Utah DEQ News

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

By Paul Harding

Why am I measuring my carbon footprint? Because my daily activities impact the environment. Understanding these impacts is the first step to reducing them.

It’s also a way to see how significant improvements can be the result of seemingly small changes in behavior. Some changes are obvious, like reducing the miles I travel by car or cutting back on electrical
or heating use in my home.

Paul HardingYou can use a carbon footprint calculator to find out how your daily activities impact our environment. Simply gather your recent utility bills, find out the fuel efficiency of your vehicles, and calculate the total miles you drive per year.

Enter the information in the calculator—it should take about 10 to 15 minutes—to estimate your potential savings.

You will quickly notice that driving has the biggest impact. I calculated that if I ride my scooter to work fifty percent of the time (or 115 trips) instead of driving my car, I will save $233 a year and reduce my CO2 emissions by 1677 lbs. If I replace just one trip a week by riding my bike or taking mass transit, I will save $170.00 and 1062 lbs of CO2. My round trip commute is only 20 miles. Imagine what you can save if you travel farther!

At home, the easiest way to start reducing your carbon footprint is to cut back on your power use. I have replaced most of my incandescent lights with LED and compact fluorescent bulbs, but there are still more I can change out.

We remodeled our home and were able to add insulation to walls that weren’t insulated when our home was built in the early 1960’s. We replaced one old furnace with two smaller, high-efficiency units and installed a three zone system that allows us to heat only the areas we are using at the time.

I have found that we can be comfortable at 76 degrees during summer months and at 68 degrees in winter. We also use a programmable thermostat to manage our heating and cooling systems efficiently.

Taking steps, like setting our water heater on a lower temperature and washing clothes in cold water whenever possible. We only run the dishwasher when full and then only at night during off-peak time. We have also offset our impacts through purchasing a small percent of our electricity as Blue Sky Renewable Energy.

The calculator provided by Pacific Power will let you see just what sort of difference you can make.

Take a few minutes to calculate your carbon footprint today, try out some energy-saving tips during the 12 Days of Earth Day, and calculate your carbon footprint at the end of the 12 Days.

You may be surprised at how small changes in your everyday life can have a big impact on the environment.

I am a Utah native, and  graduated from BYU with a degree in geology. I’ve worked at DEQ for 20 years, the first 15 in the Underground Storage Tank Program and the last five in the Office of Planning and Public Affairs in business assistance. I’m part of the DEQ Ultimate gang who play Ultimate Frisbee for exercise at lunch. I live with my partner/fiancé of 23 years, Brett, and our three dogs Sarge, Frankie, and Bernie.

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Bike & Public Transportation a Winning Situation

By Bob Ford

Since I work for the Utah Division of Air Quality, I guess I better “walk the walk if I talk the talk” (no pun intended!). Actually, I have a new saying when trying to encourage friends to walk, bike, trip chain, use public transportation, etc. …

If Bob can do it, you can do it.”

I made a decision at the beginning part of the year that I should be makingBikes public transportation a better effort to “spare the air.

About nine years ago, we built a home that was close enough to a TRAX station to make it convenient for me to walk to the station and use public transportation. Since the Draper TRAX extension has opened, I am making more of an effort to use public transportation.

Using my bike and public transportation is a win, win, win situation. I save money on gas, I exercise and I help minimize my impact on our air quality problems.

I use my time on TRAX very effectively—making telephone calls, checking email, and reading. And here is where the If Bob can do it, you can do it” comes in—next year I turn 60, and the first digit in my weight is a 3!

If I can ride my bike and use public transportation, so can you! Remember: “If Bob can do it, you can do it!”

I have worked for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality for 22 years and have over 30 years of work experience in the environmental field in both the public and private sectors.

Manager of the Air Toxics, Lead-Based Paint, and Asbestos Section within the Division of Air Quality.

I enjoy most sports but love college football, cycling and NASCAR (I know, DAQ AND NASCAR…but, they are using oxygenated fuels at the race tracks the last couple of years). My wife and I enjoy traveling internationally and visiting our National Parks.

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Utah DEQ: Chat With Us Around the Dinner Table

By Amanda Smith

I love Utah. My family settled here many years ago, and I’m glad that they decided to call this place home. I spent much of my childhood enjoying Utah’s beautiful natural environment, from skiing in our mountains to camping in the desert. I want to provide my children with those same exceptional experiences.

My opportunity to serve as the director of DEQ has shown me firsthand how clean the environment is in Utah. Despite the inversions our valleys suffer during the winter and summer, our air today is cleaner Utah DEQoverall than it was when I was growing up—and so is our land and water. That doesn’t mean our work is done reducing pollution, or that we don’t suffer from the health impacts that can come from exposure to dirty air or polluted waters. I understand what it’s like to have questions about the effects of pollution, because I have them too.

My family and I often sit around the dinner table and talk about the ways our personal choices affect our health and our environment and how we can make better choices day-to-day. I believe our new DEQ blog will be a way for us to sit around the dinner table with you and talk about your questions and concerns.

We’ll try to answer your questions as best we can, and we’ll let you know what we know—or don’t know—about the things that concern you. We’ll introduce you to our scientists and engineers—for whom environmental protection is more than a profession, it’s a passion—and hear what they have to say about the issues that are in the news and on your minds. We hope you will take this opportunity to get to know our DEQ family a little better and find out more about the work we do every day to protect Utah’s air, land and water.

We’re kicking off our DEQ blog with a series of daily entries to celebrate the “12 Days of Earth Day.” Each day, you will get to meet somebody from our staff and hear how they have made earth-friendly actions a part of their everyday lives. Beginning in May, we will have weekly posts covering a variety of environmental issues that are in the news or on your mind. We’ve already started a list of topics for upcoming blog posts:

  • DEQ blog
  • Water quality threats to our streams and reservoirs
  • Summer ozone season
Now, here’s where you come in. We want you to add your ideas to this list.
What would you like us to talk about? Leave your comments, suggestions and feedback in the area below. We will use as many of your ideas as we can, because we figure if you’re concerned about an environmental issue, chances are good that plenty of other people are too.

Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to our dinner table conversations.

Amanda Smith serves as the executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.