Will California say bye to diesel-burning trucks and hello to zero-emissions ones?

Thursday, October 10, 2019 – 12:45pm

Toy truck carrying two AA batteries as its power supply.

California officials are gearing up to launch a momentous new rule to tackle one of the largest sources of pollution in the state: medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks. After years of deliberation and public input, the rule is the first of its kind and long overdue.

Traditional, diesel-burning medium- and heavy-duty trucks — which range from F-250s to 18-wheelers — are big sources of smog-forming pollutants, carcinogenic particulates and climate forcing greenhouse gases. I’m sure everyone has experienced either holding their breath or coughing in disgust when a truck rolled by spewing black fumes. It goes without saying, but those fumes are horrible for our health and the environment. While California’s electricity sector keeps getting cleaner, pollution from cars and trucks has been heading in the wrong direction.

To add insult to injury, asthma and other severe respiratory diseases air pollution causes are especially harmful to the most vulnerable among us, including children and seniors, as well as communities of color and low-income communities that are often near commercial trucking hubs. California already has some of the most effective clean car rules — isn’t it time we had the same for trucks?

If the Advanced Clean Truck Rule is adopted by the California Air Resources Board, medium- and heavy-duty truck manufacturers would be required to sell zero-emission trucks as an increasing percentage of their annual California sales from 2024 to 2030. The rule also would require fleet owners with 100 or more trucks to report information about their operation. The data will inform future policies to ensure fleets purchase and use zero-emission trucks.With more zero-emission truck sales, the new Advanced Clean Truck Rule will replace those black fumes with — what?

The main zero-emission technologies are battery electric and hydrogen vehicles. But not all technologies are created equally. The best bang for our buck comes from electric trucks because they offer the biggest emission reductions and the biggest cost savings over the vehicle’s lifetime.

To better understand what makes battery electric trucks one of the best options, let’s peek under the hood of the technology.

Electrification: the gift that keeps on giving

According to an exhaustive review by ICF Consulting (PDF), battery electric trucks cut greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions more than any other type of vehicle — and will continue to do so as more of California’s electricity is generated by clean, renewable energy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The chart below from Union of Concerned Scientists illustrates the large emission reductions battery electric buses — a proxy for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles — offer in California compared to diesel buses.

Union of Concerned Scientist and Greenlining Institute: Delivering Opportunity (2016)

Union of Concerned Scientist and Greenlining Institute: Delivering Opportunity (2016)

Electric trucks have zero direct tailpipe emissions, so no black fumes. And compared to fossil fuel trucks, they can reduce greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants by 90 percent over their entire lifetime. So, if California is serious about reaching its emission goals, a lot (PDF) more electric trucks are needed on the road.

And they are needed ASAP. To cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 80 percent by 2050, zero-emission vehicle sales may need to accelerate as soon as 2025 and all new vehicle sales should be zero-emission by 2040. This would leave enough time for California’s fleet to become mostly zero-emitting by 2050.

To add another wrinkle, freight shipping likely will continue to increase in California. The number of miles driven by trucks is expected to grow by 50 percent from 2010 to 2050. The convenience of two-day delivery is not without cost.

Much of this growth will come from the already heavily polluted regions of Southern California (PDF) and the San Joaquin Valley.

If more miles are driven by black-fume-belching trucks, emissions overall will increase (PDF). In other words, switching to clean technologies must happen as quickly or faster than the growth of truck miles driven to make a dent in emissions.

A winning formula for total cost of ownership

Equally important is that electric truck technology is advancing rapidly while costs are falling. Thanks to manufacturing efficiencies from economies of scale and cheaper batteries, electric truck sticker prices are coming down. Batteries — the single most expensive part of an electric truck — are particularly exciting because prices have dropped by roughly 20 percent per year since 2009 and are likely to continue falling through 2030.

