Schools

Top 3

01
Reduce bus idling and convert vehicle fleet to cleaner (tier 3) vehicles.
02
Encourage or incentivize students and staff to walk, bike, or take the bus.
03
Educate students on ways they can clean the air.

School Administrators and Staff

Convert bus and vehicle fleet to low emission vehicles.

Converting vehicles from the standard vehicle with a Smog 6 rating up to a Smog 8 rating will eliminate 70% of vehicle emissions. Busses burning diesel have more options still, with alternatives like natural gas, induction, and other technologies offering little or no tailpipe emissions. Many of these upgrades can provide cost savings over the lifespan of the vehicle.

Tool: Convert vehicle fleet (e.g. maintenance vehicles, buses) to clean fuel vehicles such as CNG & electric, and new technology like induction charging.

Converting vehicles can save money and emissions. CNG is particularly effective with larger vehicles, while electric may be more practical in smaller vehicles.

Resources

Case Studies

Tool: Reduce bus idling.

Stationary vehicles generate more emissions and operate less efficiently than vehicles in motion. Idling buses also create localized particulate matter (pm) 2.5 spikes, in areas near schools and children. Help reduce bus idling through appropriate measures with drivers.

Resource

Tool: Encourage the expansion of CNG fueling infrastructure.

Buses that run on CNG will require supporting infrastructure. Schools can work with the city to encourage CNG infrastructure, especially near schools, that will service low-emission school buses.

Tool: Improve the network of charging stations near schools.

Work with the city, donors, and the school board to build charging stations near schools. Although electric vehicle sales represented less than one percent of car sales in 2014, in just a few years, their availability, reliability, and affordability has greatly increased and should continue to do so.

Case Studies

  • Utah Paperbox EV Charging Stations. Utah Paperbox (UPB) in Salt Lake City installed five electric vehicle charging stations. UPB worked in a partnership with Utah Clean Cities and received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to support the station installation. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/case/1569
  • Pacific Gas and Electric EV Charging Stations, California. Pacific Gas and Electric has been approved to build 25,000 EV charging stations in California to help the state reach its mandate to reduce emissions by 80% below 1990s levels by 2050. The energy used at these charging stations will be bought by service providers from PG&E and then re-sold to drivers. http://www.pge.com/en/myhome/saveenergymoney/pev/index.page

Tool: Emphasize natural gas use for heavy vehicles, like school buses and trucks.

CNG is particularly effective at limiting emissions of larger vehicles like school buses and heavy trucks.

Improve bus and transit ridership through increased accessibility.

Many students and faculty already share trips through both the school district bussing system and public transportation. Building that ridership removes cars from the road, particularly during inefficient, congested commute hours.

Tool: Evaluate bus routes to ensure maximum efficiency and reach.

Ensure that bus routes service the most students possible. Continue to build on efforts to make bus stops safe and secure for children of all ages.

Tool: Coordinate with UTA for shorter headways during peak school commute hours.

Faculty and some older students may use public transportation to get to school. Work with UTA to shorten the wait times for these groups during peak commute hours. Headways of more than 15 minutes will discourage many users from taking the bus.

Create connected, complete, and safe bicycle and pedestrian systems.

One of the largest reasons commuters do not use active transportation to get to work or school is because they feel it is unsafe, and the sidewalk and bike lane networks are not continuous or well-maintained. It is important to develop complete alternative transportation networks in order for them to be useful and used by commuters. These networks should emphasize navigational simplicity and connecting key neighborhoods, destinations, and transit.

Tool: Work with the city to develop bicycle parking requirements including long-term bike parking, particularly around schools.

Automobile parking requirements are intimately defined in most city zoning codes and development ordinances. Bicycle parking minimizes the hassle and inconvenience of searching for a secure and safe place to lock one’s bicycle when arriving at one’s destination. By eliminating inconvenience and barriers, bicycle parking can elevate bicycling towards becoming a legitimate and viable transportation option for most trips in Provo. Thorough bicycle parking requirements account for both short-term and long-term parking, promote proper siting and layout, and allow for conversion of vehicular parking to bicycle parking.

