Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming more prominent as technology advances and new markets open. EVs are powered completely by an electric motor and the energy stored in the battery, unlike Hybrid Electric or Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV or PHEV) that are a combination of internal combustion engine and electric motor powered by battery. This developing all-electric technology has the benefit of zero direct exhaust or emissions and with continuing increases in driving range, consumers will transition from gas to electric with greater ease.

EV owners enjoy the fact that they never have to visit a gas station again and no longer have the routine of stop and fill on the way to work. Flexible fueling allows EVs to charge overnight at a residence or a fleet facility and any workplace or location with a charging station. Fuel costs for EVs are much lower than conventional fuels because of the low cost of electricity relative to conventional fuel, not to mention the average EV has a 100 mile per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe).

Aside from owner benefits, EVs do not directly emit any pollutants, improving on local air quality for everyone. Overall EV emissions can be associated with what local electricity is sourced, however homeowner use of solar panels and renewable energy could effectively foster a net zero EV that does not impact the air in any way. Many auto makers have or are working on all electric vehicles as gasoline prices continue to rise and demand for an alternative continues. Several EVs are available throughout the nation, including the Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, Tesla and many more, ranging from high end luxury to sports utility electric vehicles.  Find out more about Electric Vehicles and other alternatives at the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Clean Cities 20th Anniversary!

It’s a celebration! For two decades the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Clean Cities program continues to successfully coordinate government and industry efforts of pursuing alternative fuels, vehicles and strategies to reduce emissions and create a more sustainable transportation system.

In 1993, six regional sponsors across the country received designation as the first set of Clean Cities coalitions, and now after 20 years the program encompasses almost 75% of the United States’ population with about 90 coalitions, including Dallas-Fort Worth since July of 1995. This anniversary celebrates each coalition’s years of work to lower costs and emissions and encourage healthy, eco-friendly practices among a wide array of stakeholders.

These stakeholder projects, fostered by their respective Clean Cities coalition, are altering local and regional transportation impacts, saving more than 5 billion gallons of petroleum, averting more than 5.8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and adding 660,000 alternative-fueled vehicles to the nation’s roadways. Since 2005, the Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities coalition has been able to displace more than 90 million gallons of gas, with no signs of momentum slowing anytime soon. The ongoing efforts of regional coalitions and stakeholders have blossomed over 20 years into nationwide progress toward transforming our transportation system into a more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and socially beneficial aspect of the United States’ infrastructure.

Dump The Pump’s Free Transit Swap

On June 16 – 22, North Texans will have the opportunity to take advantage of local public transit for an entire week, free of charge. The Denton County Transit Authority (DCTA), Dallas Area Rapid Tranist (DART) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) are joining together to provide weekly regional transit passes in exchange for a gas receipt. The T offers bus services in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex as well as a rail services by the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) that links downtown Dallas, DFW Airport and downtown Fort Worth. DART rail services provides transportation around Dallas and connections to twelve surrounding cities, with linking connections to the TRE and eventually a stop at the DFW airport. Bussing and shuttle opportunities in Denton county are supplied by the DCTA, who also accomidates Denton to Dallas commuters with a six stop rail service. All three transportation authorities also provide daily commuter vanpools for those working in the areas.

Using mass transit for Clean Air Action Day can be even easier thanks to Dump the Pump’s free transit swap. Leading up to National Dump the Pump Day on June 20 and Clean Air Action Day on June 21, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) hosted ticket exchanges around the region. North Texans could swap a gasoline receipt for a free regional transit pass valid June 16 – 22. North Texans who made the swap have the opportunity to take advantage of local public transit for an entire week, free of charge. The T offers bus services in Fort Worth and Richland Hills. The T and DART jointly operate the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) that links downtown Dallas, DFW Airport and downtown Fort Worth. DART rail and bus services provide transportation around Dallas and connections to 12 surrounding cities, with linking connections to the TRE. DCTA provides local bus service in Denton, Highland Village and Lewisville, campus shuttles to the University of North Texas and North Central Texas College, and A-train commuter rail service. All three transportation authorities also provide daily commuter vanpools for those working in the areas.