On top of falling prices, the cost of maintaining an electric truck is cheaper (PDF) than other technologies thanks to fewer moving parts and regenerative breaking that reduces the wear and tear on brakes. With widespread electrification, mechanics will become more familiar with the technology and maintenance costs will fall further.Not only do electric trucks cost less to maintain, but they are also considerably more efficient than their diesel or natural gas counterparts. To put this into context, an electric bus running on electricity produced by natural gas can go twice as far (PDF) as a natural gas bus with the same amount of gas in its tank.

While electric trucks require less energy to perform the same operations, they also “fill up” using cheaper and more stable electricity prices. Although electricity prices are typically less expensive than diesel, utility rate structures play an outsized role in determining electric vehicle fuel costs. Medium- and heavy-duty fleets will need to work closely with their utilities to ensure they are on the most attractive rates.

Short-haul today, tomorrow the world

The tasks electric trucks can perform and the distance they can travel on a single charge are affected by their battery’s energy density. Although this is constantly improving, and battery sizes are shrinking, they still have some range constraints.

All this means is that electric trucks — outfitted with today’s technology — are well suited for short-haul trips with lots of stops. Obvious places where electrification is a perfect fit today are delivery and drayage trucks, shuttle and transit buses, garbage trucks, terminal tractors and school buses.

This is where we are today. It is important to note that the technology is constantly improving and over the next 10 years (PDF) batteries will continue to shrink, last longer and pack a more powerful punch.

Shadowing California’s Advanced Clean Truck Rule

The Advanced Clean Truck Rule is a welcome first step to address harmful emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The substantial environmental benefits and cost savings battery electric trucks offer make them a compelling option today. This is the first in a series of blogs that will examine the zero-emission truck landscape as California’s rulemaking process continues.

Source: Patricio Portillo

Indoor Air Is Not As Clean As You Think

We all know how polluted the air outside is, especially if we live in big cities. But if you think that the air inside our homes, offices, schools, and any other building is any cleaner, you’re in for a big surprise.

Research shows that indoor air can actually be more polluted than outside air.

Then again, it’s not really surprising given the myriad of pollutants that ruin indoor air.

The streets have exhaust from countless vehicles; the inside of a home has cleaning products, which are loaded with harmful chemicals.

Factory fumes can taint the air in the countryside, cigarette smoke in restaurants and clubs exposes everyone there to thousands of toxins.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are rising to unseen before levels, while the gas stoves, ovens, and heaters that we use in our homes can put us at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if they spring a leak.

Indoor areas are also incredibly prone to mold, which forms when there is excessive moisture. And if you have cats or dogs at home, then you’re dealing with pet dander on a daily basis.

Sure, an AC system can do a lot to make the atmosphere indoors more comfortable, especially when it’s subjected to regular maintenance and when necessary, professional air conditioning repair. However, comfortable is no guarantee that the air is clean. As long as there are pollutants indoors, the air inside won’t be as clean or as breathable as you want it to be.

You really need to be concerned about poor indoor air quality because it can trigger health issues. Respiratory illnesses, allergies, and heart disease are some of the health problems that poor indoor air quality can cause.

Check out the infographic below if you want to know more facts about indoor air quality.

Facts About Indoor Air Quality

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Growing Up Green: The Importance of Teaching Your Children About Sustainability

By: Kay Carter

As a parent, you probably understand the importance of teaching your child to care for the environment. At the same time, however, you may feel that the concept of sustainability can be a bit too complicated for your young child to understand. If you’re struggling with how you can help your child understand the benefits of a clean and sustainable environment, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few ways you can teach your children about sustainability.

Visit a Local Farmer’s Market
Farmer’s markets are much more than fruit and vegetable stands. These markets are first-hand examples of sustainability because many local farmers use sustainable farming practices to grow the foods they sell to the community. Take a trip to a nearby market with your child to show them the positive effects of organic farming (and bring a reusable bag along to fit all of your groceries).

neonbrand A0jiySI0nc4 unsplash

Reduce Energy Consumption
Most children probably don’t think anything of leaving lights on in the home or taking a long shower. Teaching your child about the importance of energy consumption can help them see the big picture of how wastefulness can harm the environment. Remind your children that all lights should be turned off when not in use and appliances should be used in eco-friendly mode whenever possible. Additionally, encourage them to take shorter showers and turn the water off when brushing their teeth.

