Cities

Greening the games

Vancouver showcases preparations for 2010 Winter Olympics

For the next two days I’ll be reporting from Vancouver, British Columbia, where it’s hard to walk two blocks without running into a construction project related to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Eleven months from the opening ceremonies, Olympics buzz is fairly palpable, with games-related ads on the airwaves, heaps of Olympics gear for sale in souvenir shops, and construction cranes dotting the skyline. The city gets a chance to highlight its preparations this week at the World Conference on Sport and the Environment (you know it’s classy because they say sport and not sports), which will explore …

Trailer Thrash

Reinventing the trailer park

Trailer parks get a bad rap, especially in the post-Katrina days when we’ve come to see them as North American refugee camps slowly poisoning their displaced inhabitants with formaldehyde fumes. But the trailer park, done right, actually holds great potential as a development model. MiniHome: a big idea. Sustain Even in its current form, with communities of not-particularly-mobile homes plopped atop concrete blocks, the trailer park is a kind of low-rent template, a version of new urbanism without the bells, whistles, and marketing budgets. In Canada particularly, trailer parks are vacation spots, more campground than affordable housing, with density, communal …

Earthship’s Michael Reynolds on the Colbert Report

This is one of the most successful, least awkward Colbert interviews I’ve seen, with a guy named Michael Reynolds who builds houses out of trash and runs Earthship.

Newsom says San Francisco will adopt Berkeley green financing model

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom said something that caught my ear: San Francisco is going to adopt Berkeley’s innovative financing program to fund not only rooftop solar (as Berkeley does) but other distributed generation and energy efficiency projects. That is excellent stuff. Hopefully SF can pull it off successfully and influence other cities to follow suit. UPDATE: Newsom says SF’s program will expand Berkeley’s “exponentially.” Instead of a couple million, $20-$30 million will be available. A huge list of energy generation and efficiency projects, everything from geothermal to boiler replacement. Says the program will kick off April 5. UPDATE2: Correction …

West coast governors win dunce caps

I-5 to become eco-haven?

Rocket scientists Governors Gregoire, Kulongoski, and Schwarzenegger are supporting a brilliant idea to grab some of the stimulus funds. From a Seattle Times article that garnered 140 comments: The three governors envision a series of alternative fueling stations stretching from the Canadian border to Mexico, creating what has been dubbed a “green freeway.” They also would be able to charge, or swap out, their electric-vehicle batteries or fill their tanks with biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen or compressed natural gas. Here’s what supporters are saying: … the plan would fit with the nationwide push for green jobs and alternative-energy development, and put …

Wish They All Could Be California Kids

New jobs program, school buses in the Golden State

Two news items of note from sunny Californ-i-a: Gov. Schwarzenegger officially unveiled the California Green Corps, a program that will train 16- to 24-year-olds in green-tech industries. “It’s the kind of program President Obama envisioned when he put together the economic stimulus package,” he said. “It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.” The L.A. school district has replaced 172 of its buses with compressed natural gas models, and opened its second CNG filling station yesterday. OK, the total fleet is 1,300 — but still. Less diesel = less scary pollution and health issues. Huzzah.

C-SPAN in the hizzy

Senate committee rocks the house on ‘sustainable transportation’

All the youths are buzzing about the fact that C-SPAN now allows their video to be embedded. Wicked roasty! (That’s what the youths say these days.) To get a sense of the hottness this is going to bring to the interweb streetz, check out this video of a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on “Sustainable Transportation.” If you can handle the heat, that is! Totally tubular!

Radiant Cities: Living in your car

New breed of houses makes use of carbage

Guess what will save the economy and the environment? Buying a new car! Cadillac ranch? OK, maybe not save — but according to the folks at Oregon-based Miranda Homes, it can help. The automobile industry has lost some half a million jobs and $50 billion in revenue while we hang on to our old jalopies. Miranda owner Rob Boydstun knows that cars hold great potential when reincarnated, and their waste products — let’s call that stuff carbage — can be transformed into cleaner, greener, and cheaper houses, coming soon-ish to a subdivision near you. Salvage is nothing new in the …

Much sun, free beer

How a small Nevada town lures major solar investment

In 1995, Boulder City, Nevada, paid $1.3 million for a land buffer to make sure that Las Vegas didn't get any closer. It has since used that buffer to become a world leader in solar energy, and is making $2 million (and counting) in annual revenue from solar leases. How did the city pull this off? What is the key to their solar success? Read this excellent article in the Las Vegas Sun to find out. The city, 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas, averages 350 sunny days per year, allowing a local tavern to offer free beer on the days when the sun doesn't shine. That's got to have at least something to do with it.