Cities

How innovative financing is changing energy in America

Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, has taken off like wildfire since the concept was first introduced in Berkeley, Calif. in October ’07. PACE allows private property owners to pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through an addition …

Cities get rebuilt more often than you think

When I hear folks like Alex Steffen talk about “remaking cities,” my gut reaction is that U.S. cities seem mostly permanent, like they’re already built and we’re stuck with them. (Quick reminder: The world’s cities cause 75 percent of all …

On neighbors & the speed of plasterers

On the wall of many offices of the Fund for Public Interest Research, a spinoff outfit of the state PIRGs which dominates the market for progressive door-to-door and telephone canvasses, there is a framed piece of paper in which I …

Who will make the first move toward a clean energy future?

Last week several hundred investors huddled together at the U.N. with government officials and non-profit groups to discuss one thing — carbon. They heard from U.S. climate change negotiator Todd Stern, international political royalty, and a host of economic prognosticators …

Why America’s greenest mayor got no love

Seattle Times environmental reporter Craig Welch profiles one of the more puzzling characters in recent urban politics, Seattle’s now-former mayor, Greg Nickels. The piece treads some of the same ground as my profile of Nickels last month: after demonstrating national …

Dispatches from the Phoenix Green Building Conference

Recently, an interior designer and massage therapist named Becky Anderson helped me certify an Aspen Skiing Company building (Sam’s Restaurant) to LEED Gold. As a reward for her remarkable work, we sent her to the U.S. Green Building Council’s enormous, …

Taking distributed energy seriously

This week, in The New York Times’ Room for Debate, I was involved in a discussion on the brewing war among environmentalists over building large power plants on sensitive land — specifically, in this case, a solar thermal power plant …

Never mind what people believe — how can we change what they do? A chat with Robert Cialdini

When it comes to energy, policymakers are often confronted with human behavior that seems irrational, unpredictable, or unmanageable. Advocates for energy efficiency in particular are plagued by the gap between what it would make sense for people to do and …

India, Italy, Brazil can fill America’s blanks

Americans pride themselves on being ________ (fill in the blank with something like “biggest,” “best,” or “first”). Especially in California, we think we lead the world on carbon-reducing advances like ________ (fill in blank with “solar power,” “energy efficiency,” or …