Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Cities

Comments

The Bane in Spain Falls Mainly on the, Um, Construction

Spanish coast being ravaged by development The Spanish coast is being ravaged by a decade-long building boom, and there seems to be no end in sight. About 3 million houses have been started or built in the country in the past four years, with as many as half of them along its famed 3,100-mile coastline. The development boom is ruining ecosystems and bulldozing individuals' rights to land ownership, as local laws in some regions allow private property to be effectively seized by developers. The construction industry is rife with money laundering and corruption, and politicians have allegedly accepted bribes for …

Read more: Cities

Comments

Junk in the Trunk

American food-guzzling leads to more gas-guzzling Here's more motivation to go on that diet: You'll use less gasoline. Non-commercial U.S. vehicles are using at least 938 million more gallons of gasoline annually than they did in 1960 because drivers and passengers are considerably heavier and are dragging down fuel economy, says a University of Illinois study to be published in The Engineering Economist. In 1960, the average adult female weighed 140 pounds and the average male weighed 166; in 2002, the averages were 164 and 191 respectively, and 62 percent of adults were considered overweight. That 938 million gallons is …

Read more: Cities, Living

Comments

First cradle-to-cradle house takes shape in Virginia

Nothing about this traditional design says "gray water treatment happens here." Renderings: Southern Heritage Homes Lined with rundown, century-old houses and situated within a couple miles of downtown Roanoke, the neighborhood of Gainsboro, Va., seems an unlikely place to hatch a groundbreaking architectural experiment. But in early November, construction will begin there on the first cradle-to-cradle house, with those behind the project hoping to show that green can be affordable. In many ways, Gainsboro is the perfect site for such an undertaking. After suffering years of deterioration and failed urban-renewal efforts, the city's oldest neighborhood had been targeted by municipal …

Read more: Cities

Comments

Nothing Could Prius Away

Toyota Prius tops EPA's list of most fuel-efficient cars for 2007 Yesterday, the U.S. EPA released its 2007 ranking of the most fuel-efficient vehicles, with gas-electric hybrids sweeping the top four spots. The Toyota Prius, ranked No. 1, gets 60 miles per gallon in the city and 51 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. (Data from real-world drivers puts Prius gas mileage at an average of 47.2 mpg, but that still beats the competition.) Toyota and Honda vehicles took seven of the top 10 spots, although hybrid versions of Ford's Escape and Mercury Mariner also made it into …

Read more: Cities

Comments

Commuting in America

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 …

Read more: Cities

Comments

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 …

Read more: Cities

Comments

‘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 …

Read more: Cities

Comments

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 …

Read more: Cities, Living, Politics

Comments

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 …

Read more: Cities

Comments

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, …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy