City Council-Specific Strategies
Keep Provo’s city departments focused on improving air quality.
Improving air quality requires long-term action on every level. The City Council is well positioned to help city departments, boards, and committees maintain a focus on improving our air.
Tool: Support each city department in the development of a sustainability plan with an emphasis on air quality and encourage annual reviews of the plans.
The city’s different departments each have a role to play in cleaning our air, but while the departments have expertise in their fields, they would benefit from the guidance of the City Council in finding ways to unify their efforts with other departments in order to have a collective impact on Provo’s air quality.
Tool: Work with the mayor to hire a city sustainability manager.
A dedicated professional assigned to the role of City Sustainability Manager (or Chief Sustainability Officer or Director of Sustainability) could help ensure long-term continuity in the city’s sustainability efforts. A sustainability manager would support the Sustainability and Natural Resources Committee in their assigned duties and also be responsible for fundraising and grant application.
- A profile of a highly-qualified City Sustainability Director. https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherine-werner-994185b
Allocate funding for city departments and other projects that will clean the air.
Good air quality is an investment that pays for itself. Improvements in building efficiency and reducing vehicle demand saves households thousands annually in energy and transportation costs. Good air quality also benefits the local economy by reducing healthcare costs and promoting businesses and top employees to locate in Utah. Appropriate funds for projects—like the ones outlined in this toolkit—that will improve air quality.
Work with the mayor and with each city department to draft and pass city ordinances which emphasize good air quality in Provo.
City departments each have their own respective Clean Air Toolkits. This will result in policy proposals aimed at improving air quality. This should be the common goal of the city. Adopting language to reflect this goal will maintain the city’s focus on this objective.
Tool: Adopt language for the city general plan which focuses on good air quality.
As a component of the Clean Air Toolkit, draft language is available for inclusion in the city general plan. Vet this language and adopt it as part of the general plan to make air quality the common, long-term goal of the city.
Tool: Approve departmental and mayoral-proposed legislation which will improve local air quality.
Much of what follows in this toolkit are proposed policies which will improve local air quality. Furthermore, city departments each have their own respective Clean Air Toolkits. These will result in policy proposals aimed at improving air quality. After vetting the merits of each individual proposal, adopt these as city ordinances with a focus on improving air quality and Provo’s economy.
Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels
Convert Provo’s vehicle fleet to cleaner (Tier 3, CNG, and electric) vehicles and promote the sale of tier 3 fuel.
Converting from tier 2 to tier 3 fuels and vehicles is among the most highly leveraged and cost-effective air quality controls measures available.[i] CNG and electric vehicles also produce fewer emissions than vehicles powered by traditional petroleum-based fuels.[ii]
Tool: Encourage refineries to produce tier 3 fuels sooner
Once adopted, tier 3 fuel standards will have tremendous positive repercussions for public health and cut back on losses in productivity due to illnesses related to air pollution.
- EPA report of tier 3 fuel impacts on health. http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/documents/tier3/420f14007.pdf
Tool: Convert Provo’s vehicle fleets to clean fuel vehicles.
The City has a large vehicle fleet and can set an example of responsible transportation to Provo’s residents and other cities by converting to clean fuel vehicles.
- Petroleum Reduction Planning Tool for vehicle fleet planning. Provides consumption-saving strategies and allows you to set goals for reducing consumption. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/prep/index.php
- Convert drive systems to hybrid electric, Ohio. An HVAC business in Ohio converted their fleet of vans to a hybrid electric drive system and cut their fuel usage by 30%. http://www.businessfleet.com/article/story/2015/04/hybrid-conversion-cuts-fleet-s-fuel-usage-by-30.aspx
- Fleet conversion, Salt Lake City. Since 2009, Salt Lake City has replaced 224 light- and heavy-duty vehicles with clean fuels/hybrid power, which now comprise 15% of the fleet. This year, seven all-electric vehicles were also added to the fleet. http://www.slcmayor.com/pressreleases/2015/7/3/city-continues-to-green-its-fleet-with-new-zero-emisisons-electric-vehicles
Tool: Emphasize natural gas use for heavy vehicles, like buses and trucks.
