California street trees are worth $1 billion, says USFS and UC Davis

June 17, 2016 by  
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Scientists from the USDA Forest Service and the University of California, Davis decided to put a price tag on the trees lining California ‘s streets. Considering that trees combat climate change by taking in air pollutants and storing carbon , they offer a lot of value not just to citizens, but to the state. The price tag the researchers came up with was a hefty $1 billion . To come up with that figure, the scientists scrutinized data from 929,823 trees in 50 cities and published their findings in a study . They said trees are worth $839 million just for the beauty they contribute, or in more technical terms, the value added to property. Then, because trees provide shade, they help save energy , adding another $101 million value. Taking in air pollutants like ozone adds $18 million, and storing carbon adds $10 million. Related: Meet the baby whose birth was celebrated with 108,000 trees Each tree is then worth close to $111. Since it only takes about $19 to maintain each tree annually, they add a tremendous amount of value to California and its residents. Further, trees’ ability to remove carbon dioxide out of the air has the same effect as if 12,000 cars stopped driving, according to the researchers. They also noted there’s plenty of diversity in California street trees. Throughout the state, only the London planetree accounted for more than “10 percent of the total,” which they said indicated “good state-wide species diversity.” There were 9.1 million street trees in 2014, up from 5.9 million in 1988. That’s about one tree for every four inhabitants. But tree density, or the number of trees in a particular area , has dropped by about 30 percent. Tree managers could use the study to figure out which tree species to plant and where. The researchers said there are 16 million vacant areas where more trees could be planted. Via Grist Images via Henri Sivonen on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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California street trees are worth $1 billion, says USFS and UC Davis

3D-printed self-driving Olli bus to hit the streets in the US

June 17, 2016 by  
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Arizona-based startup Local Motors has created a 3D-printed , self-driving bus that can carry up to twelve people. The bus is named Olli, and it’s designed to serve as an on-demand transportation option. Like human-helmed cars from Uber or Lyft, Olli would arrive to pick up riders after being summoned by a mobile app. Unlike other autonomous vehicle projects from Google and others, which are expected to be available to the public several years in the future, Olli is ready to hit the streets as soon as regulations allow for it. While Olli has no human driver, IBM has volunteered the services of its flagship artificial intelligence system Watson to serve as a friendly interface between riders and the vehicle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ymz4SYVr_EE “The technology has been ready—fielding it is what has been hard,” says Local Motors co-founder and chief executive John Rogers. “Local Motors is about selling into the markets that are ready now.” This quick roll-out is facilitated by Olli’s unique assembly through locally based 3D printing shops. “We hope to be able to print this vehicle in about 10 hours and assemble it in another hour,” says Rogers. The company anticipates the eventual establishment of hundreds of micro-factories across the globe, ready to produce Olli buses uniquely suited to local needs. Related: This solar-powered self-driving boat is making a historic journey across the Atlantic Ocean Olli’s driving is guided by a computer system designed by Local Motors and several partners. While IBM is not involved in this process, the tech giant provides the user interface system, powered by Watson. “Watson is bringing an understanding to the vehicle,” says Bret Greenstein of IBM. “A vehicle that understands human language, where you can walk in and say, ‘I’d like to get to work,’ that lets you as a passenger relax and enjoy your journey.” Local Motors and IBM believe that Watson’s “human” touch will allow riders to build a relationship with the artificially intelligent Olli. Local Motors is now in discussions with dozens of cities in at least 50 countries which are interested in bringing Olli to their streets. + Local Motors Via Phys.org Images via Local Motors

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3D-printed self-driving Olli bus to hit the streets in the US

