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February 11, 2017

Park-poor, low-income communities of color, forgotten in the shadows ?

As American downtowns repopulate and densify, green space is at more and more of a premium. Very few open lots that could be turned into parks remain around urban cores; often, land that becomes available holds remnants of the industrial past. That's why so many of these "adaptive reuse" projects--with sleek aesthetics that often highlight, rather than hide, the old highway/flood channel/railway--are getting built.

Meanwhile, city governments rarely have room in their budgets, or even imaginations, to redevelop those tracts on their own. It's largely up to private funders to bankroll these projects--and it's mostly private individuals who dream them up. From an investor standpoint, the High Line's stunning successes make these projects no-brainers to back: Green space draws new businesses and dwellings. There's big redevelopment money to be made. So they partner with city governments, hungry for a heftier tax base, to do it.

But these obsolete bits of infrastructure generally have people living near them, and often, they are park-poor, low-income communities of color, forgotten in the shadows of that very strip of concrete or steel. This is true for many of the 17 projects involved in the High Line Network. Planners and designers--who are usually white--may try to engage residents in dialogue; often, they fail.

January 11, 2017

Times up rides

Times-up organized some bike rides in NYC.

December 30, 2015

Drive-by automobile emissions testing

About a half-dozen states now use it routinely to supplement their inspection programs, and at least 10 others perform periodic surveys and studies, mostly in urban areas with air-quality problems, to monitor overall compliance to clean air rules. In Colorado, for instance, cars that are found in compliance by a remote sensing device are exempted from vehicle emissions tests.

What makes this technology particularly useful is its ability to aggregate emissions data on makes and models of cars and measure how various models, vehicle technology classes and emissions-control components are performing on the road.

The results can be eye-opening. I was part of a team of scientists in Colorado that used this technology to identify emissions problems with Volkswagens and Audis that have two-liter diesel engines months before the recent scandal broke.

The first hint came from a colleague in Europe who, looking at remote sensing data collected in Switzerland, had noticed high diesel nitrogen oxide emissions coming from passenger cars. At his suggestion, we examined thousands of measurements collected by Colorado's vehicle emissions program.

Peter M. McClintock, air quality and vehicle emissions consultant for Opus Inspection, an international vehicle inspection company, and a contractor for the Colorado and Virginia emissions inspection programs.

Continue reading "Drive-by automobile emissions testing" »

October 5, 2015

VW Diesel: lawyers wanted

James E. Tierney, a former attorney general in Maine who now runs a program at Columbia University that conducts research on state attorneys general, is less optimistic that the cases will move swiftly. While the Volkswagen company has been forthright in describing its diesel deception, he said, it will still be motivated to minimize any potential cost.

Potential damages for the company, Mr. Tierney said, might be "incalculable," with each false advertisement to consumers, for example, carrying a potential penalty. "This product was designed to operate illegally, and that is very serious," he said.

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November 6, 2014

Tom Slee: sharing is OK if not profitable.

LAANE's Jon Zerolnick spoke with Tom Slee, an Ontario-based writer whose work on the intersection of technology, politics, and economics has appeared in The Literary Review of Canada, The New Inquiry, The Guardian, and Jacobin.

One other thing that bothers me is a rhetoric the companies all use around the idea of "extra money." As in, "it's not a job, it's just a bit of extra money." Once you say "extra money," it's like, "Oh, we don't need rules and regulations, because it's just extra money." This is the same rhetoric that was used back in the 60s around women's jobs. There wasn't equal pay for equal work, because "it's not a real job, it's just extra money." Using the phrase "extra money" is a slippery way to undermine employment standards, and to undermine things that unions and progressive politicians have fought for for a long time. Any low-paying job is a way to earn "extra money." There's no such thing as "extra money."

Continue reading "Tom Slee: sharing is OK if not profitable." »

August 25, 2013

Peak car


city, state and federal policies that for more than half a century encouraged suburbanization and car use -- from mortgage lending to road building -- are gradually being diluted or reversed. "They created what I call a culture of 'automobility,' and arguably in the last 5 to 10 years that is dying out," Ms. Sheller said.

