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Efficient Technique: Buy It For Life

“Buy It For Life” means acquiring and using products that are built to last a lifetime. Amidst the thousands of disposable goods and cheaply-constructed gadgets that provide continual fuel for consumerism, there remain some products that promise enduring excellence. The movement to embrace high-quality, long-lasting goods promotes less consumption, less waste, and (often) less money spent in the long run.

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U.S. Electricity Demand to Fall 5-15% by 2020

Economists Doug Mitarotonda and Ahmad Faruqui of The Brattle Group recently teamed up with economists at Global Energy Partners to study and forecast American energy consumption. Their surprising conclusion is that the United States will be consuming 5-15% less electricity by 2020.

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World’s First Wave Energy Power Plant Opens In Spain

The small town of Mutriku in the Basque region of Spain is the first in the world to open a commercial wave power plant. The Basque government energy agency Ente Vasco de la Energía (EVE) debuted its €2.3 million ($3.1 million) project in July. The project is funded by taxes. It is estimated that the wave power plant will produce …

Catalina Island: 14-Year Car Waiting List

Catalina Island is the only place in California where the number and size of road-going motor vehicles is regulated by law. For residents of the island who want to bring a personal car, this means signing up at the bottom of a 14-year waiting list. Tourists are not permitted to ferry a vehicle from the mainland, even for temporary use. …

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The Largest Car-Free Place In U.S.: Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island lies between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan within the Straights of Mackinac, a strip of water separating the peninsulas as well as connecting the Great Lakes of Huron and Michigan. This 3.8-square mile island is part of the state of Michigan and has evolved from a strategic commercial and military center into a modern resort with …

New Yorkers Asked To Suggest Bike Sharing Locations

A 600-station bike sharing system is slated to debut during the summer of 2012 in New York City. The network of 10,000 bicycles is being set up in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and future expansion into Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx is possible. New York City Bike Share is privately sponsored and operated. The NYC Department of Transportation regulates site …

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Germany Is Now 20% Powered By Renewable Energy

When the largest economy in the European Union derives 20% of its energy from renewable sources, it is a milestone worthy of international attention. Germany’s renewable energy consumption jumped 2.5% within the last year, sending the total consumption of green power in that country to 20.8%. Since 2000, Germany’s use of renewable energy has increased 15 percentage points.

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Greece Plans To Construct World’s Largest Solar Farm (200 Megawatts)

The wave of interest in solar power across Europe has now touched Greece, and in a big way. The Mediterranean country of over ten million inhabitants plans to construct Earth’s biggest solar farm. Estimated to cost €600 million ($822 million), the project will cover 1,285 acres of depleted coal mines in the northern city of Kozani.

Go Car-Free in DC and Save More Than $10,000 A Year

A recently-published study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) ranks the top 20 cities where going car-free will save the most money. Number 14 on the list is Washington, DC, which has nearly 200,000 car-less households already. The APTA’s report claims that the average DC resident would save $10,282 per year in transportation-related costs by giving up his or …

Dutch Electric Bike Sales Outstripping City Bikes

Electric bicycle sales are on the rise worldwide, and nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in the Netherlands, where revenue from e-bike sales recently surpassed revenue from city bike sales. The Netherlands was the first nation to enact an official national bicycle policy, and the country has thousands of miles of bicycle paths and lanes. Bicycle parking is plentiful …

Two Wind Farms Get New Zealand Closer To 90% Renewable Power

New Zealand is one big step closer to accomplishing the ambitious goal of generating 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The country already produces nearly 80% of its power from clean sources, including hydropower, geothermal, and wind farms. With hydropower approaching its natural limit, New Zealand is investing heavily in two huge new wind farms.

Astrophysicist’s Technique Could Cut Plane Boarding Time In Half

Fermilab scientist Jason Steffen recently presented a creative and simple solution to a problem that affects hundreds of millions of people per year: inefficient airplane boarding procedures. Typically, airlines board in several zones, from back to front, one zone at a time. Though it may appear logical, this method is full of disorganization. Passengers in a given zone are all …

Can Nuclear Energy Be Green? Thorium And Traveling Wave Reactors Give It A Shot

The recent events in Japan have sparked renewed debate over the risks of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy advocates defend uranium as a sustainable source of energy that is relatively safe, that is until something goes wrong. Opponents have long maintained the health and environmental risks associated with uranium mining and nuclear waste alongside the threat of nuclear power plant accidents …

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Amazing Dutch Bike Path Embedded With Solar Panels

What could make bike riding even more efficient? How about a bike path embedded with solar panels to produce clean energy while encouraging people to get on their bikes? The town of Krommenie in the Netherlands, just north of Amsterdam, will be receiving the SolaRoad bike path, scheduled to open in 2012.

New Ford Focus Electric Aims to Blow Nissan Leaf Away

Since the release of our 2011 electric car review, Ford has unveiled the new 2012 Focus Electric, first at the recent 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show, and currently at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Though showing up a little late to the electric vehicle party, Ford is flaunting the new Focus’ ability to recharge the 23 kwh …

Valero Invests in Producing Car Fuel From Wood Waste

The cellulosic ethanol movement got a much needed boost yesterday with the announcement that Valero, the nation’s largest independent oil refiner, is investing $50 million into the Mascoma Corporation’s plans to build a commercial sized wood-based biofuel refinery in Kinross, Michigan. Together with subsidiary Frontier Renewable Resources, Mascoma, based in Lebanon N.H., intends to break ground on the facility by …

Minimalist Functional Design

Kenya Hara wrote the book “Designing Design“, which is 472 page tribute to “white” not just as color but as a design concept. It contains chapters by like-minded designers such as Jasper Morrison and Naota Fukasawa. The works of German industrial designer Dieter Rams (Braun), and Apple’s “Snow White” design language are other examples of the “less is more” approach …

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Intelligent Electrical Outlets: Efficient and Safe

Here’s a short presentation at TED 2010 by inventor John La Grou, where he unveils an invention that would make electrical outlets much smarter. The invention, Safeplug, promises to prevent deadly accidents like house fires — and to conserve energy.

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Southface Energy Institute: A Resource For Sustainable Design

Energy efficient building designs and technologies are everywhere these days. In fact, the sheer number of options can seem a little overwhelming for those interested in sustainable construction techniques. But Southface Energy Institute, headquartered in Atlanta, can be a valuable resource for homeowners, commercial or residential builders, or individuals who simply want to learn more about environmentally friendly design.

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The World’s Smallest Lightbulb

As LED lights and fluorescent bulbs become increasingly mainstream, scientists at UCLA’s Department of Physics and Astronomy have developed a groundbreaking new variation of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb. But don’t expect to find this bulb in your local hardware store anytime soon – unless you normally bring an electron microscope along to do your shopping.