Smart Cities

How the smart grid of the future will prevent power outages for millions

Right now there are millions of people without power thanks to the wind and heavy rainfall that accompanied hurricane Irene, and I'm one of them. It sucks. Having to call the utility company just to let them know that they've failed me once again is a symptom of our antediluvian electricity distribution system.  Commonwealth Edison of Northern Illinois thinks so, too. Recently, they explained to the Daily Herald how a smart grid would have prevented outages for hundreds of thousands of their customers in the wake of recent July storms.


Trying to make China's planned cities livable

Two brothers, an architect and a developer, team up to make new Chinese cities more people-friendly, easing the transition from rural to urban living.

Critical List: A second leak in Shell's North Sea rig spurting oil; Chinese protest chemical factory

A second leak at the Shell oil platform in the North Sea is proving harder to stop than the first. A Chinese protest against a chemical factory was one of the largest in three years -- at least 12,000 people -- and may herald a shift towards more public action in the country. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is exchanging ideas with leaders in Rio about greening their cities.

Smart Cities

How cities can get carbon down to zero

Seattle looks at an ambitious scenario involving changes in travel modes, more energy-efficient buildings, and shifts to alternative energy sources.


A pop-up urban experiment: The BMW Guggenheim Lab

On Houston Street in New York, the BMW Guggenheim Lab hopes to incubate ideas and solutions for the modern urban world. What will come of it?

Nissan wants you to power your house with your electric car

What if you could buy power at night, when it's cheap, and run your house off it by day, when it's expensive (and, in Japan at least, in short supply)? Nissan wants to give customers who buy its Nissan Leaf just this ability, by selling them special chargers for their electric cars that can be reversed to feed power back into a home.

'Solar highways' transform our crumbling infrastructure into something useful

Okay, we know YOU ride your bike everywhere. But the country’s 4 million miles of roads, and 50,000 miles of interstate highway, probably aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Isn’t there anything productive we can do with this giant car playground? Well, we can cover it with solar photovoltaic panels, so it’s at least providing some energy.

For the first time ever, renters can get solar incentives, too

There's a reason California is the largest solar market in the country -- I mean, aside from its abundance of sun. Namely, its regulators keep coming up with new ways to allow people to DIY-up their own distributed energy systems. Their latest brainstorm is a measure that allows renters to take advantage of the same solar incentives as people who own their own homes.

Panasonic capitalizes on earthquake by replacing factories with ‘smart towns’

Panasonic, the largest appliance maker in Japan, has announced plans to shutter 20 percent of its 230 factories in order to cut costs. But rather than lose that land, the company is capitalizing on Japan’s post-earthquake need for housing. It’s replacing the factories with “smart towns,” featuring "solar panels, energy-efficient refrigerators and rechargeable batteries," the company tells Bloomberg.