New York's new bike-sharing program and its skyrocketing bridge and tunnel tolls reflect those new priorities, as do a proliferation of car-sharing programs across the nation.

A study last year found that driving by young people decreased 23 percent between 2001 and 2009. The millennials don't value cars and car ownership, they value technology -- they care about what kinds of devices you own, Ms. Sheller said. The percentage of young drivers is inversely related to the availability of the Internet, Mr. Sivak's research has found. Why spend an hour driving to work when you could take the bus or train and be online?

From 2007 to 2011, the age group most likely to buy a car shifted from the 35 to 44 group to the 55 to 64 group, he found.

Continue reading "Peak car" »

June 9, 2013

Citi Bike NYC is alive


CitiBike NYC is alive.

Looking forward to system data and realtime updated maps.

Already two weeks in service, it looks popular and very useful.

Posted to Green transit urbanism NY.

June 1, 2013

Conservatives hate Citi bike: NY Mag venn diagram


Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal called the Bloomberg administration "totalitarian" for ... encouraging the riding of bikes.
In perhaps the best unhinged rant of any kind ever, Daniel Greenfield at the always enjoyable FrontPage Magazine refers to Janette Sadik-Khan, the city's pro-bike transportation chief, as a "Muslim Nazi collaborator's granddaughter" who in "partial revenge ... made many New York streets nearly as impassable as those of her grandfather's wartime Dresden."

NY Mag's intelligencer CitiBike NYC venn-diagram: why-conservatives-hate-citi-bike.

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Sharing: So central to the concept of bike shares, they put it right in the name. But conservatives hate sharing -- tax dollars, calamari, doesn't matter. True story: Louie Gohmert never shared a toy for the duration of his childhood.
It is a very slippery slope from sharing bikes to sharing everything. You blink and all of a sudden we're a socialist dystopia, and everyone's eating Bloomberg Vitamin Mush for every meal.

Environmental: Bike are also good for the environment. This will please you if you think the environment actually needs help. But if you think carbon emissions and climate change are conspiracies (like 58 percent of Republicans) perpetrated by Al Gore and a handful of scientists at the University of East Anglia, then bikes are just lies on wheels.
Vaguely French: French people ride bikes, right? Like, more than other people? There's something vaguely French about this whole thing. Doesn't sit well.

Continue reading "Conservatives hate Citi bike: NY Mag venn diagram " »

April 3, 2013

The face of pollution


Beijing: The World Health Organization has standards that judge an air-quality score above 500 to be more than 20 times the level of particulate matter in the air deemed safe. https://twitter.com/BeijingAir">twitter: @BeijingAir

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Chinese officials prefer to publicly release air pollution measurements that give only levels of PM 10, although foreign health and environmental experts say PM 2.5 can be deadlier and more important to track.

There has been a growing outcry among Chinese for municipal governments to release fuller air quality data, in part because of the United States Embassy Twitter feed. As a result, Beijing began announcing PM 2.5 numbers last January. Major Chinese cities have had the equipment to track those levels, but had refused for a long time to release the data.

The existence of the embassy's machine and the @BeijingAir Twitter feed have been a diplomatic sore point for Chinese officials. In July 2009, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official, Wang Shu'ai, told American diplomats to halt the Twitter feed, saying that the data "is not only confusing but also insulting," according to a State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks. Mr. Wang said the embassy's data could lead to "social consequences."

January 24, 2013

Philips Hue programmable LED lighting



The Philips Hue, sold exclusively at Apple stores for the next month, can change colors along a broad spectrum and offers settings that can mimic sunrise in the morning or use a special "light recipe" intended to raise energy levels. The bulb has been a big hit, executives say, attracting a host of software developers who have created free apps for new features, like making it respond to voices or music. The bulb can also tie into the Nest thermostat, a so-called smart device from Apple alumni who helped develop the iPod, that learns consumer heating and cooling patterns and adjusts to them automatically.

