GM’s electric delivery foray, plus other mobility trends headlining CES

January 13, 2021 by  
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GM’s electric delivery foray, plus other mobility trends headlining CES Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/13/2021 – 01:30 For the first time in its 54-year history, the world’s largest tech show — the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) — kicked off this week as an all-virtual event, cramming a week of keynotes, press conferences and over 1,000 exhibitor booths onto the screens of our laptops and from the comfort of our homes.  As a recovering tech reporter, who for years traversed the football field-sized ballrooms in Las Vegas to check out the latest and weirdest gadgets, I, for one, am glad not to be stuck in the scene of long taxi lines, awkward parties and rampant consumerism.  But virtual or not, CES continues to highlight what some of the biggest tech and retail companies in the world are prioritizing and building. And in recent years it has emerged as a place for automotive and mobility companies to make announcements, launch products and get attention. 2021 was no different in that respect.  Here are five mobility tech themes from the show to keep an eye on this year: Electric delivery:  The biggest mobility newsmaker from the show was General Motors , whose CEO, Mary Barra, delivered an hour-long keynote (check out our list of 20 C-suite sustainability champions such as Barra). GM announced it’s launching a new business unit called BrightDrop that will seek to electrify the goods delivery market. GM showed off images of an electric delivery vehicle called the EV600, as well as a pallet system called the EP1. FedEx Express announced it will be the first customer of BrightDrop. It will be the first company to receive the EV600s, which will have a 250-mile range, can carry 200 pounds of payload and will have 23 cubic feet of cargo space. GM’s logistics news comes amidst a massive growth in e-commerce during the pandemic. A couple of months ago, Ford, too, announced it plans to launch an electric delivery vehicle called the e-Transit, based on its popular Transit commercial vehicle.  GM is making a huge $27 billion push to electrify its product lines. GM also showed off a new electric Cadillac luxury vehicle and more details about its next-gen battery technology.  Of course, GM wasn’t the only automotive player that emphasized the electric transition at CES. Panasonic touted a new battery containing less than 5 percent cobalt that it’s working on, while LG and auto parts maker Magna provided more details of their joint venture to sell electric vehicle power trains. Mercedes-Benz showed off a sleek curved vehicle screen that will debut in one of its luxury electric vehicles.  The state of autonomous:  Due to the ever-present hype cycle and over-ambitious promises, autonomous vehicles have under-delivered on expectations. But make no mistake, they’re just around the corner. The CEO of Mobileye (owned by Intel), Amnon Shashua, did a long-ranging interview about the state of AVs, predicting robotaxis will be the first commercial application for true AVs, followed by consumer vehicles in 2025.  The commercial sector is already tapping into autonomous tech for business. Caterpillar highlighted at CES how it’s using autonomous vehicles in its mining vehicles on a mining site to save customers’ money and time.  Decarbonizing systems:  Sustainability doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with a huge convention hawking the latest ephemeral gadgets. But auto parts company Bosch used the digital CES to tout that the company has gone carbon-neutral this year, and now plans to go carbon-neutral across its supply chain, a particularly more difficult task. GM, likewise, emphasized the climate aspect of its electrification commitments. Data-driven user experience design: CES has long been the place for companies to emphasize their design and data-driven work on consumer experience and personalized experiences, whether that’s in-vehicle systems, gaming headsets or mobile screens. Of particular interest to Transport Weekly readers will be that a handful of companies such as Mercedes-Benz , Panasonic Automotive , mapping company HERE and Bosch also highlighted how data and design can be used to make the electric vehicle driving and charging experience better. 5G for connected cities:  The telcos always use CES to try to create buzz around their latest network investments. And a digital 2021 CES was no different. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg delivered a keynote that listed a series of new applications and experiences that 5G could help deliver. One of the most interesting was increased connectivity in cities that could lead to things such as reduced traffic. Meanwhile, UPS and Verizon announced that the companies are collaborating on testing drone delivery using 5G to a retirement community in Florida.  Beyond mobility trends, CES touted two major things you’d expect in a pandemic. First, technologies that make being stuck in your home easier, more fun and more comfortable. Think bigger screens, home robots, faster WiFi. Second: tools that can protect your health, such as over-engineered connected masks and air purifiers.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Autonomous Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off General Motors has created a new commercial business unit, called BrightDrop, with new electric vehicles to help businesses deliver goods efficiently. Courtesy of General Motors Close Authorship

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GM’s electric delivery foray, plus other mobility trends headlining CES

Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021 Mike De Socio Mon, 01/04/2021 – 02:00 Last year, a number of automakers announced or advanced ambitious plans to electrify heavy-duty big rigs, semi-trucks, box trucks, delivery vans and more. That article was one of GreenBiz’s most popular stories throughout the year. And the demand and interest in this technology is only growing stronger. Given that trucks consume the vast majority of energy compared to other modes of freight transportation, electrification in this area has huge potential to decrease the carbon impact of fleets. These new vehicles are quickly bumping up against familiar challenges of battery range, production capacity and charging, or fueling, infrastructure. That’s one reason a group of fleet leaders who spoke at the GreenBiz VERGE 20 conference late last year said they’re integrating renewable natural gas and other efficiency improvements alongside a long-term push to electrify. The transition is also proving to require a team effort that goes far beyond the vehicle manufacturers — and involving governments, utilities and a new ecosystem of technicians to go along with it. Nonetheless, the transition accelerated in 2020 as more mammoth automakers pushed electric trucking fleets closer to reality. Here’s a look at what nine big-name players accomplished over the past 12 months, and what to keep an eye on in 2021. Arrival Arrival, a five-year-old London-based startup, is establishing a presence in the U.S. and attracting major investments for its electric buses and vans still in development. The company closed out 2020 by investing $3 million and hiring 150 employees for its North American headquarters in Charlotte , North Carolina. But the bigger news for Arrival came earlier in the year, when UPS announced an order of 10,000 purpose-built electric vans, to be delivered through 2024. The deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Arrival. The upstart is hoping to distinguish itself in the electric vehicle market in two major ways. First, and perhaps most crucially, it plans to price its vehicles at the same or lower prices as comparable fossil-fuel vehicles. This will be achieved partially by using a patented, composite material the company has developed. Second, Arrival is building its vehicles in a network of “microfactories,” the first of which is in South Carolina . The smaller factories use a new type of assembly process and could allow the company to more easily customize vehicles for different customers . Each microfactory will be able to produce 10,000 vans or 1,000 buses per year, Arrival President Avinash Rugoobur told the Observer. Arrival still has yet to specify the range specifications for its vans, but it’s expected to be at least 100 miles . The composite material promises to make the vans lightweight and resistant to damage, another potential edge for Arrival over other van designs emerging in the market. The vans are expected to start rolling out for delivery in 2022. BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the U.S in early 2020. Photo courtesy of BYD BYD BYD is well-known for its electric buses, which continue to sell to fleets around the country. But the company’s trucking division is ramping up production of medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks, too. BYD is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, and its models include a Class 8 Day Cab, a Class 6 truck, a terminal tractor and two models of all-electric refuse trucks . BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the U.S in early 2020, a Class 8 model for Anheuser-Busch’s distribution operations in Oakland, California. It’s a relationship that’s likely to continue as Anheuser-Busch has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent across its entire value chain by 2025. BYD’s Class 8 has a range of 125 miles and a top speed of 65 miles per hour. It can recharge in as little as two hours with a high-speed direct current system or in about 14 hours with a standard 240-volt charging system. Global shipping provider DHL also began piloting BYD’s Class 8 trucks in November, adding four vehicles to its fleet in Los Angeles. That easily could grow as DHL works to meet a goal of net-zero logistics-related emissions by 2050. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand unveiled a new electric model in 2020, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. Photo courtesy of Daimler Daimler Trucks Daimler, the largest truck maker in the world, is seeing significant progress on its Freightliner eCascadia, an electric big rig that promises a 250-mile range. The German automaker recently delivered a Freightliner eCascadia to Southern California Edison (SCE) for a three-month trial of the battery-electric Class 8 truck. The power utility company will use the eCascadia to transport heavy equipment from its warehouse to service centers. It fits in with SCE’s goal to electrify 30 percent of its medium-duty vehicles and pickup trucks and 8 percent of its heavy-duty trucks by 2030. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand also unveiled a new electric model this year, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. It builds on the company’s existing short-range eActros truck that is already being tested by customers. The eActros LongHaul promises a 310-mile range, and Daimler predicts it will be ready for production by 2024 . Alongside the eActros LongHaul, Daimler also announced an electric-fuel cell truck called the Mercedes-Benz GenH2, which it says could drive more than 600 miles before refueling is needed. Daimler expects to start piloting the truck in 2023 and making it commercially available by 2025. Ford is promising that the E-Transit van will be available starting in late 2021. Photo courtesy of Ford Ford American auto giant Ford jumped into a new sector of the electric vehicle market in 2020 with plans to develop an all-electric version of its popular Transit cargo van. Ford is promising that the E-Transit van will be available starting in late 2021. The vehicle is expected to cost “less than $45,000” and will have a range of 126 miles. Ford sells 150,000 of its traditional E-Transit vans each year. Research from the company’s internal data says the average Transit user drives 74 miles per day, well within the projected range of the electric version of the vehicle. Ford’s ambitious production timeline is backed by a $100 million investment to retrofit a Kansas City plant that is already making the diesel-powered Transit. Ford says production of the E-Transit also will create 150 jobs. Across the company, Ford’s investment in electrifying vehicles through 2022 totals $11.5 billion. New models include the Mustang Mach-E and an electric version of its Ford F-150, America’s most popular pickup truck. NIkola Motors went public in June . Photo courtesy of Nikola Nikola Motors Phoenix-based startup Nikola Motors made a big step toward rolling out its electric