The EcoBlock project is creating a model for renovating local neighborhoods into the more self-sufficient, sustainable, and resilient communities of the future. One of the ways in which the project seeks to do so is by implementing a mobility strategy that provides a variety of flexible, sustainable, and low-cost options that can complement existing transportation systems.
Recent technological progress and innovations in solar photovoltaic (PV) and other renewable energy systems, electric vehicles (EVs) and other electric and non-motorized mobility, energy storage, and water conservation are making for a new wave of possibilities for community-scale microgrids. These can help to lower energy costs for residents by being more energy efficient, and at the same time reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
Key elements of the Oakland EcoBlock mobility strategy, to be designed with consultation from block residents, include:
Electric vehicle carsharing
The EcoBlock will incorporate a small number of shared Electric Vehicles that will be available to block participants on a reservation basis (and for an hourly fee) through a third party car share program. The availability of these vehicles may allow resident households to get rid of their second car, or defer a new or used vehicle purchase, something the project will closely evaluate. The vehicles will be charged with clean EcoBlock power, making them a low carbon transportation option.
Electric Vehicle charging stations
The EcoBlock EV chargers will operate off the power from the EcoBlock microgrid. A specialty set of EV chargers located at the curbside will be used for the project to recharge the shared-use EVs and improve overall charging efficiency
Electric scooter docking and charging
If desired by block residents, the project will install an e-scooter docking and charging station to organize e-scooter parking and make e-scooters readily available for use by the block.
The EcoBlock will include provision of a few shared bicycles with cargo capability for running local errands such as grocery shopping. These will be available on an on-demand basis and securely locked when not in use through combination locks.
In addition, purchase of used EVs is becoming a low-cost option for mobility. There are now over 40 models of new EVs on sale in the California market, and these are now increasingly becoming available as used vehicles with low overall costs of ownership. Websites such as “Craig’s List” (sfbaycraigslist.org) and “myev.com” are advertising used EVs in good condition for as little as about $5,000 with then subsequently low costs of ownership based on electric fuel and minimal maintenance.
Overall, the Oakland EcoBlock project seeks to create a model for how communities can be re-envisioned for the future, with lower energy use, greater energy self-reliance, water conservation, and low-carbon mobility solutions. Our world is changing fast and we must change with it, embracing new technologies but also more traditional solutions to improve social and environmental health and prosperity.