Cities

A Nobel Effort

Wangari Maathai film shows Kenyan tree planting as political subversion

Planting trees in Kenya is about more than just helping the environment.Alan Dater Planting trees in deforested areas brings a host of benefits, as any good environmentalist knows. Trees provide cleaner air, richer soil, wildlife habitat, and shade. They conserve water and protect lands against floods. They absorb carbon dioxide. Under the rule of an oppressive regime, tree planting can also be a profoundly subversive act. This is the focus of Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, a documentary about the Kenyan activist that premiers on the PBS series Independent Lens this Tuesday, April 14. Wangari MaathaiMartin Rowe By …

Sunny City Up

America’s first solar city, from a former NFL player

An architect’s rendering of Babcock Ranch, the solar-powered city planned east of Fort Myers.Kitson and PartnersFlorida developer and former NFL lineman Syd Kitson sent out a coy press release Wednesday promising the biggest news in the history of press releases, to be revealed Thursday. And in truth … it’s sort of a big deal. The housing collapse be damned, Kitson & Partners announces it will build a planned city near Fort Meyers with 19,500 homes, offices, retail shops, and light industry. Its electricity will come from the world’s largest solar voltaic power plant, a $300 million, 75-megawatt plant to be …

Life's a Pitch

15 green sports venues

Think the only thing green about pro sports is the turf? Think again. As the first crack of the bat rings through the spring air this week, we take a look at sports venues in North America that are scoring big on the eco-field (now if only the teams could do something about all that travel). Right lights, big Citi. New York Mets 1. New York Mets, Citi Field. The brand-spankin’ new ballpark is opening this spring to great green acclaim (if subdued hoopla). While that other team in New York seems to have limited its green efforts to trash …

Building green in Birmingham

“People think a green-constructed home is going to look like a mushroom or have solar panels everywhere. But you won’t be able to look at it and tell it’s a green-constructed home.” – Emmit Stallworth, Alpha Home Builders, Birmingham, Ala.

Remaking of an Empire

Empire State Building to get efficiency overhaul

I’ve been wanting for a while to start a column called “Sexy Retrofits,” exploring the idea that the key to green building is overhauling existing buildings, not starting from scratch. Despite what Larry Page might think. It’s not the most glamorous notion, but it is energy efficient, cost effective, and exciting. I swear! So consider this the first edition, because it doesn’t get much sexier than this: the Empire State Building is going green. In a news conference today, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg will appear with Bill Clinton to give details of the $20 million retrofit, which will reportedly include …

You asked for it

Seattle’s transit-supporting sales-tax hike goes into effect

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr If you noticed this week that your bar tab was a bit higher than usual, it’s probably because of that extra shot of tequila you’re now regretting the sales tax hike. As of April 1, residents in King, Pierce, and Snohomish county started paying more for their purchases — one half of one percent more, to be exact — and that money is going toward Sound Transit light-rail expansion, improved express-bus service, and boosted capacity on commuter trains. Sound familiar? That’s probably because you marked an “X” in a spot on your November ballot …

Myth: Using less energy = sacrifice

Mention “reducing demand” to Average Jane American and she’ll assume you mean conservation:  turning off lights, drying clothes on a clothesline, riding a bike to work, wearing a sweater when it’s cold inside. And when she thinks conservation, she’ll generally think, ugh, there go the dirty hippies telling me to feel guilty and be miserable again. Both these associations are bogus. First, when energy wonks talk about demand reduction, they usually mean efficiency. That means consuming the same energy services — the same “warm showers and cold beers” — using less energy. For instance, driving a Prius rather than a …

Hot air emissions

A roundup of notable speeches from the Sport and Environment Conference

The big news of day one at the World Conference on Sport and the Environment in Vancouver, British Columbia, was the unveiling of a carbon neutrality plan for the 2010 Olympics. The rest of the day’s events were a lot like the offset plan: solid at their core and short on details. During a keynote address, socially responsible investment executive Thomas Van Dyck managed to drop the lines, “The green tide must lift all ships,” “Green is the new green,” and “We must put the eco back in economy,” all within 30 seconds, all without a smile or a trace …

How much CO2 does a Zamboni emit?

Vancouver Olympics Committee shopping carbon offset plan

The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) wants make the 2010 Winter Games carbon neutral, but the plan it released Monday counts on help from the private sector to make it happen. At the World Conference on Sport and the Environment, VANOC announced a plan to neutralize 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide, mostly through renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in British Columbia. That’s the amount of emissions the February 2010 games will create, according to a preliminary carbon forecast by the David Suzuki Foundation. The forecast expects two thirds of that amount will come from air travel by spectators and participants. …

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