Thursday, May 21, 2015

May Question of the Month

Question of the Month: How can I improve my gas mileage while driving this summer?

Answer: Whether you are taking a summer road trip or just running errands around town, there are things you can do to improve your fuel economy and save money on fuel in the summertime.

You may notice an increase in your fuel economy as the weather gets warmer. This is because vehicle engines, transmissions and other components take less time to warm up and summer gasoline blends can have slightly more energy per gallon than winter blends. However, if you use your air conditioning (AC) a lot or drive with the windows down, you might actually see your fuel economy drop.

AC is the main contributor to reduced fuel economy in the summertime. In fact, using the AC can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by as much as 25%, or even more if you are driving a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). Driving with the windows down can also reduce fuel economy due to greater aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) on the vehicle. Though this has a small effect on fuel economy, aerodynamic drag is more apparent when driving at the highway speeds typical for road trips.

The following tips can help you use the AC more efficiently and therefore improve fuel economy in the summer:
·         Read the owner’s manual for detailed information on how your vehicle’s AC system works and how to use it efficiently.
·         Park your vehicle in shady areas or use a sunshade to keep the interior from getting too hot.
·         Do not use the AC more than needed. If you need to use the AC, avoid using the “max” setting for extended periods.
·         If you are driving at high speeds, use the AC instead of rolling down the windows. If the vehicle is too hot, you may lower the car windows to expel hot air for the first few minutes. Once the hot air has left the vehicle, switch to using the AC.
·         Avoid excessive idling. Idling can use a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, and more if the AC is on. Do not idle the vehicle to cool it down before a trip; most AC systems actually cool the vehicle faster while driving.
·         PEV owners, pre-cool your vehicle with the AC while still plugged in.Since PEVs use battery power to provide AC, it can drain the vehicle’s batteries and reduce the vehicle’s overall range. If you need to use the AC to cool down your PEV, try to do so while the vehicle is still charging.

The following tips should be used year-round to improve fuel economy:
·         Use cruise control while driving on highways to maintain a consistent speed and conserve fuel.
·         Remove any unnecessary weight from the vehicle. Vehicles with heavier loads tend to have reduced fuel economy. An additional 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce fuel economy by 1%.  
·         Avoid transporting cargo on the rooftop of the vehicle. Traveling with cargo on the roof increases wind resistance and can significantly lower your fuel economy. Rear-mounted cargo has a much smaller effect on fuel economy than rooftop cargo.
·         Avoid aggressive driving. Aggressive driving (speeding, quick acceleration and heavy braking) can reduce fuel economy by as much as 33% at highway speeds and 5% at city speeds. This informational video shows real-world effects of aggressive driving on fuel economy:
·         Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Tires that are not inflated to the proper pressure can reduce fuel economy by 0.3% for every one pound per square inch (PSI) drop in pressure in all of the tires. Having your tires inflated to the proper pressure is also safer and can help tires last longer.
·         Pay attention to the speed limit. Not only is this a safe practice, but gas mileage tends to decrease when driving at speeds above 50 miles per hour.

For more information on how to improve your fuel economy, please refer to the following websites:
·         Fuel Economy in Hot Weather -
·         Gas Mileage Tips -
·         Keeping Your Vehicle in Shape -

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April Question of the Month

Question of the Month: 

What are the weight limits for heavy-duty vehicles on interstate highways? What weight limit exemptions exist for vehicles equipped with idle reduction technology?

Answer: Under federal law, no vehicle weighing more than 20,000 pounds (lbs) on one axle, 34,000 lbs on a tandem axle, or 80,000 lbs overall may access federal interstate highways (e.g., Interstate 70, which runs across the country from Maryland to Utah), regardless of where they get on the highway.[1] States must enforce these requirements, or they may not be eligible for federal highway funding. However, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) allows states to offer weight-limit exemptions for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) with on-board idle reduction technology.

Please note that states may set their own weight restrictions for roads that start and end within their boundaries, but we will focus on interstate highway requirements here.

