Loan star

Making energy efficiency possible for cheapskate homeowners

Apropos of my recent realization that if I had bought a new furnace on credit rather than waiting to save up the cash I'd have saved a bundle of money over the last 5 years, here's something I've been meaning to write about for months: a Vancouver developer that came up with a smart -- I mean, diabolically smart -- financing scheme to build a super-efficient condo complex. (Proving, I suppose, biodiversivist's point that spreadsheets are, in fact, wonderful things.)

15 Green Cities

These metropolises aren’t literally the greenest places on earth — they’re not necessarily dense with foliage, for one, and some still have a long way to go down the path to sustainability. But all of …

Your mileage may vary

Why bicycling is 25 percent better than you thought

Your car's greenhouse-gas emissions are about 25 percent worse than you think. How so? Well, for each gallon of gas you burn in your engine, there's the climate equivalent of another quarter-gallon or so embedded in your consumption. What that means is this: the gasoline you use didn't just magically appear in your tank -- it was extracted, refined, and transported to your local station. And all that activity released emissions. It's a curiosity of our energy system (and other systems too, such as our food system), but it's a curiosity that bears closely on our thinking about how to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Stay with me for a moment. It's usually assumed that each gallon of gas releases about 19.5 pounds of CO2 into the sky. (Some quibble, and argue that it's 19.4 or 19.6. But whatever.) Basic physics dictates that a gallon of gasoline combusted will release a more-or-less fixed amount of CO2. But from a public policy perspective, physics isn't the whole story.

Does the rest of the dinosaur know about this?

A car company takes a step in the right direction — and it’s GM!

It's a pretty short step from here to letting OnStar drivers pay for auto insurance by the mile; that's a plus everywhere, but especially in states like Michigan, where it would help turn what had been very high fixed costs into proconservation variable ones. Now if only the state would stop charging all drivers the same flat fee (about $125/yr) for the catastrophic claims fund -- put it into the price of gas or something. GM's inspiration was to realize that OnStar's global positioning satellite technology gave GMAC a reliable, low-cost way to measure the actual mileage of GMAC policyholders, allowing those who drive less to share in GMAC's reduced underwriting costs. If this cooperative undertaking leads more people to subscribe to OnStar and purchase GMAC auto policies, well, that's just a chance GM will have to take.

On the Ball: Get trashed fast

Or should that be get fast trashed?

In college I wrote my honors thesis on the connection between running and spirituality. And I like the idea of eco-running as a combining-of-passions sort of idea. Except I’m not really into combining my passions …

Jam Plan Is Toast

NYC mayor’s traffic-reducing proposal shot down, for now New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion-fee proposal, reportedly down to the wire on Monday, is now just down, period. The plan would have charged a fee …

Bloomberg's congestion fee plan ...


… killed by lawmakers in Albany.

Post-vacation links

Stuff I missed

There are a gazillion things I missed over vacation, or meant to post about before vacation, that I’ll never have time to return to. Thus: a link post! I missed the MoveOn town hall on …

Leo, I’ve Got a Feeling We’re Not in Hollywood Anymore

DiCaprio-produced series will rebuild tornado-ravaged Kansas town It’s official: Nine months after the rumors began, Leonardo DiCaprio has confirmed that he and a partner will give birth to … a reality series on green building. …

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