semi-trucks this year. The company announced over the summer plans for a $600 million factory in Arizona, where it wants to begin making fully electric trucks in 2021 and hydrogen fuel-cell models by 2023. The plans came shortly after the company went public in June , marking a year of significant growth for the lesser-known auto company named after Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor who created electric motors. The company’s models include two semi-trucks available with either fully electric or hydrogen fuel-cell electric capabilities, and anticipated ranges between 500 and 700 miles. The Nikola Two is intended for North America, and the Nikola Tre is available in Europe, Asia and Australia. Creating the infrastructure to refuel tens of thousands of hydrogen-powered big rigs that Nikola plans to put on the road will require a huge investment. The company plans to build a nationwide network of 700 hydrogen stations in the U.S. by 2028, potentially with help from BP . (To put that into perspective, there are about 400 hydrogen fueling stations worldwide .) The company plans to power each refueling station with renewable sources such as wind and solar. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes to refill one of its semi-trucks. The interior of an Amazon Rivian van. Photo courtesy of Amazon Rivian Rivian spent much of 2020 racing to fill what is by any measure a huge order: 100,000 all-electric delivery vans designed for e-commerce giant Amazon. The company is building out a factory line for the vans in its Normal, Illinois, facility. A prototype is already being tested, and Rivian expects to deliver the first vans to Amazon during the second half of 2021, according to a company spokesperson. Rivian’s agreement with Amazon promises 10,000 vans by the end of 2022 and 100,000 by 2030. The vans will be built in three sizes and are part of Amazon’s strategy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Ross Rachey, director of global fleet and product logistics for Amazon, spoke with GreenBiz Senior Writer Katie Fehrenbacher during a session at VERGE 20 . He said that in addition to the tall order Amazon gave to Rivian, another steep challenge will be the infrastructure needed to support the fleet. “The reality is that charging infrastructure, electricity and utility connections — it’s the longest lead, probably the most challenging part of this equation,” Rachey told GreenBiz. Tesla’s electric semi-truck isn’t fully commercial, but it’s changing the dialogue about electric fleets. Photo courtesy of Tesla Tesla Tesla has been teasing its entrance into the heavy-duty transportation sector for years, ever since it unveiled plans for the Tesla Semi in 2017. But production timelines have been pushed back over and over again, with the company now projecting a 2021 start date . Tesla nonetheless continues to receive large orders for the long-promised Tesla Semi electric Class-8 truck, including Walmart’s 130-truck reservation in September . Other big-name companies such as Anheuser-Busch, FedEx, PepsiCo and UPS also have expressed interest but have yet to put down the $20,000-per-truck reservation fees. The Tesla Semis will come in two models : one with a 300-mile range and one with a 500-mile range. According to the company, the expected base prices for those trucks are $150,000 and $180,000, respectively. (A typical Class 8 diesel day-cab starts at roughly $120,000.) Tesla says the Semi will accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph in 20 seconds while carrying a full load (roughly 40 tons); it will be able to maintain that speed while traveling up a 5 percent grade, according to the company. As the delays in Tesla Semi production have piled up, some analysts believe the big rig has become a “distraction” and fundamentally different business from Tesla’s electric passenger vehicles. The VNR Electric has a 150-mile range, with speeds up to 65 mph on the highway. Photo courtesy of Volvo Volvo Volvo Trucks brought its zero-emission truck, the VNR Electric, to market just as 2020 came to a close . The VNR Electric has a 150-mile range, with speeds up to 65 mph on the highway. An 80 percent charge for the vehicle takes 70 minutes, Volvo says. The truck comes in three models: A straight truck; a 4×2 tractor; and a 6×2 tractor. Volvo invested $400 million into its New River Valley, Virginia, factory to assemble the trucks, which first rolled out in Southern California in 2019. VNR Electric comes out of Volvo’s broader Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS), itself part of California Climate Investments. The statewide program puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Volvo company statement. Volvo has said it will offer the trucks for lease or sale, and also will lease and finance charging infrastructure to go along with them. Volvo Trucks is also in the early stages of introducing a hydrogen fuel-cell truck in a partnership with Daimler . Volvo Trucks CEO Martin Lundstedt said the COVID-19 crisis was a motivating factor for the company to increase its focus in this area, according to Forbes . Workhorse made headlines in July 2020 when it announced that Ryder System would be offering the C-Series vans through its leasing and rental programs. Photo courtesy of Workhorse Workhorse An electric truck startup out of Cincinnati, Workhorse is making progress on its C-Series all-electric delivery van, with big orders arriving in 2020. The company received a purchase order for 500 of its all-electric C-1000 delivery vehicles from Pritchard Companies in November. Pritchard is one of the nation’s largest commercial vehicle distributors, selling over 30,000 vehicles each year. Workhorse also made headlines in July when it announced that Ryder System would offer the C-Series vans through its leasing and rental programs. The C-1000 Workhorse electric van includes 1,000 cubic feet of cargo space , with about 100 miles of range. The vehicle can reach top speeds of 75 mph. As Workhorse heads into 2021 with a big stack of orders, it remains to be seen whether it can deliver on production. Automotive World reported in November that the company’s factory was struggling with short staffing amid a resurgent COVID-19 outbreak in Ohio. Workhorse’s fate also depends on whether it lands a piece of a $6.3 billion United States Postal Service contract to produce 186,000 mail trucks in the coming years. Workhorse’s stock fell 21 percent on the USPS announcement that it would not choose a contractor as originally planned near the end of 2020. A decision is expected in the second quarter of 2021. Four teams are competing for the USPS contract: India’s Mahindra Automotive North America; Turkey’s Karsan/Michigan’s Morgan Olson; American companies Oshkosh/Ford; and Workhorse. Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Clean Fleets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Arrival scored a big deal with UPS early in 2020. Photo courtesy of Arrival

