Keep Provo’s city departments focused on improving air quality.
Improving air quality requires long-term actions from everyone. The Sustainability and Natural Resources Committee is well positioned to help other city departments, boards, and committees maintain a focus on improving our air.
Tool: Guide each city department in the development of a sustainability plan with an emphasis on air quality.
The city’s different departments each have a role to play in clearing our air. The departments have expertise in their fields but could leverage the sustainability committee to find ways to improve Provo’s air quality.
Tool: 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 would also be responsible for fundraising and grant applications.
- A job description for a city sustainability manager. http://www.cupertino.org/index.aspx?page=840
Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels
Promote the sale of tier 3 fuel
Using tier 3 fuels instead of tier 2 fuels in Utah vehicles is among the most highly cost-effective air quality control measures available. [i]
Tool: Pressure refineries to produce tier 3 fuels sooner
Once adopted, tier 3 fuel standards will have tremendous positive repercussions for public health and could improve worker productivity by reducing illnesses related to air pollution.
- EPA report of tier 3 fuel impacts on health. http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/documents/tier3/420f14007.pdf
Tool: Publically praise gas stations/refiners who adopt tier 3 fuels.
This may include the creation of a Mayor’s list of “air quality friendly” businesses, including refineries and gas stations. It may also include thank you letters from city officials to refineries and gas stations that adopt and sell tier 3 Fuel.
Convert Provo’s vehicle fleet to cleaner (Tier 3, CNG, and electric) vehicles
Converting from tier 2 to tier 3fuel is among the most highly leveraged and cost-effective air quality controls measures available.[ii] CNG and electric vehicles also produce fewer emissions than vehicles powered by traditional petroleum-based fuels.[iii]
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 mark 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 busses and trucks.
Large trucks and busses which are typically diesel-fueled can substantially improve emissions through conversions to natural gas.
- Report on natural gas vehicle emissions http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/natural_gas_emissions.html
Promote the use of alternative fuel sources.
Alternative fuels produce less air pollution than traditional petroleum-based fuels.
Tool: Improve the network of charging stations
In recent years, electric vehicle sales have jumped tremendously. In 2014, approximately 119,710 electric vehicles were sold in the United States, representing a 23% increase from 2013 and a 128% increase from 2012. 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.
- Electric Vehicle charging station program, California. http://www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/newsdetails/index.page%3Ftitle%3D20150209_pge_proposes_major_build-out_of_electric_vehicle_charging_stations
- Private business receives federal funding for charging stations, Salt Lake City. 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
Tool: Improve the network of alternative fuel stations (CNG, EG).
Car buyers who are considering purchasing low-emission vehicles might be deterred from doing so because of the limited availability of fueling stations that provide alternative fuels. Increasing availability in Provo will make it more convenient for people to fill up their low-emission vehicles.
- Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Expansion resource report. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/55640.pdf
Transportation and Urban Form
Encourage the development of well-spaced and walkable community centers.
Historically, Utah was planned around a network of close-knit communities 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 in greenfield areas is critical to shortening and eliminating vehicle trips. Commercial, civic, religious, retail, and educational centers built around existing cores, and planned in future core areas, will bring daily needs within walking distance of most people.
Tool: Identify appropriate node locations and size to create “20 minute neighborhoods” and eliminate food deserts.
Commercial nodes can be identified through a community’s master plan. Walkable districts usually have nodes between ¼ and ½ of a mile wide. Smaller commercial centers provide more bicycle and pedestrian access. Reducing travel distance for more of Provo's residents to and from grocery stores and food markets will help clean the air because those destinations are often frequented multiple times a week.[iv]
- Introduction to “20 minute neighborhoods” http://www.icic.org/connection/blog-entry/blog-the-rise-of-the-20-minute-neighborhood
Tool: Rezone underutilized commercial property between nodes to other uses.
Economic development can be fostered through the rezoning of underutilized commercial property. 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 centers, with adequate access for the neighborhoods they serve.
Tool: Minimize the amount of parking required by new development.
By eliminating minimum parking requirements both land and money could be freed up for better uses. The construction, maintenance, and land costs associated with providing free or subsidized parking could be used to fund more energy-efficient forms of transportation than driving, like public transportation.[v]
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/
Tool: Allow accessory dwelling units in all residential zones.
Accessory dwelling units provide alternatives to housing, increase affordable housing options and increase density in existing neighborhoods.[vi]
Pictured above are three different types of Accessory Dwelling Units, in blue.
- American Planners Association Quicknotes: Accessory Dwelling Units
- An introduction to Accessory Dwelling Units
Improve transit ridership through increased accessibility.
Making it more convenient for Provo residents to access public transit will result in a decrease of private vehicular use and the associated emissions which pollute our air.
Tool: Prioritize bicycle and pedestrian routes near and around transit stops.
Bicycle and pedestrian routes near transit stops provide a non-motorized way to move between the transit stop and final destination. Public transit users may also increase with the addition of bicycle and pedestrian routes because people who would otherwise find public transit inconvenient may use it in combination with biking and walking.
