How apartment buildings and condos can help turn the tide toward EVs

December 21, 2022

So you live in an apartment complex with onsite parking, and you want to get an electric car. Where will you charge your new ride? It’s a big question for many people who live in multi-unit dwellings, a.k.a, multifamily housing. Increasingly, property owners and residents are installing electric vehicle (EV) chargers, recognizing the appeal—and climate necessity—of going electric.  

Close to a third of U.S. housing is in the multifamily category, and most charging happens at home. As more drivers seek the benefits of EVs—no polluting tailpipe emissions, lower fueling costs, quieter engines—multi-unit housing has a chance to play a major role in the transition. But even when the benefit of installing chargers is clear, the process may not be. How much will it cost? What funding is available? What type should be installed, and where? 

Some landlords might feel it’s easier to direct EV drivers elsewhere.

“When I was a renter, I asked the property management about EV charging. They asked me not to try to install charging at my parking spot,” says Brennan Balson, an EV driver since 2012 who joined our November webinar on EV charging in multi-unit dwellings. “Instead, they asked me to use a public charger at an affiliated property down the street. The pricing on that unit was fair, so I took that option.”

If you’re curious about having a similar conversation and want to bring EV charging to your multi-unit dwelling, check out our toolkit. In it, you’ll learn how to start the conversation about charging at your building, how to make a strong pitch, and what you need to know in terms of charging types and installation. 

It’s a misconception that installing chargers is pointless in certain places because apartment dwellers can’t afford electric vehicles. 

On the contrary, as the saying goes: If you build it, they will come. 

“That’s been my attitude all along,” Tim Baker, fleet manager for Washington State’s King County Housing Authority, said during the webinar. “If you put the stations in, cars start showing up, because people realize they can charge at their home. That’s going to incentivize them to maybe buy an electric vehicle.”

If you put the stations in, cars start showing up, because people realize they can charge at their home. That’s going to incentivize them to maybe buy an electric vehicle.

Ayesha Hudson, a real estate developer in Washington, D.C., who focuses on housing in undervalued neighborhoods, echoed this during the webinar. “There are a lot of affordable electric vehicles now,” she said. “People in our community, perhaps if they saw the infrastructure more, we would be more inclined to look at an electric vehicle.”

Here are some tips for getting charging installed where you live.

Research available funding and incentives

Many cities and states have funding available to support EV charging infrastructure. Utilities also have incentive programs (see this example from Pepco) to help cover the cost of equipment and installation. Don’t overlook the technical support many such programs offer as well. Initiatives like this one in California’s Santa Clara County can help determine where a charger could be installed and whether electrical upgrades are needed.

Photo Credit: PlugIn Sites

Look at pro-charging policies in your area and at your place of employment

“Right to charge” laws in several states, including California, New York, Maryland, and Virginia, allow homeowners facing condo associations or other entities to install charging stations, as long as they meet certain guidelines. Both states and cities like San Diego and Seattle are creating incentives, funding, and support for charging stations at multi-unit properties. You can also check to see if your employer offers EV charging at work or seek out companies that make EV charging infrastructure and EV incentives available to employees.

Map out alternatives in the meantime

If installing a charging station at your residence is taking awhile (or not happening at all), don’t let that dissuade you from making the switch to an EV if you want one. Balson points out that apps like PlugShare make it easy to find charging stations near you.  “Some automakers offer discounts and even free charging if you buy a new EV from them,” he adds.

Want more? Check out the many tips and resources in our guide and watch our webinar.


This holiday season, don’t clam up about climate

December 14, 2022

Welcome to The Holiday Season of 2022. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: Engage with that relative who loves to talk about how climate change is a hoax every time the mercury dips below 50 degrees. 

We’re here with some tips. But first, a spoiler alert: No one has yet devised a proven rhetorical tool for boosting the relevance of scientific fact over emotions, conspiracies, and plain old inertia. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be in a climate crisis to begin with. Already, you know better than to hope your fossil-friendly uncle or cousin is going to walk away from a dinner chat thinking, “Hey, maybe I was wrong to talk trash about Greta Thunberg. Now what should I research first, an electric car or solar panels?” 

Why bother then, you might ask? It can be frustrating to talk with someone who is denying or dismissing an issue so fundamental to our survival on this planet. And then there’s the concern that if you drop some facts, you might inadvertently cause your relative to double down on climate change denial—we’ll get to that one in a minute.


