The future of green travel | U.S. Green Building Council
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Posted in Industry

After inventing the wheel, humans were on a roll. Modes of transportation increasingly became a priority as we navigated slowly around the globe. Exploration was made possible through advanced iterations of early horse-carriages, which eventually turned into the first automobile.

As we continued to grow, so did our carbon footprint. Helping reduce the waste we leave behind when we travel forth, this article explores the ever-increasing trend of traveling green, from the obvious choice of bike-sharing and electric cars, airplanes have also joined the game of green travel. 

Traveling by bicycle

Historically, riding a bicycle has always been the only zero-emission way of traveling. Whether you ride a fix-geared bike through the streets of Brooklyn or a 13” folder bike that gets you to work in LA, bicycles designed for every taste. They even have stationary bicycles that produce electricity, such as The UpCycle Eco-Charger, which claims to be the most efficient, reliable, and powerful cycle generator ever. The bike is able to send 275 watts of AC electricity into the attached building along with charging your phone or tablet while exercising. No bike racks required!

Buildings seeking LEED certification can pursue the Bicycle Facilities credit, encouraging people to ditch their mechanical gas-guzzling counterparts by providing bike storage and shower rooms and choosing locations that incorporate bicycle networks.

In order too encourage environmentally friendly commuter options, bike sharing programs have also been implemented in many cities around the world. According to Gizmodo, bike sharing programs are evident in over 600 cities around the world. Why are bike shares so popular? Well, it’s easy to just pick one up and go! Having personally used bike shares in Paris, Toronto, Chicago, New York, and Seoul, bicycles speak the common language of simplicity and fluidity. Major cities like New York have built bicycle lanes covering a third of the space designed for vehicles on the road. Isn’t it amazing to know that you can see the city of New York without ever jumping into a car? Don’t forget your helmet and a flashlight!

Traveling by car

Automobiles were the first big success story of the 19th century. Not only did it revolutionize travel, it did so extremely quickly. The evolution of the modern automobile speedily let us travel and transport from one place to another while reducing time. What it made up for in time, the car sacrificed for in promoting the green revolution. Images of earlier versions of cars producing smoke are ingrained into every generation through cartoons and black and white films. In the past ten years, however, cars have decided to jump on the green travel bandwagon.

We have come a long way since the first electric car prototype built by Thomas Parker in 1859 that did not meet the real world needs of the market at the time. Over a century later, there was revived interest in alternative fuels and the need for a powerful machine that would stray away from consuming gas. Naturally, a compromise was reached with the introduction of a hybrid car, which used a combination of gasoline and electricity. Designed for the modern man, the hybrid gave the green building revolution variety. Hybrid cars, while they can be higher on the initial cost, provide yearly savings between $600-$800.

Buildings can be a part of the movement as well, receiving LEED points for setting aside parking for green vehicles and suppling electric vehicle charging stations or liquid, gas, or battery facilities. Whether your ride is completely electric, a hybrid or uses some other type of alternative fuel, driving is becoming greener and smarter.

Traveling by plane

Airplanes are designed to provide a fast and comfortable experience for today’s avid traveler but with the rising cost of jet fuel and subsequent emissions, how green do we really travel when traveling by flight?

In 2010, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) dedicated 125 million in contracts towards green technology dedicated to clean travel proposals. Subsequently, they developed the Continuous Low Energy, Emissions, and Noise (CLEEN) program meant to reduce commercial jet fuel consumptions, harmful emissions, and excessive noise. Administrator Randy Babbitt confirmed, “The FAA is working with the aviation community to aggressively meet critical environmental and energy goals.”

Meanwhile, in 2003, visionaries at Boeing decided to implement a new breed of airplanes that would come to travel over 330 million revenue miles flown as of this winter. This airplane would eventually be known as the 787 Dreamliner. Taking flight in 2009, the 787 Dreamliner is redefining what it means to create an airplane capable of encouraging performance in water efficiency, resource conservation, energy usage, etc.

Using carbon laminate substances, the 787 Dreamliner became the world’s first major airplane to use 50% composite materials in its primary construction material. Furthermore, the 787 Dreamliner consumes less fuel and produces fewer emissions than its predecessors using a trademarked engine and airframe design, quietest twin-aisle airplane 70% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from early jet airplanes and 90% reduction or 30dB quieter.

Since its first inaugural commercial flight in 2009, the Boeing 787 has flown over 30 million passengers to date with over 61 airlines including Ethiopian Air and Air New Zealand embracing a greener and cleaner way to fly.

Choosing to travel green

Travel has always been about exploring our natural habitats around the globe. Nurture has given us an option to create different means of exploring the world.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live.” —Hans Christian Andersen.

Whether you travel by bike, car, or airplane, paint your next destination green. 

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