Cities

Moving on out

There are limits to the positive environmental change we can expect from high gas prices

You can scarcely pick up a paper or turn on the television these days without hearing the word recession. Leading economic indicators have wiggled in different directions over the past few months, but the general …

The hybrid solar home

An alternative housing concept

Seattle is having a cold snap. It's 25 degrees outside. Our rare freezing winter days correspond with equally rare clear winter skies. Days like this make me wish I had a solar powered home that could harvest and store that free burst of energy for later use. The bottom line is that American homes are just too large to be cost effectively heated with solar energy. The push has been to get the cost of solar panels down. But, what would you get if you crossed an expensive solar heating and cooling system with an optimally sized home? By optimal, I mean not larger than you need. You would get an affordable solar powered home like the one shown above (click here to see the details). By affordable, I mean in the $150-200 thousand range excluding land, sewer, and water systems. Picture the north face with fancy wood and slate trim, a deck off of the loft doubling as a carport, double french doors, and lots and lots of windows (and window plugs). Essentially, this is a well insulated 10 x 40-foot park model trailer stocked with highly energy efficiency dual mode gas/electric appliances, and lots of diode lighting under a standardized solar energy system optimized for a given area of the country. Picture an entire neighborhood (or trailer park or commune) of these all facing south. Ninety percent of the people on this planet would jump at the chance to live in a home like that. Home size is relative, dependent on wealth and how far the "my house is bigger than yours" arms race has progressed. It's all a matter of perception.

Green suburbia bleg

How are you greening your suburban life?

Are you a green-living suburbanite? Do you want to tell your story to a major news organization? Even majorer than Grist? Tell us about your creative green approaches to living in the suburbs. Have you replaced your lawn with switchgrass? Offered to install solar power for everyone in your cul-de-sac? Organized a carpool to a commuter-transit junction? Share your adventures below in comments.

High-speed rail

High-speed rail, already kicking ass (in Europe), is set to kick much more ass (in Europe): Last July seven operators banded together to form Railteam, an alliance that is working to create a seamless, high-speed …

Maldives builds higher-altitude island, can’t attract residents

The tiny island nation of Maldives is at high risk of being swamped in years to come: it rises a mere three feet above sea level. So officials are building Hulhumalé, a human-made island with …

Mayoral climate-protecting agreement hasn’t necessarily translated into action

Mayors across the country have signed onto the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a nonbinding initiative encouraging city leaders to meet or beat the greenhouse-gas reductions outlined in the U.S.-shunned Kyoto Protocol. So about that …

Iditarod sled dog race forced to change starting point

The famous Iditarod sled dog race is undergoing permanent changes as organizers cope with urban sprawl and a warming climate. For the ceremonial start to the competition on Mar. 1, racers will travel 11 miles …

Tata Motors unveils world’s cheapest car in India

Photo: TaTa Motors The world’s cheapest car was unveiled in India today by Tata Motors, which hopes that its new $2,500 subcompact will help make car ownership a reality for tens of millions of people. …

General Motors unveils hydrogen-powered concept Cadillac

Trading in your Chevy for a Cadillac-ac-ac-ac-ac-ac? You oughta know by now: at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, General Motors unveiled a concept Caddy powered by a combination of hydrogen fuel cells …

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