Avoid Single-Use Items
Did you know that there are reusable alternatives to many of the single-use items you have in your home? You can teach your kids early on how to use items that can be reused and recycled. For example, instead of using plastic grocery bags at the store, educate them on bringing a reusable bag with them every time they go. Do your children drink out of plastic water bottles? Give them a metal canteen to reuse and a metal straw to drink out of, instead.

Purchase Environmentally Friendly Products for Your Home
Many of the products in your home may not be good for the environment. You can set a good example for your children by purchasing eco-friendly cleaning products and explaining the benefits of these items. Soaps, furniture, mattresses, and pillows can all be purchased without chemicals that can harm the environment. The key is to know where to look and what to look for. Sharing this information with your children will allow them to be more mindful when looking for products as well.

Encourage Active Time Outdoors
Not only can spending time outside be good for your children’s health, but it’ll also give them a chance to learn more about the environment. If you give your children the chance to develop a healthy relationship with the outdoors, they’ll be more inclined to care about issues that could negatively impact the environment. Spending active time outdoors could also result in your child growing up to prefer walking or biking over driving.

With the help of the tips above, you can help your child understand why a sustainable environment is so important. Not only will this knowledge help your child make positive contributions to the world around them, but it’ll also help promote a cleaner world for everyone.

Improve Home Air Quality with Indoor Plants

By Krista Harper

Poor air quality in your home can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Poor air quality can be linked to allergies, asthma, fatigue, and even lung disease. And what most people don’t realize is that the air quality in your home can be up to five times worse than outdoors.

One of the best ways to counter poor air quality is by growing indoor plants throughout your home. Here are five indoor plants that do a great job of improving your home’s air quality.

Peace Lily

According to NASA, the Peace Lily is the most efficient plant to remove volatile organic compounds. It is also relatively easy to grow anywhere in the home with limited sunlight and weekly watering. Keep in mind that the Peace Lily can also be toxic to humans if ingested, and especially toxic to pets if eaten.

Devil’s Ivy

Devil’s Ivy is native to the Solomon Islands, though due to its attractive green and white marble heart-shaped leaves and easy growth it has become a popular home plant throughout the world. Devil’s Ivy is popularly sold in hanging baskets and should be placed near a window, though away from direct sunlight. The soil should be peaty and frequently watered to remain moist.

This plant does a great job cleansing airborne pollutants such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. Though, it is toxic when ingested.

Red-Edged Dracaena

Wildly popular in the United States due to its uniquely attractive upright evergreen leaves and flowering blooms, this is an incredibly easy plant to grow. The Red-Edged Dracaena grows in an area with indirect sunlight with slightly moist soil. That means it grows best in a room of your home that has windows, though the plant should not be in front of a window.

This is another plant widely recommended by NASA for its air purifying efficiency especially in regard to formaldehyde and other VOCs such as benzene and xylene.

Snake Plant

Snake Plant is a NASA recommended plant. Originally native to Western Africa, the Snake Plant is popular throughout the world. This plant prefers tons of natural light, so keeping it in a room that has the most exposure to the sun is optimal. Though, it can actually manage well with shorter durations of light if needed. The only care caution is to not overwater as the plant is prone to rot.

English Ivy

English Ivy is also recommended by NASA for purifying the air and reducing toxins. Additionally, it may help to reduce mold in your home. Due to its uninhibited growing nature the English Ivy is recommended to be grown indoors, though it does very well outdoors. The plant should be grown in direct sunlight ideally facing east or west. The plant should also be in a room with constant temperatures and should be watered regularly.

Growing plants indoors is an excellent way to help purify your home’s air and remove air borne pollutants and toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde. Trichloroethylene, and xylene. This air filtering quality helps to improve sleep for those who suffer from sleep deprivation, allergies, and even sleep apnea. NASA has done extensive research on plants and clean air studies as part of their ongoing mission to organically manage air quality in future colonization efforts. The five plants on this list are known to be some of the most efficient for purifying the air.