December 30, 2012

there is growing recognition that the true cost of disruptions, in terms of gasoline lines, lost workdays and business sales, and shivering homeowners, is far higher than the simple dollars to protect the power system.


There is growing recognition that the true cost of disruptions, in terms of gasoline lines, lost workdays and business sales, and shivering homeowners, is far higher than the simple dollars and cents spent to protect the power system. A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences about the vast 2003 blackout in the Eastern United States determined that the economic cost of that disruption was about 50 times higher than the price of the actual electricity lost, and that didn't take into account deaths or other human consequences.

"We need to think now of not just restoring the grid, but how to make it more survivable," said Philip B. Jones, president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, a trade association of state officials. "I think most commissioners are coming around to that."

June 10, 2012

Sod on top: green roofs save energy, sewage


Putting living vegetation on the roof is not a new idea. For thousands of years people have made sod roofs to protect and insulate their houses, keeping them cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The modern movement for green roofs began in the last 50 years in Europe. Germany, where about 10 percent of roofs are green, is the leader; some parts of Germany require green roofs on all new buildings.

Greening a roof is not simple or cheap. Over a black roof -- flat is easiest but sloped can work -- goes insulation, then a waterproof membrane, then a barrier to keep roots from poking holes in the membrane. On top of that there is a drainage layer, such as gravel or clay, then a mat to prevent erosion. Next is a lightweight soil (Chicago City Hall uses a blend of mulch, compost and spongy stuff) and finally, plants.

An extensive roof -- less than 6 inches of soil planted with hardy cover such as sedum -- can cost $15 per square foot. An intensive roof -- essentially a garden, with deeper soil and plants that require watering and weeding -- can double that. But because the vegetation is thicker, it will do a better job of cooling a building and collecting rainwater. Plants reduce sewer discharge in two ways. They retain rainfall, and what does run off is delayed until after the waters have peaked.

Continue reading "Sod on top: green roofs save energy, sewage" »

April 18, 2012

buying green once entailed a sacrifice


Avoid evoking past stereotypes of green products with references to "the planets, the babies and the daisies," said Jacquelyn A. Ottman, a New York-based advertising consultant and the author of the 2011 book "The New Rules of Green Marketing" (Berrett-Koehler).

Many such products, she said, carry perceptions that they are more expensive or don't perform as well and may not even be that green. Ms. Ottman therefore cautions against pigeonholing consumer goods as merely virtuous. "Green is the icing on the cake," she says. "It's a source of added value, but it can't replace the benefits that consumers expect from the products that they buy."

She recalled how an early efficiency pioneer, Whirlpool's Energy Wise refrigerator, "died on the vine" in 1994 after consumers balked at the higher price and a lack of choice in features and styles, which created the impression that buying one entailed a sacrifice.

By contrast, the company's sharply styled and highly efficient Duet front-load washer, introduced in 2001, won far broader acceptance after reviews flowed in that the machine allowed a large capacity, washed more thoroughly than a top-loader and was gentler on clothes.

Because it may take a while for upfront costs of a green appliance to be recouped through increased energy efficiency, many consumers are unwilling to pay a "green premium." In the aggregate, though, the energy savings for the community and the nation can add up quickly, creating a strong incentive for local governments, utilities and environmental organizations to promote their use.

Among the latter is the nonprofit Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, supported by utilities serving about 12 million consumers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. It says that a regionwide shift to high-efficiency televisions could yield enough energy savings to power more than 290,000 homes each year.

Continue reading "buying green once entailed a sacrifice" »

October 27, 2011

Sports math


Last year, the Pocono Raceway installed 40,000 solar panels on 25 acres, enough to power the entire facility. Brandon Igdalsky, the racetrack's president, said the $15 million cost was paid without government subsidies. The track's annual energy bill has been cut by $500,000, so Mr. Igdalsky expects to recover the cost of the panels in eight to 10 years.


Spend $15,000,000. Save $500,000 per year. Payback in under 10 years. !

