Regulars and Shorts

Green Bits: September 2012

By Pax Rasmussen

News and ideas from near and far for a healthier, more sustainable future.
by Pax Rasmussen


South Campus gets bike sharrows

“Sharrow” might be a silly word, but they’re pretty cool—especially if you’re a cyclist. A conflation of the words ‘share’ and ‘arrows,’ sharrows are those chevrons-above-bicycle markings painted in the middle of a lane—letting motorists know that the lane is used frequently by (and should be shared with) cyclists. The South Campus Drive sharrows are pre-made thermoplastic graphics melted onto the asphalt—which last longer and needs less maintenance than paint. South Campus Drive is often the only route for Univeristy of Utah bike commuters, but the road gets quite narrow in places and has almost no shoulder. It’s hoped that the sharrows markings will make the road safer and less nerve-wracking to both cyclists and motorists alike.

Salt Lake Community Solar

If you’re a homeowner, listen up: Salt Lake Community Solar is a community bulk-purchase solar initiative designed to help you overcome the logistical and financial hurdles of going solar. The group, modeled after other successful campaigns, is an initiative of the nonprofit Utah Clean Energy and is supported by Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, the Wasatch Solar Challenge and community volunteers.

Participants in Salt Lake Community Solar will receive the following benefits:

• Significant discount pricing for residential solar installations, made possible by group purchasing power.

• Simplified and streamlined solar installation process.

• Quality projects from installers vetted by the Steering Committee.

Signup deadline is Sept. 21.

50 MPG by 2025

Last month, President Obama signed off on historic fuel efficiency standards—finalizing a program that would raise the average fuel efficiencies of new passenger vehicles to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The standards set an average—not every new car will have to meet the 54.5 mark, but overall the hope is to raise the MPG of vehicles overall by nearly half what’s current. More importantly, perhaps, is one of the consequential benefits of these new standards—job creation. Across the nation, work to achieve the new standards is expected to create 570,000 new jobs—4,500 in Utah alone.,

USU battery breakthrough?

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Utah State University a $3 million grant to develop technology that could dramatically improve the battery performance of electric vehicles. The $3 million award is part of $43 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced earlier last month. USU is the lead research organization on the project, and has partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, the University of Colorado—Colorado Springs and Boulder campuses—and the Ford Motor Company. Ultimately, researchers will demonstrate their approach on a full-scale commercial Ford PHEV battery pack.

Phonebook farewell

Does anyone use phone books anymore? San Francisco banned the unsolicited distribution of Yellow Pages to homes and businesses. Seattle charges a 14 cent fee for every book delivered. Salt Lake doesn’t do anything at all. If, like me, the Yellow Pages goes from your doorstep to your recycle bin, check out the National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice and Opt-Out website. Sort of like the national do-not-call list, you can log onto the website, enter your information, and stop getting paper doorstops delivered every year. Some estimates show that disposing of unwanted phonebooks costs $54 million a year and another $9 million to recycle.

This article was originally published on August 30, 2012.