February 16, 2007 – Volume 10, Issue 20
I N · T H I S · I S S U E


Conscious Driving

It may be an oxymoron but this piece is on “conscious driving,” both doing less of it and doing what you need to more efficiently.

Disappointed I was this past week when I read an LA Times article titled, “Drivers are burning a little less gasoline.” Gotta be good, I thought. Due to two years of record high prices, Americans are driving less for the first time in two decades. How much less? 0.4% nationally and 0.6% in California. A pittance.

Shocked I was: The first “good year,” but less than 1% less driving despite overwhelming national security and the climate change impacts facing our nation. Isn’t it necessary to get out of the single digits of change? Compelling cases are being made that we need bigger levels of savings: 5, 10, 25, and 50% and more. Auto makers understand big changes: Chrysler officially joins Ford and GM with record losses, while Toyota and Honda have enjoyed a marked up-tick in sales of hybrids.

But far from rational, long-term decision-making, Americans are responding to prices. Record-high gas prices had a near-immediate effect: Riders on LA Metrolink trains increased more than 6% in 2006. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, bus rider-ship increased 28% when gas topped $3.00 a gallon. There has already been an erosion of this “drive less” trend since prices have fallen. Is price the only thing “driving” our behavior? If so, hold the phone! Pump prices may drop below $2.00. Must we suffer a quick erosion of progress? The average American driver drove 13,700 miles in 2005. How many do you drive?

Next is what you drive and how you drive it. Many EcoMotion members drive hybrids. Our Prius gets 44 – 50 miles per gallon, depending on conditions and who’s driving, continually clarified by an on-board computer and real-time efficiency dashboard display. On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, I got an average 50.3 mpg. This EcoMotion-record mileage was likely due to my “light-foot” driving style -- easy on the accelerations with plenty of time to slow down. Purposeful: Not only gas saving – Chevron estimates 5-10% fuel savings by going 60 mph versus 70-80 – but I’m exercising my option for a less stressful voyage.

The Prius gets more than twice the gas mileage of average vehicles. That’s a 50% efficiency gain from technology. Now add on the behavioral savings of “conscious driving,” a 6 mpg differential adding another 20% savings, a combined progress report of about 60% less fuel than average use. That’s stark contrast to the nation’s paltry 0.4% reduction. Join the team that’s driving less, efficiently, and with a conscience.

New Research Associate: Tiffany Tay

EcoMotion welcomes Tiffany Tay to the team. Tiffany hails from Monterey Park and in addition to acting and music performance, she’s passionate about writing. A recent UCLA graduate in English, Tiffany will be responsible for updating The Results Center case studies of best practices.

She will head up a team that will be searching for results for 126 cases studies, making hundreds of phone calls, and bringing this body of knowledge – involving thousands of the most successful efficiency and green power professionals and programs -- up to date. Concurrently, Tiffany will be digging in and identifying current best practices for new case studies in development.

Feel free to give Tiffany a call at (949) 450-7106 or to send an e-mail to TTay@ecomotion.us with program nominations of best practices with solar power programs, energy efficiency, and carbon mitigation.

Banning Incandescent Light Bulbs?

California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) has proposed legislation that would make California the first state to ban sales of incandescent light bulbs. Levine claims that banning incandescent bulbs and replacing them with compact fluorescent lamps, "saves consumers money, saves the state money and saves energy." The measure is called the “How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb Act."

He explains that, "When a consumer is standing in a store and they're confronted with two different products, they generally opt for the one that is cheaper. The problem is: The other one is cheaper over the long run."

The California Energy Commission estimates that if Californians switched completely to compact fluorescent bulbs, it would avoid the release of 1.8 million metric tons per year, equivalent to shutting down one or two gas-fired power plants. California emits about 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. Commissioner Art Rosenfeld notes that’s banning the bulbs may not be the way to go, but he’s “thrilled that Levine is starting the debate.” Other policy approaches include community outreach, tax credits, and rebates.

“Hey Ted. Have to tell you that this issue of EcoMotion is just terrific and that I will be having my students read this for inspiration! Thank you.”
Jane Meigs, Environmental Studies Millbrook School, New York

Member Story: Heather Merenda, Santa Clarita’s New LEED Gold TMF

“Hey Ted, we got some pretty good coverage for the TMF,” said Heather at the other end of the line. Heather Merenda is the City of Santa Clarita’s Sustainability Planner. Excerpts of the American Institute of Architect’s feature coverage follow. Congratulations Santa Clarita!

The City of Santa Clarita, California, can well be proud of its accomplishments: It now is the home of one of the world’s only Gold LEED®-certified straw-bale buildings. Completed in May 2006, the 12-acre Santa Clarita Transit Maintenance Facility (TMF) includes a 22,000 ft2 administration building, 25,000 ft2 maintenance building, bus wash facility, compressed natural gas fueling island, and publicly accessible CNG fueling station. The $20 million project accommodates more than 150 buses and 160 personnel, exceeding California efficiency standards by more than 40%.

