Monday, June 18, 2007

Bicycles and glass—How the Fins are saving the world

—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter editor, e-glass weekly

The world has eight years to reduce emissions and curb climate change before it may be too late, according to Fiona Hall, the head of an energy commission for the European Parliament who spoke during the GPD opening session. That’s a very small and scary number that inspired me to make some changes.

I had every intention of starting my own conservation efforts immediately, including avoiding my gas-guzzling 4,000 mile flight home tomorrow. However, I just don’t have enough vacation days to do a leisurely backstroke to the states. And, my swimming isn’t quite what it could be—I wasn't once the national record holder for the 50 meter butterfly in India like one Glass Magazine editor … not to mention any names, so Sahely Mukerji gets embarrassed.

I’ll get really serious about conservation when I get home—starting by selling my car. Speaking of which, is anyone in the market for a blue Pontiac Vibe? Or, does anyone happen to have a good bike they’re looking to sell … perhaps with the friends, family or glass-industry reporter discount?

Aside from making my own energy plans, Hall’s speech also made me acutely aware of the efforts on the part of others, including many right here in Finland. The most obvious one is the plethora of bicyclists. I live in New York and was still surprised by the number of people pedaling their way, rather than driving. My dad would be disappointed, though, as most riders I saw were not wearing helmets.

Conservation goes far beyond bikes in Finland. Reducing energy use in buildings seems a big concern, as many places let the sunlight in and turn the lights off whenever they can. During my trip over last week, I noticed both the Helsinki and Tampere airports have large glass facades that allowed them to turn many of their electric lights. Daylighting was also used instead of lights in many areas of Tampere Hall, where the conference was held.

While most property owners seem to be catching on, I did notice one Tampere mall seems to be a bit behind the trend.

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