This joint effort is a strategy to encourage more North Texans to give public transit a try as summer begins and recreational activities pop up across the region. The free transit week is set to take place while the National Dump the Pump Day on June 20 continues for its eighth year; a creation of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) to encourage the public to save money by taking advantage of public transit and riding instead of driving. Transportation systems all over the country will celebrate Dump the Pump Day in different ways to get the public involved in easing traffic, lowering emissions and saving money. According to the APTA, North Texas commuters could save up to $9,000 a year by taking public transit over driving to work while also avoiding the stressful issues associated with commuting long distances.

The free weekly regional transit passes can be traded for a gas receipt beginning June 3 at any participating location during certain hours. There are no requirements as far as date of receipt or amount of gas purchased, however participating vendors are only swaping at certain times. North Texans have the opportunity to try something new, save money and participate in National Dump the Pump day, which organizers hope will lead to more commuters considering public transit as an option in the future. Find your nearest ticket swap at: http://www.dcta.net/news-events/dump-the-pump-/menu-id-59.html   http://www.dart.org/news/news.asp?ID=1017 and http://the-t.com/SpecialEvents.aspx#pump

Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker

Attention all environmental policy and legislative followers! Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE)and Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) has recently unveiled a free program to help inform the public on energy and environmental bills taking shape in state and national legislative bodies. The Advanced Energy Legislation (AEL) Tracker is a free online database containing information on various categories of policies moving through congressional houses. These policies include Economic Development, Infrastructure, Electricity Generation, Natural Gas Development, Emissions, Energy Efficiency, Regulatory Schemes, Transportation, Financing and Other Energy. With the category and keyword search engine, the AEL Tracker also provides maps, graphs, trends and in-depth analysis for the various bills and policy proposals.

Piles of bills are proposed on state and national levels every year, making it difficult for most to navigate through. Open States, an online database of the Sunlight Foundation, created to reveal all legislative information to the public for free. This site has been a huge success but can still hinder many from finding specifically targeted proposals within an area of interest. Colorado State University’s CNEE and AEE, a business organization, found that using Open States and individual state websites’ legislative information to narrow down energy and sustainability categories would provide another effective tool, bringing more information options to the public.

Although the database might sound like an intellectual gauntlet, the AEL Tracker is an interactive, user friendly service that any level participant should be able to grasp. The site begins on the “Search Tracker” page, where users are able to designate a state, selection of states or all states (nation wide). After designating location, a policy category, a selection of policy categories or all categories may be highlighted with a keyword option as well. The user may then “Search Bills” and a new page containing a map, graph and summation of bills pertaining to search criteria will reveal. Each bill’s summation (State bill #,  File Year, Title, Policy Category, Primary Sponsors, and Last Update) can also be clicked where a new page will disclose all details and links to the various process and adjustments the bill has undergone. The AEL Tracker also contains a “Maps & Graphs” tab that contains various interactive maps and graphs, a “Trends and Analysis” tab with in-depth information/papers pertaining to data and policy trends.

This resource should prove useful for any individual, business or organization trying to keep up with certain areas of legislation and policy trends. For Green Builders or the US Green Building Council, bills such as “The Green Building Tax Credit Act” (and many others) can be found by simply typing LEED in the “Keywords” box. Organizations similar to the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) could greatly benefit from this tool as well. The Transportation Department of the NCTCOG could utilize the bill results from selecting “Emissions” and “Transportation” under the Texas designation to stay up with on coming bills and trends. Individual researchers, policy wonks or concerned citizens could make use of the site on a vast array of topics. This first of its kind site could spark a new trend of utilizing the internet and data to better inform the public on the status of legislation throughout the country. For more information and to start collecting information visit the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker’s website today.