BUSINESS DAY
Sports Rally Around Green Projects
By KEN BELSON
Published: October 25, 2011
Teams and leagues find that going green can cut costs and attract money-making corporate partnerships for green projects.

July 17, 2011

New houses look old but offer utility and green features


IVY is creeping up the walls of the stone neo-Georgian Revival-style manor house on the harbor here. Towering old oak and pine trees and a 35-foot blue Atlas cedar punctuate its lushly landscaped lawn. The seven-bedroom residence, with arched dormers, a columned portico with a fluted cornice design, transom windows, a slate roof and a widow's walk with a Chippendale railing, looks as if it has been there for a century. It was finished last summer.

On an island where the traditional is king, most residences can easily be dated -- Capes to the postwar Levittown era; ranches, split levels and then high ranches in the '50s and '60s, cedar-sided contemporaries in the '80s, and during the McMansion boom in the late '90s, "colonials on steroids."

Over the last decade, many architects and builders have veered toward a more ageless, classic approach.

Continue reading "New houses look old but offer utility and green features" »

April 20, 2011

Americans like workds; Europeans, symbols



"The use of symbols rather than words, for example, is a cheap if irritating solution to the problem of selling appliances in a linguistically diverse market."

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We're No. 1!
But only when it comes to domestic appliances. (Slate)
By Mark Vanhoenacker
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at 8:15 AM ET

August 22, 2010

Consultants to reduce uncertainty ?


A classic energy mistake is to put in an oversized heating and cooling system. Consider hiring an independent engineer to recommend a system size. That way you can elevate your problem from not knowing what size your furnace should be to not knowing if you hired the right independent engineer. You'll be surprised how good that feels.

THE SATURDAY ESSAY AUGUST 21, 2010
How I (Almost) Saved the Earth
No one said it would be easy to build the greenest house on the block. Scott Adams on perplexing energy bills, ugly lawns and the true meaning of 'green'

July 30, 2010

BP concerns dominated by perception, publicity, reputation, not actual damage


BP's board is expected on Monday to name an American, Robert Dudley, as its chief executive, replacing Tony Hayward, whose repeated stumbles during the company's three-month oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico alienated federal and state officials as well as residents of the Gulf Coast.

keep in mind that this isn't exactly a model example of accountability. Hayward isn't being canned because of BP's poor safety record, which had been established long before the disaster in the Gulf.

Instead, Hayward is being canned because BP thinks he wasn't a good spokesman. In other words, BP thinks their problems have more to do with the nationality of their CEO than the consequences of their corporate policies. And with their new pick, selecting a long-time BP insider to replace Hayward, BP is signaling that they have no real intention of changing anything about how they do business. The only thing they want to change is the accent. But even if this move does end up helping BP's shareholders in the short-term, it won't make anybody safer or more secure, and it won't help stop their next disaster. It's an image move, having nothing to do with substance.

-- Jed Lewison

June 27, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill


Gulf Oil Spill: more damage or cleanup ? What should we expect from BP ?

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May 23, 2010

BP knows booming ?

BP knows booming ?

Written like like Tanta was an oil worker. Eat what you kill.

November 13, 2009

Good Shoes

Shoe makers that specialize in high end (not necessarily high fashion) shoes will usually overhaul and resole shoes for you with original parts. Alden, Edward Green, John Lobb, Allen Edmonds, heck even Cole Haan will all do this for you.

Generally, shoe makers who specialize in "fashionable" shoes - Gucci, Ferragamo, etc. intend for the shoes to be more or less disposable. Since they aren't necessarily in the business of making "classic" shoes, generally by the time the sole wears out the shoe is either shot to hell or out of fashion. Therefore there isn't a lot of call for resoling, especially not with the original sole.

-- Styleforum

October 11, 2009

Buycott ?

One set are free-enterprise champions who argue that politicizing consumption distorts prices and spurs overproduction while imposing arbitrary conditions on producers -- like insisting that developing-world farmers enroll their children in school -- that might sound good to Westerners but ignore complex local realities.

