Katie Fehrenbacher – Editor, Earth2Tech.com and Writer, GigaOM.com
Electric Car Crunch Time: Now that the first mainstream electric vehicles launched in late 2010 – the Nissan LEAF and GM’s Volt – 2011 will be the year that we will see if the demand for these cars remain high. I think in the short term, at least throughout 2011, the demand will be there, though it will take a good decade for EVs to make a dent in the mainstream vehicle market.
2011 will also be the year to examine how the Nissan LEAF and GM’s Volt perform in real conditions on the roads. Will LEAF owners be happy with a potentially fluctuating range, given a 100-mile range is advertised but the range could drop substantially depending on temperature and driving methods? I think the average owner will be satisfied, but some owners could be dissatisfied if they are not aware of the discrepancy before they buy the car.
Energy Software Innovation: At the end of 2010 the phone companies AT&T and Verizon made some significant moves into home energy management, and Verizon plans to launch a smart home and energy management pilot program in New Jersey in January. I think in 2011 there will be much more innovation in terms of software and web applications for home energy management. Intuitive UIs and well-designed gadgets in homes could make a real difference in terms of cutting energy consumption.
Using the Web to “Share Stuff” Will Explode: Car sharing, via companies like Zipcar, has taken off – Zipcar has 530,000 members and over 8,000 cars in its fleet. But the interesting thing is that research shows that people who join car sharing networks are more likely to join communities that share other stuff, like goods (Zilok.com), or apartments (Airbnb.com). 2011 will be a major year for sharing stuff via the web, as consumers get more comfortable with the idea and new startups begin to launch their websites.
David Johnson – Architect and Partner, William McDonough + Partners
I predict that in the coming months, we will see increasing activity in the sustainable development and design sector, which will ignite and support a robust economic recovery across many sectors. Why so optimistic? Our clients inspire us. We have been fortunate to work with teams at NASA, American University School of International Service, and Greenbridge Developments, to name just a few. Each one demonstrates that high aspirations and commitment to quality and well-being can yield powerful, catalytic results.
Bridgette Meinhold – Designer, Artist & Architecture Editor for Inhabitat.com
In this past year I have seen my own friends and family do more with less, spend their money on quality rather than quantity, fix and renovate instead of build new, and pair down their possessions in hopes of a simpler and more meaningful life. I believe that trend is only growing stronger and will apply even more in the fields of design and architecture.
As a writer who sees a hundred architecture projects pass my screen a day, I’m seeing more and more creative solutions with existing materials, and buildings. Reclaimed and recycled materials are all the rage, Craigslist and classified adds are where its at, and your local recycling or materials exchange program is the new community hot spot.
Cities like Detroit, which has been in a state of desperation for so long, is making a come back in a huge way and the renovations happening there now are an inspiration. We don’t need to tear down and start over fresh – we need to make use of what we already have and turn it into something great. Men like Dan Phillips of the Phoenix Commotion, are leading a revolution and rethinking architecture from the foundation up by using discarded materials to build beautiful homes.
I’m predicting 2011 to the be the year of the green renovation, where people and businesses will rehabilitate and improve upon what they already have, with a strong focus on preservation for history, materials and for outdoor space.