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Problem Solving Must-Reads: Smart Furniture to Reduce Ambulance Emissions

Plus: Major cities are banning diesel vehicles, and Sacramento provides portable bathrooms to the homeless

In New York, ambulances are stationed through the city, engines running, ready at a moment’s notice to go wherever they’re needed. This practices greatly reduces response time, saving lives. However, it also greatly increases the damage done to the environment by rescue vehicles. For every hour of idling, an ambulance goes through 1.5 gallons of gas, emits, 33 pounds of CO2, and even causes engine wear equivalent to up to 50 miles of driving.

Recognizing the environmental damage being done, the FDNY is planning to install “street furniture” to address the problem. Narrow posts, installed where ambulances typically idle, will allow ambulances to plug directly into the power grid rather than idling their engines. The easy-plug system will allow them to remain at the ready, maintaining their low response times while greatly reducing the 45 tons of pollution that ambulances currently produce just from idling.

The new street furniture is part of an ongoing effort across the country to make our streets smarter. Previous installations have included more attractive street trash cans and improved public benches. Certainly, the ambulance outlets will have the biggest direct environmental impact, but the overall movement towards smarter public facilities is a step in the right direction.

Read the full story at NextCity.

Here’s what else we’re reading:

Sacramento Brings Bathrooms to the Homeless

For many people experiencing homelessness, just using the bathroom is a daily challenge. Most public establishments won’t let them in, forcing many to use alleys and sidewalks rather than proper facilities. To help them, and to help clean the streets, Sacramento has begun setting up portable bathrooms, complete with sinks and air conditioning, to help restore hygiene and dignity to some of their homeless population. (via Sacramento Bee)

Four Major Cities to Ban Diesel Vehicles

Photo: City Lab

The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution. That’s one reason why four of the largest cities in the world—Mexico City, Paris, Madrid, and Athens—have all agree to ban diesel-emitting vehicles from their streets by 2025 as part of a larger package of climate-change measures. The cities plan to work with auto manufacturers to help make the ban successful. (via CityLab)

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