Monday, May 19, 2008

Grow, Transport

Grow, (Airs Tuesday, May 20th at 9pm Eastern & Pacific, 30 minutes) is the next episode in the Sundance Channel's "Big Ideas For a Small Planet" series.

Featuring three examples of ways to increase urban green space, Grow begins with green roofs in the Bronx, featuring the South Bronx municipal courthouse, and an individual home owner's green roof being installed. Grow gives a thorough reasoning for doing green roofs, and covers many of the benefits such roofing methods create, including tripling the life of the roofing material and significantly reducing heat load on the building.

Next, Grow moves into xeriscaping, the art of using local native plant life to replace the traditional lawn in order to drastically reduce watering needs and increase habitat area for local species of bird and insect life. Focusing mostly on Phoenix, Arizona and touching lightly on California, this segment lays out a powerful case for rethinking suburban landscapes.

Finally, instant parks are featured, springing up in twenty minutes all across the country. The sheer joy of urbanites able to wiggle their bare toes in the grass is uplifting, and there are some statistical reasons that you'll want to know about for your own sake in this segment.

For an uplifting and hopeful dose of greenery, tune into Grow tomorrow night at 9pm.


Transport follows the following Tuesday, May 29th, at 9pm Eastern & Pacific. (Run time 30 minutes)

Following the three example format, Transport leads off with the New York City transportation district's multiple-method approach to increasing transportation efficiency and reducing energy consumption, emissions, and congestion. Bicycle lane improvements, interconnection, and increases is a major portion of the plan, followed closely by bus rapid transit lanes, increased commuter rail, and far more.

The next, and I think most uplifting segment, features bicycling efforts in Portland, Oregon and Boise, Idaho. Especially in Portland, bicycles are a major factor in sustainable transportation, increased fitness, lowered stress, and best of all, community spirit. Featuring numerous bicycling events and conveniences, Portland bikers actually talk to each other as they ride, a stark contrast to my experiences on Chicago mass-transit, where people kind of freak out if you say "hello."

Finally, Transport takes a ride into the future, with the development process of the City Car, an all-electric, stackable vehicle for lease. This vehicle concept just plain makes a ton of sense, and when implemented, will greatly reduce carbon emissions for short urban trips.

I've seen studies that indicate we could power 75% of the current U.S. vehicle fleet with electricity produced by power plants idling over night and not add a single extra plant or burn any extra fuel. Given City Car's range and battery duration, a lot of these cars could charge at night and take advantage of wated night-time electrical production. Although this point isn't mentioned in Transport, it is logical that this would be a net positive result of using this concept.

In all, Transport gives a great hope for the future of urban transportation and overall well-being of those who live and commute around American cities.

Tune in next Tuesday at 9pm.


Dan Stafford
The Great Lakes Zephyr - Wind Energy & Hydrogen Journal

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