Resource

Case Studies

Tool: Offer end of trip facilities, such as changing rooms or shower, for school bicyclists and pedestrians.

Commuters who bicycle or walk to walk can often arrive wet, muddy or sweaty. In order to make walking or cycling to work viable for many employees and students, showers and changing facilities (either on-site or close to work) are a necessary amenity.

Resource

Case Studies

  • Indy Bike Hub, Indiana. The Indy Bike Hub is a partnership between the City of Indianapolis, the YMCA, and Bicycle Garage Indy (a local bike shop). Situated on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, the Bike Hub provides an ideal location for downtown employees to shower, change and store their bicycles. Other amenities such as a full service bike shop and exercise gym are also present on-site. http://indybikehub.org/
  • GreenLink Bike Share, Greenville, South Carolina. GreenLink assisted the city in striping bike lanes and started a bike locker rental program that included eight bike lockers in four downtown locations. By 2016 GreenLink plans to install 40 more lockers. http://www.greenvillesc.gov/1089/Multimodal

Tool: Coordinate connectivity of trails, bikeways, and pedestrian facilities.

Connectivity is a key component to making biking and walking convenient. Schools in particular should be well connected to surrounding neighborhoods so that students can easily find their way to school without crossing or walking along unsafe busy streets. Connectivity standards should include coordination among different departments to encourage connectivity between destinations. Work with the city to ensure new development or redevelopment requires designated bikeways. Street networks should be designed to ensure connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists.[i]

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Tool: Partner with the Transportation Department to develop safe routes for children to bike and walk to and from school on developed bike lanes and sidewalks with monitored crosswalks.

Work with the Department of Transportation to ensure that safety is prioritized in finding routes for children to walk and bike to school.

Resource

Change office dress codes and adjust thermostats accordingly.

Faculty and staff are often required to wear wool suits and ties to work. By eliminating these standards, particularly during summer ozone spikes, you can create a more comfortable work environment for all employees and raise the thermostat in summer.

Case Study

Teachers

Educate students about air quality along the Wasatch Front.

Design a course curriculum which instructs students on the basics of air quality in Utah. This can be incorporated into existing subject material, like social studies, geography, chemistry, health, and more.

Tool: Educate students on the outsized impact of wood burning on air quality.

One wood burning stove emits the same as 90 SUVs. Many Utah residents do not yet understand the enormous impact of wood burning. Helping students understand this will help our communities to avoid burning wood during temperature inversions.

Resource

Tool: Educate students about clean fuels and clean cars.

Many people do not understand that what we put in our cars can profoundly impact air quality. Tier 3 fuels contain less sulfur than Tier 2 fuel which Utah currently uses (10 ppm vs. 30 ppm). When this sulfur combusts, it emits an important precursor gas to the PM2.5 pollution we see in the winter. Likewise, a Tier 3 vehicle fleet will emit fewer emissions than a similar Tier 2 fleet, with a negligible price per vehicle cost increase. Cars sold in Utah have an average smog rating of 6. Increasing that average to a Smog Rating of 8 would remove 70% of our vehicle emissions. Taken together, fuels and vehicles are the fastest way to improve air quality in Utah, and students should learn about them.[ii]

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Resource

Tool: Educate students about the risks of air pollution.

Air pollution has profound effects on our health. Educate students about health risks like heart disease and upper respiratory issues that are associated with poor air quality.

Resources

Tool: Educate students on changing sources of emissions.

Along the Wasatch Front, more than half of all emissions come from cars. However, in the future, as we double the population, cars will get cleaner and emissions from homes will become the dominant source of emissions. Teach students about this shift and how small, inexpensive changes to water heaters, furnaces, and insulation can reduce their household emissions footprints.

Resource

Tool: Educate students and their parents on the benefits of taking the bus.

The more students take the bus to school, the fewer trips are made by private vehicles in order to get students to and from school. Reducing the number of vehicle trips reduces air pollution. 

Resource

Tool: Educate students on emissions from school buses.

