors do seem to take the matter of sustainable dwelling seriously, and recognize that, while these homes may have a desirable appearance, their real value comes from how they function -- and that this function comes from new appreciation of the role of technology:

Continue reading "The Green House" »

September 11, 2005


springboard.jpgI have a growing suspicion that Royal Dutch Shell might actually be taking this whole global warming thing seriously.

Diligence and skepticism are entirely warranted when evaluating the environmental behavior of global industrial players, especially those who have a history of (let's just say) not entirely green behavior. Even projects that pass the initial smell test can end up being less exciting than once hoped (has anyone heard much lately about GE's "Ecomagination" project beyond the TV ads extolling the virtues of coal?) Oil companies are on particularly shaky ground here, as their stock-in-trade is one of the chief culprits behind climate disruption.

That said, it's clear that there's some variation among the major oil companies. BP and Shell, for example, have arguably been more willing to accept the evidence for global warming than has ExxonMobil, and both seem to be more interested in developing non-fossil energy technologies than the other oil companies. To the extent that the efforts are used to promote their own environmental behavior, however, the "greenwashing" label is hard to avoid.

That's what makes Shell's new project, "Springboard," so interesting.

Continue reading "Springboard" »

September 25, 2005

The Shifting Conventional Wisdom

bizweekenergy.jpgOne of the catalysts for making the Bright Green Future possible is for the mainstream vision of the future -- what I sometimes call the "baseline scenario" -- to take on characteristics that make the WorldChanging vision no longer seem quite so radical. If smart grids, hybrid vehicles, and green buildings are part of the default image of tomorrow, then energy-producing materials, sustainable urban design, and biomimetic architecture will appear as exciting possibilities, and entirely within reach. One good way to checking out the state of the zeitgeist is to look at business magazines, especially the old-school, pre-dotcom journals.

BusinessWeek looks to be a bit ahead of some of its competitors in terms of checking out how the world is changing. We've linked to their articles a few times, and while they will by no means provide shocking new insights for even casual WorldChanging readers, they do give a good sense of how Bright Green ideas are being translated for a conventional wisdom audience. Last week's BusinessWeek (cover date Sept 20) is no exception: the technology special report, "A Low-Cost Energy Future," shows both how close the mainstream world is to the Bright Green vision, and how far it has yet to go.

Continue reading "The Shifting Conventional Wisdom" »

About Transportation

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to WC Archive in the Transportation category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Transparency and Human Rights is the previous category.

Worldchanging Essays is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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