General Motors’ Great Electric Endeavors

Chevrolet Spark EV

When it comes to Electric Vehicles (EVs), consumers are concerned with two factors that generally fall short to standard gasoline powered automobiles, range and price. Manufacturers and consumers are looking for more fuel efficiency; as technology progresses more EVs and alternative powered vehicles hit the market in an effort to meet these concerns. Right now the Nissan Leaf is touted as the leader in electric vehicle value, but GM/Chevrolet’s unveiling of the Chevy Spark EV with its low price and adequate driving range might soon challenge the allure of the Leaf. For more information: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/24/chevy-spark-ev-undercuts-competitions-charge-times-prices/http://www.treehugger.com/cars/chevrolet-spark-ev-be-priced-27495-lease-starting-199month.html

Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR’s Lighter Engines

It is rumored that General Motors engineers plan on lowering the engines weight in future models of the Volt and the soon to be released Cadillac ELR by decreasing the amount of cylinders from four to three, improving fuel economy and lightening the engine load on the car. Nothing has been approved quite yet, but these improvements will be implemented in 2015 (Volt) and 2016 (ELR) and could have a major effect on the price and fuel efficiency of these models.  In this case “downsizing” will be a very good thing. For more information: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2013/03/chevy-volt-cadillac-elr-may-get-3-cylinder-engine.html

200 Mile Range
General Motor’s CEO, Dan Akerson, revealed that the company is working on an electric car with up to a 200 mile range. Apparently GM is taking the “opportunity to seize the energy high ground”, Akerson explained, and “actually developing a car today which is really anathema to the way the auto industry works: We’re running a dual play on the technology to see which one will succeed. One will result in” a 100-mile range, “the other will be a 200-mile range.” For more information: http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/brandons-blog-cars/2013/mar/27/GM/ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/akerson-says-gm-working-on-200-mile-range-electric-car.html

The endeavors of General Motors are a perfect example of sustainability planning, revealing the benefits to manufacturer, consumer and environment all in one effort. Better late than never, look for other U.S. auto companies to follow GM’s lead in the near future.

Propaganda

So, I am always thinking about propaganda (this blog kind of imitates a personal propaganda machine) and its effects on humanity throughout time and currently: Useful, Harmful, and Beautiful

Propaganda:   the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. OR ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect.

I just wanted to post some past, present and future examples of propaganda below:

mcgill poster elephant imagedont waste foodminn grow poster imageminn insulate image

Most of these are from WWII and apply to issues that we as a nation face today. Modern propaganda posters found below do not appear widespread among the public as those in the past, but have found a home online, which might foster positive, negative or no outcomes whatsoever:

Propaganda Poster - Click link to view original source pagePropaganda Poster - Click link to view original source page

 

 

As you can see, someone has brought back the same type of ideas that we used during WWII, but will it have an affect if these are not distributed and posted in the “real world”? Some have labeled the modern major news networks as the “new” form of propaganda. If this is so, what kind of ideas are these outlets spreading?

Honestly I’d take a positive, productive and sustainability minded poster over a talking head television any day.

Twitterers to Follow

I try not to make this blog to personal, but lately I have noticed that many colleagues of mine do not know where to get new and interesting green news. The major news and even local news are not reporting on much, but online there is a wealth of great information over new green technologies, sciences, endeavors, business practices and policies. I thought I would share 3 sites with great twitter accounts for keeping updated on green and sustainable topics:

TreeHugger.comhttps://twitter.com/TreeHugger or TreeHugger.com is constantly discovering new green information and news that could pique the interest of any discipline. The site and twitter posts include design, technology, living, transportation, energy, science and business articles by a variety of great journalists.

New Scientisthttps://twitter.com/newscientist or http://www.newscientist.com is a great site and twitter account for news and updates over range of scientific topics. Many of these topics cover sustainability issues in a vast of technical and scientific areas. The Tweets of this account are so creative and funny that you cannot help but click on the links.

GOOD https://twitter.com/GOOD or http://www.good.is/everyone is one of my favorite spots and quarterly magazines. I happen to be a subscriber, but before that and daily I run by this site to get updates on social sustainability news. It has great articles and real world initiatives that are empowering communities for sustainable initiatives. Their graphics and symbols are great and add a modern uniformity to the content.

I have always followed these websites and their Tweets have helped me to stay updated more often than not. Check them out and start by following them on Twitter as a sample or just a quick daily fact/anecdote.

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