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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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America's Best Performing Cities in 2014

America's Best Performing Cities in 2014 | green streets |

The knowledge and energy hubs of San Francisco and Texas are among the year’s biggest economic winners.

The top six best performing metros were all tech hubs: The previously mentioned three, plus Provo, Utah; Raleigh-Cary in North Carolina’s Research Triangle; and Salt Lake City. Rounding out the top ten were four Texas cities: Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas and San Antonio. Other tech powerhouses in the top 25 include Seattle at 11 and Boulder at 13.

Energy centers also rank high up the list. This is evident in the strong showing of metros in the Lone Star State, home to seven of the top 25 best performing metros, and five in the top ten. The energy economies of Lafayette (19) and Baton Rouge (21), Louisiana, also place in the top 25 of large metros, the latter of which rose 55 spots in ranking last year alone.

Norm Miller's curator insight, January 14, 2015 11:39 AM

Connectivity is critical.

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Iris structures would generate wave power along the Beirut shoreline

Iris structures would generate wave power along the Beirut shoreline | green streets |
These conceptual three-legged structures by Najjar & Najjar Architects would allow Beirut fisherman to reclaim the coastline and generate electricity.

Najjar & Najjar Architects propose installing the kinetic Iris structures along Beirut's shoreline to provide elevated shelters that also harness the movement of the waves to generate power. Studio founders Karim and Rames Najjar believe the structures would help locals retain public access to the seafront, which has been dominated by private development in recent years.

Norm Miller's curator insight, May 13, 2014 1:16 PM

Interesting.  Wev'e heard for some time about such technologies but few have actually implemented them.  In California it would probably never be approved by the California Coastal commission.   

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Eco Villa Concepts in Flavors Orchard, China by Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Eco Villa Concepts in Flavors Orchard, China by Vincent Callebaut Architecture | green streets |

Vincent Callebaut Architecture have designed a series of plus-energy villas for a self contained eco community in China. The Flavors Orchard project aims to encourage sustainable developments in China by showcasing the economic and environmental advantages of self sufficient buildings with efficient automated energy systems...

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The Closest Look Yet at the Relative Energy Efficiency of Big Buildings

The Closest Look Yet at the Relative Energy Efficiency of Big Buildings | green streets |

New York City's largest buildings have as outsized a place in the city's energy use profile as they do in the skyline. Just 2% of New York's properties account for 48% of the city's energy use. 

What's a city to do? The Bloomberg administration is doing what it does best: crunching massive amounts of data. On Wednesday, the mayor released the city's second annual benchmarking report, which analyzes the year-to-year energy and water use of New York's 26,680 largest buildings. 

"It's the first time we've had access to this comparative information," says Melissa Wright, an associate director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s City Energy Project who has worked in the Bloomberg administration. "For so long it was this hidden information about what the real energy performance was of a set of buildings or individual buildings."

Visit the link for more...

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Energy Efficiency Can Make Billions While Fighting Climate Change

Energy Efficiency Can Make Billions While Fighting Climate Change | green streets |
Energy efficiency could be a huge investment opportunity in the U.S., but better policies are needed to unlock financing, according to a new Ceres study.

Energy efficiency could be a several hundred billion dollar investment opportunity in the United States, but better policies are required to unlock broad-based financing from institutional investors, according to a new study by investor advocacy group Ceres.

The study details the results of a survey of nearly 30 institutional investors and other experts from the energy, policy and financial sectors that identified three areas of policy:

  • utility regulation
  • demand-generating policies and 
  • innovative financing policies

The study finds that these three areas have the potential to take energy efficiency financing to a scale sufficient enough to attract significant institutional investment.