School buses help air quality by replacing private vehicle trips. Decreasing the harmful emissions from school buses would help improve our air quality even more.

Resource

Tool: Educate students on Utah’s unique geography and air quality.

Mountains along the Wasatch Front provide water by capturing snowfall, but also capture air. Temperature inversions are an inevitable condition of living in Utah’s mountain basins. We can’t control temperature inversions, but we can control what we fill them with, so air quality matters even more here than it does in other locations across the United States. Likewise, ozone is more prevalent at higher altitudes across the west, so summer pollution is also linked to Utah’s unique geography.

Resources

Challenge students to clean the air through coursework, projects, and assignments.

Course curriculum can reinforce clean air activities. Consider developing a curriculum that includes activities designed to reinforce these behaviors at home.

Tool: Hold an electric vehicle challenge where students learn about and create electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are quickly becoming a feasible alternative to gas powered vehicles, and emit zero tailpipe emissions. High school students can work to build electric vehicles and tackle real-world problem solving in highly important STEM fields.

Case Study

  • An Electric Vehicle Challenge in the eastern United States engages high school students in building full-size and small scale plug-in electric vehicles and learning associated skills. http://www.evchallengekids.org/about/

Tool: Challenge students to walk or bike to school for a week or more.

Older students should be able to bike or walk to school on their own, and parents can accompany smaller children. There are also “walking school busses” where groups of younger students can be supervised by just a few parents on their walk to school.

Resources

Tool: Challenge students to turn down their thermostat at home.

Lowering your thermostat might not seem like much, but if every Utahn lowered their thermostats in the winter, we could collectively keep thousands of tons of emissions out of the air.

Resources

Tool: Challenge students to talk to their parents about ways they can clean the air.

Children can be powerful motivators in the home. After students have been informed about the risks of emissions and the benefits of clean air, they can be effective messengers to help their parents adopt the tools in this toolkit.

Clarify common misconceptions on air quality in lessons about air quality.

Many residents don’t understand the impacts of things like idling the car, burning wood, not using Ultra-Low NOx water heaters, and driving older vehicles has on the environment. Pay special attention to these issues and address them in the classroom.

Change your own commuting habits.

Consider what adjustments would need to be made in order to change your commute. Could you carpool with neighbors who work near by the school, or with colleagues? Is there a bus route near your house? Could you bike or walk? If any of these are possible, minimize trips in your own vehicle.

Tool: Make a habit of taking public transportation whenever possible.

Many daily commutes in cars could easily be replaced with public transportation. Doing this will remove cars from the road, emissions from the air, and reduce your driving time.

Resource

Tool: Bike or walk to school.

Biking and walking to work is both the cleanest and healthiest way to commute.

Tool: Carpool whenever possible.

Most vehicles travel with just a single occupant. By taking trips together with colleagues, neighbors, and family members, we collectively remove thousands of vehicles from the road and emissions from the air.

Resources

Tool: Avoid idling.

Locales such drive-thrus, schools, truck stops etc., can be particularly vulnerable to large concentrations of PM2.5 and precursor emissions. Turning your ignition off if you expect to idle for more than ten seconds minimizes emissions and improves air quality.

Resources

Parents and Students

Change your own commuting habits.

Consider what adjustments would need to be made in order to change your commute. Could you carpool with neighbors who work near by the school, or with colleagues? Is there a bus route near your house? Could you bike or walk? If any of these are possible, minimize trips in your own vehicle.

Tool: Make a habit of taking public transportation whenever possible.

Many daily commutes in cars could easily be replaced with public transportation. Doing this will remove cars from the road, emissions from the air, and reduce your driving time.

Resource

Tool: Bike or walk to school.

Biking and walking to work is both the cleanest and healthies way to commute.[iii]

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Tool: Carpool whenever possible.

Most vehicles travel with just a single occupant. By taking trips together with colleagues, neighbors, and family members, we collectively remove thousands of vehicles from the road, and emissions from the air.

Resources

Tool: Avoid idling.