The debunking dance

A good goal for any conversation about climate change, aside from retaining your sanity, is simply to counter misinformation, and to do it without shaming people or arguing them down. 

When you do this, you are achieving two things: You’re preventing that bad info from “sticking” with other people in the room (especially kids), and you’re actively refuting falsehoods where they have already taken hold. Both of these are strategies laid out in the helpful Debunking Handbook 2020, written by a team of 22 scholars and posted at the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. 

The debunking handbook, appropriately enough, debunks a common perception about debunking: The aforementioned notion that a person will hold tighter to false beliefs when presented with evidence to the contrary. This is called the backfire effect, and it seems especially relevant in a world where one can go to any number of websites that peddle fave denier ideas

But recent research suggests the backfire effect, though it does happen, is not inevitable. 

“Backfire effects occur only occasionally, and the risk of occurrence is lower in most situations than once thought,” say the Debunking Handbook authors. “Do not refrain from attempting to debunk or correct misinformation out of fear that doing so will backfire or increase beliefs in false information.”

The debunking handbook suggests a sort of fact-sandwich strategy that lends itself to a written debunk, say, on social media. You lead with a simple fact, nod to the myth, explain the problem with the myth, and close by restating facts. 

For example: “Turns out the last seven years have been the warmest on record. So when the weather turns cold and you hear, ‘It’s 30 degrees out today, there is no such thing as global warming,’ know that that’s ignoring the wider trend. Yes, we still have cold days. Overall, though, the world is warmer than ever, and the hot days are getting hotter.”


Six ideas for talking about climate change

Okay, maybe that fact-sandwich approach gets you a few likes on Facebook. And maybe you’re the type who can coolly rattle off some climate facts over crudites like it’s nothing. For the rest of us, it’s useful to have some guidance for in-person encounters. To that end:

1. Have a conversation, not a debate. Climate scientist Astrid Caldas, who speaks to all kinds of audiences, says in a video about combating misinformation, “It’s never a lecture. It’s a conversation.” If you try to “win” with the most facts or get emotional to the point of having a heated argument, both sides lose. 

2. Ask questions—and listen to the answers. One of the best ways to start a conversation, of course, is to ask a question. The organizational psychologist Adam Grant has suggested that motivational interviewing, a technique developed to treat addictions, can also get people to reconsider false notions. Even without trying to change someone’s mind, asking questions can give you a better sense of what their concerns are.

3. Find common ground. Caldas also recommends knowing your audience—that, along with asking questions, helps locate where you might agree. “Connecting with people is easier than people think,” she says. “There is always something that we have in common with somebody.” Maybe your dad thinks all this talk about ditching fossil fuels to save the planet is nonsense. But he might have an open ear to spending less on gasoline with a fuel-efficient car or lowering the monthly power bill by installing solar panels.

4. Talk about what they care about. Many studies on communication and behavior confirm the importance of appealing (or avoiding a challenge) to a person’s sense of identity. Research shows that people may respond best to peer pressure (do any of your dad’s buddies have EVs?) or messages that confirm their own world view. One study found Republicans were more likely to recycle in response to messaging about civic duty, as opposed to being green. When making your point, you don’t have to reference environmental groups and Democrats, which could undermine your message, depending on your audience. NASA has a ton of great facts on climate change. Or you can bring up how the military was still powering ahead with clean energy under Trump, because it’s strategically smart.

5. Focus on the positive. This goes back to the common ground idea. Rather than get bogged down in whether or not humans are causing climate change, can you agree that some aspects of the clean energy economy are really cool? There’s a reason Republican Texas is also the country’s top wind energy state. Human ingenuity has driven job-creating sources of homegrown, renewable energy. Heck, there are electric cars out that can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under 3 seconds. Who cares that they don’t burn gasoline?

6. Know when to let go. Remember not to be what Grant calls a “logic bully” who is out to convert or defeat opponents. If you’re talking (civilly) about climate change at all, that’s a win—as climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe has pointed out, conversations are “the only way revolutions ever started.” Not speaking out leads to a “spiral of silence,” the Debunking Handbook says, where a “mute majority cedes a narrative to a vocal but misinformed minority.” 


Denial comes in many forms. The hallmarks: downplaying the urgency of the crisis, dragging feet on action, or watering down commitments. Your cranky aunt certainly isn’t the only one facing this crisis with folded arms.

