Friday, January 7, 2011

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Streetcar is Focus of Salt Lake City Mayor’s State of the City Speech

Posted: 07 Jan 2011 04:00 AM PST

I’ve written about streetcars and light rail a little bit lately, but most of my knowledge on the matter I acquired a few years ago when I was director of a clean transportation and sustainable development organization in Virginia. Our organization was closely tied to a potential streetcar project in Charlottesville and I learned a lot about it from books on the subjects, regional and national streetcar workshops, more general transportation conferences, the internet, and, of course, individuals who had much more knowledge than me on them. Anyway, the point is, what I learned overall was that streetcars are a very powerful economic development tool, can help to transform cities, and are much more broadly popular than many other forms of mass transit in the U.S. They improve livability of a city.

Apparently, the mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker, has gotten the memo as well. In his recent State of the City speech, he reportedly spent most of his time talking about the Sugar House streetcar, one of his top 2010 priorities.

“This project reflects — in style and in substance — the goals, values and priorities we have set for our great city,” Becker said during his 17-minute speech at the Salt Lake City-County Building, Deseret News reports. “It exemplifies our continued commitment to move Salt Lake City forward despite challenging economic conditions.”

How the Sugar House Streetcar Project Went Several Times Faster than Projected

Becker, a former city planner, went on to discuss how through pure vision, perseverance, and a slight disregard for what the experts said was possible, Salt Lake City is moving forward on this in a way that many probably (surely, given my experience trying to move such projects forward) did not think possible.

Construction of Salt Lake City’s Sugar House streetcar is expected to begin by the end of the year, and is expected to be in operation as early as 2013. From a 20- to 25-year project estimate to a 5- to 7-year reality, Becker certainly has something to be proud of.

Becker’s next goal is to bring streetcars to downtown Salt Lake City, which it has already started getting federal funding for, recently receiving half a million dollars for this project.

Streetcars, Livability, and Cooperation

“As our work to strengthen partnerships and livability in Salt Lake City continues, our path forward is informed by both our vision for the future and the accomplishments of the past,” the mayor said.

As Ray LaHood has said, such projects are about livability. This is the topic that is making or breaking cities across the country right now and is a key transportation issue. Salt Lake City is on a leading edge with regards to it.

“The Sugar House streetcar won’t be just a transit line,” Becker said. “It will be a wonderful asset in one of our most treasured neighborhoods. … The Sugar House area will be enhanced as a ‘destination neighborhood,’ with bikeways and trails, locally owned eclectic small businesses, restaurants, shops and a wide array of housing options.”

I would also add that the cooperatively-focused nature of the streetcar work in Salt Lake City seems to be a very admirable feature of the project. This is a key component of successful urban planning in a democracy and Salt Lake City has nailed it.

In the end, hopefully other cities will take note of Salt Lake City’s success and do similar work to make it less unique.

Photo Credit: makeslessnoise

Rent Your Own Chevy Volt this Month at a California Enterprise Rent-A-Car!

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 01:04 PM PST

Not only did Chevy deliver the Volt on schedule in December 2010, which they had promised as long ago as at least 2005, but it will be available for rent by the end of this month at the Mark Christopher Auto Center Enterprise Rent-A -Car in Ontario, California, according to Green Car Congress.

According to Enterprise, 90% of the US population lives within 15 miles of one of their offices, and they will be adding more Volts (and Nissan LEAFs too) nationwide over this year, and they have already added charging stations for their Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Monica rental offices.

EV advocates like these guys are beside themselves to get some of the first deliveries, as you can imagine. This moment has been literally decades in the making, and would not have happened without the advocacy of people like these three, who with others like Chelsea Sexton of Who Killed the Electric Car applied tremendous pressure to GM to build the Volt.

“GM did an outstanding job engineering this vehicle, and it shows, inside and out”, raves new owner Ron Gremban of CalCars, the big Californian advocacy group for EVs, pictured on the left.

He, along with fellow EV pioneers Felix Kramer of Plugin America (center) – who tirelessly lobbied congress for the EV incentives that we got in the last energy bill – and educator Dr Andy Frank of UC Davis (right), who showed a generation how easily EVs can be built, are among the first new owners.

“The Volt is arguably the most technologically advanced vehicle on the road today” adds Gremban. “My first impressions are that GM didn’t just build an electric car, it built a flagship. It is all GM representatives have claimed it to be, and more”.

Image: Autoblog Green

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

More on EVs:

As First Volts Hit Showrooms, GM Hires 1,000 EV Engineers
Envision Solar to Debut Solar Powered Volt Charger
First US EV Fast Charger Gets Installed in… Vacaville??

Greenest Consumer Electronics

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 11:34 AM PST

Want to know what the greenest desktop computers, laptops, netbooks, computer monitors, mobile phones, smartphones and televisions are? Greenpeace is helping you out. It has just released its latest green consumer product reviews.

The good news overall is that electronics companies are becoming greener.

"Our survey shows that electronics manufacturers have made demonstrable progress over the past few years by producing products that are free of the worst toxic chemicals, more energy efficient and more easily taken back for reuse or recycling," said Renee Blanchard, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner.

"Major brands are responding to consumer demand for greener gadgets, and we expect them to continue to innovate and make all their products, and not just a niche few, with these higher green standards."

Here are the category leaders from Greenpeace’s findings:

  • Asus VW-247H-HF for computer monitors (7.5 points out of 10 point).
  • Sharp LC-52SE1 television (6.46)
  • Sony Ericcson Aspen smartphone (6.21)
  • Samsung GT-S75550 mobile phone (7.03)
  • Asus UL30A notebook computer (5.59)
  • Acer TM8172 netbook computer (5.08)
  • HP Compaq 6005 Pro Ultra-slim desktop (6.06)

Greenpeace invited 21 companies to participate in this survey, asking them to “submit their greenest products from across seven categories.” 18 of those 21 companies joined the process.

For more, check out: Greenpeace Product Survey Showcases the Greenest Consumer Electronics

Photo Credit: zieak

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