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Turns out its done by single-driver car

The Transportation Research Board has released its third annual report on Commuting in America. The news is pretty much all bad. Kevin Drum summarizes: ... the number of workers has increased by 31 million since 1980 while the number of workers who drive alone to work has increased by 34 million. Despite the population increase, carpooling is down (except in the West), transit use is down (except in the West), walking is down, and motorcycle use is down. The only bright spot is an increase in people like me, who work from home. Here's the report's top ten list of …

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Property-rights initiatives threaten environmental protections in four Western states

Field of dreams or field of nightmares? It depends who you ask. Photos: iStockphoto When you hear the phrase "a perfect storm," it's likely to conjure images of roiling whitecaps, perhaps a daring Coast Guard rescuer dangling from a helicopter to pull half-drowned sailors from their foundering vessels. Chances are the last thing it will bring to mind is land-use regulation. But in four Western states, the unexpected confluence of two largely unrelated land-use issues -- a "perfect storm" of popular dissatisfaction -- is threatening to undo rules that have guided the development of Western communities for a generation or …

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‘Burb Your Enthusiasm

Commuting costs often outweigh savings from living in suburbs, researchers say The cost of commuting more than 12 miles often nullifies the savings of cheaper suburban housing, says a new study by the Center for Housing Policy. Low- to moderate-income families are often pushed to outer suburbs by a lack of affordable housing near job centers; then, as public transportation is generally scarce, they drive not only to work, but on nearly every trip and errand. In 28 major metropolitan areas, families earning $20,000 to $50,000 spend an average 29 percent of their annual salary on transportation and 28 percent …

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LEED is expanding to neighborhoods, and Doug Farr is leading the way

Doug Farr was heading into The Grind, a local fair-trade coffee spot in Chicago's swanky Lincoln Square neighborhood, when he ran into Peter Nicholson, the organizer of the city's monthly Green Drinks. The two well-heeled unofficial flag-wavers for the local green scene exchanged enthusiastic greetings, and began discussing the latest goings-on. Doug Farr. "Ugh. I'm really over green buildings," Farr said, with a dash of weariness. Nicholson said nothing, waiting to see if Farr was joking. It was, after all, a strange thing to hear from one of the world's premier green architects. Farr needed no prompting to continue: "We …

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Drop Goes the Diesel

Most of U.S. diesel-fuel supply to be cleaner by next week Diesel fuel will get a major makeover this weekend, thanks to rules drawn up during the Clinton administration and set to take effect on Sunday. (The Bushies would like to get some credit too, for not quashing the rules, like they did so many other Clinton-era environmental advancements.) Cleaner diesel fuel, with 97 percent less sulfur than current diesel, must now make up 80 percent of U.S. diesel supply for on-road vehicles -- and by 2010, it must make up 100 percent. The new fuel formulation will likely cost …

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A guide to offsetting your carbon emissions

Taking a vacation to the other side of the planet is the ultimate luxury, but it's one laced with guilt. On top of developed-country remorse, a new form of shame is beginning to stalk those of us taking "unnecessary" airplane rides: What about all that carbon dioxide spewing into the friendly but beleaguered skies? That's where the nascent carbon-offset market comes in, allowing individuals and companies to compensate for their emissions by investing in projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere. Whether you're flying across the world ... Photos: iStockphoto When I returned from a trip to India last January, …

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Umbra on owning multiple cars

Dear Umbra, Your recent column suggested that the questioners sell one of their two cars, but I can't help wondering how much good that does for the environment, especially weighed against the annoyance cost of not having a second car when two people have to be going in opposite directions at the same time. I have a personal interest in this, as we have three cars: mine (a Prius, used for all errands and most weekend driving), his (for commuting), and ours (a four-wheel-drive minivan, which we use when we have too many people or too much stuff for the …

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The Little Engine That Could

Honda develops "superclean" diesel engine for passenger cars Honda Motor Co. is aiming to clean up diesel's dirty image with a new diesel engine for passenger cars that runs as cleanly as the most advanced gasoline-powered engines. In 2009, the company plans to start selling a sedan, probably a Honda Accord, powered by its new "superclean," four-cylinder diesel system; the car will be the first diesel model to meet strict air-quality standards that will come into effect in California in 2009. Diesel engines get about 30 percent better fuel economy than gasoline cars, but Americans have long avoided them because …

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A Colorado home-builder reflects on his attempt to go green

Sunshine on my solar panels makes me happy. Photos: Daniel Shaw In and around Aspen, Colo., incorporating green into the building process usually means wondering, "How much cash can I spend on my house?" After all, this valley sports some of the most energy-sucking but least-used second, third, and fourth homes on Earth. One of them, former Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar Bin Sultan's 55,000-square-footer, can be yours for $135 million. What are the utility bills? Who the hell cares! Spec homes topping 15,000 square feet are still popping up without a solar panel in sight in a place where the …

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Make a parking space into an impromptu public park

Late last year there was a bit of blogospheric hubbub about Park(ing), a nifty public art/activism/event/thingy whereby a parking space is colonized and made into a temporary, impromptu public park, with grass, a potted tree, and a park bench. (It stays that way as long as passer-bys are willing to keep feeding the meter.) I love the idea, but I never got around to posting about it. And look, I blew it again! Yesterday was Park(ing) Day, and NPR did a nice little story about it, and me, well, I slept on it. Next year!

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