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Developing Greener Parking Spaces: The Next Step in Transportation

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IMG_4568 by Karim D. Ghantous via Flickr

Parking is a major problem in urban areas, both in terms of space and for environmental reasons. That’s why sustainable city development is dependent on our ability to come up with innovative parking solutions; and while it would be preferable to improve public transit infrastructure, general resistance to public buses and trains continue to make this feasible as a single solution.

In order to reduce the impact of cars on urban environments, it’s important to develop alternative technologies that can minimise the detrimental nature of typical garages and lots. These four solutions are the first steps towards cities where parking doesn’t dominate the landscape, but becomes an active contributor to the surrounding environment.

Shape Shifting

Many cities waste too much space on parking because they’re overly generous when creating spaces – not in the sense that there are too many spaces, but rather because they allot too much width for each spot. While some spots of course need to contain an SUV or other large vehicle, only some of the cars on the road are that large. Designing every spot as though it needs to hold a Hummer is unrealistic and a waste of space.

Instead, cities should provide a distribution of differently sized spaces based on local automotive trends. Programs like Park Assist can also help reduce overbuilding by using a sensor system to track parking occupancy. With this kind of data, garages can revamp their space construction, fitting more vehicles into a smaller area. When we know more about how drivers utilise urban parking, we’re better able to design efficient parking environments.

Room to Refuel

Parking when driving cars fuelled by traditional gasoline will always be associated with pollution and poor air quality, but electric cars have the potential to reduce this type of harm. The biggest problem with getting urban drivers to use electric cars, however, is that many are unsure about how much access to charging facilities they’ll have. With no clear place to plug in their car, urban drivers stick to traditional vehicles.

When parking garages introduce charging facilities, they also create a particular kind of consumer appeal, broadening their audience to a set of drivers who are currently offered few options. And for drivers who haven’t yet adopted an electric car, but have been considering it, this may be just the push they need.

The Car Sharing Revolution

If parking area owners offered more electric car charging locations, they also could potentially be at the forefront of the smart car industry. Self-driving automobiles equipped with sensors are typically electric cars, and they may be the key to greater vehicle sharing down the road as the technology develops. This could reduce the number of cars cluttering cities while not in use. Since cars spend 95% of their time parked, vehicle sharing could cut the number of vehicles needed dramatically.

An Over-Building Epidemic

Ultimately, one of the biggest problems cities face in terms of parking is that private property owners have discovered just how lucrative owning a garage or similar business can be. Parking rates are high and to maximise profits, many garage owners believe they should have a maximum number of spaces on offer, whether that means in a flat lot or a multi-level garage structure. Where there are spots, there’s also a source of revenue.

What many of these property owners don’t realise is that by trying to maximise profits in one sector, they may be increasing them in a less visible way through erosion. Paving in cities increases the rate of storm runoff and causes topsoil and shallow-rooted plants to be pushed out. This can deplete the water table, since the water can’t get back into the ground through the asphalt, and all of the rainwater will need to be managed. Paving with permeable materials is an easy solution to a runaway problem.

Next time you’re in a city, look around for garages and parking lots and try to make an assessment of how populated they are. Do you see a lot of empty spaces or a new garage going up just opposite an already existing one? These are all indicators that the area isn’t being put to good use. When we stop thinking about the lack of street parking in cities and recognise the overabundance of other parking areas, we can start reshaping our expectations about valuable urban land use.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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