“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.”
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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.