Energy Star program, which was introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 and which has transformed the market for all kinds of power-consuming devices in the United States and a number of other countries, including Japan and Australia, as any consumer who has shopped for a household appliance in the past fifteen years probably knows. The U.S. Energy Star program was extended to residential and commercial buildings in 1995, and the EPA expects that by 2010 more than 2 million new U.S. houses will have received Energy Star labels. The EPA also estimates that, in 2007 alone, Energy Star saved Americans $16 billion in direct energy costs and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by an amount equivalent to those produced by 25 million cars.
Now, recall that Section 179 of the United States Internal Revenue Code still (in the age of Obama) gives Americans money for buying SUVs (the expense limit: $25,000; weight of vehicle: 6,000 lbs; business use: 75% ). With this in mind, let's consider the most eco-friendly mode of transportation in our uncertain times of climate change:
Because only two percent of Americans walk or cycle to work (that figure is taken from P.D. Smith's book City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age), and because the future will not happen in the way we understand or desire it unless that terribly low figure dramatically improves, should we not be offering substantial tax breaks for those who walk to work? A smartphone app could make the claims on such a tax benefit easy to verify. But as it currently stands, it is totally unfair that pedestrians and cyclists are not rewarded for not only reducing their impact on the environment but also on the health system. One more from Green Metropolis:
A British study concluded that every minute spent walking extends life expectancy by three minutes.