Information about Oakland’s past and current efforts related to sustainability as quoted in this post can be found in this report:

Reducing Carbon-based Fuel Consumption
Carbon-based fuel consumption affects every area of how we live. Most people’s minds immediately think about their cars and reducing their gasoline usage, but it extends much further than that.

While technology has developed to the point of many alternative fuel sources, the predominate method of power generation is oil/gas based. While changes come at a significant price tag, there are apps and hardware available to help people be aware of their energy consumption.  One California company, Nest, has already started releasing products like their thermostat which intelligently learn when you are using energy and when you’re not and adjust your home’s temperature so that it’s only using energy at times you need it.  It can even be adjusted to avoid peak times.

The easiest application of “social” media to reducing carbon based fuel consumption would be in the spectrum of our driving and traffic habits.  An MIT project, called CO2GO connects citizens together in the arena of their CO2 emissions from their travels.  According to it’s website, it helps citizens make “smarter individual transportation choices to collectively reduce carbon emissions in cities…by automatically detecting your mode of transportation…while tracking the distance covered.”

Basically, it calculates your CO2 emissions based on your individual route and mode(s) of transportation, and can show you a better way to get where you are headed and share your routes with others so they can adjust their travel behaviors.

Oakland has also recently become the #7 city in the nation for bicycle commuting, having spent a significant amount of money on a “complete streets” initiative, providing a design standard that makes transportation safe for bikers, walkers and vehicles.

Oakland does have a loose plan on what they’d like to see happen, in terms of reducing carbon fuel consumption (and greenhouse gas emissions).  Below are some of the goals they have set to accomplish by the year 2020:

Here’s where it is interesting.  Below are the ways they are hoping to track their goals.  While they do list that they want to expand content on the website, they don’t really talk about how they’re measuring them.  I don’t think people are going to look at a website, you’ll have to integrate the awareness into their daily lives somehow.  That’s where the CO2GO application comes into play.

The catalyst for any change is awareness. If social (connected) media can affect one thing about sustainability, it would be awareness.  I’m not talking about facebook posts or campaigns  though that may be part of it.  I’m talking about the kind of data listed above: the awareness that someone who lives near to you took a slightly different way to work and burned half the amount of carbon fuels that you did in your car; the awareness that turning down your air conditioner 4 degrees in the late afternoon forces them to work an oil power generator twice as much releasing twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere.

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