In 1939 during the Great Depression, General Motors created "Futurama" -- a pavilion at the New York World's Fair showing a dynamic and positive vision of what America could be in 1960 - a highly mobile car-centered society. The exhibit made such a deep impression that it has shaped urban development in the United States for the past 70 years.
Now, in a different time with even more daunting challenges, America needs new hope and a new vision. "Futurama 2020: The Future We Want" (FWW) will use state-of-the-art communications and web technology to give Americans a virtual experience of what life could be like in a sustainable society, including what President Obama calls a "clean energy economy".
The FWW proposal is the product of a collaboration involving more than 30 organizations. It consists of a dynamic, interactive exhibit that will be circulated among prominent museums in the United States and Europe and a powerful new site on the world wide web that will allow visitors to help design the future they want. Learn more...
Articles and Reports
America 2050: Planning Megalopolis
Somewhere on the list of reasons that American cities are so un-bright-green; so sprawling, so car-dependent, so socially segregated; is the fact that the scale of our political institutions has no relationship to the scale of real urbanization.
Click here for an article on a zero-carbon development underway at a former industrial park in California.
With environmental issues embedded in the popular discourse, the relationship between Americans and their cars seems ripe for re-examination, according to this article in the New York Times.
Straight Talk, or Unhelpful Scolding?
A governor's tough prescription for adjusting lifestyles in the face of global warming, energy insecurity and other challenges captured the fascination of many. Courtesy of the New York Times
Leading NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and master photographer Joshua Wolfe have released a new book illustrating the ramifications of climate change.
Several leading insurers, public officials and environmental groups have issued a "Resilient Coasts Blueprint" [PDF/2MB] with guidelines for reducing risks in areas threatened by inundation from climate change. Read the Press Release. [PDF/123KB]
An Opinion Research Poll indicates that in Face of Climate Threat, Americans Ready to End Addiction to Coal, Other Fossil Fuels.
A Blog Post on the idea of creating a compelling national vision of a post-carbon society.
Goodbye Bland Affluence ~ Get Ready for Authenticity Chic
A small sign of the times: USA Today this week ran an article about a Michigan family that, under financial pressure, decided to give up credit cards, satellite television, high-tech toys and restaurant dining, to live on a 40-acre farm and become more self-sufficient.
Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal
The Regional Plan Association and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy are collaborating on America 2050 - America 2050 is a national initiative to meet the infrastructure, economic development and environmental challenges of the nation as we prepare to add about 130 million additional Americans by the year 2050. Go to: www.america2050.org
Transition Towns, a movement that began in the UK, have come to the U.S.
Courtesy of the New York Times
Why Isn't the Brain Green?
Where does the public stand on global climate change, and why don't we seem to be hard-wired to be green?
Courtesy of the New York Times
A Sustainable Business Plan for Ailing U.S. Auto Plants
The crisis in the U.S. auto industry has presented an opportunity to increase the production of energy-efficient transportation while saving jobs. The Cornell University newspaper ran this article detailing similar transitions in our nation's history and a sustainable business plan for U.S. auto plants.
New York Advances Green Initiatives Drawing from Lessons Abroad
The City of New York has undertaken an ambitious project to become the world's most sustainable metropolis. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has introduced a series of eco-friendly initiatives to improve housing, transportation, energy, and air and water quality.
Bob Yaro, head of the Regional Plan Association in New York, and Petra Todorovich, leader of RPA's America 2050 project, are helping regions envision the future of U.S. transportation. Their work includes virtual journeys in which Americans choose between various modes of future mobility on "trips" to work. www.america2050.org/about.html and www.rpa.org
New York's public broadcasting station, Thirteen/WNET has created Blueprint America, a multi-platform public broadcasting initiative examining infrastructure issues throughout America and the rest of the world.
A National Framework for Sustainable Communities
A partnership between ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Center for American Progress (CAP) is currently developing the STAR Community Index for gauging the sustainability and livability of U.S. communities. Much as LEED transformed the building industry, STAR will transform the way local governments set priorities and implement policies and practices to improve their sustainability performance.
Web-Based Visualization and Education Tools
Highway 2.0: An American Interstate for the Solar Age (Part 1: Biomass)
Vacant land along Americas interstate highway system is renewed through the growing of quick-cycling biomass crops and the installation of wind turbines and solar photovoltaics. This represents an entirely new economy: Interstate Energy Farming. A redeveloped interstate corridor would be the backbone of an adaptive landscape reuse strategy on a national level. YouTube Video
Ideas for Change is setting out to build the world's only editorial space for video content on sustainable development.
In April 2006, Abu Dhabi took a bold and historic decision to embrace renewable and sustainable energy technologies.
See the video.
Eco-towns: Dongtan (China)
The challenge for sustainable urban growth. Read the Case Study or watch a video flyover of China's biggest eco-community; designed by Arup.
See this short video on new urbanism as one of the solutions to global climate change.
Infrastructure in an Ecological Age.
A short video from ARUP that envisions a greener future for our cites. Download it here.
The ULTra (Urban Light Transit) system being built at London's Heathrow Airport is an electric, battery-powered, 100-mpg-equivalent, elevated PRT (personal rapid transit). A video of the project can be accessed here: http://www.ultraprt.com/cms/
Google Earth has released an application demonstrating how people around the world are already being affected by changing weather patterns and the predicted effects of climate change across the globe between now and 2100. The application can be downloaded here.
Go to the Venus Project website for some very interesting visualizations of buildlings, transportation modes and other features of the future.
Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History have unveiled a new exhibit Climate Change: The Threat to Life and A New Energy Future.
The video companion for the exhibit can be accessed via YouTube.
Jonathan Arnold of Arnold Imaging in Kansas City, MO., is designing a virtual cityscape that allows visitors to tour the downtown and get information about key features.
A collaborative effort between the City and County of San Francisco and Cisco has developed Urban Ecomap, a new web-based carbon footprint tracking tool. Urban Ecomap is designed to allow citizens to view their climate-change actions while providing them with low-carbon alternatives to daily activities. The tool is currently being piloted in San Francisco and will be made available to the public on May 21.
A link to the demo can be accessed at: http://www.urbanecomap.org
GOOD magazine is inviting readers to redesign streetscapes they like the least in their home towns. It's an excellent, interactive education tool. Go »
Global Green and Yahoo! have collaborated on a "virtual green house" that shows features of a low-carbon residence.
See how the hotel industry is using the web to illustrate its use of green design.
A study produced by AFL-CIO, Duke University, and The Environmental Defense Fund has mapped the manufacturing sectors that will add jobs in a green energy economy. Google maps for each state are available.
Architecture 2030, a building industry movement to achieve zero-energy buildings in all new commercial and residential construction by 2030, has released "Coastal Impact Study: Nation Under Siege". The study offers animated maps showing the coastal areas that would be inundated at various levels of ocean rise for over 100 cities.
The U.S. Department of Energy is creating a program that will provide technical assistance to communities that want to achieve carbon-neutrality in their energy and transportation sectors. Here is a DOE graphic that illustrates the elements of a carbon-neutral development. [PPT/563K]
Arnold Imaging Video Library
An animation, designed for Kansas City, of how urban design and transportation might look in 2020.
The second video depicts how a city of the future might be designed. [60MB Windows Media 2m15s]
The third video looks at VELA, a condominium of the future. [80MB Windows Media 3m25s]