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This is the moment to reimagine public transportation

September 29, 2020 by  
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This is the moment to reimagine public transportation Amanda Eaken Tue, 09/29/2020 – 00:21 Back in April, the city of Seattle temporarily closed off nearly 20 miles of streets to most vehicular traffic in order to let residents bike, walk, jog and skate at a safe social distance during the height of the city’s COVID-19 pandemic. Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets program was designed to encourage people to travel to essential services and small local businesses — or just to get outside for exercise or fun — at a time when many people felt anxious about doing so. While wildfires ravaging the West Coast and smoke clouding the air across Seattle create yet another barrier to getting outside, these hazy skies also underscore the importance of defending our air quality, right now and for years to come. Then, in early May, something unexpected happened: the temporary closure of these streets became permanent . Mayor Jenny Durkan — one of 25 mayors nationwide participating in the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge  — announced that the program’s popularity and success had convinced her to extend it beyond the end of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order. In explaining the rationale for the decision, the head of Seattle’s Department of Transportation described the impact of Stay Healthy Streets as “transformative,” adding that it had revealed a need “to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city.”  If governments are serious about listening and responding to the needs of communities of color, they’ll make the improvement and expansion of our transit systems a top priority. These days, as wildfires ravage the West Coast and smoke clouds Seattle’s air, residents face yet another barrier to getting outside. These toxic, hazy skies underscore the importance of defending our air quality, right now and for years to come. And we’re not starting from scratch: For years, Seattle’s transportation department and others in city leadership have been working to reduce the health-harming pollution from cars, trucks and other sources. Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets program is the latest in those efforts: In addition to being safe places to walk and ride, these streets are free of polluting cars. Beyond Seattle and wildfires in the west, the COVID-19 crisis has compelled cities all over the world to reconsider — and, in many cases, to reimagine — their previously held ideas about our transportation systems. First and foremost, it has forced them to acknowledge that bus drivers, subway conductors and other mass-transit personnel are essential workers , every bit as crucial to the continued functioning of society as the people who work at our hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies. Indeed, in New York City, public transportation is how most essential workers have been getting to their jobs during the pandemic. And for millions of residents who don’t have access to a car, including a disproportionate number of low-income people and people of color, it’s their primary means of getting around, pandemic or no pandemic. But our current crisis has forced us to admit something else, too: Transportation policy isn’t just about getting people from point A to point B. Rather, it’s inextricably connected to public health, racial and economic justice, climate action and civil society in ways that haven’t always been fully acknowledged, but that are becoming clearer every day. One surprising example? In San Francisco, a professional cellist gave impromptu performances from his doorstep, creating a magical experience for neighbors and people walking by — an experience that was only audible due to the reduction in car traffic.  Seattle’s decision to turn its streets into pedestrian- and bike-friendly zones is just one example of how cities are recognizing that transportation is about regional accessibility just as much if not more than mobility. In doing so, they’re putting themselves on a path towards a healthier, more equitable future. Here are three ways we can reimagine our city transportation systems.  1. Streets aren’t just for cars  Seattle was just one of many cities around the world to open up its streets as it (mostly) closed down for everyday business. From megacities such as London , Paris , and New York to Climate Challenge participants such as Austin and San Jose , officials have discovered the many and compounding benefits that come from redefining thoroughfares to promote walking, cycling and other emissions-free forms of transportation. Adding safe places to walk and bike to our urban landscapes invites people out of their automobiles, resulting in cleaner air and fewer planet-warming greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. But it does more than that: It improves public health by promoting exercise, and fosters community by beautifying our neighborhoods and making people excited to get out of the house and be around one another (while still practicing social distancing and mask-wearing, of course!). It also addresses inequities inherent in public safety: People of color and members of underserved communities are more likely to become victims of automobile traffic violence. In addition, “slow streets” programs in many cities are helping residents rethink what streets are for.  2. Our public transit infrastructure needs — and deserves — investment For decades, America’s public transit systems have languished in the shadow of a $98 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and replacement. These are the very same public transit systems that kept some of our biggest cities from collapsing entirely during the height of the COVID-19 crisis by transporting essential workers to their jobs and allowing people without access to a car to visit their doctors, buy food and obtain medicine. While we’re lauding efforts by cities to get more people moving around on foot or bicycles, we also should be pressuring local, state and national leaders to fill this backlog and update our mass transit infrastructure. And we need to be clear that “updating,” in this instance, doesn’t simply mean replacing the hardware — installing new tracks or buying new buses. Public officials must make investments that prioritize the needs of riders most affected by this crisis by reimagining public safety and promoting public health, affordable housing and economic opportunity in historically marginalized communities. COVID and post-COVID recovery plans need to make this a priority, and the congressional champions of infrastructure bills such as the INVEST in America Act and the Moving Forward Act need to fight hard for adequate funding and a holistic, equitable approach to spending. Which brings us to:  3. Access to safe, effective transit is very much a racial justice issue  Recent incidents of police brutality against people of color, and the mass protests that have occurred in their wake, have led to a long-overdue national discussion of how systemic racism and the legacy of white supremacy continue to permeate our public policy. For many Black and brown residents, transportation already means public transportation: the buses; subways; and light-rail lines on which they rely daily for getting to work, school or essential services. When we neglect these systems, we’re neglecting these communities and in our common humanity, neglecting ourselves. Any efforts to remedy and redress the inequities borne of institutional racism are incomplete if they don’t acknowledge that mobility is a right, and that hampering people’s mobility — be it direct through poor planning, gentrification, redlining or underfunding or indirect through an act of omission — is an unacceptable violation of that right. If governments are serious about listening and responding to the needs of communities of color, they’ll make the improvement and expansion of our transit systems a top priority. We’re living through several pivotal moments in American history at once. In responding to the simultaneous crises we currently face, we have a responsibility to not just return to the status quo, but to boldly and intentionally improve public health, racial equity and climate resiliency. Reimagining our transportation systems is the critical first step to shaping a more just future.  Pull Quote If governments are serious about listening and responding to the needs of communities of color, they’ll make the improvement and expansion of our transit systems a top priority. Topics Transportation & Mobility Equity & Inclusion NRDC Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off In May, some closures that started with Seattle Healthy Streets became permanent. Shutterstock VDB Photos Close Authorship