Idle Reduction Technologies
Federal regulations allow states to adopt weight exemptions for auxiliary power units (APUs) or other qualified technologies that reduce fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions from engine idling. APUs are portable, vehicle-mounted systems that provide power for climate control and electrical devices without idling. For long-haul trucks, these systems typically have a small internal combustion engine (usually diesel) equipped with a generator to provide electricity and heat. Other on-board idle reduction technologies include automatic start-stop controls, energy recovery systems, fuel-operated heaters, coolant heaters, and battery-electric and thermal-storage air conditioners.

State Weight Exemptions
States may permit HDVs equipped with idle reduction technology to exceed the specified weight limit by up to 550 lbs to compensate for the additional weight of the equipment. The allowance was previously 400 lbs, but the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) legislation, enacted in 2012, increased it to 550 lbs. States must enact a law or institute an enforcement policy with their own exemptions to reflect this increased weight allowance. A map of APU weight exemptions by state is available on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) State Recognition of the Auxiliary Power Weight Exemption to Gross Vehicle Weight website ( Vehicle weight limit exemptions for APUs are also displayed in the table below. As the map and table show, many states have not updated their laws and enforcement policies to reflect the increase in the federal allowance to 550 lbs, which means the exemption is still limited to 400 lbs. There are also six states where the exemption is not permitted at all.

APU Weight Exemption
State Implementation
550 lbs
State Legislation
400 lbs
State Enforcement Policy
State Legislation
State Legislation
* West Virginia Code 17C-13A-4 refers to the U.S. Code directly for the exact weight.

States must require HDV drivers to demonstrate eligibility for vehicle weight limit exemptions. For example, drivers may need to have paperwork on hand that verifies the weight of the idle reduction equipment and be able to demonstrate that it is functional. Requirements are different from state to state.

More information on these state weight limit exemptions is also available on the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Laws and Incentives database ( The Advanced Search options ( allow you to identify specific exemptions by location, technology/fuel type (idle reduction), incentive/regulation type (exemption), and user-type (vehicle owner or driver). Each description of a state idle reduction weight exemption includes a reference to the applicable legislation or policy.

Refer to the following for more information on idle reduction technologies and state vehicle weight limit exemptions for this equipment:
·         EERE National Idling Reduction Network News (
·         AFDC’s Onboard Idle Reduction Equipment for Heavy-Duty Trucks page (
·         Argonne National Laboratory’s Idle Reduction Tools and Outreach Materials (

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

March Question of the Month

Question of the Month:  

Question of the Month: What are the key terms and considerations I should remember when discussing emissions?

Answer: When discussing emissions, it is important to use the appropriate terms, know the context, and present a complete picture. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has a number of tools and resources available to understand and calculate the emissions benefits of alternative fuels and vehicles (see below). But first, let's get back to the basics.

Criteria Pollutants versus Non-Criteria Pollutants
Vehicles emit both criteria pollutants and non-criteria pollutants. In compliance with the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies six common pollutants as criteria pollutants based on certain health and environmental standards:
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Oxides of nitrogen (NOx)
  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Ozone
  • Oxides of sulfur (SOx)
  • Lead
For more information about criteria pollutant emissions:(

Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide,are considered non-criteria pollutants. The following also fall into this category:
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Total hydrocarbons (HCs)
  • Methane
  • Air toxics
  • Other organic gases

For more information about GHG emissions: (

Measuring Emissions
You can evaluate vehicle emissions through a number of lenses. Considering emissions in different contexts can present a more impactful picture, depending on the stakeholder.
  • Life cycle emissions:Emissions generated through all stages of a fuel's life, including raw material extraction, processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal or recycling. Life cycle emissions are typically considered when evaluating "global pollutants," or pollutants that have an impact regardless of where they are emitted.  For example, GHGs are usually measured on a life cycle basis.
  • Tailpipe emissions: Emissions directly from the exhaust of the vehicle. Tailpipe emissions are considered when looking at "local pollutants," or pollutants that impact air quality directly where they are emitted. For example, criteria pollutants, such as PM, are typically measured as tailpipe emissions.
  • Evaporative emissions: Emissions from the vehicle's fuel system and during the fueling process, not including the combustion of the fuel. Evaporative emissions are also considered when evaluating "local pollutants."
When quantifying or presenting emissions benefits for a particular project, make sure to ask yourself which type of information would have the most impact. For example, an air quality organization (e.g., your local American Lung Association chapter) would like to hear about tailpipe and evaporative emissions. A national company focused on their footprint and impact on climate change would want to hear about life cycle emissions.

