Saturday, May 5, 2007

Controlling YOUR impact on climate change - travel green.

We would love to have your input or comments. If you can make this work or run with it, it's yours. If think there's a better way to do this, tell us & we'll publish it. This is very open-source & collaborative. So far, 5 CCC members have worked on this idea. If you know of anyone who would be interested in using this idea, please let them know.

Below is a concept-sketch for a travel mapping website (like Mapquest or Google Maps), that would calculate:
1. Your trip cost (using your zip code for fuel cost - a one time entry).
2. Your trip emissions (using car model & fuel grade - a one time entry).
3. AND give you locally available mass transit alternatives.
Also, (this is debatable) if you consistently saved emissions by making informed decisions (read use of mass transit, bike routes, hybrid/electric cars), it would give you “green points” which you could redeem to buy sustainable products. These decisions would be recorded on a system similar to the "smart trip" card in Washington DC.
The premise is that armed with such pertinent & quantifiable data, people are more likely to be conscious of their impact on the environment & their wallets.

Allowing consumers to quantify environmental impact through user interface design.

More than government and institutions, it is people who have become motivated to act upon climate change. Consumers are pushing industries to produce more eco friendly products.

Many continue to plant trees, recycle trash, use public transport & conserve resources in ways that are possible for them. Yet how many people are aware of the environmental impact their actions (positive or negative) have in terms of hard numbers?

The CCC is currently working on ideas in the realm of transportation & indoors climate control through which it believes that people - not just regulatory bodies - will truly be able to control climate change.

The ideas currently on the boards are both practical & very marketable due their fungibility. They are in simple terms - “grafts” on existing technologies. We believe that resources already exist through which these ideas could be implemented in a short period of time should the appropriate individuals or organizations take them on.

GreenTravel- is a conceptual website layout based on existing road & travel mapping models not unlike Mapquest or Google Maps.

GreenTravel allows travelers to plug in the make/type of vehicle with fuel grade they intend to use along with the start & destination addresses. The search results show (in close approximate numbers) the amount of emissions generated for a specific mode of transportation they use (say an SUV, hybrid or public transit). The website also allows them to explore more sustainable alternatives for travel (such as ride-shares, bikes & buses locally available). Apart from providing users real emission numbers through inbuilt algorithms on which to base their travel decisions, the website would also allow them to tap into an existing infrastructure of sustainable travel practices.

The website would also be a place for certified green products to advertise themselves & perhaps offer “green rewards” to users who consistently make less polluting travel decisions.

Why “GreenTravel”?

Next to the building industry, the transportation industry is the next biggest polluter. A solution similar to this website (or an adaptation of it) could stand to make a significant impact on climate change by influencing the travel decisions of millions of commuters many of whom are already using existing travel mapping websites.

Who stands to gain from “GreenTravel” ?

First and foremost – the community. Secondly, websites such as Google Maps, Mapquest & others could gain substantially by making design tweaks on their existing websites to accommodate green/sustainable travel alternatives.

New info that might be needed for the website:
1. A database of makes/types of cars available
2. A database of different fuel grades available and costs of such based on local zip code.
3. A database/algorithms of average emissions produced by specific car sizes/models & fuels grades combined together.
4. A way for people to validate their “green points” & for them to redeem them.

Websites which could use this approach:

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Blogger Climate Change Colloquium said...

Below is a quote from The Environment Room forum:

"I think that this is one of the best new green initatives I have heard in a long time! It has the potential of becoming extremely popular indeed with proper marketing."

--TER Administrator

May 9, 2007 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Climate Change Colloquium said...

Below is a quote from Aboutmyplanet forum:

"Yes, I would use the service, but it would have to be free. I would use it even without the 'green points. In fact, I think many people would use it just based on the reduced cost and environmental impact, and you don't really need the 'green points' aspect. (which, incidentally, would make the site a LOT harder to program ... you would need a membership site program with a back office, and some way to fund the eco friendly products you are essentially giving away for free)

My suggestion - go with it as a 'green' map site .... and see how it goes. You can launch a lot sooner, and if you feel the need to add 'green points' later, you can always add it."


May 9, 2007 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Climate Change Colloquium said...

Below is a quote from The Knitter's review forum:

Very possibly, I might, if this site makes it as easy to find the optimal mass transit route as to jump in the car. Now I finally found a "park & ride" solution for work, but it takes an extra half-hour to work.(But substitutes an hour of knitting and a 15 minute walk for 45 minutes of driving. I like it, but sometimes I feel like I'm depriving the family.)


May 11, 2007 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Climate Change Colloquium said...

Below is another quote from The Knitter's review forum:

I can see how this would work with a regular, busy subway line, but how would it handle situations with infrequent or irregular train/bus schedules? Would you have to enter what time you would be making the trip? Maybe it could suggest optimal times for least waiting. Could it take into account the possibility of mass transit being late?

I'm of two minds on this. To start with, I live in a medium sized midwestern city (medium for the midwest, not for cities in general) We only sorta have a bus system. While I know this sort of place wouldn't be your target audience, it doesn't seem like it would be useful to me on a day-to-day basis.

I love mass transit systems when I travel to big cities, but have never had trouble piecing out a route myself - there are fewer options, so it's easier to figure out. It might be helpful for more complicated routes involving multiple systems, but I'm skeptical of it being able to handle situations like that gracefully in the first place.


May 11, 2007 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Climate Change Colloquium said...

Below is another quote from The Knitter's review forum:

Good idea!

May 11, 2007 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Climate Change Colloquium said...

Below is another quote from The Knitter's review forum:

No. I don't want to sign on for something where my travel and spending habits are tracked. I thiink the idea of being able to calculate the cost of drivng vs. transit is great in theory, but in practice the software would require every automobile manufactured and every insurance plan out there to be accurate.

I did however recently find out that there is a bus stop which is only a 10 minute walk where I can catch a bus right to work - no transfers! I will be doing that the days I don't take my child to school.


May 11, 2007 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Climate Change Colloquium said...

Below is another quote from The Knitter's review forum:

I was assuming that you didn't need an "account" but just "get me from point A to point B (with optional constraints like arrival time, departure time, minimum transit time, minimal cost, minimum transfers). That could be done without compromising quality. Where I live, there might be several different options. (like taking a longer bike ride, rather than two busses, or something.) Absolutely, the time of the trip would have to be entered. If you had to transfer between method 1, that ran every hour, and method 2 that ran every 45 minutes (even if they were completely regular) that would matter.

As a programming thing, actually inputting an irregular schedule is simple in theory, though a bit labor-intensive initially.

Me, I just found out how VERY close the LYS (Local Yarn Store) moved to the transit hub. Joy!


May 11, 2007 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Climate Change Colloquium said...

Below is a another quote from Aboutmyplanet forum:

That is totally cool! I probably would use it. And they were smart to have a green points system. That would totally get people thinking and trying to get more points!


May 11, 2007 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Mama Cat said...

Hi! I have often thought about a service like this so yes, I would use it.

I think a GREAT addition would be calculating multi-destination travel. I think about this when I have an errand-filled Saturday. I will get on Google and try to plot out the quickest most energy-efficient way to get all of my errands done, but I've often thought that it would be MUCH easier if somebody did it for me. I'd just enter all the addresses where I needed to go today, and my shortest route would be plotted.

I also found about this from Knitter's Review but thought I'd post here rather than there. Good luck!

July 23, 2007 at 6:32 AM  

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