Large trucks and buses that are typically diesel-fueled can convert o using natural gas and substantially cut back on their emissions.
- Report on natural gas vehicle emissions http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/natural_gas_emissions.html
Create financial incentives to increase the demand for low emission vehicles.
Financial incentives will encourage Provo residents to buy low emission vehicles.
Tool: Consider fix-it tickets for smoking cars or other fees based on how much vehicles pollute.
A fix-it ticket is a correctable violation that allows the court to dismiss the charge if the violation has been corrected. Addressing the negative costs that vehicle emissions impose on our communities can help reduce air pollution.
- Smoking vehicle program in Texas. https://www.tceq.texas.gov/airquality/mobilesource/vetech/smokingvehicles.html
Tool: Implement registration fee and tax incentives and sales rebates to buy low emission vehicles.
Fiscal policies that encourage car buyers to prefer more efficient, lower emission vehicles will encourage manufacturers and dealerships to provide consumers with more options. [iv]
- In Utah, when consumers purchase eco-friendly vehicles, they can receive a nonrefundable Clean Fuel Vehicle Tax Credit on state individual income tax.
- In Georgia, individuals are given a tax credit of 10% of the vehicle cost (up to $2,500) for purchasing a vehicle that runs on alternative fuel. Vehicles converted to operate on alternative fuel using a kit certified to meet EPA standards is also accepted. http://www.dmv.org/ga-georgia/green-driver-state-incentives.php
- Best practices report for “feebate” programs. “Feebate” programs offer rebates on more energy efficient vehicles and assess fees on less efficient vehicles.
Transportation and Urban Form
Take advantage of market shift to promote mixed-use land development; redevelop over-retailed real estate into mixed-use/higher density housing.
As online retailers become more prevalent, convenient, and popular, the demand for certain brick-and-mortar stores will decline, leaving old retail space available for redevelopment.
Tool: Develop pedestrian-oriented overlay districts.
Pedestrian zones encourage the development of pedestrian friendly commercial districts. Residents should be able to access services without an automobile or with fewer automobile trips. Districts require commercial uses at the ground floor that cater to pedestrians. Districts also have lower parking requirements, and limited driveways and encourage new development that gives priority to pedestrian friendly streetscapes.
Tool: Allow parking pricing to represent true costs.
“Free” parking encourages excessive driving, which pollutes our air and ends up costing us money in healthcare and lost productivity. UCLA Urban Planning Professor Donald C. Shoup estimates that the value of the free-parking subsidy to cars was at least $127 billion in the U.S. in 2002.[v]
- “Free Parking Comes at a Price”, Tyler Cowen, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/business/economy/15view.html?_r=0
Tool: Allow accessory dwelling units in all areas.
Accessory dwelling units are often referred to as backyard cottages, mother-in-law apartments, or separate upstairs/basement apartments. They are often rented out and provide alternatives to the development of new housing by increasing affordable housing options while creating density in existing neighborhoods.
- Introduction to Accessory Dwelling Units https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjkCG9oDrKM
Encourage higher density and transit-oriented development, smaller block sizes, and higher density of intersections.
People are more likely to use active and public transportation if there are small blocks, a high number of street intersections, and higher residential densities. These improvements to the urban environment would influence travel behavior and result in reduced emissions from vehicles by reducing trip distances and frequency.
Tool: Consider requiring a maximum block length of 400’.
Requiring new developments to have block sizes below 400’ increases pedestrian connectivity and allows for more mobility for cyclists and pedestrians. Traffic capacity also increases within communities as street networks become more connected. Large block sizes do not facilitate active transportation.
These are several examples of connected urban environments from Allan Jacobs’ book, "Great Streets". A denser urban fabric—meaning more connected streets and smaller blocks—leads to more street-level activity and more opportunities to replace automobile trips with other trips.
