USU Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning Awarded Grants to Improve Air Quality

USU staff and students meet with UCAIR’s executive director last week to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments. From left to right: Dallon Smith, Kate Stephens, James Wirth, Dave Bastian, UCAIR Executive Director Ted Wilson, Emily Blake and Sean Damitz. Photo: Liz Sodja.

From the Utah State Today:

The Utah State University Center for Civic Engagement and Service-Learning was awarded two grants by the Utah Clean Air Partnership totaling $29,000 to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The first award of $12,000 provides funding for a green electric vehicle to be used by USU Facilities and students through the Student Sustainability Office programs. The electric vehicle will be used to transport compostable waste to the industrial composter and student organic farm and to transport food waste recovered for the student food pantry through the Food Recovery Network.

The second award of $17,000 provides partial funding for the Utah Conservation Corps to purchase a Chevy Volt and retire an outdated truck from its vehicle fleet. The UCC will provide the remaining funds for the vehicle purchase and will install solar panels on the house that the organization manages to provide an emission-free source of fuel for the vehicle. Read More

Is there Any Need to Idle your Car Before Driving in the Winter?

From the Washington Post:

We’ve all heard the idea: In winter, your car needs a little time to warm up before you can drive it. And that’s why across the United States, people who live in cold and snowy places — and especially those whose cars have remote starters — often fire up their engines long before they start driving. Heck, they might even start the car from the kitchen in the morning, and only then start the coffee brewing.

But it turns out that this idea of idling your car during the winter is just wrong. And so are the many, many Americans who believe it — one 2009 study found that on average, Americans thought they should idle for over 5 minutes before driving when temperatures were below 32 degrees!  Read More

Is the West Prepared for Climate Change?

In a recent article, Sarah Tory from High Country News asks, “Is the West Prepared for Climate Change?” According to findings from the States at Risk Project, a nationwide report card released by consulting firm ICF International and non-advocacy science and journalism organization Climate Central, most Western states are vulnerable to future increases in extreme heat, drought, and flooding.

As stated in High Country News:

Those findings matter because of the potential damage to human health, property, and the economy. Planning and taking steps to address these inevitable disasters cuts long-term costs, reduces impacts and ensures states and communities can more quickly rebound from losses, rather than continue to write big checks post-disaster. Read More

iSeeChange Community Climate and Weather Phenology Journal Launched

Interested in participating in a nationwide community that is tracking weather and ecological changes? iSeeChange could be just the outlet. iSeeChange is an environmental reporting platform combining citizen science, participatory public media, and satellite and sensor monitoring of environmental conditions.

The iSeeChange initiative synchronizes local citizen climate reports with satellite data Combining these two perspectives—a global view of the earth from space and a granular view from individuals on the ground—offers an unprecedented opportunity to match big science with daily life, and surface hidden patterns and stories.


Utah’s First Utility-Scale Solar Energy Plant Commissioned

Developers discuss the final completion of an 8-year endeavor in solar fields at the Utah Red Hills Renewable Park, Parowan, Utah, Dec. 10, 2015 | Photo taken by Carin Miller, St. George News

According to the St. George News, after 8 years of planning, Utah’s first functioning utility-sized solar power plant is now up and running in Parowan, UT.

“Investors, developers and government officials from across the globe and Utah gathered to celebrate the completion of the project with food, music and tours of the facility — despite threats of storm clouds on the horizon.

‘This is a pioneering project,” Scatec Solar North America Luigi Resta said. “We did open up a market and it should have positive benefits for many of the counties and the communities with both job creation, new tax benefits and ultimately, hopefully, at low avoided cost prices of (energy).’”

See the full story, here.

Permaculture School​ advisor Pandora Thomas works to reconnect communities of color to the earth

Pandora Thomas is a passionate global citizen who works as a teacher, writer, designer and speaker. Her writing includes “Shades of Green” for individuals wanting to teach green building to youth. Pandora co-founded Earthseed Consulting LLC, a holistic consulting firm whose work expands the opportunities for sustainable living for diverse communities. Her current projects include the Black Permaculture NetworkPathways to Resilience – a permaculture and social entrepreneur training program for men returning home after incarceration – and working with Toyota to design the Toyota Green Initiative, which supports African Americans in understanding the benefits of adopting sustainable lifestyles.

Watch Pandora’s inspiring video, here:

52,845 Utahns Weigh in on “Your Utah, Your Future” Survey

In 2014, Envision Utah conducted a values study to understand Utahns’ priorities and attitudes, to identify the factors related to quality of life that matter most to residents, and to determine why those factors are important to Utahns. Over a two-month period, 52,845 Utahns shared their voice through the Your Utah, Your Future survey. The survey asked what Utahns wanted to see in the future regarding 11 different topics, and then asked them to choose an overall scenario for 2050. The survey results were cross-checked against a random-sample survey to ensure it represented the desires and opinions of Utahns. The survey engaged a broad cross section of Utahns in terms of location, age, income, gender, and ethnicity.

For the future of air quality, the number one request by Utahn’s was to reduce emissions as quickly as possible so that all parts of Utah are well within federal health standards for air quality year-round. The number one request for energy is to diversify our energy sources. Regarding the future of recreation, the number one pick was to provide access to outdoor recreation near people’s homes through a network of parks, trails, and open space. See these, and many other results to this extensive, insightful survey of what Utahns want for their future, here:


Outdoor industry leaders and athletes petition to curb Utah coal emissions

Image by: Matt Law/Black Diamond

From the Standard Examiner: One day after the Governor held a meeting on air quality and growing the energy industry in Utah, the outdoors industry came forward with a petition to curb state coal emissions.

The Governor’s Office of Energy Development moderated a symposium Tuesday exploring ways to improve Utah’s air quality while boosting the energy industry. Much of discussion focused on perceived economic barriers from federal rules, like more restrictive ozone pollution standards and a plan for reduced emissions from power plants.

But a coalition including outdoor business leaders, athletes, park advocates and environmental groups gathered 30,000 signatures for a petition asking for stronger restrictions on coal power plant pollution.

The coalition is particularly concerned about visibility issues at Utah’s famous national parks.

“Utahns deserve the same protections from damaging coal pollution that other states afford to their residents,” said Peter Metcalf, CEO of outdoor equipment brand Black Diamond, in a statement. “Protecting our national parks is about protecting our economy and the communities that depend on them.” Read More

USU Wins National Bike Challenge University Division

From USU’s’ Utah State Today:

Utah State University won first place in the college/university division of the National Bike Challenge, logging more miles from more cyclists than any other school. The 220 USU students and employees registered for the competition rode 76,157 miles, burned more than four million calories, averted 28,604 pounds of carbon dioxide and saved $17,957.

Utah State University Sustainability Council, Aggie Blue Bikes and Employee Wellness Program collaborated on the event to encourage more students and employees to try cycling as a healthy, low carbon transportation option. Read More

Vivint Solar’s Bright Future in Utah: Expansion will create over 3,000 jobs

SALT LAKE CITY, UTVivint Solar, Inc. (NYSE:VSLR), along with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), recently announced that the solar energy company will continue to expand its operations in Utah, with the anticipation that over the next 10 years it will generate more than 3,000 jobs in conjunction with an estimated $91 million in additional capital investment within the state.

“It’s always exciting to see a homegrown company become so successful,” said Val Hale, executive director of GOED. “GOED’s mission is not only to recruit new businesses to the state but to also promote the expansion of Utah businesses. We are pleased with Vivint Solar’s contributions to the state’s energy industry.”

Read More