Philadelphia makes a splash with first soda tax in major US city

June 17, 2016 by  
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Philadelphia is making a splash this week as the first major city in the United States to enact a “soda tax,” a levy assessed on sugar-sweetened and diet beverages. Thursday, the City Council voted 13-4 vote to approve the levy after months of tough negotiations and harsh criticism from the beverage industry. Mayor Jim Kenney touts the new soda tax as a victory, telling Philly.com the levy is a step toward “changing the narrative of poverty in our city.” The new soda tax , which will become effective January 1, will cost distributors 1.5 cents per ounce and will apply to thousands of products. The levy will apply to nearly every bottled, canned, or fountain beverage that contains either sugar or artificial sweetener. Baby formula and drinks that are more than 50 percent fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, or milk will be exempt from the levy. While Philadelphia’s soda tax, like many others, was motivated by a desire to raise awareness about consuming too much sugar, it’s uncertain at this time how long it will take for the financial impact of the levy to trickle down to consumers. Related: Berkeley becomes first U.S. city to approve a tax on soft drinks Still, the tax will be a financial boon for the city. It’s expected to raise $91 million annually , and the mayor previously suggested using the additional funds to establish a pre-kindergarten program open to all 3-and 4-year-olds in Philadelphia. “Philadelphia made a historic investment in our neighborhoods and in our education system,” Kenney said in a press release . “Today would not have been possible without everyone coming together in support of a fair future for every zip code.” The city’s new tax is similar in nature to the so-named “sugar tax” recently passed in the United Kingdom , which was also motivated by a desire to raise awareness of the unhealthy effects of consuming high quantities of sugar on a regular basis. Via PBS Images via Allen , James Losey/Flickr and Rex Sorgatz/Flickr

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Philadelphia makes a splash with first soda tax in major US city

California’s Severe Drought Will Cost the Agricultural Industry Nearly $2 Billion

May 21, 2014 by  
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A new study by the University of California Davis Center for Watershed Sciences finds that the worst drought in state history could cost the agricultural industry $1.7 billion this year and eliminate 14,500 jobs in the farming sector of the economy. The California Department of Food and Agriculture requested the preliminary study, which used computer models, water delivery figures and groundwater pumping capacities to show that farmers in the Central Valley would get one-third less irrigated water this year. Read the rest of California’s Severe Drought Will Cost the Agricultural Industry Nearly $2 Billion Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: agriculture , California , central valley , Climate Change , Drought , economy , farming , global warming , jerry brown , UC Davis , water issues

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California’s Severe Drought Will Cost the Agricultural Industry Nearly $2 Billion

Free Outdoor Gym Pops Up on the Manhattan Waterfront

May 21, 2014 by  
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New Yorkers looking to get their bodies beach-ready now have a new place to work out – a waterfront outdoor gym on the Lower East Side. The colorful fitness center features 12 exercise machines (some that can be used by two people at once), faces the East River and, get this, is totally free to the public! READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: design for fitness , Design for Health , east river waterfront esplanade , eco design , fitness chinatown , game time , gametime , green design , Lower East Side , lower Manhattan , outdoor elliptical machines , Outdoor Exercise Machines , outdoor fitness room , shop architects , sustainable design

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Free Outdoor Gym Pops Up on the Manhattan Waterfront

UC Davis’ Newly Opened West Village Is the Largest Net Zero Project in the US

November 18, 2011 by  
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The University of California at Davis has just opened the doors to the first phase of its  West Village complex — an ambitious net zero energy housing and recreation development that will eventually house 3,000 students. The project is the largest energy neutral housing project in the US, boasting superior insulation, solar electric panels, and the use of shading and reflective roofs to remedy hot summers. The project also takes on a technological twist to achieve net zero. In addition to using advanced energy saving techniques inside, including energy monitoring, students can also control various aspects of the building’s consumption straight from their smart phones. Read the rest of UC Davis’ Newly Opened West Village Is the Largest Net Zero Project in the US Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: biodigester , eco school housing , green school , green university housing , largest zero energy building , largest zero energy development in US , low impact sudent housing , net zero community , net zero housing , solar electric , UC Davis , UC Davis green , UC DAvis West Village , Zero energy

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UC Davis’ Newly Opened West Village Is the Largest Net Zero Project in the US

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