Mercor's curator insight, June 7, 2013 4:14 AM


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ksraju's curator insight, June 7, 2013 9:51 AM

save echo system

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World’s First Floating Wind-Current Turbine to be Installed Off Japanese Coast

World’s First Floating Wind-Current Turbine to be Installed Off Japanese Coast | green streets |
Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Company is planning to test the world's first hybrid wind-current power generating system this year off the coast of Japan

Via Digital Sustainability
Digital Sustainability's curator insight, May 15, 2013 9:27 AM

Offshore wind farms and tidal energy facilities harness the power of the wind and the ocean – but why should we have separate turbines for each task? Offshore technology company Mitsui is developing a hybrid wind-current power generating system that combines a floating vertical-axis wind turbine with an underwater turbine that generates power from ocean currents. The clever apparatus would cut down on material waste, and it could produce twice as much energy as a conventional wind turbine

Renewable energy developers strive for improved efficiency in the solar, wind and hydro power industries – and the hybrid wind-current system effectively doubles the efficiency of a typical wind or ocean current turbine. Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Company says the system will provide cost-effective power generation while having very little impact on the environment.

The turbines will be large in scale; according to NHK News, the wind turbine will be 47 meters (154 feet), and the underwater portion will have a diameter of 15 meters (49 feet). The turbines will be tested off the coast of Japan later this year. If they work as well as advertised, each turbine could generate enough energy to power 300 households.

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Zero-Energy Districts: Energy Strategies and Sustainable Opportunities

Zero-Energy Districts: Energy Strategies and Sustainable Opportunities | green streets |

An ambitious experiment in sustainable Fort Collins, Colorado, supporting development of the nation’s first major urban zero-energy district (ZED) is already hinting at important lessons for future implementation possibilities.

Along the Colorado Front Range, the resulting data illustrates how the strategic integration of energy generation, storage, and conservation activities can reduce an electricity grid’s overall energy load at critical peak-demand periods. As workplaces become increasingly energy-efficient, they will also have to generate and store more energy on site. With distributed generation, electricity will ultimately be delivered in a far cleaner fashion than is generally the case with the mostly coal-powered mega–power plants that now feed American power grids.

Working with the city-owned electricity supplier Fort Collins Utilities (FCU) and several locally based clean-energy specialists, participating employers were able to collectively reduce peak-load demand on a designated microgrid within the ZED’s boundaries by more than 20 percent during test periods that lasted more than four weeks...

Lauren Moss's insight:

An interesting case study on Zero Energy Districts, in practice... 

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The World's Biggest Solar Power Plant in Abu Dhabi

The World's Biggest Solar Power Plant in Abu Dhabi | green streets |

The Shams 1, a 100-megawatt concentrated solar power plant, has just started soaking up the Arabian sun outside of Abu Dhabi. That's the biggest of its kind on the planet.

A joint venture between the French energy giant Total, the Spanish renewable energy wizards Abnegoa, and Masdar, Abu Dhabi's clean energy company, it will provide energy to some twenty thousand houses, and cut out of the atmosphere 75,000 tons of CO2 per year...

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Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde

Smart Highways by Studio Roosegaarde | green streets |

Glow-in-the-dark roads and responsive street lamps were among the concepts to make highways safer while saving money and energy at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town earlier this month.

The Smart Highways project by Studio Roosegaarde proposes five energy-efficient concepts that will be tested on a stretch of highway in the Brabant province of the Netherlands from the middle of this year.

The first of the concepts is a glow-in-the-dark road that uses photo-luminescent paint to mark out traffic lanes. The paint absorbs energy from sunlight during the day the lights the road at night for up to 10 hours. Temperature-responsive road paint would show images of snowflakes when the temperature drops below zero, warning drivers to take care on icy roads.

There are two ideas for roadside lighting: interactive street lamps that come on as vehicles approach then dim as they pass by, thereby saving energy when there is no traffic, and "wind lights" that use energy generated by pinwheels as drafts of air from passing vehicles cause them to spin round. Additionally, an induction priority lane would incorporate induction coils under the tarmac to recharge electric cars as they drive...

Learn more about these innovative proposals and associated technology at the article link.

Norm Miller's curator insight, March 25, 2013 1:15 PM

First we learned to sequence traffic lights.  Now we can capture energy for better road marking.  Next we will have computer guided car tracks that let us travel more efficiently as a group better utilizing existing highways.  Add in more fuel efficient or electric cars and we have a pretty good outlook for cleaner cities and less dependency on non-renewable resources.