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This is the moment to reimagine public transportation

The Ray integrates plants and pollinators along I-85

September 1, 2020 by  
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Along The Ray, an 18-mile stretch of I-85 that starts at the Georgia and Alabama state line, cars and trucks race by roadside meadows, where pollinators are buzzing along the vibrant wildflowers. A new University of Georgia thesis documents two efforts to better integrate grasses and wildflowers into a transit ecosystem. Matthew Quirey, the thesis’ author, recently earned his Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Georgia College of Environment & Design. His ongoing work focuses on the country’s first attempt to cultivate Kernza, a perennial wheatgrass, on an interstate roadway. He also studied the cultivation of meadows full of tall native grasses and wildflowers that bloom all year. His data is from 2018-2019. Related: This all-weather bicycle highway could fulfill the dreams of bike commuters everywhere “Most people think that the purpose of these wildflowers is just for beauty,” Quirey said. “But we’re seeing that they create some real roadside management benefits, if we can help them establish good root systems and strength. Erosion can be a big problem along Georgia’s interstates and highways, and wildflower meadows could help stabilize the soils in the right-of-way.” Quirey also sees potential for the wildflowers to benefit bees and other pollinators. In recognition of his valuable work, Quirey has been named The Ray’s landscape design and research fellow. Researchers are also studying the potential of wildflower meadows as carbon offsets . The right-of-way meadows are efficient and cost-effective, because perennials don’t require annual replanting. “We always envisioned more wildflowers on the roadsides of The Ray,” said Harriet Langford, founder and president of The Ray. “What we have actually been able to do with Georgia DOT and UGA is so much more. Higher-growing meadows planted on roadsides can work harder for us. They can provide food and habitat for pollinators and meadows can control storm water that rushes off the highway during heavy rain. Our work will help Georgia DOT and all state DOTs cultivate native wildflower and grass meadows across the state.” The Ray has also installed or experimented with many new technologies, including a roll-over tire check station that sends inflation information to drivers, a section of pavement that generates solar power when heavy vehicles drive over it, reusing scrap tires as road material and creating a vehicle-to-vehicle data ecosystem. The highway is named after Ray C. Anderson (1934-2011), a Georgia native and green business pioneer, in 2014. + The Ray Images via The Ray

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Wisconsin’s hidden eco-wellness hotspot

March 24, 2020 by  
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Madison,  Wisconsin  is defined by water. It’s only one of two cities in the US built on an isthmus (the other is Seattle), and it has five lakes. The population of just over a quarter million is overwhelmingly young and educated, thanks to the massive University of Wisconsin. Mad City is one of the Midwest’s more progressive places and regularly features on “best of” lists. But you have to be tough to live here. Winter temperatures regularly dive below freezing, while summer temperatures often top 90 degrees. Outdoor activities in Madison Madison’s outdoor recreation revolves around its lakes. If you like kayaking , stand up paddleboarding or water skiing, you’re in luck. This is also a place to try more extreme water sports, such as wakeboarding, kiteboarding and flyboarding (where water can propel you almost 50 feet in the air). Those who are looking for something more contemplative will enjoy a trip to  Olbrich Botanical Garden . The 16 acres look their best in spring and summer, but even in winter you can enjoy orchids blooming in the sun-filled glass Bolz Conservatory. The garden’s 30-foot high Thai pavilion was a gift from the Thai royal family. The red lacquer and gold leaf structure was built in  Thailand , shipped by sea, rail and truck to Madison, then reassembled by Thai artisans without using screws or nails. At the  UW Madison Arboretum , you can meander through