Sustainability and Natural Resources Committee

Top 3

Guide other city departments, boards, and committees as they develop sustainability plans with an emphasis on air quality.
Search for a qualified director of sustainability who can search for grants and funding to offer incentives for clean air investments for the city and public.
Encourage the development of well-spaced and walkable community centers.

City departments

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.


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.


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.


Case Studies

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.


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.[1] 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

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.


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]




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.

Case Study

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.


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.


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]


Active Transportation

Create a connected, complete, and safe bicycle and pedestrian system; emphasize navigational simplicity and connecting key neighborhoods, destinations, and transit.

People are unlikely to bike or walk if they feel it is unsafe. Disconnected and poorly maintained sidewalks and bike lanes contribute to the perception that walking and biking are unsafe. Complete alternative transportation networks should emphasize navigational simplicity and connecting key neighborhoods, destinations, and transit.

Tool: Encourage employers to provide end of trip facilities (such as changing rooms or showers) for bicyclists and pedestrians 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.


Case Study

  • 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.

Tool: Provide bicycle parking, including long-term bike parking

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. Bicycle parking can elevate bicycling towards becoming a legitimate and viable transportation option for most trips in Provo.


Case Studies

Tool: Establish a connectivity retrofit plan for existing developments in order to improve pedestrian and bicycle access.

Creating route connections can provide access to many parts of the pedestrian system that would otherwise not be linked. Creating direct routes promotes biking and walking while decreasing vehicle emissions by shortening trip lengths.[ix]



Case Study

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

Connectivity is a key component to making biking and walking convenient. Connectivity standards should include coordination among different departments to encourage connectivity between destinations. New development or redevelopment should require designated bikeways. Street networks should be designed to ensure connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists.

Tool: Maintain an up-to-date bicycle and pedestrian master plan to coordinate connectivity of trails, bikeways, and pedestrian facilities.

Maintaining an up-to-date master plan helps to ensure pedestrian friendly policies and design within future development. Provo currently has a Bicycle Master Plan which was adopted in September of 2013. The City should also consider developing a Pedestrian Master Plan to complement the existing Bicycle Master Plan.


Tool: Provide safe routes to school for children.

Partner with schools and 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.


Area Sources

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.


Case Studies

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.

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.

Case Study

  • 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.”

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.

Case Studies

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]

Case Study

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.


Case Study

  • 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.

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.

[v] Data from ITE’s Parking Generation, 3rd Edition 2004. Courtesy of Ted Knowlton, Wasatch Front Regional Council

[vi] From the city of Minneapolis.



[ix] From Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.


[xi] From Shrink that Footprint.

[xii] From ARM.