Insisting on the noblest production methods conflicts, these critics say, with the very function of markets: to bring the most goods to the most people as cheaply as possible.

Another group of critics doesn't deny political consumption's power. Rather, they bemoan that citizenship has come to this.

Citizenship, for them, is about voting, marching, writing -- about being involved. In the modern age, they say, we have begun to turn inward, bowl alone, shirk our public duties. And now comes this cheap (in the moral, if not economic, sense) way to participate just a little, assuage guilt just a little, involve ourselves just a little in AIDS and trade, feel just a little of activism's thrill.

In an article last year in The Lancet, the British medical journal, the scholars Colleen O'Manique and Ronald Labonte strongly condemned RED, the marketing campaign for iPods and other products whose purchase helps to finance the battle against H.I.V./AIDS in Africa.

"Be wary of the 21st century's new noblesse oblige that replaces the efficiency of tax-funded programs and transfers in improving health equity with a consumption-driven 'charitainment' model," they wrote.

October 10, 2009

Green and Greener in Suburban Towns

The town of Babylon, NY, came up with an offer she couldn't refuse: if she and her husband, Carlos, paid $250 for an energy audit, the town would finance the recommended upgrades. The couple would repay the town at a monthly rate below the savings on their utility bill. The audit, done this month, found that by insulating walls, basement and attic, at a cost of $6,879, the Williamses could save about $1,300 a year.

"It's an excellent deal," said Mrs. Williams, 42, a New York City correction officer. "With the bills and the mortgage, sometimes it's hard to do this at one time." New York City and other major urban centers have ambitious, high-profile environmental programs. But it turns out that throughout the suburbs, towns like Babylon, on Long Island, are exploring and adopting a wide variety of innovative ways to save energy, protect their residents' health and reduce pollution.

And there is only so much change the towns can impose. Requiring that homes be built smaller would greatly shrink the carbon footprint of buildings, but even environmentalists agree this is not realistic.

"There would be no political support to work on that side of the equation," Mr. DeLuca said.

There are other obstacles to going green. Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said villages, wary of changing their character, often resist increasing building density even if that means forcing development to go elsewhere and contributing to suburban sprawl. And poor suburbs are less likely than affluent ones to join the movement, she said.

"There are no real resources, and it's unlikely that you'd have the kind of galvanizing leadership in these communities to take on climate issues," Ms. Bystryn said. "Leaders usually advocate for affordable housing and things like that."

But even wealthier areas need financial incentives in order to draw participants like Mrs. Williams. So far more than 200 homes have been audited, with potential savings of close to $1,000 a year each on average.

The town pays for the program, now a pilot, with $2 million from its solid waste reserve fund. New state and federal laws, and millions of dollars in federal stimulus grants, have also helped spur such initiatives.

"This is a program that helps the environment, helps homeowners save money, creates local jobs, reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and it's at no cost to taxpayers," said Steve Bellone, Babylon's town supervisor.

Mr. Levy, of Hofstra, noted that the fragmented government on Long Island, with its many towns and special districts, often means competition for development projects or government grants -- and that the quest to go green has created healthier rivalries.

"All the town supervisors want to be known as the leanest and greenest," he said.

Mr. Bellone said he strongly believed that sustainability was a matter of survival.

"Over time, residents are going to demand it, and housing stock and commercial stock that are green are going to be more valuable," he said. "This positions Babylon to be a prosperous community for the long term."

A version of this article appeared in print on October 11, 2009, on page MB1 of the New York edition.

Continue reading "Green and Greener in Suburban Towns" »

June 23, 2009

Trade in clunkers ?

Do new-car buyers even drive clunkers ?

Am I driving a clunker because I cannot afford a 4 year old car ?
Will an extra $1000 trade in afford me a new car (or 14 month olf d car) ?

Update 2009 June 30:

"It has to be worth not very much and it also has to get very poor E.P.A. fuel economy," said Jack R. Nerad, the executive editorial director and market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "It's a fairly narrow profile. You're talking about people who are probably economically challenged to begin with and they have to be able to qualify for a new car purchase in the midst of a deep recession. Those are some difficult parameters."

