Archive for the ‘Environmental Awareness’ Tag

Planning for Future Energy

A light reflecting solar power plant

A typical light reflecting solar power plant

The solar industry is no doubt a rising force in the energy market. With no emissions, solar is attractive because of its clean producing ways. Recently, solar advocates and lobbyists headed down to Washington to rally for a “permanent manufacturing tax credit” on solar panels. But while  solar energy is clean, I believe it is still likely that only energy companies will be using solar panels due to the hassle of having to install all the infrastructure on private housing for solar energy. But as I have consistently said before, I believe it is best to plan for flexibility because no one knows exactly what the future holds. If subsidies are given to solar, then they should also be equally allocated to similar clean energy sources such as wind and tidal (the debate is still on for nuclear), while also taken away from dirty energy sources like coal, natural gas, and oil.

One of the misconceptions people say is switching from coal and oil is impossible because too many people will lose jobs. According to The Energy Collective however, “Dow Corning [a solar panel manufacturer] deserves enormous credit for investing about $5 billion in manufacturing plants in Michigan—which sorely needs new jobs.” I consider it a testament to people’s ability to adapt to unique situations that would allow a state like Michigan- known for its (now declining) car manufacturing- would turn to solar manufacturing. It reminds me about how many different manufacturing factories in the 1940’s adapted to make war materials as a collective machine against a common enemy. Although the public attentiveness is not as acute compared to the time during the war, it still holds unquestionable parallels and these two situations show a lot about the human personality in times of serious needs and change.

On the other side of the coin, it should be the goal of policy makers to make clean energy available not to energy companies, but people; allowing people a reasonable cost to install solar panels, wind turbines, and any other clean energy method on their property is a first step because companies don’t change and live in the world, people do. At the same time, energy demanding buildings should also be plugged into the grid in the event they need more electricity, but I think more people and their businesses would appreciate energy more if they were producing it on their own. Now of course this is all completely unrealistic to have every single energy demanding building producing their own share of clean energy, but the idea may not be far from the future as solar panel companies are starting to find ways to make their product more durable and affordable. New development should try to embrace this change to make the individual buildings and communities more sustainable, flexible, and energy efficient.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, VERTICES LLC

All material including quotes and pictures from


San Francisco Great Streets Project

Enrique Peñalosa is at it again- in San Francisco this time. Peñalosa set out as mayor of Bogota, Columbia and drastically improved the city from the slums it had once been. His ways of improving the city were to curb car use, promote transit and cycling, and increase public space. San Francisco has attracted Peñalosa to promote their campaign: the Great Streets Project. The goal of the project is to promote “a successful network of places will return our city’s streets to their rightful place as the center of civic life, making our city a great place to live, do business and visit.”

A street in Bogota that benefited from Penalosa's policies, where the sidewalks became more pedestrian friendly and attractive

A street in Bogota that benefited from Penalosa's policies, where the sidewalks became more pedestrian friendly and attractive

Tonight Peñalosa will speak in San Francisco about creating this vision and putting it into practice.It was mark the launch of the Great Streets Project.

“Valet bicycle parking provided,” according to the website,

Campaigns like this are slowly changing the way we live by reducing our dependence on oil (both domestic and foreign), improving the environment (air quality, oil runoff in sewers, built and social environments in public spaces), and reducing overall costs while further promoting the local economy.

More than sidewalks or bicycle paths, we built symbols of equality and respect for human dignity. – Enrique Peñalosa

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC

Rain Gardens and VPS a lesson in Stormwater Management

Photo courtest of Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Photo courtesy of Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Kari Rushe, a senior majoring in landscape architecture at Penn State has created a project to gain input from the community as well as teach them a thing or two about stormwater management. Rushe has sent up a Visual Preference Survey that is available on the State College Borough Council’s website as well as the Penn State department of landscape architecture’s Web site that features images of eco-friendly gardens as well as non-eco-friendly gardens. Eco-friendly gardens, also called Rain Gardens allow plants to treat rain and snow onsite, rather that having it runoff and pool into a body of water. These gardens prevent large puddles of water or ice patches which create a safety hazard. The drawback? Rain Gardens are not the most visually pleasing gardens. This is where the website comes in, respondents are asked to choose which images are most appealing to them, these results will eventually be compiled in a brochure for the borough. This is a perfect example of involving the community to make a difference! (

To see the survey on Rain Gardens please click here and to learn more about the project, you can visit Penn State’s landscape architecture website here

Bridget Musselman

Rutgers University Student Intern Vertices LLC