Do government incentives work? And which types of incentives work best? The American Institute of Architects (AIA) wanted to know the answers, and partnered with the National Association of Counties to find out. The Local Leaders in Sustainability research project, begun in 2007, seeks to examine green building practices in such communities. Their latest report, Green Building Incentive Trends: Strengthening Communities, Building Green Economies, is a tool for local governments looking to incentivize green design and construction in their communities.
Infrastructure is a major issue of out time, stretching across towns, cities, states, regions, and countries. Our current methodology of building and maintaining it is too expensive, too inflexible, and too ecologically damaging. If we hope to solve the numerous problems we face with energy, water, transportation, healthcare, and urbanized areas, we must completely reinvent our infrastructure. An alternative to the conventional approach to public infrastructure work is emerging: Ecomimicry.
Rather than attempting to make the energy grid smarter or appliances more efficient, ecomimicry aims to eliminate the need for energy all together. It asks questions like “Why don’t birds use heating oil?” and “Why don’t buffalo build coal plants?” At first these questions may seem silly– but their answers point us toward a way of thinking that outsmarts the accepted practices of dealing with infrastructural systems. We begin to imagine that de-engineering our world could be an option for improving our lifestyles, safety, and financial systems.
The Political Economy of Peer Production
Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a deeper transformation of the fundamentals of our social life. As political, economic, and social systems transform themselves into distributed networks, a new human dynamic is emerging: peer to peer (P2P). As P2P gives rise to the emergence of a third mode of production, a third mode of governance, and a third mode of property, it is poised to overhaul our political economy in unprecedented ways.
The Energy Trap
Many Do the Math posts have touched on the inevitable cessation of growth and on the challenge we will face in developing a replacement energy infrastructure once our fossil fuel inheritance is spent. The focus has been on long-term physical constraints, and not on the messy details of our response in the short-term. But our reaction to a diminishing flow of fossil fuel energy in the short-term will determine whether we transition to a sustainable but technological existence or allow ourselves to collapse. One stumbling block in particular has me worried. I call it The Energy Trap.