Tag: Transportation

Across America in an Electric Vehicle: 4 Routes Mapped for a Sustainable Drive

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The American love affair with the open road is unlike anything else — dating back to the beginnings of the horseless carriage. Simply put, we love our vehicles. They’re an extension of who we are an individual’s and a testament to the ingenuity of mankind. But over the years we’ve had to rethink the way road trips, commuting and leisure driving impact the environment. More now than ever there’s a focus on zero emissions and the looming concern of global warming.

Currently, transportation and power generation each account for about 30% of US greenhouse gas emissions, so those sectors represent a prime target for cutting American carbon pollution. Specifically, light-duty (passenger) vehicles, which account for 60% of those emissions and medium-heavy-duty trucks accounting for a further 23%. These emissions can be significantly reduced by transitioning from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles (EVs).

Over the past couple years we’ve seen a significant uptick in the amount of EVs on the road. Electric cars have become a growing phenomenon throughout the United States, because they allow the opportunity to explore the country in comfort, in safety and without the guilt of creating a large carbon footprint. Of course, Teslas are a widely popular choice for those that can afford the high sticker price, but companies have realized that in order to move the needle on transportation emissions, it’s necessary to produce more cost affordable EVs. This is exactly why Elon Musk released Tesla patents for “good faith” use — stating “It is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis.”

So what does that mean for the drivers interested in purchasing or renting an electric vehicle? While we’re seeing more and more EVs on the road each day, there are still about seven times more gas stations than electric charging stations nationwide. But, the electric car revolution is prompting a change in the transportation infrastructure. Charging stations number existed in the hundred during the early 2000s. Fast forward 10-20 years and those number have skyrocketed to over 50,000 stations in 2018. Not to mention, California’s Governor, Jerry Brown signed legislation in 2018 that would allow for 250,000 EV chargers in the ground by 2025.

While California is leading the way in EV technology, other states are beginning to follow suit. More now than ever, it’s becoming incredibly accessible to make an extensive road trip in an electric vehicle, especially with resources like like Plugshare and the U.S. Department of Energy, which can be helpful in locating charging stations of all types and levels in your area. To top that off CarRentals put together this guide that highlights some of the most iconic road trips in the U.S. and how you can actually make them in an EV. These maps the include anchor stops, points of interest along the way, charging stations and tips for road tripping in an EV, so you’ll never be left with low battery.

Get Green Columbus Project – An Overview

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The Get Green Columbus initiative began on January 28, 2005.  Columbus mayor Michael B. Coleman issued a Green Memo that urged the city’s residents to live environmentally-friendly lives.  The memo discussed several policy frameworks that aimed to create healthier environments.

Since the Green Memo, the city of Columbus had made significant progress in becoming a more sustainable and environmentally friendly city in every area, from rehab to businesses.  For these efforts, the city has received awards and recognition.  These include a designation as the most improved city from SustainLane in 2008, the Environmental Public Servant Award from the Ohio Environmental Council in 2009, and recognition as the greenest fleet in the nation at the 2009 Green Fleet Conference’s 2009 Environmental Leadership Awards.

Collaborating with City Agencies & Community Leaders

One driving factor for the success of Get Green Columbus was Mayor Coleman’s Green Team.  This team was responsible for administering environmental policies, educating the community about the risks of not taking care of the environment, and identifying the necessary resources to implement Get Green Columbus initiatives.

Joining Mayor Coleman’s Green Team were the Environmental Steward Office (ESO), who collaborated with the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO).  The ESO functioned as an internal team of experts and green coordinators who represented each department and division within the city. On October 4, 2007, Mayor Coleman joined other elected officials in signing the Central Ohio Green Pact.  This pact aimed to

  • Produce greener public fleets
  • Create a stronger green economy
  • Collaborate with others to purchase more green products
  • Adopt sustainable land use policies
  • Build more green facilities to reduce energy consumption and waste
  • Educate and involve the community
  • Decrease emissions
  • Protect environments from climate change
  • Preserve green space and develop greenways
  • Expand and encourage mass transportation

 Implementing Recycling Strategies and Reducing Solid Waste

SWACO and the city of Columbus also initiated a recycling program that is now known as RecyColumbus.  The goal of this project was to make it easy for people to recycle their household goods. It allowed Columbus residents to place recyclable items on their curbs or drop off such items at recycling centers.  In 2009, the municipality recycled 15,126 tons of materials.

Different agencies also collaborated with the city of Columbus to recycle items and reduce waste.  Such partnerships are working together to recycle 66 percent of the waste that would otherwise go to local landfills.

Improving Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality

Another achievement of Mayor Coleman’s Get Green Columbus was the creation, adoption, and implementation of the City of Columbus Green Fleet Action Plan, a plan first issued on January 1, 2008.

