First Take: IBM's Latest Smart Cities Innovation, a Sun-Powered Train, and More

Smarter City-in-a-Box: In what's expected to be a boon to cash-strapped communities, IBM has unveiled a plug-and-play system that will enable cities to have smart systems for monitoring and managing water, power and transportation without the big price tag usually associated with such technology.

IBM announced its Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities at the Intelligent Cities Forum in Washington, D.C., yesterday and Fast Company provides an overview on the latest IBM offering. GreenBiz.com will have two staffers on hand at an IBM smarter buildings forum Thursday in New York. Stayed tuned here for more details.

Fracking Off in New York State? The New York State Assembly approved a one-year moratorium Monday on hydraulic fracturing, Reuters reports in the Scientific American. But the measure must now pass the state senate to bar new drilling permits for the method of natural gas drilling in which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pummeled into rock to release trapped gas.

Investing in Efficiency:
Dow Chemical Company is investing $84 million to fund 40 energy efficiency projects around the world as part of its Energy Intensity Improvement Fund commitments.

Solar-Powered Speed:
A high-speed train line from Paris to Amsterdam is getting a boost of power from the sun thanks to a two-mile-long rail tunnel (pictured above) in Belgium that's topped with 16,000 solar panels. The Guardian has details along with a video.

A Less Guilty Pleasure:
Krispy Kreme is switching to cage-free eggs, according to a report carried by Triple Pundit.

Resting in Green Peace: Green burials and funeral options that are considered more eco-friendly, such as use of a wicker container rather than a traditional coffin, are catching on in the Washington area, according to the Washington Post.

Top image CC licensed by Flicker user Guwashi999. Screen shot of the solar train tunnel via YouTube video from Solar Power Systems.