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Highlights from UCAIR’s August Partners Meeting

UCAIR is starting a new blog feature highlighting our monthly partners meeting. This first installment covers our August 2018 partners meeting. Our first presentation came from Lisa Burr with the Division of Air Quality. She gave the partners more information on the VW settlement and what lies ahead. We then heard from Joel Ewell, inventor of Idle Free Heat and UCAIR Grant recipient.

Volkswagen Settlement Update

As part of the 2016 Volkswagen (VW) settlement, the State of Utah will be receiving over $35 million from the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has been designated to administer these funds. To maximize the amount of emissions reductions for each dollar spent, DEQ staff have developed a set of goals. They hope to achieve significant NOx emissions reductions, to mitigate the excess NOx emissions from VW vehicle with emissions cheating software. Approved project will also target non-attainment areas in Utah, these are the most affected by poor air quality. DEQ also hopes to stimulate new and emerging vehicle technologies that will result in long term emissions reductions. Finally, DEQ plans to target government fleets, as they are most likely to stay within their local air sheds for many years. More information can be found on the DEQ website and a timeline for the program is below.

DEQ Timeline:

  • September 2018: Request for Applications (RFA) open for two-month period
  • November 2018: RFA period closes
  • November 2018: Evaluation of projects begins
  • January 2019: Successful projects identified
  • Anticipated five-year timeline
    • allows for fleets to utilize multiple budget cycles, submit documentation, reports, etc.
    • new vehicle/equipment builds typically take several months

Idle Free Heat

For years Joel Ewell, inventor of Idle Free Heat, saw school buses idling and recognizing the negative impact on our air and children’s health wanted to do something about it. In 2016, Idle Free Heat took first place in the Bright Skies Innovation Contest sponsored by UCAIR, Chevron and Grow Utah. Idle Free Heat is new technology that recycles the heat created by a vehicles engine, using it to heat the interior without idling to keep the heater running. Idling not only pollutes and is of special concern during our inversion season but wastes valuable fuel as well. This new technology allows school districts to keep their bus drivers and students warm, while saving money and reducing pollution in our air shed.

Building upon their success at the Bright Skies Innovation Contest, Idle Free Heat partnered with Granite School District to receive an 2017-2018 UCAIR Grant to put the Idle Free Heat technology on 40 school buses. The installations began on February 26, 2018 and were completed on April 28, 2018. During the 2018-2019 school year these idle free buses will save over 5,800 gallons of diesel fuel and save Granite School District $18,000. Not to mention the health benefits for the students and all others in idle free school zones as they breathe cleaner air. Their goal is to use this project to show other school districts across the state not only that the Idle Free Heat technology works but is an innovative solution to Utah’s air quality problem and belongs in school buses in the non-attainment areas. 

Partner Roundtable

Following the presentations, partners shared what projects and initiatives they are currently working on.  These included:

John Miller, Mark Miller Subaru – They are working with Envision Utah to develop stickers applied to cars to educate customers about smog ratings. January they will have the AWD Prius available at their dealerships.

Steve Bergstrom, Intermountain Healthcare – They have done an LED retrofit at their facilities. They have a goal for changing out their fleet to 80% hybrid or zero emission vehicles. They’ve converted 30% so far. There are almost 800 vehicles in the fleet.

The next Partners Meeting will be held at 9:00am on September 13, 2018 in the DEQ Board Room.