- Measuring Network Connectivity for Bicycling and Walking: http://reconnectingamerica.org/assets/Uploads/TRB2004-001550.pdf
Tool: Require mid-block crossings on longer blocks.
Midblock crossings allow people to travel to places that are otherwise not served by the existing pedestrian network. If formal crossings are too far apart, pedestrians are more likely to cross the street illegally rather than walk to the next intersection. Mid-block crossings increase the comfort and safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.
- NACTO Urban Street Design Guide: http://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/intersection-design-elements/crosswalks-and-crossings/midblock-crosswalks/
Tool: Require a connectivity index for new streets.
A connectivity index can be used to quantify how well a roadway network connects destinations. Indices can be measured separately for motorized and non-motorized travel, taking into account non-motorized shortcuts such as paths that connect cul-de-sacs and barriers such as highways and roads that lack sidewalks. Several different methods can be used.
- Roadway Connectivity from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm116.htm
Tool: Encourage transit-oriented development.
Transit-oriented developments (TOD’s) encourage moderate and high density housing near a transit station. TOD’s create an environment that is conducive to walking, biking and using public transit. TOD’s lead to reduced traffic congestion and accidents and expanded mobility of cyclists and pedestrians.
- Introduction to transit-oriented development. http://www.reconnectingamerica.org/what-we-do/what-is-tod/
Organize and zone well-spaced, walkable community centers.
Historically, Utah was planned around a network of communities that spread up and down the Wasatch Front. This pattern of centers brought important destinations close to residents in the pre-automobile age. Building on this network and expanding it to new green field development is critical to shortening and eliminating vehicle trips. Commercial, civic, religious, retail and educational centers built around existing cores, as well as those planned for future core areas, will bring daily needs within walking distance of most city residents.
Tool: Rezone underutilized commercial property in community centers to other uses.
Economic development can be fostered through the rezoning of underutilized commercial property. Rezoning encourages the reuse and revitalization of centers. This capitalizes on market trends of a shift from traditional brick and mortar stores to online retail and warehouses. As store spaces become available, they can be repurposed for other uses and preserved as economic and social centers for the neighborhoods they serve. This land can be used as a mix of commercial and residential space, reserving some room for schools, churches, and civic sites.
- A description of the benefits of centers. http://yourutahyourfuture.org/strategies/cornerstone-one
Tool: Minimize the amount of parking required by new development.
Reducing minimum parking requirements frees up both land and money for better uses. The construction, maintenance, and land costs associated with providing free or subsidized parking can be used to fund more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly forms of transportation than driving, like public transportation or the construction of bicycle and pedestrian corridors.
The above graph shows required parking spaces for residences per-occupant, and required parking spaces for office and retail per 1000 square feet of building space.
- Parking requirement legislation, California. California passed legislation in October, 2015, “which allows affordable housing developers to build less parking than many local zoning regulations currently permit.” Affordable housing advocates have long claims that burdensome parking requirements have made affordable housing too expensive to build. http://cal.streetsblog.org/2015/10/12/governor-brown-signs-bill-loosening-parking-requirements-for-affordable-housing/
- No minimum parking requirement, Arkansas. The City of Fayettville, Arkansas, adopted a change to the parking code that completely eliminated minimum parking requirements for nonresidential properties. This allows businesses to consider their parking needs based on market demand, rather than city code requirements. http://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/2015/10/07/fayetteville-eliminates-minimum-parking-requirements/
Improve transit ridership by increasing accessibility.
Many people support public transit, but ridership levels depend primarily on the convenience of using transit compared to the convenience of driving a private vehicle. More people will use public transit as it becomes more convenient for them to do so. Making public transit more accessible for people who live and work in Provo will help clean our air.
Tool: Work with UTA for 15-minute trip intervals and protected, well-marked stations.