Emissions Standards
EPA sets tailpipe and evaporative emissions standards for new vehicles.
  • For information on federal non-GHG emissions standards, including CO, NOx, PM, and organic gases, visit the EPA's Emission Standards Reference Guide: EPA's Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program page ( covers the regulations for light-duty, medium-duty, and some heavy-duty vehicles that will be phased in beginning in 2017.
  • For information about federal GHG emissions standards, which are implemented in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's fuel economy standards, visit EPA's Regulations & Standards page:

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) enforces vehicle emissions standards for California that are more stringent than federal EPA standards. Vehicles may be certified as compliant with federal standards, CARB standards, or both. For information on CARB's emissions standards, visit the Mobile Source Program Portal ( Several other states have chosen to comply with certain CARB standards as well, so read up on the requirements in your state. See the AFDC Laws & Incentives website for more information (

Other Considerations
It is important to take into account the "full package" when looking at alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) emissions; again, try to anticipate questions from the audience to tease out the most relevant information. For example, keep the following in mind:
  • While a fuel may not offer large reductions in one pollutant, it may offer significant benefits in other pollutants.
  • Emissions information should also be presented in the larger context of federal and state regulations.
  • Be sure you are comparing "apples to apples" when looking at AFV and conventional vehicle emissions. For instance, look at which pollutants are covered, and whether tailpipe, life cycle, and/or evaporative emissions are being measured. Every study is different, so it can be very difficult to compare outcomes of one to outcomes of another.

Emissions Analysis Tools
With all of that in mind, the following tools can be used to calculate fleet emissions and plan for overall emission reductions:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team


Monday, February 23, 2015

February Question of the Month

Question of the Month: What were the trends related to state laws and incentives enacted in 2014?

Answer: In 2014, state legislatures and agencies developed a variety of incentives, laws, and regulations that support the use of alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, and other strategies that align with Clean Cities' mission to cut the amount of petroleum used in transportation. As compared to 2013, however, the number of newly adopted state laws and incentives decreased, possibly indicating the effectiveness of existing state programs and a maturing alternative fuels market. In addition, several states worked to fine-tune existing programs this past year, in an effort to find the best market penetration strategy.

The majority of state actions across all alternative fuel types in 2014 involved new tax-related incentives and fuel tax regulations. Specific alternative fuels displayed their own trends as well. Laws and incentives related to the following vehicle categories showed particularly notable trends:

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), including both all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and the associated charging infrastructure were the most popular alternative fuel technologies that received attention in the form of new state laws and incentives in 2014. States worked to streamline many aspects of PEV ownership, including allowing direct purchase of PEVs from a manufacturer, modifying rebates and incentives for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), and allowing EVSE at previously restricted locations, such as state facilities and leased properties. A few states initiated studies to determine how to assess PEV owners a supplemental fee in lieu of the gasoline tax they would no longer be paying. Utilities continued to provide new incentives in 2014, including electricity rate discounts for customers using EVSE.

Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) continued to draw significant consideration in 2014, particularly in those states following the national trend of basing a compressed natural gas (CNG) motor fuel tax on the favorable gasoline gallon equivalent conversion. The NGV market and consumers will also benefit from grants, weight exemptions, fuel-training programs, and fleet requirements enacted in the last year.

The Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) State Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Laws and Incentives: 2014 Year in Review provides a further synopsis of incentives and laws enacted in 2014 and is available at

In addition, the AFDC Laws & Incentives website provides a searchable database to identify and view relevant state laws and incentives by fuel type, as well as by variety of incentive or regulation. As legislative and gubernatorial actions occur, follow the AFDC website for updates at This database may be particularly useful in the states in which the 2014 elections changed control of the legislative or executive branches. In addition, as the 2014 tax filing deadline approaches, the Laws & Incentives website is a valuable resource for basic information regarding new or expiring state and federal tax credits.

