Re: [carfree_cities] Energy Savings of Rocky Mountain Institute vs. Driving There
- =v= Thank you for posting the exchange to this discussion!
I'm an admirer of both of these guys. My environmental
activism dates back to the anti-nuke movement, where Lovins
was perhaps the best source for information. So I had high
hopes for his "hypercar" ideas in the early 1990s, but then
I got disillusioned with them.
| Lovins: ... If he'll kindly look at my 1999 book "Natural
| Capitalism," he'll find that Chapter 2, "Hypercars and
| Neighborhoods," emphasizes the importance of both, and
| strongly supports New Urbanism.
=v= I remember this as well, but unfortunately outside the
book, the RMI has not been energetic with this support.
Perhaps it's because New Urbanists have the topic covered
and the RMI is working on its own niche. Perhaps it's
because anything car-related gets over-hyped as The New
Next Great Thing, Whatever It Is (even on this list).
| ... RMI's industry-standard text "Green Development:
| Integrating Ecology and Real Estate" and its accompanying
| CD of 200 case studies.
=v= I would like to see this. It probably deserves more
attention than the hypercars.
| ... seemed too bizarre to merit reply when David Owen, in
| the New Yorker (Oct. 2, 2004), said we'd promoted sprawl
| by not building in a city.
=v= Uh oh. I looked this up, and I'd say Owen brought up
substantial points that deserve more consideration than
"seemed too bizarre." More below.
| RMI's main building is ... [facts and figures]. It has
| received more than 70,000 visitors and ... [more figures].
=v= Double uh oh. In amongst all the good-news numbers is
70,000 visitors, and my first thought is, how many of them
had to drive there? The vast majority, I suspect.
| [Description of facilities and features, including hybrid
| cars, bus passes, telecommunting, and carbon-trading.] It
| has never been true that all our staff must drive to work:
| Thanks to our nearby staff housing, many staff walk, bike
| or (in season) ski to work, or telecommute from home, and we
| encourage the rest to use our valley's outstanding bus system.
=v= Here Lovins is uncharacteristically vague and begs some of
the questions. How much is "many?" How many are using the bus?
How many are driving the company's hype-brid car? Is any bus
system really outstanding?
=v= Here's what Owen wrote about the RMI building:
|| With just four thousand square feet of interior space, it can
|| hold only six of R.M.I.'s eighteen full-time employees; the
|| rest of them work in a larger building a mile away. Because
|| the two buildings are in a thinly populated area, they
|| force most employees to drive many miles -- including trips
|| between the two buildings -- and they necessitate extra
|| fuel consumption by delivery trucks, snowplows, and other
|| vehicles. If R.M.I.'s employees worked on a single floor
|| of a big building in Manhattan (or in downtown Denver) and
|| lived in apartments nearby, many of them would be able
|| to give up their cars, and the thousands of visitors who
|| drive to Snowmass each year to learn about environmentally
|| responsible construction could travel by public transit
None of this seems bizarre to me, nor should it to Lovins.
As someone who has admired Lovins' very thorough work over the
years, I have to say I'm a little shocked that he'd dismiss
this and gloss over these hard questions.