Decreasing wait times for transit passengers and increasing transit’s frequency of service shows a commitment to helping clear our air by reducing private vehicle use.
Tool: Offer free public transit during the winter inversion and summertime ozone seasons.
Providing free public transit passes on poor air quality days will reduce the number of private vehicles on the road and improve our air quality. Many Provo residents have never used public transit - free public transit passes will provide a positive first experience for people who would otherwise not use public transit.
- Free transit passes, Salt Lake City. In winter of 2015 the Salt Lake County Health Department teamed up with UTA to provide 2,000 people with easy-to-use FAREPAY cards with $10 credits in order to familiarize new riders with the system.
Tool: Conduct a feasibility study to determine the best starting point for implementing a bike share system in Provo.
Bike share systems can be a powerful tool in improving first mile and last mile connectivity of transit trips. In less dense areas, bike share has shown the ability to expand the reach of transit while in denser areas, bike share has actually replaced some transit trips.
- Greenbike, Salt Lake City. Greenbike 2014 Annual Report https://configuringgreenbike.bcycle.com/docs/librariesprovider32/default-document-library/2014-annual-report.pdf?sfvrsn=2
Develop a dedicated, consistent funding system for programs and infrastructure that support transit and active transportation.
Tool: Develop a special use tax, bond measure, or other revenue source to fund transit and active transportation.
A small increase in local sales tax can produce an increase in revenue that can be used to improve transit services, such as shorter wait times and more connected routes, which will increase ridership.[xii]
- Report on funding systems for transportation in California. http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/eab/fundchrt_files/Transportation_Funding_in_CA_2014.pdf
Tool: Establish mode share goals for active transportation and transit that are directly tied to funding allocation.
Develop a policy to allocate general fund transportation spending at the same ratio of the desired mode share goals for the City of Provo. For example, if a goal of 15% biking mode share was established, then 15% of all transportation funding should go towards bicycling infrastructure or program improvements.
- Bike funding policy, San Luis Obispo, CA. http://www.bikewalkalliance.org/blog/535-how-san-luis-obispo-just-established-the-most-powerful-bike-funding-policy-in-the-nation
Tool: Structure the City’s Capital Facilities Plan, Transportation Master Plan, and Impact Fee Facility Plan so that impact fees can be used to construct bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Impact fees collected by the City of Provo are currently used to offset the costs of publicly provided utilizes and service such as water, sewer, storm water, transportation, power, and parks. Active transportation projects, though part of the Transportation Master Plan, are not included in the Capital Facilities plan and therefore cannot be used by the City for active transportation projects. Some cities have developed multi-modal impact fees to address the funding needs created by new development for active transportation facilities.
- Multi-modal Impact Fee Abstract http://www.westernite.org/Sections/washington/newsletters/Samdahl%20multimodal%20impact%20fees.pdf
Request that Public Works, Parks & Recreation, and Community Development develop a connected, complete, and safe bicycle and pedestrian system.
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: Require end of trip facilities (such as changing rooms or showers) for bicyclists and pedestrians at places of employment or at shared locations in dense employment areas.
Commuters who bicycle or walk to work can often arrive wet, muddy or sweaty. In order to make walking or cycling to work viable for many employees, showers and changing facilities (either on-site or close to work) are a necessary amenity.
- LEED Requirements for Showers and Changing Facilities. http://www.usgbc.org/node/2614413?return=/credits/new-construction/v4
- Indy Bike Hub, Indianapolis. 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/
Tool: Coordinate with citizens and the Public Works department to provide lighting along streets, trails, and public spaces to promote safety.
The use of appropriate lighting along sidewalks, crosswalks and public spaces creates a safer and more comfortable environment for cyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrian scale lighting promotes safety through traffic calming and illuminated bikeways while discouraging criminal activity. People are encouraged to bike and walk more when they feel safe, especially at night. Lighting requirements should also minimize light pollution.