Jim Gramata's comment, March 30, 2013 12:09 PM
If there is one area that needs focus and improvement it is highways. Agreed!
Anji Connell's curator insight, April 14, 2013 12:59 AM

Great idea No !

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The Smart Grid in 2013: Charged for Growth

The Smart Grid in 2013: Charged for Growth | green streets |

In the past year, the grid has seen some remarkable highs, while also being tested to meet the basic needs of society.

On one hand, big advances have flourished, fundamentally changing the way we power our lives. Roof-mounted solar panels have gone from a costly oddity to a competitive selling point for many homes and battery-powered vehicles have gained traction.

On the other hand, the idea of progress has been challenged by a slew of weather woes that have shaken consumer confidence in our energy infrastructure. A series of intense storms, heat waves and drought made 2012 one of the toughest years globally for the grid in many years.

So what will 2013 bring? The growth of the smart grid.

A new stage is opening - where the public was once ambivalent about the smart grid, consumers are now starting to demand these improvements, spurred by the need to improve reliability, participation and the resiliency to recover from large-scale grid events.

Going into the new year, pressure to rebuild the northeast's grid with more resilience will further boost trends that point towards investment in these smart technologies to continue to expand by over 10% over the next five years.
And while efforts to date have focused on improving the grid's heavy-duty backbone, a look ahead suggests that coming smart grid efforts will reach more directly into everyday life.

Here's what's in store for 2013...

Lauren Moss's insight:

An interesting look at the future of the smart grid, renewable energy and the trends that are shaping the development of these technologies in the coming year.

In addition to energy generation, the article examines infrastructure, energy storage, distributed generation, public awareness, and social networks as communication tools...

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Green and Healthy Buildings: monitoring consumption & ecology in the built environment

Green and Healthy Buildings: monitoring consumption & ecology in the built environment | green streets |

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, buildings account for approximately 40 percent of worldwide energy use and are responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They also play an important role in the health and wellbeing of those who inhabit them each day.

The mass of information about what makes a building green tends to concentrate on new and innovative designs that create beautiful photo spreads. While such examples are inspiring, they make up a very small percentage of all buildings in operation.

Green Buildings Alive is an environmental initiative aimed at collecting and sharing data on existing buildings between 10 and 60 years old. The data is collected from office towers in Australian Central Business Districts (CBDs) and shared on a public website.

For more on this innovative, environmental initiative that provides interactive visualizations of building-performance data to help understand the complexities and relationships among sustainability, health, and energy, read the complete article

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From relic to revolutionary: streetcars revitalize city transit | SmartPlanet

From relic to revolutionary: streetcars revitalize city transit | SmartPlanet | green streets |
More than a half-century after streetcars were abandoned and burned, at least a dozen U.S. cities are working to revive them.

The revitalization of Portland, Ore.’s Pearl District, where empty warehouses were replaced with art galleries and abandoned rail yards gave way to multi-family housing, truly began for some when a streetcar line opened there in 2001. As the streetcar shuttled passengers around the once-decrepit neighborhood, it also swept billions of dollars of investments into the revived community.

What’s more, streetcars can protect the environment. “If you have clean electrical energy sources and feed them into the tram system,” said

Patrick Condon, a professor at the University of British Columbia and author of Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities- “it is greenhouse gas zero.” That combination of smart urban development and eco-friendly transit, he said, means more sustainable cities by 2050. “The real benefit of thinking about trams is not the vehicle itself,” Condon said, “but rather how the whole city works and how you move from place to place in a way that’s elegant, comfortable and greenhouse gas zero.”

Read on for details and examples that feature the potential positive benefits of reviving the streetcar- a 'clean alternative to cars'.

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Cities will convert 260 million tons of waste to energy | SmartPlanet

Cities will convert 260 million tons of waste to energy | SmartPlanet | green streets |
New research shows an increase in energy generation from waste.

As urban populations continue to grow so will the amount of waste produced by cities. But with landfills reaching capacity cities are looking for alternatives.

