Life & Business

Life is a Sustainable Highway

An Interview WIth Allie Kelly, Executive Director of The Ray

What’s our favorite thing about Serenbe? It might be the community design that preserves 70% of the land, and we certainly love the organic regenerative farm and the numerous wellness offerings to help you live your best life. Yet, when we think about what our favorite aspect of Serenbe is, the answer is simple, it’s our residents. The community is made up of some incredible, diverse, talented people who truly make Serenbe a special place for all. So with that in mind, we are highlighting the life and work of our residents, many of whom are doing transformational work to better our world. Our first resident feature is Allie Kelly, Executive Director of The Ray, the highway that is the future of sustainable roads and transportation.

Once you understand the transportation industry isn’t necessarily the most sustainable, 5 million tons of CO2 emissions are released annually into the atmosphere just from the U.S., you start to realize why it’s ripe for change. This is one of the many reasons why the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, created in honor of the namesake environmentalist, is working hard to change the way roads are built and operate so that we can get to “zero carbon, zero waste, and zero deaths”, according to Allie. One of their biggest and most “radical” projects is The Ray, an 18-mile stretch of Georgia’s Interstate-85 that operates as a proving ground for the evolving ideas and technologies that will transform the transportation infrastructure of the future. “I feel like we're in the perfect position to prove out the fact that our energy and our transportation infrastructure has to modernize and has to become resilient in order for our society and our communities to continue to thrive in the face of changing climate conditions,” Allie shares on her episode of Serenbe Stories Podcast, where she talks about her life in Serenbe and her work at The Ray.

As a 501c3 nonprofit, The Ray has set out to build regenerative, net-zero highways for a cleaner and safer world for all by utilizing new ideas and technologies. They’re working on projects such as solar-powered EV charging and solar highways that will generate clean, renewable energy. They also aim to document everything they’ve done and the impact they’ve had on human life safety, CO2 emissions, water and air pollution and increasing productivity to help accelerate, share and facilitate similar projects all over the world, Allie explains. She says some of the things they’re focusing on, which she also talked about in her TEDxAtlanta talk in (year), include proper roadside cultivation to avoid erosion and using highway assets to stand up clean energy infrastructure while also supporting natural pollinators such as bees and butterflies. She says the next step is to continue this kind or roadside activity into all contiguous 48 states. Allie also wants to build rubber roads out of old, discarded tires, making quieter and more resilient roads while also solving the problem of illegal tire dumps. Finally, making smart roads that can communicate not only with cars on the road to alert drivers of conditions ahead, but also with government agencies to identify when repairs are needed and how different roads are affected by outside forces like weather. Impressive, don’t you think?

Allie is also doing work to create highways that will charge your car. She’s on the board of the Aspire Center, which is the National Science Foundation Center that is the “tip of the spear” in America for wireless dynamic EV charging.  They’ve proven that they can transfer up to 50KW at highway speeds without any wires. They place coils in the pavement that are able to distribute energy in a magnetic field received in the car’s undercarriage by a receiver. The vision is to be able to drive coast to coast without stopping to charge your car. Amazing!

To hear lots more about the work Allie is doing at The Ray, listen to Allie’s episode on Serenbe Stories. We are so thankful to have people who are working to better the planet for all, so thank you to Allie, The Ray and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation for working towards a more sustainable future!

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