Cities

Connecticut will require expensive structures to be built green

Connecticut has introduced new green-building regulations — that apply to public and private construction projects costing $5 million or more. And that, children, is what we call “playing to stereotype.”

Analysts predict slow auto sales in 2008

The U.S. saw a December slump in vehicle sales, and analysts predict that 2008 may be the weakest year for auto sales in the U.S. in at least a decade. (Will it correspond with a …

Look, Ma, no brakes

Cures for congestion can come cheap

When I was a little kid, I remember being stuck in gridlock on I-5. (Seattle had congested freeways even back in the 1970s, shocking as that sounds.) And I remember being perplexed that all the cars would slow down in heavy traffic. Instead of spacing out so far, I wondered, why couldn't they all just maintain 55 miles per hour and drive inches apart. As long as everyone agreed to drive the same speed and not hit the brakes, heavy traffic wouldn't require us to slow down. Right? My parents didn't get it. Typical parents.

Monstrosity or innovation?

World’s largest building approved in Moscow

Catching up on some late-December news (how dare the world keep spinning during vacation?): The city of Moscow approved plans for Crystal Island, a 27-million-square-foot complex designed by the fellow behind London’s notorious Gherkin. Set …

Milan, Italy, institutes congestion charge

In Milan, congestion pricing is the new black. (Oh, like you have a better fashion pun?) Under Milan’s new plan, which kicks off as a one-year trial, vehicles driving into the urban center on weekdays …

Green building is the new black

Rising hopes for 2008

Remember how, way back in 2007, green was the new black? Watch for a new new black in 2008: green building. The press is gushing with green-building news: According to a report from the American …

Scooter planet

As personal transportation becomes cheaper, the poor benefit and the climate suffers

In an interesting bit of synchronicity, the Times ran two nearly identical articles on the rocketing popularity of motor scooters in the developing world, one focusing on Iraq, the other on Laos. Although neither article mentions global warming, the pieces do neatly wind together some of the threads that will continue to pressure our climate system well into this century. The first thread is the rise of China as the world's factory floor. In this case, cheap Chinese bikes are flooding foreign markets. Available for as little as $440, these scooters are within reach of the very poor.

The greening of Greensburg

How one small town in Kansas is turning disaster into progress

There wasn't much to be happy about on today's media spectrum. So I thought I'd share one heartwarming story about one Kansas town's efforts to pick up the pieces after a devastating tornado: Townhomes are beginning to rise from the ragged tree trunks, weeds and ruins off Main Street. They mark a radical departure from traditional low-income housing, according to Duncan Trahl, who is from Pennsylvania and on contract with the National Renewable Energy Labs.The townhomes are "LEED gold certified," Trahl said. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The rating is based on a system which rewards energy savings. Trahl said gold certification means these places will be almost twice as efficient as they used to be.Building to this standard for working-class families is unusual, Trahl said."A lot of what's happening in Greensburg is some of the first in the country," Trahl said. Leveraging environmentalism to rebuild a community. It's an idea that's helping revive New Orleans and now a small town in the Midwest. To be sure, the disaster that struck Pakistan yesterday morning is one of a very different nature, but I wish them speed and strength in recovery. I also look forward to the day when "stability" in the Middle East is the norm so that things like "sustainability" can be the new goal. At moments like this, that time seems painfully far away.

Humans have intruded on large-mammal habitat, says study

Humans have driven out large mammals in, um, droves, says a new study in the Journal of Mammalogy. Since the year 1500, at least 35 percent of mammals weighing over 44 pounds have seen their …

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