5 Things to Know Today: February 7, 2017
Liz Biscevic—5 Things to Know Today
In case you missed it, the U.S. just got its first solar road, and the energy it generates will power more sustainable initiatives. Pretty cool, right? Also, a new study found that cities can reduce their carbon footprint by planning denser neighborhoods, and if you’re thinking about buying a home in 2017, you should probably consider how the new administration might affect your closing costs.
1. Inhabitat: America just got its first solar road, and it’ll be used to power more sustainable initiatives.
The Ray C. Anderson Foundation is currently testing all sorts of new, green technologies across "The Ray," an 18-mile stretch of road in rural Georgia, and just installed 538 square feet of Wattway solar road near the Alabama border. The output for that 538 square-meter plot should be around 7,000 kilowatt-hours per year, which will help power a nearby visitors' center.
2. Mic: 5 ways to save money without even trying.
These money-saving hacks are so effortless, it’s a wonder why we haven’t already incorporated them into our lives. For instance, rather than just paying your bills each month, set up an automatic transfer so that the money goes straight into your savings account—where it will accrue more interest—before it’s time to pay your creditors. You can also break up with your bank for one that doesn’t charge fees, or offers a higher interest rate.
3. Fast Coexist: The best way to reduce a city’s carbon footprint is preventing urban sprawl.
According to a new study, cities are becoming less dense, and that’s not a good thing. Aside from contributing to air pollution by making cars necessary and building atop wildlife habitats, urban sprawl causes buildings to use way more energy than what they would use in denser designs. If a city plans for dense urban areas, energy for heating and cooling is anticipated to grow 7 percent by 2050. If they don’t plan for density and elect to allow for more sprawl, energy output could increase as much as 40 percent in the same period.
4. TreeHugger: China leads the world for electric busses, and it's time for America to get on board.
By the end of 2015, China had over 98 percent of the world's electric busses, and they sold nearly 115,700 electric buses in 2016. Recently, the Chinese city of Shenzhen announced its plan to buy a fleet of 15,000 electric busses by the end of 2017. This is especially surprising when you consider that just three years ago, only 1,672 electric busses were sold worldwide. With China as an unlikely leader on this cleantech front, how long before the rest of the world gets on board with electric public transportation?
Right after his inauguration, President Trump issued an order to immediately suspend a planned fee reduction for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. This suspension, which had not gone into effect, halted a reduction in mortgage insurance premiums for FHA-backed loans. While this won't affect current mortgage holders, potential homebuyers might hold off now, knowing that they won't be saving .25 percentage points of the total borrowed, or $400-$450 annually on average according to the National Association of Realtors.