A stretch of O Street NW that has been closed since 1977 was opened today as a “green street” at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mayor Muriel Bowser and representatives from the EPA and several district departments.
The street, which runs beside Dunbar High School between 1st and 3rd Streets, was designated a “green street” because it channels stormwater runoff into 33 roadside garden boxes, keeping the water from running into the district’s waterways.
In a brief press conference, Bowser touted the street’s wide walkways and said that it is built to capture thousands of gallons of water during storms.
“We’re here to show people that green streets are livable, this street has wide walkways and they’re sustainable. This street will capture thousands of gallons of stormwater when it rains,” Bowser said.
The project was funded in part by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The trust’s executive director Jana Davis got the biggest applause of the day when she said that the stretch of O Street was indicative of how D.C. serves as a model for the rest of the region when it comes to building environmentally friendly infrastructure.
Also in attendance were Department of Energy and Environment director Tommy Wells, Department of Transportation director Leif Dormsjo, and regional EPA administrator Shawn Garvin. Bowser also used the press conference as a chance to introduce the incoming director of the Department of General Services Chris Weaver, a retired Rear Admiral in the Navy.
In response to a question a recent report alleging a lack of financial oversight in the department, Bowser said that her new appointee is dedicated to cleaning up the department’s finances without losing focus on the department’s goal of expanding environmentally friendly infrastructure projects.
“We are not backing away from investing in green building for our schools and public facilities,” she said, “but we have to find a way to do it in a cost-effective way.”
After Wells emphasized the need to retrofit other streets in the city to better manage stormwater runoff, Mayor Bowser said that green street projects similar to O Street are planned for Minnesota Avenue and 15th Street NW.
From John Shannon who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.
What if you could buy a car and (except for the normal taxes, insurance, maintenance and parking stall fees, etc.) you could drive it around for free? What I’m talking about is fuel, which for most people is a major cost these days.
Steve: In Los Angeles, the gas price is hovering around $4 per gallon. At that price, ‘Steve’ uses about $21 of gas (5.3 gallons) to travel 96 miles every weekday. He is likely to spend $106 per week in mixed driving, totaling about $425 per month.
The question is: What would ‘Steve’ rather do with $5,100 per year?
If you want an easy way to calculate vehicle fuel costs, miles per dollar (mpd) works as good as anything – and for this hypothetical SUV it costs about $0.22 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc., are not included in these figures.)
Suzy: Her Hybrid Prius also does a lot of stop and go city driving. Her EPA sticker says she should get 48 miles per gallong (mpg) city driving and 45 mpg highway driving. At $4.00 per gallon for gas, she uses $8.00 of gas (2 gallons) to travel 96 miles. Her cost per mile? Suzy’s Prius costs about $0.08 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc. are not included in these figures.)
Ken: He drives a Nissan LEAF, which doesn’t even have a gas tank — because it is an electric vehicle, but the EPA sticker on the car when it was new advertised an equivalent of 95 MPG, which is expressed as 95 MPG-e.
Scenario A: If Ken charges his car’s battery pack at home, he pays for the electricity to charge it resulting in an electricity cost of $0.04 per mile. Depending on how Ken drives and his electricity rate, each $1.00 of stored electricity could get him up to 25 miles.
Scenario B: If Ken uses the many available and free fast-chargers placed around the city to recharge his EV battery pack, he doesn’t pay anything per mile — as most 30 minute fast-chargers for electric vehicles are free to use in the United States. In which case, his cost is $0.00 per mile. Buy the car, drive it for free! (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc., are not included in these figures.)
It may interest you to know that there are over 11,500 electric vehicle chargers in the United States as of January 2013, with more are being added every month. They are easily located via smartphone app and are conveniently located in almost every U.S. city.
Now, what to do with that extra $5,100 each and every year?
Author’s Note: These numbers are hypothetical examples, your costs and/or savings will be determined by your city’s gas prices and your vehicle mileage. Your electricity rate only matters if you choose to charge your EV at home — instead of at a 30-minute fast-charging station, where you can fully charge it for free!