- Seattle Pedestrian Lighting Citywide Plan http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pedestrian_masterplan/docs/PedLightingFINAL.pdf
Tool: Work with Community Development to reduce the number of parking lots in front of buildings.
Large parking lots in the front of buildings are difficult and unsafe for pedestrians to cross, not scaled to a pedestrian level, and are usually unsightly. Where possible, work to eliminate surface parking on the street to promote better walkability.
Tool: Require that buildings and their front doors face toward the street.
A building’s street-facing façade defines the type of environment on the street. Blank walls (without windows or doors) are uninviting to pedestrians and make them feel as if they are not meant to walk there. Buildings with inviting entrances that allow passersby to detect active uses inside the building encourage walking.
- Article on how a well-designed interface between doors and sidewalks contributes to walkability. http://streets.mn/2014/11/06/front-doors-and-walkable-cities/
Tool: Request that Public Works, Parks & Recreation, and Community Development collaborate with the Provo City School District to develop safe routes to school for children.
Partner schools with the Transportation Department to develop safe routes for children to use to bike and walk to school, developing additional bike lanes and sidewalks with monitored crosswalks.
- Safe Routes to School National Partnership report on promoting active transportation http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/sites/default/files/pdf/The_Final_Active_Primer.pdf
Ensure that active transportation is measured and appropriately valued within overall transportation planning metrics.
Accounting for active transportation in transportation planning is a prerequisite to achieving goals of increasing active transportation and reducing citywide emissions.
Tool: Develop an annual report describing active transportation metrics.
Tracking significant active transportation criteria including commute to work mode share, funds invested in facilities and programs, number of miles of facilities constructed, and collision and health data can help to track the benefits of bicycling and walking within a community.
- San Francisco Bicycle Coalition: https://www.sfbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Annual-Report-2013-web.pdf
Tool: Encourage public health professionals to collaborate with the City to promote active transportation.
There is a strong connection between the built environment and community health. Bike lanes, pedestrian cross walks, and developed sidewalk networks promote community health and clear our air.
Provide incentives to offset costs of improving energy efficiency on older buildings.
Energy efficient building envelopes, systems, and appliances reduce negative impacts on our air quality while also reducing electricity costs for households and building users.
Tool: Encourage Provo residents to calculate the energy efficiency of their homes.
Understanding energy problems in a building is the first step to improving energy efficiency.
The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index is the nationally recognized scoring system for measuring a home’s energy performance. The HERS Index Score can be described as a sort of miles-per-gallon (MPG) sticker for houses, giving prospective buyers and homeowners an insight as to how the home ranks in terms of energy efficiency. In addition to a HERS Index Score, a home energy rating also provides the homeowner with a detailed report regarding energy problems in the house.
Tool: Create new programs and improve access to existing programs that incentivize energy efficient buildings.
Homeowners are demanding more energy efficient homes.[xiii] Outfitting homes with the best technologies that will improve air quality will meet that demand and result in savings for Provo homeowners.
- List of federal and state energy incentive programs that apply in Utah. http://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program?state=UT
- Wattsmart Residential Efficiency Program Rocky Mountain Power https://www.rockymountainpower.net/res/sem/utah.html
- Wattsmart Business Efficiency Program Rocky Mountain Power https://www.rockymountainpower.net/bus/se/utah.html
- Wattsmart New Homes Program Rocky Mountain Power https://www.rockymountainpower.net/res/sem/utah/esnh.html
- ThermWise Business Program http://www.thermwise.com/business/BusinessRebates.php
- Geothermal heat pump tax incentives. http://www.climatemaster.com/commercial-taxes
- Green Building Incentives, Charlottesville, Virginia. http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/departments-h-z/public-works/environmental-sustainability/green-building-incentives
Implement the most current building energy efficient standards
Implementation of the most recent building energy efficiency standards would reduce the amount of home emissions and help clean our air.[xv]
Tool: Encourage the state to implement most current building energy code.