The case of the sad SAAB, junked with a work badge.

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Continue reading "Trade in clunkers ?" »

May 24, 2009

Sam Kazman Debates Obama's Car Mileage Regulations

Sam Kazman on the 'benefits' on mandated change:

Continue reading "Sam Kazman Debates Obama's Car Mileage Regulations" »

May 19, 2009

Why is planning not 'stimulus' ?

Unexplained is why wages earned in construction are 'stimulus' and wages eared drawing blueprints are not.

The requirement that the money be spent quickly, in order to get it coursing through the parched economy, means that many ambitious projects that require more planning will have to give way to smaller ones considered "shovel ready."

U.S. / POLITICS
House Plan for Infrastructure Disappoints Advocates for Major Projects
By MICHAEL COOPER
Published: January 20, 2009
As the details of Barack Obama's public works plan come into focus, big transformative building projects seem unlikely.

April 21, 2009

Green for show

That said, there are hurdles to this theoretical new normal. For one, remodelers who specialize in eco-friendly projects say many homeowners still tend to focus on green stuff rather than green performance. It's easier to imagine friends being impressed by the virtue of your recycled-glass bathroom tiles than by properly sealed air-conditioning ducts, even though more systemic projects have "orders of magnitude" more impact, says Paul Eldrenkamp, president of Byggmeister Inc., a builder in Newton, Mass. But since redefining what's normal is invariably a step-by-step process, maybe one small green decision can lead to another. Michael Anschel, founder of Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build in Minneapolis, helped create a variety of eco-oriented certification tools that give homeowners a checklist that ideally prods them to keep green-ifying with every home project. Benchmarks a consumer can track make for "better backyard-barbecue conversation," he suggests.

A tougher barrier may be that consumers simply dislike anything that feels like a step backward. "No one has ever said, 'My water pressure is too high' or 'I want one sink instead of two,' " says Michael Strong of Brothers Strong, contractors in Houston. Quitzau and Ropke suggest it would certainly take a long time for what they call our "bathroom dreams" to prize sustainability and efficiency over the notions they wrote about.

Continue reading "Green for show" »

January 14, 2009

Environmental impact of environmental events

The New York Times looks at the impact of gathering at Sundance to watch environmental films.

Still, a stroll here this week down Main Street -- where a dozen idling trucks were unloading supplies and equipment, while an oversize band bus, with trailer in tow, spewed fumes outside a soon-to-be-busy party site -- framed the obvious quandary: how can you cram some 46,000 people, roughly equivalent to a fifth of Hollywood's total work force, into a pretty little mountain town without contributing mightily to the problems your films hope to solve?

...

Utility officials said there was no way to determine how much extra wattage was being poured into the valley for the festival's spotlights and the strings of colored bulbs lining Park City's streets. "Pinpointing use for one city," said Margaret Oler, an information officer with Pacificorp, which provides power to the area, "can be pretty difficult."

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Most electrical implements, bulbs included, have power consumption in Watts printed right on them.

MOVIES
The Films Are Green, but Is Sundance?
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
Published: January 17, 2009
This year's Sundance Film Festival has a schedule that's greener than Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick's Day, but what's the environmental impact of the festival itself?

Continue reading "Environmental impact of environmental events" »

January 8, 2009

America's middle class is motorized mobilized

Is ever increasing car ownership a healthly goal. Or is mobility a healthier goal ?

I worry that the avalanche of troubles already ongoing will overwhelm Mr. Obama and his people. It's also well worth worrying whether they will pursue policies similar in kind to the ones pursued by Bush, namely throwing money at everything and anything, and it sure looks like they are planning to do just that. I am especially concerned about an "infrastructure stimulus" project aimed at highway improvement at the expense of public transit. This would be the epitome of a campaign to sustain the unsustainable middle class. We need to begin planning right away for a transition away from automobiles, not in order to be good socialists but because Happy Motoring is at the core of our unsustainability trap.

Continue reading "America's middle class is motorized mobilized" »