woodlands, wetlands, savannas and restored prairies on more than 17 miles of  trails . You can also see rare effigy mounds built more than 1,000 years ago. The arboretum features events like fungi workshops and expert-led nature walks. In the winter, it’s a popular place to snowshoe and cross-country ski. Wellness in Madison The Garver Feed Mill building is the latest wellness star in the Madison scene. After the US  Sugar  Company constructed this brick behemoth in 1906 for beet sugar processing, it became known as the Sugar Castle because of its dramatic arched gothic windows. Later it was a factory for formulating livestock feed, before sitting derelict for a couple of decades. But just last November, it reopened as a spectacularly popular event space, site of the farmers’ market during winter, and home of wellness providers and artisan food makers. The whole building is gorgeous, with lots of exposed brick walls, big windows and chandeliers. For the perfect wellness-focused day at Garver, take a class at  Perennial Yoga , eat a healthy meal at plant-based Surya Café, then visit  Kosa Wellness Spa & Retreat  to relax in the steam room and sauna or to get an Ayurvedic treatment.  “Something society doesn’t afford us is quiet and space,” said owner Shilpa Sankaran, who aspires to provide Madison with just that. “Where do you hear your own voice? That’s where the remedy lives, in our own knowing.” She sources most of her spa products from Wisconsin and has a special interest in supporting women in business. Women in  India  who have escaped sex trafficking manufacture the spa’s robes. I especially liked how they left some of the more attractive graffiti in place on the treatment room walls from the years that squatters filled the building. If art uplifts you, the  Chazen Museum of Art  on the UW campus houses lots of work by famous artists, including Miro, Picasso, and Louise Nevelson, plus interesting installations by UW art faculty. This big  museum  is free and well worth visiting. Dining out in Madison Madison is an easy town for vegetarians and  vegans . The  Green Owl Café , Madison’s first all-veg restaurant, is a cheerful and comfortable hangout spot for bowls, veggie burgers, vegan wings and vegan desserts like lava cake and coconut cream pie.  Surya Cafe , in the Garver Feed Mill, features more adventurous — some might say startling — combinations, such as a curried cauliflower waffle with maple-cumin kale and mango jalapeno sauce. Himal Chuli serves Nepali food, with several veggie and tofu-based options. The roti is so excellent I ordered a second serving.  Ian’s Pizza has several locations and is one of my favorite Madison eateries. You can custom order a gigantic salad with more than 40 mix-in options, and they often have vegan slices. For vegan dessert, don’t miss  Bloom Bake Shop . This bakery has a whole case of vegan cupcakes. Public transit Since Madison is largely a college town, you’ll find lots of public transportation and  bikes . It’s known as an extremely bikable city, so if you like biking, check out Madison  BCycle , the local bike share program. This program is designed for short trips of under an hour. If you want a bike for longer-term use, the  Budget Bicycle Center  rents various kinds of bikes. Metro Transit  is Madison’s bus company, serving the greater Madison area. Eco-wellness lodging The white dome of the Capitol filled my window at the  Madison Concourse Hotel . In addition to this stunning view and a convenient downtown location, the Concourse has been refining its eco measures for a decade. The  hotel uses energy-efficient lighting, offers reusable glass cups instead of plastic in guest rooms and is a member of REAP Food Group, which works on shortening the distance from farm to table. The Concourse’s Ozone laundry system and high-efficiency water heaters save an estimated 400,000 gallons of water per year. For an out-of-town sojourn, the  Holy Wisdom Monastery  in nearby Middleton has private rooms in its retreat house and two additional secluded hermitages.  Holy Wisdom offers the choice of a communal spiritual experience or lots of solitude as you hike trails through its prairies or read in the  library . You can even wear a silence tag if you want to take a silent retreat, and people won’t talk to you. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Wisconsin’s hidden eco-wellness hotspot