As new trends and issues emerge from legislation, policy bulletins are posted to the AFDC Technology and Policy Bulletins page at may submit new or updated state laws and incentives, and suggestions for policy bulletin topics, by emailing the TRS directly at

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 Legislative Session: Bills to Watch

The 2015 Legislative session is underway and UCCC is in full support of legislation that cleans up our air, while at the same time reducing our dependency on foreign oil. The following numbered bills are pieces of legislation UCCC is currently following:

HB 15: Clean Fuel Amendments & Rebates
Sponsor: Representative Stephen Handy

This bill creates the Conversion to Alernative Fuel Grant Program and  extends tax credits for energy efficient vehicles. It seeks to accelerate the conversion rate to alternative fuels and authorizes the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to make grants from the Clean Fuels and Vehicle Technology Fund to a person who installs conversion equipment on a motor vehicle. 

HB 17: Motor Vehicle Emissions
Sponsor: Representative Lee Perry

This bill would amend the visible contaminant emission standards for certain diesel engines, amend the penalty for violating the motor vehicle visible emissions limits and make technical corrections. 

HB 49: Clean Fuel School Buses and Infrastructure
Sponsor: Representative Stephen Handy

Would allow the State Board of Education to award a grant to replace old school buses manufactured before 2002 with new, clean fueled buses that use alternative fuels or clean diesel fuel, install an alternative fueling infrastructure that may be accessible to the public, and/or retrofit bus maintenance shops to maintain the alternative fueled buses. This bill would act as a one-time program appropriation. 

HB 110: Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments
Sponsor: Representative Patrice Arent

This bill modifies provisions related to motor vehicle emissions. It would give the Division of Motor Vehicles the authority to suspend a vehicle's registration if the vehicle does not meet air emission standards. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

THINK IDLE FREE: Idle Free Classes

Lancer Automotive Group will be offering Idle Free training on March 17th from 8:00-9:30am and the 18th from 5:30-8:00pm at the 3687 S 300 W location in Salt Lake City. 

These free Idle Free classes feature information on no idling laws, the issue of unnecessary vehicle idling, including health, environmental, economic and vehicle maintenance impacts, plus an introduction to other green/eco-driving practices. Attendees will learn how to save hundreds of dollars annually while being fuel efficient and environmentally responsible. 

We will provide Certification upon completion of training. 

Class time will range from 1 to 1.5 hours depending on question and answer period. 

Please RSVP by March 15th to to reserve your spot.

Air Pollution: A Call to Action

Health Risks Associated with Air Pollution

Utah’s got a new silent killer in town named “air pollution”. The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment sates that, “Air pollution provokes a systemic inflammatory process centered in the vascular network that delivers blood through the body, including all major organs.”  When this happens, the effects can be just as damaging as inhaling cigarette smoke.  Last spring, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that air pollution is responsible for an average of 7 million premature deaths annually worldwide.  These deaths were associated with various diseases caused by exposure to air pollution which include: heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and respiratory infections.  Dr. Maria Neira, the director of WHO’s Department of Public Health, responded to the findings with a call to action, stating that “few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

The Utah Clean Cities Coalition is dedicated to doing just that: taking action against some of the biggest air pollutant offenders.  The Utah Division of Air Quality reports that over 50 percent of Utah’s air pollution comes from mobile sources. From promoting alternative fuels to striving for an idle free state, Utah is on its way to becoming a little cleaner each day. 

Alternative fuels, as defined by the Energy Policy Act of 1992, are biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, and propane.  These are great for our environment because they can burn up to 90 percent cleaner than traditional petroleum fuels.  New technology helps vehicles to utilize these cleaner burning fuels.  Flex Fuel, Hybrid, and EVs are just a few of the many types of cars you can drive while contributing to fewer greenhouse gas emissions. 

Alternative Fuel vehicles are the number one way to reduce your vehicle emissions. However, there are plenty of things you can start doing today to help us reach our goal of cleaner air.  Turning your car off instead of idling, proper car maintenance, and carpooling or taking transit are all great ways you can reduce your emissions daily.  When you opt to bike or walk instead of driving, your vehicle emissions are cut to zero! Take advantage of nice weather by avoiding your car and getting outside instead.  Working together as a community, we can all improve Utah’s air quality for a healthier tomorrow. 

Check out for more information on alternative fuels and tips on how to reduce vehicle emissions.