Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category
August 2nd, 2009
For those of you who follow our blog, you know we’re big fans of what the folks at Aptera are up to. Aptera is building an all-electric, three-wheeled car that has a small fraction as much aerodynamic drag as a Prius. The Aptera 2e goes 100-120 miles with a top speed of 85-90mph, and boasts normal car safety features and impressive crash test results. And it looks like a super cool Jetson mobile, which makes it especially exciting.
Now the folks at Aptera are starting to reveal what the inside of their space-age auto will look like. You can see a sample below and here is what Aptera has to say about their design developments:
“The first major issue was space. We tested men and women of every age and stature and found, in many cases, we were not offering enough room in the cabin. With that information, we enhanced the cabin using our Aptera formula — safety, then aerodynamics, then lightweight. The new interior cabin is now roughly 10% larger by every measure.
“The new 2 series also now has headroom and legroom comparable to, if not better than, the Mini and Chevy Volt. We widened the area at the hips to provide more space than the Smart EV and the Nissan Cube. Then to top it off, we increased our cargo capacity by more than 24 cubic feet, which is nearly two times the space available in the Honda Accord.”
Alright, let’s get that thing into market and start driving it! We’re ready!
You can learn more about Aptera here. Images courtesy of Aptera.
Popularity: 10% [?]
July 15th, 2009
Written by Andrew Williams, courtesy of Gas2.0, originally published on July 10, 2009
US-based car-share giant Zipcar Inc. has launched its first ever Electric Vehicle Pod, featuring an all-electric Citroen C1 and a Plug-In Toyota Prius. The vehicles, among the most efficient and technologically advanced on the road today, can be hired by the hour for a fraction of the cost of owning one.
The company figures that EVs are ideally suited for early, large-scale use in Zipcar’s car sharing platform since the average Zipcar trip lasts just under four hours and less than 25 miles, well within the range of a typical EV. (more…)
Popularity: 7% [?]
July 14th, 2009
What produces less carbon emissions: Driving from Los Angeles to Chicago, or making the same trip by train? That depends — on how many people are in your car. Drive alone, and even moving in an ultra-green hybrid will be less green than taking the train. But carpool with 3 other friends and your per-person carbon footprint will actually be less than a train rider’s — even if you and your friends are in a gas guzzling SUV!
That handy number crunching comes courtesy of Trip Footprint, a new website that lets you easily compare the environmental impact of various modes of travel. Just plug in your start and end cities and the number of travelers to get the numbers displayed in an easy-to-read graph. Above are the L.A.-to-Chicago results for a solo traveler; below are the same results for four travel buddies that stick together.
Trip Footprint gets its numbers from a Union of Concerned Scientists study called Getting There Greener: The Guide to Your Lower-Carbon Vacation, which curious number-crunchers can check out for details on the methodology behind the numbers. Beyond that, Anirvan Chatterjee, co-developer of Trip Footprint, says the site does its best to calculate actual travel distances: “For planes and trains, we try to use realistic airport and Amtrak routings, and take into account the type of plain and train models used on those routes.” In addition, Trip Footprint’s numbers try to take into account the non-CO2 carbon impacts of aviation — something most carbon calculators do, according to Anirvan, but Getting There Greener does not.
Of course, while Trip Footprint’s numbers certainly provide quick, understandable data, figuring out the best way to travel isn’t so cut and dry as Trip Footprint’s bottom-line statements like “You should definitely drive. Even a typical SUV is better than the best plane!” For one, Trip Footprint’s numbers look simply at the carbon cost of the trips themselves, without taking into account the total lifetime costs of each mode of travel.
This means that the travel comparisons don’t include the carbon emissions that are created by, say, building rail lines and stations, expanding airports, or putting in miles and miles of highways that have to be constantly repaved and upgraded. If Trip Footprint included the infrastructure costs of all modes of travel, the data would likely look significantly different.
A recent study, for example, revealed that when those sunk costs are taken into account, flying can actually be even more efficient than taking the train! That study also took into account the fact that in some places, train stations aren’t ideally located — and thus ended up being extra carbon intensive because people had to drive to get to the train station in the first place — and the station has to build large parking structures to accommodate these drivers.
And as advocates of new urbanism and walkable communities will point out, there’s more to consider than simple trip carbon emissions when taking a trip. Supporting a mass transit infrastructure that lets people get rid of their cars altogether will go a long way towards creating pedestrian-friendly communities that foster more neighborly interactions and fewer unsightly freeways and cul-de-sacs.
Still, Trip Footprint certainly gets us thinking more deeply about greening our travel. To me, the application shows exactly how wasteful single-passenger car trips are. I’m ever more determined to find a carpool partner to go anywhere that requires driving!
One thing I’d love to see in the Trip Footprint is the time and money required for each mode of travel. We know it would take a Kenyan runner a whopping 3 years to get from L.A. to Chicago — but the same details aren’t yet included for the more realistic modes of travel. Since the Obama administration’s put its money and support behindnan expanded rail network, I’m hoping that we’ll see faster, cheaper train travel soon — which will get more people out of their cars and onto mass transit simply to save money, time, and stress — thus improving their quality of life while traveling green.
Popularity: 8% [?]
July 5th, 2009
Written by Susan Kraemer, courtesy of GreenBuildingElements.com
If every building had a white roof, we would be able to cool the surrounding areas. That is the reasoning behind a California law about to go into effect next month requiring light reflective roofs on all new buildings. It is already the law for new flat roofs here.
Here, architect Richard Meier and his partner Michael Palladino have apparently created a design to go one further. It’s entirely white; roofs, walls, and interiors.
So this luxury design of a cool and airy Southern California beach house is glamorous and climate friendly.
Well, no. The McMansion-sized size of the thing at 4,280-sq.-ft is not so planet friendly; because it takes more energy to heat and cool a larger space. But this house would be well suited for a ground heat exchange to passively heat and cool itself with 55 degree air cooled from 10 feet under the ground.
As architects in California get closer to 2020, they will need to think more about passive cooling and heating and zero energy houses, as that will be the law by 2020. All new building must be zero energy by then.
Incorporate solar roofing on the white roof, and this could be a zero energy house.
The blue of a solar roof would visually extend right out to the ocean. (And conceal that horrible mess of mechanical contraptions on that roof.) White elastomeric cool roof paint under the solar panels would help cool the modules making them more efficient on hot days.
But are architects thinking about these things?
With 2020 almost upon us: “The beams at the roof, located above the horizontal framing, express the structural rhythm and layering of components,” explains the architect. “This cadence is repeated with the joinery of the painted aluminum exterior wall panels and modular windows. The mass of the exterior plaster walls are juxtaposed to the transparent glazed facades, creating a mosaic of layered materials.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Popularity: 22% [?]
July 2nd, 2009
Environmental health researchers from UCLA, the University of Southern California and the California Air Resources Board have found that during the hours before sunrise, freeway air pollution extends much further than previously thought.
Air pollutants from Interstate 10 in Santa Monica extend as far as 2,500 meters — more than 1.5 miles — downwind, based on recent measurements from a research team headed by Dr. Arthur Winer, a professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health. This distance is 10 times greater than previously measured daytime pollutant impacts from roadways and has significant exposure implications, since most people are in their homes during the hours before sunrise and outdoor pollutants penetrate into indoor environments. (more…)
Popularity: 4% [?]