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Four Billion Reasons to Believe Ford Takes the Environment Seriously

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Ford fusion hybrid wheel by Beth via Flickr

Ford dealers will be carrying a lot more environmentally-friendly vehicles between now and 2020, according the automaker’s most recent press release. In the face of the increased popularity of hybrid vehicles in recent years, along with a decrease in price to manufacture and new technological breakthroughs in battery technology, more and more of Ford’s vehicles are expected to go green.

Ford has indeed come around to the idea of electric vehicles, recently announcing that the company  will be investing $4.5 billion in electrified vehicle technology. By 2020, plans are to introduce thirteen new models of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. This planned increase in their lineup is expected to take the percentage of such vehicles offered by Ford from 13 percent (where it is currently stands) to 40 percent of their portfolio. Ford will also invest heavily in battery research.

New Directions

Ford is said to be taking these steps as a response to increased regulatory pressure by US environmental agencies. Increasingly strict 2025 emission standards are to blame, according to Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader.com.

“We are going to see more and more companies invest in electrified vehicles. [Electrification] is a significant investment, but it’s the way the industry is moving forward.”

California’s zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandates and US federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) rules are the most likely culprits for this ongoing shift.

Ford’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Fields, expects that plug-in hybrids are going to be the fastest-growing type of electric vehicles. Ford plans to expand sales in the face of falling gas prices by educating consumers on the benefits of hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Plug-in hybrids have an often unexpectedly large range, since they are powered by both gasoline and electricity.

Ford has always been dedicated to electrified vehicles. It was the first American car manufacturer to introduce a hybrid vehicle over ten years ago with its first-generation Ford Escape. Since then, it has sold more hybrids than any other company, aside from competitor Toyota.

Nevertheless, this represents a new direction for the company. In a statement, Ford announced that this planned five-year rollout of electrified automobiles will be its largest yet. The company’s dedication to electric vehicles is only expected to increase in coming years. Even though gas prices remain at an unprecedented low, the ever-decreasing prices of batteries, motors, and power electronics will ensure that electrification is here to stay.

New Vehicles

Speculation surrounding the not yet -unannounced new models is running rampant among car enthusiasts. New models are expected to be powered by either a plug-in hybrid electric system (PHEV) or completely by batteries (BEV).

It is rumored that a new model of Ford Fusion might make a 2017 appearance at an upcoming auto show in Detroit. Considering that it is available in two electrified varieties—a hybrid version and an Energi plug-in version—it is likely that these will comprise two of Ford’s new models.

More officially, Ford’s already announced that an updated Ford Focus will hit the market sometime in 2017. The Ford Focus EV is expected to be fully electric. In addition to having DC fast charging technology, it is expected to have a 100-mile driving range. This represents a 33 percent bump in range over its present 76-mile capacity.

Not all the new cars are expected to be sold in the United States. Like the Fusion, Europe’s forthcoming new version of the C-Max is also likely to come in hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid types. It is also expected to be released to the Chinese market soon, along with a Mondeo hybrid.

It’s already been established that Ford has been developing a direct competitor for the Toyota Prius. This dedicated hybrid vehicle will likely make an appearance on Ford’s list as well. Beyond that, Ford has options to introduce the new hybrid or even fully-electric versions of existing vehicles.

Moreover, it is possible that Ford will choose to include the brand new 2017 Lincoln MKZ hybrid in the mix. Arguably Ford could  update the existing Ford Escape with the Fusion’s present hybrid powertrain as a response to Toyota’s new RAV4 hybrid crossover. Or it could also find its way into the next-generation Ford Fiesta. Whatever option Ford chooses, Ford’s commitment to electric vehicles is pretty clear as it aims stay competitive in this emerging niche.

 

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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