One solution that is becoming more popular with cities is a system to convert waste to energy. According to a new report from Pike Research, in 10 years cities will convert at least 260 million tons of waste to base load power or heat each year. That number could reach as much as 396 million tons per year or 429 terawatt-hours of power...

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Community Solar Gardens Bring Affordable Green Energy to the Masses

Community Solar Gardens Bring Affordable Green Energy to the Masses | green streets |

A new trend is springing up across the country that’s making affordable solar energy increasingly available to the masses.

Community solar gardens allow customers who aren’t able to establish their own solar power systems to buy into a solar array built elsewhere and get a credit on their electricity bill for the power produced by the panels. These arrangements that allow people to not only cut their power bills but also switch to more green energy first emerged in Colorado, but have since spread across the country – with laws allowing the projects to progress through legislatures in California, Minnesota and Washington D.C., and one on the books since 2008 in Massachusetts – where the trend is currently taking flight...

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World's Largest Solar Power Plant Helps the Golden State get Greener

World's Largest Solar Power Plant Helps the Golden State get Greener | green streets |

Earlier in February, the state of California got a whole lot greener with the opening of Ivanpah, the world's largest solar thermal energy plant

The Golden State will get even closer to its goal of sourcing a third of its power from renewable energy sources. Situated on 2,400 acres of desert land between Yuma and Phoenix, the world's largest fully-operational solar power plant has recently finished construction. With a maximum capacity of 290 megawatts, the Agua Caliente power plant will generate renewable energy for 230,000 homes back in California.

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Earth Screening: the Winning proposal for Holland 'sustainable farming' pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Earth Screening: the Winning proposal for Holland 'sustainable farming' pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 | green streets |

New Holland Agriculture have chosen the winner of the international competition for their 1,500 square meters pavilion at the World Expo 2015 in Milan. The proposal, by Carlo Ratti Associati, is called Earth Screening, and features an agricultural field on its roof, similar to a giant 3D printer thanks to the constant activity of two robotized, self-driving tractors.

Emanuela Recchi, chairman of Recchi Engineering, describes Earth Screening as “a pavilion capable of expressing the principles of sustainability, efficiency, and energy production of a modern ‘Sustainable Farm’.” The design concept proposes an innovative and efficient pavilion, allowing visitors to interact with the latest research, products and innovations developed by New Holland.

The aim is that the energy for the pavilion – including that for the selfdriving tractors on the roof – will be generated on site. After the Expo, the New Holland pavilion will be dismantled and reconstructed in a second location as an innovative didactic farm, embodying the very idea of recycling and sustainability.

Donovan Gillman's curator insight, December 9, 2013 2:58 AM

Is this the future or is it just another "futurescape" daydream?

Rescooped by Lauren Moss from green infographics!

Town Square Initiative: New York - Urban Planning and Design Concepts

Town Square Initiative: New York - Urban Planning and Design Concepts | green streets |

The Town Square Initiative is a yearlong volunteer effort in which Gensler designers set out to unearth and re-imagine unexpected open space in cities around the globe. All 43 Gensler offices were invited to participate in the conceptual project, in which we challenged our designers to identify open space in the city and reimagine it as a town square.

Visit the link for more images, diagrams and information on Gensler New York’s design of their future city.

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Artificial Forest Converts Sunlight Into Oxygen

Artificial Forest Converts Sunlight Into Oxygen | green streets |

Carbon levels in the atmosphere are at the highest levels in 3 million years and while politicians debate what to do about it, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California are putting forth a potential fuel solution, harnessing a carbon-neutral source of energy: the sun.

Solar energy is not a new concept but the team at the Berkeley Lab have created an artificial forest that captures solar energy, converts it into oxygen and hydrogen, which can then be used to power fuel cells and produce renewable energy. The ‘forest’ is actually nanowire trees which absorbs sunlight and then mimics the natural process of photosynthesis that trees and plants usually perform.

Read more and find links at the article.

Norm Miller's curator insight, June 8, 2013 1:01 PM

If this could really happen it could be transformational. 