3 Restful Weekend Getaway Ideas for Summer

By Lisa Smalls

While studies indicate that well-being and health improve after taking a vacation, the U.S. doesn’t have a government mandate that requires leave for employees in public and private offices. As a matter of fact, ¼ of all American workers don’t get any vacation at all. Employers who offer this benefit usually give an average of 10 days off per year. And unfortunately, according to the data collected by Project Time Off, 54% of American workers don’t use these earned days off. It’s time to take vacation seriously.

Here are three restful weekend getaways to keep in mind.

Romantic Getaways for Couples
Romantic getaways don’t have to be expensive. In fact, some of the most romantic and affordable weekend getaways can be found in British Columbia, Oregon, or Washington! One of the best places to go on a romantic weekend in Pacific NW is in Victoria, the British Columbia capital. Honeymooners often go here for its all-year blooming flower gardens, cozy restaurants, afternoon tea, charming neighborhood, and great museums and parks.

When in Victoria, opt for lodgings that offer bed and breakfast. There’s a bed and breakfast lodging in a remarkable 1898 heritage home, for example, just within the neighborhood of James Bay called Ashcroft House. Other places you can check out for a romantic getaway in the Pacific NW are the following:
● Lasqueti Island
● Methow Valley
● Olympic National Park Coast
● The Cascade Mountains
● Willamette Valley

victoria city 960x316
victoria city 960×316
Fun Getaways for Families
Since school is finally over, it’s time for some fun in the sand! One of the best places to go to during summer in the Pacific NW is the Semiahmoo Resort & Spa. This resort is located in Blaine, Washington. What’s great about this resort is that you can see Canada from the coastlines. It’s also a great resort for families to hang out, with restaurants just around the corner. It even has its own movie theater so families can really have one great time in a single location!

During the daytime, kids can play tennis, basketball, or pickleball in the play areas. There are also outdoor and indoor pools if anyone’s ready to hit the water. And every Saturday, the resort hosts a two-hour program that allows kids to play while their parents relax elsewhere. Other places you can check out for a family getaway in the Pacific NW are the following:
● Suncadia
● Leavenworth
● San Juan Island
● Kalaloch and Ruby Beach
● Mount Rainier National Park

Exciting Summer Getaway with Friends
When in the Pacific NW area, try visiting Leavenworth, a gorgeous village at the center of the Cascade Mountains. This town is so charming that no matter what the season is, it never fails to attract visitors. There are plenty of places to shop, dine, and simply explore the town’s natural beauty. On top of that, they also have plenty of local events tourists can join or visit.

For friends looking for a fun outdoor experience, Leavenworth will surely not be a letdown. You can enjoy activities like hiking, wine tasting, horseback riding, mountain biking, paddle boarding, and river tubing. Leavenworth is near Colchuck Lake, so after a four-mile hike, you can bear witness to an alpine lake planked the tallest peaks of Washington.
Other places you can check out for a summer getaway with friends:
● Spokane
● Friday Harbor
● Olympic Peninsula
● Bellingham
● Whidbey Island

Fort Casey Cliff on Whidbey Island
Fort Casey Cliff, Whidbey Island
Are you ready for a vacation? These places we suggested will surely make you want to leave work now and schedule that road trip. Remember to plan your vacation well in advance of your leaving dates, pack all things necessary, check your car for safety, bring sunblock, and book your trip with ecoShuttle!

4 Reasons Why Polluted Air Can Have An Impact On Your Career

By Natalie Wilson

air pollution

There is a lot of talk these days about just how bad air pollution is for us. Whether you suffer from asthma or even work on a farm, it seems that no one can escape the effects of air pollution. Office workers may believe that, because they work indoors, that they can avoid the damaging effects which so many others come into contact with, but it turns out that offices may be one of the worst places to work when it comes to air pollution.

When it comes to cities and urban areas, air pollution can be a huge problem and a huge proportion of office spaces are based within these areas. Not including your daily commute to and from work, your office is likely to be at risk of contributing to your exposure to this polluted air. So, with that in mind, here are 4 reasons why polluted air may be having an impact on your career, without you even realizing it.

