Tags >> planning
Oct 14
2009

Sustainable Transportation

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , speaker , planning , events , environment , education , economy , climate change , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

“Cash for Clunkers” wasn’t just a economic boost for the automobile industry, says one of the me who designed it. It was also a tool for reframing consumer’s decision-making.

 

Jack Hidary,  co-founder of SmartTransportation.org and chairman of Americans for Clean Energy.org,  is confident that consumers will come to recognize the economic benefits of owning and driving vehicles that are less dependent on fossil fuels. The greater challenge, he says, is mobilizing business and government to develop the infrastructure that those vehicles will require.

Pointing to his experience in shaping the “Cash for Clunkers” program, Hidary cites three key procedural steps they had to address to win the institutional support necessary for that program to happen.

 

Jack Hidary will be among the featured speakers at the annual Bioneers conference in San Rafael, beginning on Friday. To explore the  Bioneers 2009 Conference program click here.

Oct 06
2009

The SSU Foundation

Posted by Bruce Robinson in students , Sonoma County , Rohnert Park , research , planning , nonprofit orgs , news , legislation , government , finances , education , budget

Bruce Robinson

The closely guarded internal financial workings of the Sonoma State Academic Foundation may be about to see the light of public review.

Robert Karlsrud, dean emeritus of the SSU School of Social Sciences, is concerned that the administration of the Sonoma State University Academic Foundation is concentrated in just a few top officials at the school, and particularly that the finances of the campus and its foundation are directed by the same individual:  Laurence Furukawa-Schleret, SSU's Vice President for Administration & Finance and Chief Financial Officer.

The high priority given to fund-raising for the construction of the Green Music Center by the Arminana administration has rankled many on campus, especially as the cost of the structure sopared to $120 million. The partially completed building, seen here earlier in the construction process, still needs around $20 million to be finished, and even then, says Karlsrud, it may be a fiscal drai for many years to follow.

SB 218, by San Francisco State Senator Leeland Yee, was prompted in part by the public disclosure of the SSU Foundation’s loans to a former board member. The bill has passed the state legislature and is now awaiting the governor’s signature to become law.  Dean Karlsrud says the campus community is also waiting to see if the measure has any real teeth.

Karlsrud's detailed critique of the Foundation's fiscal operations was published online by the  Empire Report.

 

Oct 01
2009

The Greening of Greensburg

Posted by Bruce Robinson in weather , teens , speaker , solar , planning , housing , government , farms , families , environment , design , construction , community , climate change , carbon , business , alternative energy , activism

Bruce Robinson

Just two years after being leveled by a tornado, Greensburg, a tiny town in the middle of Kansas has become a model for green rebuilding.

Nearly 95% of the town's homes and other buildings were destroyed by the storm, as seen in this photo, taken a week after the tornado hit.

The green rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas cannot be attributed to an unlikely enclave of progressive thinkers in the American heartland. Rather, says Daniel Wallach, (right) founder and Executive Director of Greensburg GreenTown, the fact this has happened in a small, deeply conservative town makes it even more significant.

FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) was quick to respond to the Kansas tornado that flattened Greensburg, in part to improve their public profile after the Gulf Coast hurricanes. But Wallach says the agency had to be persuaded at length to buy into the green vision that the community shared.

There's an extensive photo gallery of the damange caused by the tornado and the new buildings that have emerged in its wake on one page of the Greensberg GreenTown website. Another page hosts their design competition for eco-friendly homes. "The Chain of Eco-Homes"  has attracted 150 entries, which can be viewed and voted for online. The winnign design will be built as part of the town's ongoing effort to promote itself as "a living science museum" on green consrtruction and muncipal planning.

Sep 15
2009

Sonoma Coast Wave Power

Posted by Bruce Robinson in West County , weather , water , technology , Sonoma County , resources , planning , ocean , fish , environment , design , conservation , community , coast , climate change , California , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

Wave power off the Sonoma County coast is a potentially carbon-free source of electricity, but it faces big questions about environmental impacts and economic viability.

You can read more about the project on the Water Agency's website.The image at right shows one prototype of a low-profile generator which could be deployed in an array of dozens of individual units, as illustrated below, to power a sizable area.

The Sonoma County Water Agency's first informational meeting about the wave power studies was held in Gualala on September 9th. Most of the people there, reports Richard Charter, knew nothing about the project before that meeting.


Two other study projects on the Northern California coast have received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), both issued before the Sonoma County Water Agency's application was approved. Cordell Stillman (left with Water Agency boss Randy Poole) says both sites were sought by PG&E, but other than that, they are quite different in status and approach.

While the entire concept of wave-generated electricity is in its very earliest stages, Richard Charter  (left) observes that it holds some benefits from an environmental perspective, but it is hardly a clear or easy solution to meeting future power needs.

 

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