Eco Warriors

Volkswagen giving The Conservation Fund $1.25 million to buy, protect land in East Tennessee

Volkswagen is making a significant donation to help the environment of Eastern Tennessee.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Conservation Fund will be on the receiving end of a $1.25 million donation from Volkswagen. The monies will be used to buy, protect and donate hundreds of acres of land to the U.S. Forest Service. Any remaining money will be used to provide community grants in Eastern Tennessee.

Volkswagen's U.S. plant is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, near where these funds will be used.

Cherokee National Forest Tennessee The additional conservation efforts will allow visitors to enjoy the national habitats of wildlife in Tennessee.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"We are excited about our partnership with Volkswagen and the opportunity to advance their commitment to corporate leadership around sustainability," said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. "Volkswagen is taking real, measurable steps forward to help protect the environment, embrace sustainable business practices and support the communities in which they work."

Most of the funds will be used to increase the size of the Cherokee National Forest. The Forest was created in 1920 and currently stands at about 656,000 acres north and south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Volkswagen's donation will help add 1,500 acres to the site. That new acreage will be used for public recreation and habitat protection for black bears and Indiana bats.

Cherokee National Forest sign Tennessee Volkswagen of America and The Conservation Fund are teaming up to increase the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"Our work with The Conservation Fund will help strengthen the environment and help us give back to a community where more than 3,800 of our colleagues live," said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. "This collaboration in our own backyard underscores our 'Drive Bigger' goal of pursuing ideas bigger than ourselves and then taking action. We feel a responsibility to show how a major automaker can credibly contribute to the greater good."

In addition to the bears and bats, the Forest is home to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, several whitewater rivers, and 12 designated wildernesses.

The Conservation Fund is negotiating with private landowners to acquire properties that will be held until they can be transferred to the USDA Forest Service for long-term stewardship in 2020 and 2021.

Toyota's city of the future will run only on hydrogen and solar power.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota is taking a page out of Hyundai's playbook when it comes to conceptualizing cities of future, but the Japanese automaker is taking it one major step further. They're actually building the city.

Called the Woven City, the 175-acre development will be fully powered by hydrogen fuel cells and serve as a living laboratory for full-time residents and researchers. Unlike the three-acre Biospehere 2, Woven City will not be enclosed and secluded from the real world.

Toyota Woven City 2020 2021 Woven City will incorporate a number of green spaces.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Woven City will feature autonomous, personal mobility, smart home, and artificial intelligence technologies working together in a way that has never been tested before.

"Building a complete city from the ground up, even on a small scale like this, is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies, including a digital operating system for the city's infrastructure," said Akio Toyoda, president, Toyota Motor Corporation. "With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, we will be able to test connected AI technology… in both the virtual and the physical realms … maximizing its potential."

Woven City isn't an exclusive opportunity for Toyota. The company will open the site to commercial and academic partners as well as scientists and researchers from around the world.

"We welcome all those inspired to improve the way we live in the future, to take advantage of this unique research ecosystem and join us in our quest to create an ever-better way of life and mobility for all," said Toyoda.

Toyota Woven City 2020 2021 Woven City will be a live-work-pay community.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, CEO, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has been commissioned to design Woven City. BIG has worked on many high-profile projects including 2 World Trade Center in New York, the Lego House in Denmark, and Google's Mountain View and London headquarters.

"A swarm of different technologies are beginning to radically change how we inhabit and navigate our cities," said Ingels. "Connected, autonomous, emission-free and shared mobility solutions are bound to unleash a world of opportunities for new forms of urban life. With the breadth of technologies and industries that we have been able to access and collaborate with from the Toyota ecosystem of companies, we believe we have a unique opportunity to explore new forms of urbanity with the Woven City that could pave new paths for other cities to explore."

Woven City's masterplan includes three types of street usage: vehicles-only, low speed personal mobility and pedestrians, and park-like promenades for pedestrians only. These three types serve as fertile testing ground for numerous types of autonomous technology.

Toyota is planning to have the entire space be fully sustainable. The buildings are mostly made of wood, which the company says is in an effort to minimize the carbon footprint of Woven City. Rooftops will be covered in photo-voltaic panels, which will generation solar power to supplement the hydrogen fuel cells. Native vegetation and hydroponics will also be features.

The homes of Woven City will have robotics designed to assist with daily living. Sensor-based AI will check occupants' health and assist with daily lifestyle needs.

Toyota's Woven City

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

According to Toyota, only fully-autonomous, zero-emission vehicles will be allowed on the main thoroughfares. Toyota e-Palettes will be used for transportation and deliveries, as well as for changeable mobile retail.

There will be neighborhood parks, a large central park, and a central plaza.

Toyota is planning to have 2,000 people inhabit Woven City to start with plans to add more as the project evolves. A groundbreaking is planned in early 2021.