Taking More Sick Days

Air pollution can be extremely damaging to our health and prolonged periods of exposure can make you very unwell, especially if you already suffer from health issues. The effects of polluted air are hard to ignore, but what impact does it have on the health of workers?

If you suffer from asthma, respiratory problems or migraines, then it has been shown that air pollution acts as a trigger for these health conditions and can make them worse. It is vital that you know how to protect yourself on the days where air pollution is high so that your symptoms don’t worsen. If you regularly have to travel to an area where pollution levels are high, then it is likely that you will be at increased risk of suffering from long-term periods of illness, leading to taking more sick days.

health wellbeing 2

Air Quality and Your Office

If it’s smoggy outside, then why should this be a concern to you when you are sat at your desk indoors? In actual fact, this should be a huge concern. Recent studies have shown that office workers can feel the impact of bad air quality outdoors just as much as those who work outdoors in it. A study found that when air pollution levels go up, productivity in office workers goes down and this can cause work levels to drop.

Although pollution is less present indoors, it can infiltrate even the most air-tight buildings. For those offices who are in the center of a busy city, then it is vital that they invest in proper air ventilation for employees, whether that comes from installed industrial ventilation systems or buying air purifiers for the office.

health wellbeing 2

It Could Affect Your Chances Of Being Hired

Even though recent employment reports have shown steady increases across the board when it comes to the number of people who are now employed, depending on the sector in which you work, air pollution may have an impact on the number of people who are hired.

Jobs which are based outdoors, such as building and maintenance work, are all known to have been affected by the effects of air pollution. Within the fossil fuel industry, there have also been decreases in the number of jobs available as the industry is constantly battling off eco-friendly energy competitors and having to get to grips with additional safety and monitoring measures. Energy efficiency is the US’s cheapest and cleanest energy resource and contributes to more energy needs than oil, gas or nuclear energy. It currently accounts for over 2.3 million jobs in the US, which is 10 times more than coal mining or oil drilling.

It Will Have An Impact On Your Commute

No matter how you choose to get to work, whether you walk, cycle, use public transport or drive, you will be put into direct contact with air pollution. The amount of cars on the road is at the highest level ever recorded and a huge proportion of people are still yet to consider the change over to hybrid or electric vehicles. Thanks to these increased numbers, if you take public transport then you can expect a longer commute time. If you cycle or walk, then you may be concerned about being more at risk of exposure to high pollution levels.

Making small changes within your routine can reduce your exposure to air pollution quite considerably. It has been proven that active commuters – those who walk or cycle – are typically less exposed to air pollution than those who travel by bus or car. This may be that because vehicles travel in a queue, air pollution is absorbed by ventilation systems and is trapped inside. Making small changes to your mode of commuting can decrease your exposure to pollution by around 25%-90%, so it is well worth ditching the car and walking or cycling instead.

Used Car Inspection Checklist

By: Parker Keatin

Used Car Blog pic 1

What should you look for when buying a used car? You may believe that if the general appearance of the car looks okay and the vehicle isn’t falling to pieces then you are off to a good start.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Though it can be difficult to perform a thorough used car inspection independently, it is important to do so so that you do not wind up with a vehicle that comes with a whole list of problems!

After all, the last thing you want to do is chase down legal help to fix the problem. For those shipping their vehicles down, let me tell you – it can be a real nightmare trying to get a lemonlaw company to protect you abroad.

The good news is that this article gives pretty epic tips to help you know what to keep your eyes out for when performing a used car inspection. So, let’s move on to the used-car inspection checklist.

Step One: Inspect the Outer Body
As mentioned above, checking the outer body of a used car is not all that you need to check but it is definitely a good place to start. No rust, dents or visible damage on the vehicle? Excellent! You need to be very thorough with your external checks though. A small sign of exterior damage may seem like nothing but it could very well point to a much larger issue.
When checking the exterior of the car, you need to make sure that the colors are the same on each panel. Ensure that the rubber seals along all of the windows and doors are not peeling away or rotting. Though you may not want to look like a crazy person rolling around on the floor of the used car garage with a flashlight, you need to check the wheel wells with a light to ensure that there are no signs of rust or water damage here as well.