Locales such drive-thrus, schools, truck stops etc., can be particularly vulnerable to large concentrations of PM2.5 and precursor emissions. If you expect to idle for more than 10 seconds, turning off your engine and then restarting results in lower emissions.

Resources

School Board

Develop a district-wide sustainability plan with an emphasis on air quality.

A district-wide sustainability plan puts all schools and departments on the same page when it comes to sustainability. Make air quality a common goal of the district, and allow for individual departments or schools in the district to find creative solutions or strategies that work for them. Update this plan regularly and implement tools to measure progress. A sustainability director or manager can be appointed to supervise.

Maximize school accessibility for students, staff, and parents without cars.

Schools should be designed and located to encourage walking or biking.

Tool: Wherever possible, site schools in neighborhoods that are walkable.

Schools should be in neighborhoods where students will feel comfortable and safe walking. Sidewalks should be protected, and wherever possible, elementary schools should be located off major arterial streets. Likewise, schools should be as close as possible to the populations they serve, minimizing the distance people must travel to get to them. Schools should be accessible from all directions, so work with neighbors and the city so that students approaching the school from any direction can easily get in the school rather than walking around the block.

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Tool: Partner with the Transportation Department to develop safe routes for children to bike and walk to and from school on developed bike lanes and sidewalks with monitored crosswalks.

Work with local government to develop bike lanes and sidewalks with monitored crosswalks on major pathways to schools. Ensure that schools are accessible, and sited in neighborhoods that encourage walkability, avoiding major arterials without sidewalks or services to comfortably accommodate pedestrians.

Resource

Assess the possibility of upgrading the school bus fleet.

School busses consume more fuel and emit more than other district vehicles. Upgrading to CNG busses, or other technologies can limit localized emissions from idling busses around school property and save money for the district.

Tool: Apply for grants for school bus upgrades.

There are a number of grants available for schools looking to upgrade to cleaner busses. Likewise, you can work with state legislators to create similar programs in Utah.

Resource

Appropriate funds for clean air projects in schools.

Ensure that there are sufficient funds for projects that improve air quality. This is an investment in Utah’s future. Consider air quality a major public health issue, since children are among the most vulnerable to upper respiratory and other health complications caused by poor air quality. Good air quality promotes good health which saves the community money in the long run. It also encourages economic growth that allows children to have opportunities to raise their own family right here in Utah.

Tool: Apply for grants and loans for clean air improvements across the district.

UCAIR and other entities offer grants and low-interest loans for organizations interested in improving air quality in Utah.

Resource

Tool: Consider designating an energy efficiency supervisor.

Energy efficiency is a great way for the district to save money cut emissions. Tasking someone with this important responsibility is an important step toward saving district funds and cutting emissions.

Upgrade energy efficiency of district facilities.

An effective way to save the district money while cutting emissions is to upgrade district buildings. Improving insulation, swapping windows and doors, insulating ducts and pipes, and upgrading appliances (furnaces, water heaters, AC units, etc. ) all save energy. In addition to energy efficiency, some appliances like water heaters already have ultra-low emission alternatives to market standards. They consume the same amount of energy but emit 70% less and the upgrade cost is minimal. Consider these options as district buildings are upgraded. Special financing may be available.[iv]

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The above graph shows U.S. Housing emissions by tons of CO2 per capita for different uses. Appliances and heating are the largest CO2 emitters.

Tool: Apply for grants and loans for clean air improvements across the district.

UCAIR and other entities offer grants and low-interest loans for organizations interested in improving air quality in Utah.

Resource

Tool: Change office dress codes and adjust thermostat accordingly.

Faculty and staff are often required to wear wool suits and ties to work. By eliminating these standards, particularly during summer ozone spikes, you can create a more comfortable work environment for all employees and raise the thermostat in summer.

Case Study

[i] From Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

[ii] EPA’s Fuel Economy and Efficiency label. https://www3.epa.gov/carlabel/

[iii] Courtesy of Alta Planning.

[iv] From Shrink That Footprint. http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/how-do-we-use-electricity