But it’s also worth noting that the number of Americans who say they are alarmed about climate change has increased 50% over the past five years, while the “dismissive” camp is shrinking. And solutions are out there. You might not be able to change anyone’s mind over a single meal, but you can stand up for facts and hope


Sustainable Gift Guide: 10 Climate-Conscious Gifts to Give

December 7, 2022

Don’t end up on the naughty list! Shop climate-smart this holiday season.

If you’re going to give, opt for one of these thoughtful choices and you’ll avoid giving something that will inevitably end up in a landfill after a couple of months. While not exhaustive, the following is a list of our top choices for a “green” holiday season with homemade, upcycled, and low-impact materials.

From your “I don’t need a gift” dad, to your tech-loving neighbor, to your impossible-to-shop-for Mother-in-Law, these gifts are sure to spread some holiday cheer.

1. Solar-powered toys

Kids love new technology, and parents love toys that encourage creativity and problem-solving through play. Solar-powered toys are the perfect solution and they provide the same level of fun as their battery-operated counterparts. From solar-powered race cars to robots, there are a variety of clean-energy powered toys to choose from. 

2. Recycled-plastic Barbies

As part of a push by the $104 billion global toy industry to make its overwhelmingly plastic products more sustainable, Hasbro Inc. has announced 33 new products, including this “Barbie Loves the Ocean” doll made of recycled plastic trash collected in Mexico before it can pollute the Pacific Ocean.

3. A sustainable cookbook

Consuming less meat helps lower both your personal water and carbon footprint, but it can be challenging to get started. By gifting a sustainable cookbook, you can encourage others to adopt more environmentally-conscious eating habits like eating plant-based, seasonally, locally, and with less waste. We love Everyday Cooking for family-friendly meals, The Korean Vegan for adventurous taste buds, and The Zero-Waste Cookbook for wasteless meals.

4. National parks pass

There are more than 2,000 federal recreation sites in the US: national parks, national forests, grasslands, seashores, battlefields, historic sites, monuments, and more. By gifting an America the Beautiful Pass, you’re giving a loved one access to all of these beautiful sites and supporting the National Park Service in managing these national treasures and historical lands in the process.

5. Solar-powered tech products

Solar-powered products aren’t just limited to toys for kids! Stay on top of the latest tech-trends and opt for something solar-powered for the tech-geek on your list. Backpacks, phone chargers, portable power stations, lights—the list is endless!

6. Homemade treats

One of the most budget-friendly and tasty gifts you can give someone is food. Even if you’re not in the running as a contestant for Best Amatuer Baker or Top Chef, there are several delicious treats you can whip up in 30-minutes or less. By layering ingredients in a jar for hot chocolate or cookies, you have a beautiful jar to present your friends with that you spent time preparing just for them. Jars filled with granola, roasted nuts, or homemade chex-mix work well, too (note: check for any food allergies first).

7. Plants and succulents

Plants improve memory-retention and have a positive effect on mental health, making them an excellent choice for a gift for anyone. Since succulents are highly resilient and long-lasting plants, owners don’t need a green thumb to care for their new plant! If you’re still worried about them caring for a plant, you can plant a tree in their name with The Arbor Foundation.

8. Products from certified B-corporations

Do you already have a specific gift in mind? Before jumping right to Amazon or another big-box store, check to see if the item you’re looking for is available locally or made by a B-corporation (you can sort by industry to find a specific product). These are businesses that are graded each year to ensure they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 

9. Going big on a car? Go electric

If your family happens to be in the market for a new vehicle this year, the holidays can be a really good time to buy. And this year, now more than ever, you’d do well to consider driving electric. Purchasing an electric vehicle is not just a gift for the planet and our clean energy future, but also frees yourself from a future of gas station visits, transmission repairs, and oil changes—on top of one of the most fun vehicles to drive!

10. Generation180 merch

At Generation180, we don’t put coal in stockings—we’re #fossilfuelfree! Check out our collection of swag for everyone from EV-lovers to climate comedy enthusiasts. 


P.S. Did you know that Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year? By choosing to wrap your gift in something reusable like an attractive cloth or towel, or decorating and reusing an old grocery bag or newspaper, you can take your green-gifting to the next level.

P.P.S. If you prefer to give nonmaterial gifts, such as gifts of time and experiences, check out the SoKind registry to help you focus more on fun and less on stuff.