Step Two: Check the Glass Situation

Used Car Blog pic 2

If the car has no visible signs of damage or issues from the exterior then you can move swiftly on to the next step: checking the windows and the glass. Obviously huge cracks and damaged windows are screaming red flags, but you also need to be mindful of smaller chips. A small chip in the windscreen may look like nothing to be alarmed about but it can quickly expand and become worse. Inspect the vehicle for problems with the windows now, so that you do not have to be forking out hundreds of dollars to replace the entire windscreen in just a few months time.

Small scratches are not exactly the end of the world but they are also worth looking out for. Signs of significant wear and tear like this can be used as a negotiating tool for bringing down the price offered by your car dealer.

Step Three: Test the Lighting

Next step, venture inside the car and make sure that all of the lights are working. This means testing each and every vehicle light to ensure that it is operating correctly. Obviously, you cannot be in two places at once in order to check the external lights so if possible, have a friend or family member visit the dealership with you so that they can help you check. Don’t depend on the assurance of the person who is trying to sell you the car!

In summary, when you test the lighting on a used car you need to test both your high and lo-beams, your fog lights, your brake lights, your turn signals and your reverse lights. Not only is it a felony to drive without some of these lights, it can be incredibly expensive to replace and repair them.

Step Four: Scope Out the Inside of the Car

While you’re in the vehicle tinkering around with the various lights, it is important to keep your eyes peeled for any warning signs about the interior condition of the car. Obviously you want a car whereby the seats, pedals and carpets are not looking haggard and disheveled. There are also more technical matters to look at while inside the car also.

Technical feature-wise, first and foremost you need to check that the air conditioner and radiator works as it should do. The mileage may be a serious factor in your decision as to whether a used car is worth buying or not so be sure to glance over at the clock. As you may well be aware, this is one of the best indicators of a car’s age. Lastly, fiddle around with all of the other components in the car and make sure that they function correctly. This relates to the car radio, the interior lights, the lighter, etc.

Step Five: Glance Under the Hood

Used Car Blog pic 3

Don’t be one of those car buyers that simply lifts up the hood of their new car, exclaims “yep!” and closes it again. It is important to check under the hood but equally, it is important to know what exactly you are looking for under there! Look at the engine to ensure that there are no signs of a leakage. If you see brown stains anywhere around the hood’s interior then that is a bad sign of a gasket leak. Check the timing belt, the transmission dipstick and the transmission fluid. The components underneath the car’s hood are both safety critical and some of the most expensive to repair.

Before you venture out to the used car lot, read up on the different components of cars. That way, even if you just have a very basic level of knowledge, you will know precisely what you need to look for. Failing that, take a car loving friend to accompany you and help out!

How to Weatherproof Your Car

By Parker Keatin

snow

Winter time is upon us, is your car ready for the drastic change in temperatures and possibly the snow? The winter often exposes the maintenance needs for your vehicle. Unfortunately, this exposure means that you may find yourself on the side of the road, and calling your auto club for a tow to the mechanic. Far too many drivers negate their winter responsibilities to their vehicle; resulting in significant inconveniences in the worst possible season. Here, we will give you the guidance needed to make sure your car is weatherproof this winter season.

Continue reading How to Weatherproof Your Car

Smart and Sustainable In-Home Technology to Reduce Utility Costs

The financial and environmental costs of using utilities add up fast. In many cases – and we’re all guilty of this – we don’t realize how much we’re consuming until the utility bill shows up. We scratch our heads and think, “wow, there’s no way I used 897 kilowatt-hours of electricity this month.” (The average U.S. household uses that much each month and 10,766 kWh per year.)

Fortunately, there are several in-home tech products that will save you money on your utility bills and help the environment at the same time.

Continue reading Smart and Sustainable In-Home Technology to Reduce Utility Costs