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Gardens By The Bay: Singapore's Most Brilliant Architectural Innovation

Gardens By The Bay: Singapore's Most Brilliant Architectural Innovation | green streets |

Gardens by the Bay is the newest addition to Singapore's green space innovations, making this architecturally brilliant metropolis truly a “City in a Garden.”

Still a work in progress, Gardens by the Bay was named the World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival 2012. The use of innovative energy saving technologies is a noteworthy element of this unique project.

More than 217,000 plants belonging to approximately 800 species and varieties are represented in the Gardens “with the hope that it will help to promote awareness of the wonders of nature and the value of plants to Man and the environment.” In this way, visitors are instilled with new or renewed awareness of plants, while experiencing different ecosystems without disturbing original forests. Gardens by the Bay also supports the sustainability of culture through a wide array of “edutainment” available onsite — from school programs to concerts  – to further enhance an understanding of this experience...

Chia Yi Xuan's curator insight, June 29, 2013 11:40 AM

From this article, I can see that Singapore's architectural design of the Gardens by the Bay has been known and that people find it very innovative and fascinating. It was named the World Building of the Year in the year 2012. I think that the Gardens by the Bay is a very good idea as it can attract tourists and draw international attention.It also make Singapore known to more countries.I wonder if the people in the other countries will find it fascinating and a joy to see this architectural innovation.

Tan Teck Ling's curator insight, June 30, 2013 9:24 AM

This is my insight using See-Think-Wonder routine,

I can see from this article that Singapore has gained some recognition for its attempt to built a creative and interesting architecture while ensuring it to be Eco-friendly.
I think that this type of architectures are beneficial to everybody as it provides shelter for people while ensuring that the building is a great attraction through the usage of a large variety of plants that is Eco-friendly.
I wonder what would Singapore come up with that would allow it to gain such recognition once again by others 

RuiHan Chia's curator insight, June 30, 2013 9:59 AM

I see that Singapore 's new addition, Gardens by the Bay, has already drawn international attention and was named the World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival 2012. I think that Gardens by the Bay is good because it promotes energy saving and is a great tourist attraction and showcases many different plants and habitats. It also has great potential since it is not complete yet. I wonder how it will change as it is being completed.

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The ‘unstoppable’ renewable grid

The ‘unstoppable’ renewable grid | green streets |

U.S. natural gas prices are rising, while wind and solar are growing rapidly. The global transition to mostly renewable grid power may now be unstoppable...

'The energy transition juggernaut I previewed last May is rolling on unabated, despite U.S. natural gas prices falling to 10-year lows last year. According to a new Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans would like to see more emphasis on solar, wind and natural gas, while less than half of them support more emphasis on nuclear, oil and coal.

In addition to popular sentiment, installations of renewable generation are proceeding apace.According to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [PDF], the United States installed more power generation capacity from wind than for any other power source in 2012: 10,700 megawatts (MW), 23 percent more than natural gas (8,700 MW) and more than double the new coal capacity (4,500 MW). New solar capacity grew by 1,500 MW, a 31 percent increase over 2011.

It seems that the widespread belief that cheap natural gas would kill the growth of renewables — which I always viewed skeptically and never found convincing data to support — didn’t have much substance after all...'

Lance LeTellier's curator insight, April 8, 2013 9:20 AM

I think we just export more as prices go up.

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The Costs of Population Growth

The Costs of Population Growth | green streets |

The United States population is expected to pass 400 million by 2051.

That’s 85 million more people who will need good jobs, sufficient space, clean water and energy.

We will need to make adjustments in order to have a healthy economy in the coming years. So what would happen if the world population – including in the United States – just kept growing? It’s simply not sustainable. The costs to both people and our planet would far outweigh the benefits.

Read the complete article for the relevant facts on the potential impacts of population growth on environmental and social issues...

MissPatel's curator insight, December 17, 2014 2:07 AM

It is constantly a strain on the environment but what about economically? 

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How New York aims to raise building efficiency by 20 percent

How New York aims to raise building efficiency by 20 percent | green streets |

In an executive order issued at the end of 2012, NY Gov. Cuomo directed state agencies to improve the efficiency of their buildings 20% by 2020.

