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Moab Happenings Home

SUSTAINABILITY HAPPENINGS November 2019

Smart Growth, Weatherization and Saving Money
by Dr Rosemarie Russo Sustainability Director

Efficient planning – known as smart growth development – enhances community prosperity and generates economic benefits for local businesses, households and governments. Cities investing in public transportation, smart growth and downtown development are experiencing cost savings, growing tax revenues, increased property values and booming retail sales.

Smart growth reduces the amount of money that families spend on energy and fuel costs, especially in a community like Moab that does not have any public transportation.

Over the past 40 years, household driving increased by 60 percent but median household income increased by only 25 percent. Thus, the experience for most Americans is that they drove substantially more but did not share proportionately in income growth. Codes requiring 1.5 parking spots for households with two or more bedrooms perpetuates the wasteful driving model. A compact, walkable neighborhood contributes to people’s sense of community because neighbors get to know each other, not just each other’s cars. Plus, as telecommuting and car-share options increase, the need for cars will diminish. It appears that younger people are willing to treat transportation as an on-demand service, rather than paying the fixed price of owning a car.

Allowing more people to live closer to downtown can boost employment rates and income levels for low-wage workers while reducing exposure to congestion for all. Smart growth policies are also shown to cut government infrastructure costs, enhance public health and conserve natural resources. For low-income workers, higher vehicle miles traveled (VMT) ratios lessen their ability to break the poverty cycle. Moreover, building more roads and maintaining them is not the best way to produce more economic growth.

Reducing “empty miles,” driving that contributes little or nothing to the economy, will help meet climate protection and clean air goals while also yielding positive economic impacts.

Communities that are realizing the economic benefits of smart growth include:
• Sarasota, Florida – downtown development costs were half that of suburban development while generating four times the tax revenue.
• Portland, Oregon. – a $100 million investment in streetcars helped attract $3.5 billion in private investments.
• Denver, Colorado – home values located less than a half-mile from a light rail station rose by an average of 17.6 percent, while home values in the rest of Denver declined by an average of 7.5 percent from 2006-2008, according to a 2008 article by the Denver Post.

The City of Moab and Grand County are C-PACE (commercial property assessed clean energy) districts. If you are planning major renovations and want to include energy-efficient, renewable energy and/or water conservation improvements, please contact the Moab City Sustainability Office, rrusso@moabcity.org, for more information. Rocky Mountain Power also offers rebates and incentives.

Free Insulation Weatherization Recommissioning Program

The Moab City Sustainability Office has evaluated the energy use in our community and the significant challenge is that one-third of our housing was built before 1988 and one-third consists of manufactured homes, which tend to be energy inefficient. Although there are rebates for energy upgrades, most trailers and older homes are exempt. However, over the next two months, any resident living in a single-wide or doublewide trailer with electric heat can request a FREE insulation weatherization recommissioning. The City is collaborating with ClearResults to perform the upgrades. The equipment and labor will not cost the homeowners/renters any money. Interested residents can email rrusso@moabcity.org with your name, address and contact information, or drop by City Hall, 217 E. Center St., and sign up on the form outside the Sustainability Office.

 

Effective Lighting Reduced Glare and Increases Safety
By Crystal White

With an increase in cars driving along Main Street and pedestrian traffic crossing the street, it’s time to focus on adequate lighting, which reduces glare and increases safety for pedestrians and drivers. This revamping of our lights, adding lights to the north and south end of town, making crosswalks more visible, and educating residents and tourists on the importance of crossing at intersections will help prevent pedestrian/car accidents.

We have all experienced temporary impairment from excessively bright car headlights while driving at night. Similar glare can come from city lights that are not adequately shielded to direct light downward only.

In the past, light bulbs had an amber glow. Today’s LED lights are often blue-white and much more luminescent, creating that harsh glare similar to bright car headlights. Light glares into the eyes of drivers and pedestrians, causing temporary impairment and making street crossing a hair-raising adventure.

To make Main Street safer, we encourage all businesses along this street to use downward directed fixtures on their buildings. These changes will aid in reducing dangerous glare, which caused temporary blindness and wasted energy from light that is shining up into Space, where it is not useful. Downward directing fixtures will also require a lower luminosity to light up the ground below, resulting in electricity savings for business owners.

We would also like to encourage owners to consider using a warmer colored bulb. Our eyes adjust better to patterns of light and dark under the influence of warmer light (yellow/orange).

The north and south end of town are very dark indeed, making it dangerous for pedestrians to cross the road. Adding adequate lighting in these areas with crosswalks being marked clearly for pedestrians and drivers will aid in making our ever-bustling city more pedestrian-friendly.

Lastly, educating residents and visitors on the importance of crossing Main Street at intersections or crosswalks is crucial. Most pedestrian accidents happen outside of an intersection or crosswalk where drivers are not expecting to have a pedestrian interaction.

For more information on outdoor lighting techniques, the new lighting code, or questions about effective lighting, send us a message at www.facebook.com/moabdarkskies


Community Conservation Challenge
All residents can pick up rebate material and an efficiency kit as part of the Sustainability Office’s Community Conservation Challenge as well. To receive a kit, residents can contact rrusso@moabcity.org or come by the Sustainability Office at City Hall and simply indicate which neighborhood they live in. Neighborhoods are identified in the map below by animal totems. See Map below:
As of October 17, the animals leading the pack are the Rabbits, Giraffes and Gorillas.
The kits could save residents up to $180 annually. Simple steps add up.

 
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