Kansas City approves free public transportation for all

December 12, 2019 by  
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Last week, the city council of Kansas City unanimously voted for free public transportation via the Zero Fare Transit proposal. The program will boost ridership of city transit systems, allaying concerns about equity and the challenges of global greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis . Kansas City’s streetcar service is already free, and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) likewise provides free services to veterans. But approval of the resolution is a historic move allowing for free bus and streetcar services to all. Related: When in Rome, recycle more to earn free metro and bus travel tickets “The City Council just took a monumental, unanimous step toward #ZeroFareTransit — setting Kansas City up to soon become the first major metropolitan city with free public bus service,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted. “This is going to improve the lives of so many and help fuel the local economy.” According to a 6-month study by the Citizens for Modern Transit group, which was commissioned by the Missouri Public Transit Association in partnership with AARP, Missouri’s public transportation sector in 2019 provides “an annual average of 60.1 million rides, which is equivalent to 9.8 rides per year, per Missouri resident.” That number is expected to rise with this new Zero Fare Transit program, especially in Kansas City. The rise in public transportation use can help confront the planet’s current environmental challenges. With less vehicles on the road, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced, thus improving air quality . With ride sharing through public transportation, there will be less need for many individual trips by private vehicles in dense urban areas. Plus, traffic congestion will be relieved, saving the fuel that might have been wasted in traffic gridlocks. As to concerns about the fuel use of public transportation, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the United States Department of Energy have both documented that modern buses use alternative fuels rather than diesel and gas, unlike a decade ago. Again, this emphasizes how Kansas City’s new legislation promises a smaller carbon footprint for the city. The new legislation has already garnered attention and praise outside of Missouri, with advocates in Nashville, Portland and Toronto seeking similar measures in their respective cities. Via ArchDaily Image via David Wilson

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Kansas City approves free public transportation for all

Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands

May 6, 2019 by  
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Delft-based architectural firm cepezed has completed the Netherlands’ first self-sufficient bus station in the southern city of Tilburg. Designed to generate all of its own energy, the new transit facility features a massive solar panel -topped awning that provides shade and gives the bus station its modern and sculptural appearance. The Tilburg bus station was completed as part of the large-scale revitalization of the city’s public transit hub and offers easy access to the neighboring train station and bicycle parking in the railway zone. The new bus station at the west side of the Tilburg train station was designed to prioritize user comfort and safety. To that end, the architects topped the structure with a spacious awning that not only fully covers the bus platforms but also part of the buses, so travelers can be protected from the rain while boarding and deboarding. The steel-framed awning is fitted with lights and covered with ETFE-foil so as to let in filtered sunlight during the day and illuminate the space at night. For inclusivity, the station is equipped with wheelchair-accessible ramps and handrails with braille signing. As a symbol of smart development, the station adopts a contemporary and minimalist design with highly efficient detailing. Built of steel plates and strips, the thin columns that support the large awning also contain water drainage and electric cabling. The S.O.S. button and intercom have also been integrated into one of the columns. In addition to the raised black concrete sitting edges, the architects included backed seating made with strip steel with heating. Related: Architects want to transform an old Dutch bridge into zero-energy apartments Solar panels spanning 2,691 square feet top the awning and power all of the bus station’s needs, from the lighting and digital information signs to the staff canteen and public transport service point. Certain solar-powered lights are triggered by energy-saving motion sensors integrated into the steel edge of the awning. For greater sustainability, the architects ensured the longevity of the structure with a low-maintenance material palette and minimized the edges and corners to reduce costs and resources for cleaning. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands

The hidden vulnerability in our transportation infrastructure

November 28, 2018 by  
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The latest government report on climate change gives new insight into the state of our transit system.

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The hidden vulnerability in our transportation infrastructure

Zaha Hadid Architects breaks ground on Mexicos City tallest residential tower

November 10, 2017 by  
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Construction has begun on the Bora Residential Tower, a high-rise designed by Zaha Hadid Architects that, when completed, will be the tallest residential tower in Mexico City . Located in the Santa Fe business district in the west of the capital, the luxury complex features Zaha Hadid’s recognizable tapered shape at its base, where the building curves inward before flaring out into “swirling” canopies. The site-specific building optimizes access to natural light and views, while mitigating seismic conditions. Commissioned in 2015 by Nemesis Capital , the Bora Residential Tower occupies prime real estate within walking distance to schools, theaters, cafes, restaurants, and the new Santa Fe Transit Hub that will connect to the city’s metro network next year. The 28-hectare La Mexicana park lies adjacent as well as three universities and the regional offices of Fortune 500 firms including the likes of Apple , Microsoft, and Amazon. Boasting over 50 floors, the record-breaking Bora will comprise over 220 apartments of one, two, and three bedrooms designed for diverse clientele from first-time homeowners and families to retirees. To maximize access to natural light and panoramic views, each apartment features private balconies that extrude vertically. The building’s base tapers inward and then flares out into canopies to shade street-level civic spaces with restaurants and shops. Related: Beautiful co-working space takes over a former industrial factory in Mexico City “The tower’s structure has also been designed for optimum flexibility and ductility, as well as an overall reduction in its weight, to best respond in seismic conditions, with the ten-storey canopies at its base providing additional lateral stability,” wrote Zaha Hadid Architects. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects and LabTop

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Zaha Hadid Architects breaks ground on Mexicos City tallest residential tower

San Franciscos rapid transit to run on 100% renewable energy

May 9, 2017 by  
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Commuters in the San Francisco area can feel even better about taking public transport to lower their carbon footprints , as the Bay Area’s Rapid Transit (BART) system will soon be powered by 100 percent renewable energy . Days ago, the BART board of directors passed an electrical portfolio policy that requires 50 percent of the organization’s power to be sourced from renewables by 2025. By 2045, the electric train system is expected to run on 100 percent renewable energy . As Digital Trends reports , this move has far-reaching implications for the entire region since BART consumes roughly 400,000 megawatt-hours annually – the equivalent of a small city like Alameda. “Every day, BART takes cars off the road and helps drive down our greenhouse gas emissions,” said BART Director Nick Josefowitz. “But especially now, BART and the Bay Area must shoulder even more responsibility to combat climate change. Even though BART is not required to comply with the state’s renewable energy standards, we have committed to purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity and taking a leadership role in decarbonizing our transportation sector.” Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike The train system already runs on a variety of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind and small hydroelectric facilities. Additionally, carbon emissions have been cut by lowering the number of single occupant automobiles sitting in traffic on the Bay Bridge each morning. Sustainability Director Holly Gordon said of the progressive initiative, “We’re doing this to advance clean energy, but we’re also doing this because we think it is cost effective. We feel as though we can purchase clean energy while maintaining low and stable costs for the district as well.” BART may very well be the first electrified public transit system to commit to running on 100 percent renewable energy – at least in the US.  Via Digital Trends

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San Franciscos rapid transit to run on 100% renewable energy

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