The goals and targets of the Green Fleet Action Plan included:

  • Reducing fuel
  • Purchasing and using biodiesel and compressed natural gas
  • Obtaining green grants and Green Fleet Awards
  • Implementing green purchasing language

Protecting Water

Protecting water quality was another focus of Get Green Columbus.  The initiative focused on flood reduction, waterway quality, stream restoration, and several multi jurisdictional watershed planning efforts.

In 2005, the Columbus Division of Sewerage and Drainage launched Project Clean Rivers.  Several programs and services were part of this project.  All had the same goal: achieving clean water.  This project also included the Wet Weather Management Plan, a $2.5 billion strategy to eradicate sewer overflows.

Such water protections were attempts to ensure the safety of Columbus’s groundwater and its surface resources.  Also contributing to such water protection efforts were the city’s public health authorities, who annually permit and inspect sewage treatment systems on private properties.  The authorities inspected more than 300 systems in 2009 alone.

Promoting Green Businesses

Another green effort of Mayor Coleman was a program to recognize and award businesses that made efforts to become more environmentally responsible.  This program, called the GreenSpot Program, has been successful in serving as a public engagement model for the city of Columbus and other communities throughout Ohio and North America.

Fostering the Greening of Columbus

On February 22, 2007, Mayor Coleman agreed to the U.S. Council of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement as part of his contribution to the Get Green Columbus initiative.  Since then, the city of Columbus has conducted greenhouse gas emission inventories of its operations.

In 2005, the Columbus operation baseline emissions reported 317,926 metric tons of carbon dioxide.  The city of Columbus has aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent every year until the year 2030.

According to reports, the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Columbus in 2005 are:

  • 31 percent from buildings
  • 37 percent from wastewater treatment
  • 18 percent from drinking water treatment
  • 12 percent from transportation

The 10-Year Action Plan

In another environmental development, on May 4, 2009, Mayor Coleman announced a 10-year action plan.  The plan contains a list of improvements as well as efficiencies to correct imbalances.  The summary report of the Get Green Columbus program discusses the

  • Continuation of green initiatives
  • Expansion of energy-saving measures
  • Creation of weatherization systems
  • Establishment of efficient lighting
  • Upgrades of HVAC systems

Other Green Memo suggestions called for the city of Columbus to plant more trees and to construct capital improvements to protect the environment.  The city succeeded in its goals to plant a total of 20,000 trees.  Reports stated that the city of Columbus planted a yearly average of 5,500 trees and lost 1,500 trees yearly, which meant that the city planted 4,000 trees every year.

Local partners worked with the city of Columbus to achieve most of the project’s goals.  One improvement was improving access to fresh and nutritious foods for residents who were in need.  Columbus Public Health organized community farmers markets throughout the city, an effort that provided fresh food to city residents.

Speaking of Columbus and plants, the city is the home of the American Community Garden Association.  It is also the location of the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which opened the unique Community Garden Campus.  These efforts educate people about the beauty and usefulness of plants and protecting them, issues important to Get Green Columbus as well.

Final Words

Get Green Columbus illustrate that teamwork and collaboration can make good things happen for a city and its residents.

Biomethane: Promise and Potential

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Biomethane can drive sustainable development in many parts of the world due to its attractive properties as a clean fuel. The carbon footprint of biomethane is one of the smallest among the known energy sources. The emission factor of conventional diesel (around 90 gCO2eq/MJ) is almost 200 percent (or thrice) more than that of biomethane (30 gCO2eq/MJ). Biomethane is less corrosive, has higher calorific value and easier to handle than biogas. Biomethane, either liquified or compressed, can be transported relatively easily and can be stored for a long period of time which is not possible in case of biogas.

Ease in storage and transportation

Liquid biomethane (LBM) is transported in the same manner as LNG, that is, via insulated tanker trucks designed for transportation of cryogenic liquids. Biomethane can be stored as compressed biomethane (CBM) to save space. The gas is stored in steel cylinders such as those typically used for storage of other commercial gases.

Rapid growth of biomethane industry

The global biogas industry is growing at a rapid rate of around 10 percent annum, mainly driven by increasing traction in industrial waste-derived biogas sector and public acceptance of biogas as a clean fuel. Biomethane is witnessing increasing demand worldwide, especially in European countries, as it is one of the most cost-effective and eco-friendly alternatives to diesel for heavy good vehicles (HGVs).

Suitability of biomethane

Biomethane is most suitable for vehicles having engines that are based on natural gas (CNG or LNG). Once biogas is cleaned and upgraded to biomethane, it is (chemically) virtually the same as natural gas. Because biomethane has a lower energy density than natural gas, due to the high CO2 content, in some circumstances, changes to natural gas-based vehicle’s fuel injection system are required to use the biomethane effectively.

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Salman Zafar