Author Archives: Leidy

Hi, I’m Leidy Klotz. I try to help young people make a better world. The best way I know how is through teaching and research, in particular trying to find out what leads to elegant, sustainable solutions.
I live with my beautiful wife, Monica, in Clemson, SC where we don’t like to use air conditioning and the majority of our climate-changing emissions come from traveling to see family or the beach.

How can concrete be elegant?

See how nice stained concrete can look

Is concrete a sustainable material? Those arguing “no” would point to the fact that its production accounts for about 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. The other side would argue that concrete’s durability and thermal properties (concrete insulates and can moderate temperature swings) outweigh the negative impacts of its production. They could also point to advances in concrete technology that reduce the emissions impact. Read More →

Flaming camels and road diets part 3 – we can create elegant sustainable solutions

Main street in Greenville, SC (after its road diet)

Part 1, Part 2 We are capable of creating elegant solutions, it’s just that the forces dragging us towards the complexity at point 2 are more powerful than those pulling us back down once we get there. In school, we have grades and assignments that reward complexity. Your paper should be at least 10 pages. You must show all your work. The cost estimate should have Read More →

Flaming camels and road diets part 2 – elegant and sustainable solutions are not easy

elegance fig

Part 1 Elegant solutions represent the simplicity on the other side of complexity. Ideas at point 1 in the figure are simple, but not elegant because they don’t meet user needs. When faced with attacking elephants, Timur’s men who panicked and ran found a simple solution, but one that would not have led to the capture of Delhi. Similarly, just about anyone can come up with Read More →

Flaming camels and road diets part 1


Mongolian chieftain Timur was invading India when he ran into an opposing army that included 120 war elephants with poison-coated tusks and covered in armor. Lacking any elephants of their own, Timur’s men responded to the charging war elephants either by running away or by frantically digging protective ditches. Timur’s response was simpler, and much more successful. He ordered his men to move their camels Read More →

Elegant automobiles?

The car-sharing program is much more elegant than the car itself

My brother, Rick who’s a graduate student living in Ithaca, NY, took his 2000 Nissan Maxima to the repair shop recently because the horn had stopped working. The helpful mechanic told him that the engine was about to fall out, refused to work on it, and gave my brother the phone number for the junkyard. Rick and his fiance, Christine, whose car was also scrapped Read More →

Hawaiian shirts in Japan: A comfortable way to curb emissions

How could you prefer a suit and tie?

Japan started a “Cool Biz” program in 2005. The program simply allows workers to dress in short sleeves, instead of the traditional jacket and tie, during the warm summer months. The change in dress codes means that temperatures in offices can be set at 82 degrees F, which reduces costs, electricity consumption and carbon dioxide emissions associated with air conditioning. The program saves over 1 Read More →

What is an elegant solution?

Sandals are more elegant than leather roads

There was a king whose feet were very sensitive to the rocky roads in his kingdom. To be able to walk wherever he wanted on smoother roads, the king decided he would have all the roads covered with leather. He invited the best contractors in the kingdom to bid on this huge project. One replied, “I can cover the roads with leather, but it will Read More →