Business & Technology

Sustainable Business

Pro sports are going greener, and that means the rest of us are too

The Seattle Sounders don’t just have crazy fans. Their facilities have a 57.6 percent landfill diversion rate.Photo: Mike HPro sports may not seem like a natural ally for environmentalists. Players fly from Boston to Los Angeles and back for a single game. Leagues and teams convince cities to build expensive and often unneeded new facilities with taxpayer money. Fans clog up roads as they drive to games and clog up trash cans with hot-dog wrappers and beer cups once they arrive. But six teams representing six major North American sports leagues have kicked off a new effort to make themselves …

FedEx’s Republican CEO wants you to buy an electric car [VIDEO]

Clean energy: not a partisan issue, says FedEx's CEO. That's why he commissioned this slick little promo, which sums up everything that's wrong with our current transportation infrastructure but stops just short of mentioning peak oil. That's OK, because the facts speak for themselves: The U.S. uses a quarter of the world's oil. Seventy percent of that goes to transportation. Electric vehicles cut the Gordian knot of our dependence on fossil fuels, because electric cars can be powered by anything. Does it get any more straightforward?

Biking

The economic case for on-street bike parking

This is the fourth column in a series focusing on the economics of bicycling.  Bicycling and driving have one thing in common that is almost universally frustrating, time consuming, friction causing, and potentially expensive. Parking. No matter how seamless your ride across town, no matter how well-timed the traffic lights or low-conflict the bike lanes, it’s all pointless if when you arrive at work, or the store, or the music venue or party, and have nowhere to put your ride. Worse is when you go back outside find your lock still securely attached and that sweet bike you invested in …

Car parts made out of mushrooms will — wait, what?

Man, is there anything mushrooms can’t do? They make a damn fine fake meat, they make Mario bigger, caterpillars smoke hookahs on them, the whole nine yards. And now, thanks to a company called Ecovative, they can be used to replace styrofoam in some of Earth’s most persistent enemies: packing materials and car parts. The fake foam actually grows itself — Ecovative fills a mold with a mix of mushroom spores and a waste material like oat husks, and over a few days the mushrooms grow and the roots glue themselves together into a strong and lightweight material. Like styrofoam, …

Business & Technology

Ford uses recycled carpet in engines

I was going to write today about Facebook’s efforts to boost the energy efficiency of its Oregon data center by 38 percent. The social networking Goliath did that by redesigning servers and the operations of the facility, then broke with industry convention by sharing its secret sauce with competitors in a new initiative it calls the Open Compute Project. (That didn’t exactly neutralize criticism from Greenpeace, which has mounted a campaign against Facebook for its dependence on coal-fired power plants at the company’s Prineville, Ore., data center.) Data centers are the steel mills of our post-industrial information economy and consume …

Urbanism

Facebook’s new campus will simulate real street life, just like Facebook

Facebook’s headquarters will have a new suburban face.Photo: pshabNow that Facebook has eaten the entire world and drunk its milkshake, the company understandably needs more space to let it all hang out. So they’re moving from their offices in Palo Alto, Calif., to a campus of their own in Menlo Park, a corporate park that is being vacated by the retreating Sun Microsystems. Here’s the thing about the move. The choice of the site, which is cut off from the rest of Menlo Park by roads, railroad tracks, and protected wetlands, makes one thing quite clear: Facebook doesn’t want to …

Climate Policy

Climate hawks fight GOP efforts to shut down the clean energy economy

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. During yesterday’s debate on the Upton-Inhofe bill (H.R. 910) to block climate pollution rules, Democrats who support clean energy manufacturing debunked conservative myths about the green economy. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) discussed their amendment to study the economic impact to American competitiveness of abolishing climate standards while the rest of the world wins the future. With the help of Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), they debunked the myths of a hapless Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). Inslee decried the eagerness of the GOP to “shut down the government”: It is deeply disappointing that …

Solar-powered wind turbines not just a joke

April fools led to a bunch of fake posts that made us die a little inside, and at least one that seemed like kind of a good idea: the solar-powered wind turbine. Turns out that the notion of harvesting the maximum amount of energy from the immediate environment is good enough that the combo of solar and wind power actually exists! And the U.S. military is all up in its grill. Because nothing says “we should start producing our own power” like losing yet another fuel convoy to insurgents. Its maker, SkyBuilt systems, just won an Edison Award for the …

Renewable Energy

Can the Keynes notion of ‘spontaneous optimism’ help U.S. investments in clean energy?

This post originally appeared on the Great Energy Challenge blog, in partnership with National Geographic and Planet Forward.  John Maynard Keynes, a giant in modern economic theory, famously wrote, “Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits.” This notion, laid out in his seminal book, The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, was meant to push back on the notion that people behave in an purely economically rational manner, that many of our decisions …

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