TMF includes skylights and clerestory day-lighting and a well-insulated “cool” roof with deep overhangs for shading (shown during construction in the photo above). It features on-site storm-water collection and treatment, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, and a gray water reclamation system. Other features include an under-floor air system, water-source heat pumps, a courtyard and native plant garden, 25-percent fly-ash paving, and efficient use of local, recycled materials.

It is powered by a sizeable photovoltaic array. The architect created a dual-functioning desert shading and PV structure that allows the 12-acre facility to run its meter backward during times of excess solar production.

Blue and Green Cities from Space

Green roofs? What’s up with that? Are they painted green? No, they are vegetated, in some cases with edible landscapes.

The area of U.S. roofs covered by vegetation has increased more than 80% in the past year according to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. In 2005, green roofs covered at least 2.5 million square feet of roof space in North America, up from 1.3 million square feet in 2004. Cities that incorporate the largest area of green roofs in 2005 include Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and Suitland, Maryland. Toronto’s city council recently approved a policy that requires green roofs and provides financial incentives.

Green roofs are rooftop gardens that provide buildings and occupants with many benefits. They reduce storm water runoff, and thus sewer costs. They insulate against heat and sound. They increase energy savings and improve air quality, trapping dust which aggravates lung problems. They reduce the urban heat island effect, which is caused by dark urban roofs and pavement absorbing the sun's heat. They provide wildlife habitat, and sunlit green spaces high above the noise and dirt of ground-level traffic; all while providing a space for urban food production. The Fairmount Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver has grown herbs, flowers, and vegetables on its accessible roof, saving its kitchen an estimated $30,000 a year in food costs.

Imagine the city of the future from space, being green and blue. From space, travelers will see green rooftops interspersed with blue, solar cells. Some predict that plant growth will become a dominant consideration in the design of cities, and that profuse vegetation will become the most visible difference between the urban forms of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

(Thanks to EcoMotion Intern, Clare Chang, for research on this article.)

CEOs Encourage Mandatory Emissions Caps

For years, big business has cited the high costs of environmental compliance and has therefore sought to block additional regulation. Now a group of big-business executives is telling a Senate panel that the U.S. should take the lead on climate change. The execs are urging Congress for mandatory action, to cap emissions blamed for global warming.

-- Steve Elbert, vice chairman of BP America, testified to rebut arguments that mandatory caps on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases would be bad for business and drive up costs. His coalition members think that there’s money to be made by getting ahead of the curve.

-- Peter Darbee, chairman of the nation's largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, called for the United States to be "at the forefront of addressing global climate change" by approving a mandatory program to reduce greenhouse gases.

-- Charles O. Holliday Jr., chairman and chief executive of DuPont Co., believes that "voluntary efforts alone will not solve the problem."

In related news, Congressman Tom Udall of New Mexico has introduced House Bill 969 that would create a national renewable portfolio standard. It would require utilities nationwide to generate 20% of their electricity from renewables by 2020, amending Title VI of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978. Currently 21 states and the District of Columbia have renewable portfolio standards. In August 2005, Texas doubled its standard, creating the second-largest new renewable energy market in the country.
The Hybrid Buses of New York

EcoMotion Network News V10#19 featured the Los Angeles bus system, and touted it as the nation’s largest clean air fleet. This past week I was in New York, and happened to get a chance to speak to an off-duty MTA bus driver about the hybrid electric he drives day in and day out. He loves it. And he’s proud of it, calling it “smooth, quiet, and clean.”

src="http://www.ecomotion.us/enn/v10/20/188.jpg" width="238" height="179" The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority is the largest public transportation system in the United States.

It operates 4,500 buses on 219 routes, carrying a staggering 2,000,000 New Yorkers every day. In 1998 it launched its hybrid electric bus fleet, a pilot program with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, involving 10 Orion VI hybrid-electric buses. The propulsion system was successful and in 2004 – 2005 MTA added 325 Orion VII buses to the fleet. In addition to New York, thirty cities and other jurisdictions have “fielded” hybrid-electric buses.

Sir Richard Branson’s $25 Million Earth Challenge

New Jersey is in the limelight for its ascent as a solar leader. The State’s solar installations include a 454- kilowatt system at Monmouth University dedicated in mid-November.

The Long Island Power Authority dedicated the 750th residential solar power system on Long Island in early October. LIPA attributes the growth in solar power to its Clean Energy Incentive rebate.

Massachusetts reports on the installation of the largest solar system in New England. A 425-kilowatt system using Schott solar modules was dedicated in Brockton in late October. Brockton also is home to New England's first condominium project that is 100% solar.

With 23,000 solar installations and counting, California continues to lead the nation in solar developments: Among the state's recently completed solar power installations is a 1.14-megawatt system installed by PowerLight Corporation in a development in Rohnert Park (north of San Francisco) and a 910- kilowatt system installed by Chevron Energy Solutions on a U.S. Postal System facility in Oakland.