The building code is directed by the state government. Informing state lawmakers on the benefits of energy efficient building standards is crucial to lowering building emissions.
Tool: Require the installation of high efficiency, low emissions appliances.
There is a notable difference between the output of a low NOx water heater and an ultra-low NOx water heater. Although ultra-low NOx water heaters tend to be less energy efficient, various design techniques can be used to increase the water heater efficiency to meet the Energy Star criteria.[xvi] Most Ultra-low NOx water heaters cost about $70 more than low NOx water heaters, while Energy Star rated models are $150 more.
- Code requiring high-efficiency water heaters, California. Residential water heaters must be ultra-low NOx in California. http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/2013standards/prerulemaking/documents/current/Reports/Residential/Water_Heating/2013_CASE_WH2.WH5_WaterHeaterReady-10.28.2011.pdf
- Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Program, Australia. The CBD program “requires energy efficiency information to be provided in most cases when commercial office space of 2000 square meters or more is offered for sale or lease. … An informed market rewards better performing buildings. It creates a strong market-based incentive for owners to improve their properties with cost-effective energy efficient upgrades that are attractive to buyers and tenants and increase return on investment.” http://cbd.gov.au/overview-of-the-program/what-is-cbd#Q3
Miscellaneous Area Sources
Tools and Resources
Tool: Change city council dress codes and adjust thermostat accordingly.
Over-cooling an office in the summer and over-heating in the winter results in an unnecessary use of energy. Encouraging employees to dress appropriately in the winter and summer allows for reduced energy consumption and therefore cleaner air in our city.
Tool: Offer incentives to residents for converting wood-burning stoves.
Some households rely solely on wood stoves and fireplaces for heat during the winter, meaning that not burning wood during an inversion (typically the coldest time of year) leaves their homes cold. If those households do burn wood on the coldest days of the inversion, the smoke from those fires has a significantly negative impact on our air.
- Partnership between the Utah Association of Realtors and UCAIR to provide grant money to low- and moderate-income individuals to replace their wood-burning stoves with cleaner alternatives. http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/handouts-and-brochures/2014/SLIEC-Nov/Utah.pdf
- A list of change out programs in states and territories in the U.S. and Canada that help people replace wood-burning stoves with cleaner alternatives. http://www.woodstovechangeout.org/index.php?id=42
Tools and Resources
Work with high emitting point sources to convert to clean air methodologies and technologies.
Point sources are stationary, commercial, or industrial sources of air pollution. Industrial sources only account for 8 percent of total emissions in Utah and state and federal departments are continually working with point sources to reduce emissions.
A survey done in 2010 revealed that most Utahns believe that industrial point sources contribute to air pollution far more than they actually do. The industrial contribution is especially small in Provo.
Tool: Support the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s efforts to work with stationary, commercial, and industrial high emitters to convert to cleaner air methodologies and technologies.
The Department of Environmental Quality takes an annual emission inventory of point sources and uses that information to track progress toward emission requirements, calculate emission fees, and educate the public.
[iii] EPA’s new Fuel Economy and Efficiency label. https://www3.epa.gov/carlabel/
[vi] Three examples of ADU from the city of Minneapolis. http://www.startribune.com/right-to-build-accessory-dwelling-heads-to-minneapolis-council/282303781/
[vii] Image from Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets.
[viii] From NACTO Street Design Guide. http://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/intersection-design-elements/crosswalks-and-crossings/midblock-crosswalks/
[ix] From Reconnecting America. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ractod/3953863528
[x] Data from ITE’s Parking Generation 3rd Edition, 2004. Courtesy of Ted Knowlton, Wasatch Front Regional Council.
[xi] Map of Salt Lake City’s GREENBike stations. https://greenbikeslc.org/station-map
[xiv] Shows U.S. Housing emissions by tons of CO2 per capita for different uses. Appliances and heating are the largest CO2 emitters. http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/how-do-we-use-electricity
[xvii] Data is from Heart + Mind Strategies 2010 Survey