- Federal resources available to local transit operation and capital projects including improvements to bicycle and pedestrian access. http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/FINAL_FTA_circular9030.1E.pdf
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 could produce an increase in revenue that could be put towards improved transit services. This could shorten transit wait times and create more connected routes, which would increase ridership.[vii] A poll of all Utahns taken by Dan Jones & Associates in July 2015 found majority support for a .25% increase in sales tax to fund local road construction and mass transit.[viii]
- Transportation Funding in California report http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/eab/fundchrt_files/Transportation_Funding_in_CA_2014.pdf
Prioritize energy efficiency in new buildings and remodels.
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 the installation of the best available technology to attain the highest efficiency standards on new buildings and remodels.
Homeowners are demanding more energy efficient homes.[x] 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. The City of Charlottesville has adopted financial incentive programs to encourage energy efficient buildings. http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/departments-h-z/public-works/environmental-sustainability/green-building-incentives
- High energy ratings and high rents, Australia. NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System. Empirical evidence that higher ratings correspond with higher rents. http://www.nabers.gov.au/public/WebPages/Home.aspx
- Energy efficient elevators, Australia. The 501 Swanston office tower cut its energy bills by 25% by installing elevators that use a regenerative braking system to generate power for the building, “producing energy saving equivalent to removing the carbon emissions of 55 homes a year.” http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/10/what-melbourne-learned-cutting-emissions-from-1200-buildings/410293/?utm_source=SFFB
Tool: Encourage the highest payoff energy efficiency technologies.
Ground source heat pumps, high performance insulation systems, and air sealing systems can be relatively inexpensive and result in reduced energy consumption.
- Guide to Federal Tax Incentives for Residential Geothermal Heat Pumps - “In October 2008, geothermal heat pumps were added to section 25D of the Internal Revenue Code, which provides a 30% tax credit for spending on qualified property placed in service through the end of 2016.” Tax credit can be combined with solar and wind tax credits and energy efficiency upgrade credits. http://www.climatemaster.com/downloads/RP215.pdf
Tool: Implement smart meters.
A smart meter is an electronic device that records electric energy consumption in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information back to the utility company daily for monitoring and billing. By helping households realize exactly how much energy they are consuming and how much it is costing them, many may realize that they can cut back on certain energy uses to save money and reduce unnecessary consumption.[xii]
Above is an example of a water meter, though smart meters are cropping up for all different utilities.
- National Rollout of smart meters, United Kingdom. “By the end of 2020, around 50 million smart meters will be fitted in over 26 million households across Wales, Scotland and England.” http://www.smartenergygb.org/national-rollout
Implement the most current building energy efficiency standards.
Implementation of the most recent building energy efficiency standards would reduce the amount of home emissions and thus help clean our air.[xiii]
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 key to lower building emissions.
Tool: Encourage the installation of high efficiency, low emissions appliances.
There is a notable difference, for example, 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.[xiv] Most Ultra-low NOx water heaters cost about $70 more than the low NOx, and $150 more for Energy Star rated models.
- Code requiring high-efficiency water heaters, California. Residential water heaters must by 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, as part of the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010, “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
Promote urban forestry and gardening on city lands, and in neighborhoods.
Plants naturally filter our air and provide us with oxygen.
Tool: Encourage green roofs
Green roofs insulate buildings and help filter the air.[xv]
- Green roofs, Toronto, Canada. The city’s Green Roof Bylaw requires green roofs on commercial, institutional, and many residential buildings. http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=3a7a036318061410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Tool: Form an organization to increase the number of trees in Provo.
An organization whose purpose is to increase the number of trees in our urban forest could help individuals and neighborhoods access funding for purchasing trees.
- Street trees clean the air, increase property values, and make neighborhoods more walkable. http://www.nfs.unl.edu/documents/communityforestry/urbanforestvalues.pdf
- Friends of the Urban Forest, San Francisco. Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) is a non-profit that provides trees, technical expertise, and labor for neighborhoods and individuals interested in planting street trees. Since 1981, FUF has planted 47% of San Francisco’s total street tree canopy. http://www.fuf.net/
Educate public on emissions from sources like furnaces, water heaters, and wood burning stoves.
Household appliances are a major contributor to poor air quality. Provo Power can help customers understand that they can help clear our air (and save money) by upgrading appliances and limiting household emissions.
Tool: Encourage the power department to use energy bills as a way to distribute information about household emissions that contribute to poor air quality.
Providing consistent reminders about the benefits of updating appliances and reducing emissions plays an important role in educating the public on how they can help improve air quality in our city.
Tool: Change office 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.
[iv] From Plan Melbourne. http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au/Plan-Melbourne
[v] Data from ITE’s Parking Generation, 3rd Edition 2004. Courtesy of Ted Knowlton, Wasatch Front Regional Council
[vi] From the city of Minneapolis. http://www.startribune.com/right-to-build-accessory-dwelling-heads-to-minneapolis-council/282303781/
[ix] From Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
[xi] From Shrink that Footprint. http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/how-do-we-use-electricity
[xii] From ARM. https://www.arm.com/markets/embedded/smart-meter.php