California ARB soliciting research suggestions for FY 2012-2013 plan; sustainable communities, behavior, pollutant exposure, air pollution science, GHG targets
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is soliciting research suggestions for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Annual Research Plan in the form of brief conceptual descriptions that address specified research gaps and support the Board’s ongoing regulatory and policy priorities. The deadline to submit research concepts is 31 January 2012.
Proposed research should address policy-relevant knowledge gaps important to ARB’s mission and must clearly delineate potential benefits to the State of California. The FY 2011-2012 plan focused primarily on five areas of interest: sustainable communities; behavior and technology adoption; health and air pollution exposures; air pollution science; and greenhouse gas targets. ARB will also consider projects outside of these areas, to the extent that they provide clear and direct support to its mission.
Sustainable Communities: The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (SB 375) directs California’s metropolitan planning organizations to develop sustainable communities strategies that meet regional greenhouse gas reduction targets through integrated land use, housing and transportation planning.
Development of sustainable communities strategies can also provide an opportunity for associated criteria pollutant emission reductions that will be needed to attain air quality standards for ozone and particulate matter as well as reduce near-roadway exposures. Four research projects were funded in this area as part of the FY 2011-2012 Plan and focused on analyzing the economics of smart growth strategies; quantifying the greenhouse gas co-benefits of green buildings; determining benefits of complete streets conversions; and piloting a program to assess improvements to financing programs for building retrofits.
Future research undertaken by ARB will probe: co-benefits of smart growth policies; and integration of freight transport and smart growth.
Behavior and Technology adoption: Strategies to improve air quality depend not only on sound technologies, but on adoption and appropriate use of clean technologies. Given the magnitude of technological change required to support California’s transition to a low-carbon economy while improving air quality, ARB says that it is imperative that its policies understand and effectively contend with barriers to implementation of clean technology.
ARB says that research is needed to explore behavioral and institutional factors that affect technology adoption and use patterns. The FY 2011-2012 Plan proposed three research projects in this area, including modeling household vehicle and transportation choices; understanding potential benefits of interactive transportation technologies; and consumer attitudes to low-emission vehicles.
ARB is interested in future research that will shed light on: behaviors that impede or promote success of regulatory programs; evaluation of strategies that involve behavior and/or technology adoption, such as adoption of advanced clean vehicles or performance of zero net energy buildings; and potentially replicable strategies to further encourage voluntary emissions reductions.
Health and Air Pollution Exposures: ARB has reduced exposure to a wide variety of air pollutants through regulations that reduce emissions from motor vehicles and consumer products. These regulations have led to considerable improvements in air quality throughout California. However, on a regional and local level exposure reduction has not been uniform statewide, and the remaining risk needs to be characterized.
The FY 2011-2012 Plan supported three research projects in this area: reducing indoor exposure to air pollution; investigating benefits of high efficiency filtration to children with asthma; and reducing air pollution exposure in passenger vehicles.
Of particular concern to the Board are the following future research areas: exposure to traffic emissions and identification of potential mitigation measures to reduce near-roadway exposures; exposure to ultrafine particles and the effectiveness of ARB regulations (other than tailpipe emission limits) in reducing those exposures; disproportionate exposures of socially and economically vulnerable groups and measures to reduce those exposures; biological pathways and mechanisms through which exposure to air pollutants, including ultrafines, leads to adverse health effects; and indoor air sources of air pollutant emissions and chemistry.
Air Pollution Science: Research supported by ARB provides the scientific basis for the Board’s strategies to reduce criteria pollutant emissions and improve mobile source inventories, as well as illuminating the role of biogenic and natural emissions, which constitute an increasing fraction of total emissions as man-made emissions decrease. However, continued improvements in California’s air quality will require ARB to develop State Implementation Plans to meet increasingly stringent ambient air pollution standards for criteria air pollutants while also achieving needed reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
The FY 2011-2012 Plan included four projects to support the goal of attaining air quality standards. Those projects focused on long range transport of air pollutants into California; dairy feed management practices to reduce emissions; contribution of organic aerosols as a component of fine particulate pollution; and durability of diesel engine emission controls.
ARB looks for future research to address a number of basic scientific challenges, including improved understanding of: long-range transport of air pollution; emissions inventory improvement; atmospheric processes, in particular those associated with intermediate volatility and semi-volatile organic compounds, and formation of secondary organic aerosol; validation of rule benefits through regional and local monitoring; and integration of criteria and greenhouse gas pollutant control strategies, including impacts of changing fuels and combustion technologies.
Greenhouse Gas Targets: ARB shares responsibility for California’s climate change goals, which include development and implementation of a plan to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 as well as aligning the State with a 2050 goal of 80% emissions reductions relative to a 1990 baseline.
ARB’s research program has made several contributions to GHG emissions reductions measure to support implementation of the Scoping Plan, which delineates how California can meet its 2020 emissions reductions goals through various cost-effective rules, regulations, and voluntary strategies augmented by a cap and trade mechanism.
The FY 2011-2012 Plan put forth five projects to support meeting GHG targets: measuring emissions of potent greenhouse gases from appliance and building waste in landfills; mitigating of N2O emissions from agricultural soils; atmospheric measurement and inverse modeling to improve GHG estimates; using VOC measurements at tall towers to distinguish GHG sources; and analysis of solar radiation data to clarify the role of black carbon in climate change mitigation.Further research is needed to: explore potential new emission reduction strategies; improve emissions estimates; and verify emissions reductions.
ARB says that the nature and scope of the proposed research concepts will vary as will the size and duration of each project. Projects that provide co-funding to leverage state funding are evaluated more favorably. There is no minimum or maximum funding amount that may be requested for the proposed research, ARB’s annual research budget generally ranges from $5 million to $7 million, typically funding between 20 and 25 projects, including internally generated ideas, with individual budgets ranging from $50,000 to $500,000.