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Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

Electric cars save cash for city drivers

Posted Friday, October 30th, 2009

 They may miss out on revving their engines at the lights, but urban drivers of electric cars can cut their emissions by two thirds and save up to £3,000 a year. Sound like a fair compromise?

BBC.co.uk, April 2008

Electric cars produce no exhaust fumes, minimal pollution and a third of the CO2 emissions of petrol engines. On top of that they’re tax free, immune to congestion charges, and a full ‘tank’ of fuel costs no more than a pint of milk.

So what’s the snag? Currently, limited range and recharging opportunities, and a lack of driving pizzazz. But could the next generation of electric vehicles change all that?

How does it work? Electric cars use a battery and electric motor to power the vehicle and are charged via a standard mains socket in your home, or at an increasing number of free outdoor charging bays. The average electric car does 60 miles on a single charge with a top speed of 40mph – while higher performance sports cars can do 150 miles and 130mph. There are currently over 100 electricity pumps in the UK – the majority of which are in London. But 250 new points are expected to be added this year across Britain.

How will it make a difference? 1. An electric car run on conventional electricity from a coal-fired generator produces a third of the emissions of a conventional petrol car (64g of CO2 per km compared to 176g CO2 per km) and just over half the emissions of a diesel or hybrid car (104g CO2/km). 2. You can save thousands of pounds a year in running costs
3. If you’re thinking electric car plus green electricity tariff equals carbon neutral transport, you might need to recalculate. green energy

What’s stopping me?
“Max speed, 40mph?” Electric cars are currently best suited to city driving because the average speed of traffic in London, for example, is notoriously just 10mph: 2mph slower than an Edwardian horse-drawn carriage.

“I’ve heard they aren’t safe” Electric cars are classified as ‘quadricycles‘ by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, so are subject to less stringent safety tests than cars. But one report estimates they are three times less likely than petrol cars to be involved in accidents. Insurers certainly think so – electric cars qualify for the lowest insurance category, group one, because (reckons the AA) their likelihood of getting into dangerous situations is much lower than that of conventional, high-speed cars.

“Won’t the battery go flat as soon as I get out of my road?” Current models manage an average of about 60 miles on a single charge so we can make our average daily commute of 17 miles more than three times between recharges, but out-of-town journeys are of course trickier. Upgrading to more expensive lithium-ion batteries can increase range significantly.

“I’d love to help the planet, but I can’t afford such fancy new technology” Actually, electric cars range in price between £8,900 and £17,000 and, based on the UK average of 10,000 miles a year, you could save £800 a year on fuel, £300 in car tax, up to £2,000 from congestion charges and free parking in London, and get cheap insurance too. On the other hand, the current generation of electric vehicles are unlikely to rack up that sort of mileage due to their limited range.

Fuel and maintenance costs are also about a third of the typical petrol car: about 6.5p per mile as opposed to 20p. Even with the cost of replacement batteries – about £1,500 every three to four years – electric motoring still costs only about 11p per mile.

What’s the debate?
Electric vehicles are exhaust free but critics say that they simply shift the point at which the emissions and pollution is generated to the power station. This is true (in fact, electricity generation accounts for a third of the UK’s climate impact) but power stations are more efficient at generating energy than cars, so emission reductions still hold. You may be tempted to switch your electricity tariff to green energy to reduce your driving emissions to near zero – but think twice before making the jump.

New research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology in 2008 levels another, less serious, accusation at electric cars: they use more water than fossil fuelled cars. Vehicles running off electricity use about 17 times more water per mile than petrol vehicles because electricity production in power plants requires the withdrawal (and return) of surface water from nearby lakes and rivers. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that one million electric cars account for just 0.3% of the miles driven by light duty vehicles in the US.


How Running an Eco-friendly Business can Help You Reap Eco-nomic Rewards

Posted Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

American Express.com, July 15th 2009

The phrase going green continues to battle the stigma that being eco-friendly equates to costly tactics and extreme overhauls. There’s no doubt that some ‘green‘ endeavors can be costly, but there are just as many ways to embrace an environmentally sustainable outlook that put the ‘eco’ in ‘economic’ and are as easy on the bottom line as they are on the earth. Going green in the business realm is actually a good eco-nomic strategy.  Here are some tips for greening your business that can save you some green:

Send your employees home… to work.

Arguably the number one tactic in making your business green is to send your employees home to work. Telecommuting will save everyone gas money and will help lessen air pollution. It will also save a bundle in the day to day overhead expenses of running an office. A big bonus is that you may hire people from all over the world and expand the horizons of your business from your laptop. But, if an office setting is a must for your line of work, read on…

Run a tight ship at the office.

Extend the life of office supplies. Printer cartridges can be refilled and reused for a lesser cost than buying new ones, printers may be set to print double-sided. Dont print unnecessary materials, instead, implement electronic filing systems so you may eliminate the need for paper trails. Turn off the lights and all electronics every night, and use power saving settings wherever possible. Instead of equipping every individual with a slew of personal office supplies, designate an area where all supplies are available to everyone.

Buy secondhand furniture and refurbished office equipment.

Cruise sites such as Craigslist to decorate your office and outfit your workspace with the essentials. A general rule of thumb is to spend less on tables and desks, while opting for high-quality chairs. You can find refurbished Macs online as well.

Don’t be so PC.

Bid adieu to IT support and invest in the Mac mini. They’re energy efficient, and recyclable, which is good for the planet, and they aren’t peppered with technical issues like PC’s, so you won’t need to hire or pay for IT support for you and your team.

Just say no to takeout, and yes to potlucks.

One day a week, encourage employees to bring in one dish for everyone to share and have lunch potluck style. This will eliminate Styrofoam and plastic waste, encourage bonding among staff, and will save everyone some cash. On the topic of food, offer reusable mugs next to the coffee maker as opposed to pricey, disposable cups.  These five tips will get you off to a great, green start at the office. As you start living the eco-lifestyle, more inspiration will surely strike and you’ll continue to save money.


Without limits: The weird and wonderful world of fantastical one-off design

Posted Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

What happens when top designers are given the freedom to create whatever they want? Something weird and wonderful, says Sophie Lovell
The Independent, Saturday, 25 April 2009

What we need is obvious, says the great German industrial designer Dieter Rams: “Less but Better” – less junk, less pollution, less waste, fewer “things” altogether and in their place, better, more refined, essential tools for living. And of course he is right. So why do we need new chairs that we can’t sit on, conceptual artefacts that serve no obvious purpose and strange remixes and hybrids? In order to find new solutions designers need to experiment. Now, more than ever, they need to question every given, test every avenue and challenge all our preconceptions if they are to help find new ways of moving forward.

The realm of design, like many other disciplines, is now challenged to fulfil an increasing number of roles: to keep up with new materials; to facilitate our increasing technological dependence; to help make the world a better and more sustainable place, yet also balance all that out with the demand for the trophies of conspicuous consumption and an unquenchable desire for novelty.

Many designers think of themselves as explorers, testing the boundaries of materials, processes and mediums. They are committed to experimentation, and a growing band of gallerists, patrons and curators are nurturing these experiments in the form of one-offs, prototypes or limited editions. Thus the most fascinating innovations in design are now coming from an unexpected quarter: where it brushes against… the realm of art, and of conceptual art in particular. These pioneering individuals are asking some big questions. What is design? What does it mean to call oneself a designer? What are the roles of objects and products? If design is to provide so many solutions, where does it have to go to find new answers?


 
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