Going forward, energy efficiency will be considered as a standard part of the capital project planning process.

To implement this efficiency initiative -- among the most ambitious in the U.S. -- Cuomo also announced the start of "Build Smart NY," the implementation arm of the Executive Order.

Using energy data on state buildings, the implementation plan prioritizes the largest, least efficient buildings first for comprehensive whole building retrofits, to get the biggest bang on energy savings for every dollar spent. 

Identifying buildings with the most opportunity to improve is a big part of driving energy savings, but it's not as simple as it appears. Data from New York City shows that some of its oldest buildings are more energy efficient than those that are LEED-certified.

Efficiency measures include the typical, but all important lighting upgrades, advanced heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, efficient electric motors and automated energy management systems.

Stephane Bilodeau's curator insight, January 8, 2013 7:25 PM

"Improving energy efficiency in our buildings is a smart investment in our present and future," NY Gov. Cuomo says. "Through Build Smart NY, state government can produce significant savings for New York taxpayers and generate thousands of jobs, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than eight million metric tons - which is the same as taking one million cars off the road for one year. Furthermore, most of the projects will pay for themselves as their energy savings will cover their costs, making this initiative a financial and environmental win-win for New Yorkers."

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Cities Without Borders | Sustainable Cities Collective

Cities Without Borders | Sustainable Cities Collective | green streets |

With more people now living in urban environments for the first time in history, we have a tremendous opportunity to harness the productive capacity of a city. Money saved from no longer maintaining physical boundaries could be better spent on developing the urban fabric of future cities. High density, multi-functional spaces, and interconnectivity are paramount. Investing in renewable energies and innovative food sources would further the autonomy of the city.

by: Rashiq Fataar

Via ddrrnt
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Smart Cities and the Smart Grid

Smart Cities and the Smart Grid | green streets |

Smart Cities and the Smart Grid: There are natural parallels between the Smart Grid and smart cities in terms of concepts and deployments, though cities have much more experience at evolution than the traditional electrical grid. After all, they have been adopting new technologies that disrupt the status quo for centuries. The Romans created aqueducts and fundamentally changed how water could be controlled and distributed in cities. Discoveries in hygiene and disease transmission and control allowed people to healthily live in population densities with minimized odds of large scale epidemics. And then automobiles exerted their influences on cities. In each case, city systems, policies, and people changed to accommodate new technologies, new knowledge and new practices.

Now, ambitious goals such as zero net energy buildings will change the relationships that physical structures have within cities, and in turn change the relationships that occupants (full or part-time) have within buildings and within cities.

Read the complete article for more on the latest advances in the building industry, infrastructure and transportation, and how smart cities will interact with the Smart Grid...

Via Joan Tarruell, Stephane Bilodeau
Seren's curator insight, August 26, 2013 5:09 PM

An article drawig parallels between ancient city grids and their evolution into the modern age.

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Riding Sunlight: Solar Power for Public Transportation

Riding Sunlight: Solar Power for Public Transportation | green streets |
For those concerned about the environmental impact of their daily commute, taking public transportation may be a way to be nicer to the planet. According to statistics highlighted by the Sustainable Cities Collective, taking public transportation over driving can save 340 million gallons of fuel from being used, preventing the release of 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Now, public transportation is becoming even better for the environment thanks to the benefits of solar power. From California to Massachusetts, public transportation agencies are increasingly turning to photovoltaic energy to keep their operations running smoothly.

While trains are not (yet) propelled by photovoltaic energy, some public transportation agencies do use solar panels to help power their rail fleets. For example, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority announced in September that it would be putting up solar modules on an 18-acre rail yard and on a garage. The installations, paid for through a power purchase agreement, are expected to save the MBTA close to $49,000 a year by providing an estimated 1.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, reported.

On the other side of the country, L.A. Metro has announced its intentions to install a combined 2 megawatts of PV energy capacity on all of its bus and rail facilities in Los Angeles County, according to Clean Fleet Report...

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