Barr Foundation Knowledge Center

This collection includes publications and resources from our partners and in our program areas, both current and legacy. These resources are completely free to access and download. Most of these works were funded by the Barr Foundation. We may occasionally feature items relevant to our program areas which were not funded by Barr. Please be aware that views expressed are not necessarily those of the Barr Foundation. We encourage you to search our collection and suggest potential content to include (use "Suggest an Addition"). For questions or assistance, please contact feedback@barrfoundation.org.
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Featured

Mortality-based damages per ton due to the on-road mobile sector in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. by region, vehicle class and precursor

June 8, 2021

A new study that quantifies the total and interstate deaths from transportation-related air pollution from five vehicle types in 12 states and Washington, D.C. has been published in Environmental Research Letters. The research was led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.The study is part of the Transportation, Equity, Climate, and Health project (TRECH), a multi-university research team from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston University, University of North Carolina, and Columbia University, which analyzes policy scenarios to address carbon pollution from the transportation sector.Key TakeawaysOzone and fine particulate matter from vehicle emissions in 2016 led to an estimated 7,100 deaths in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., and pollution from tailpipe emissions is also traveling across state lines, harming the health of people living in cities and states downwind.Region wide, light-duty trucks, which include SUVs, were responsible for the largest number of premature deaths at 2,463 followed by light-duty passenger vehicles (1,881) and heavy-duty trucks (1,465)All states experienced substantial health impacts from vehicle emissions and can gain health benefits from local action.New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey were hardest hit with health damages at $21 billion, $13 billion, and $12 billion, respectively, in 2016 (the most recent data available from EPA).Many states are heavily impacted by out-of-state emissions and some states cause more deaths out-of-state than in-state, including PA and NJ, highlighting the importance of region-wide action to reduce vehicle emissions.On a ton for ton basis, buses in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area had the largest health damages at $4 million for every ton of particulate matter emitted.Ammonia emissions play a stronger relative role in causing health damages compared to oxides of nitrogen. Regionally, ammonia emissions from vehicles were responsible for 740 premature deaths in 2016, more than 10% of the total deaths. Ammonia emissions from vehicles are an unintended by-product of catalytic converters and are unregulated in the U.S., and their role in urban air pollution has been generally under appreciated.

Climate - Mobility
Featured

Justice in 100 Metrics: Tools for Measuring Equity in 100% Renewable Energy Policy Implementation

January 1, 2021

This report reviews existing literature and compiles equity metrics for the implementation of 100% renewable energy policy. Initiative for Energy Justice created this literature review for energy regulators and communities engaged in energy rulemaking proceedings in particular. The content may also be adapted to address equity initiatives within utilities, and used by advocates in independent efforts to hold utilities accountable to equity standards. The resources provided are meant to provide a flexible basis from which to expand systems of accountability regarding equity goals in the implementation of 100% renewable energy (or 100% clean energy) policy.

Climate - Clean Energy
Featured

Carbon Free Boston: Summary Report 2019

January 1, 2019

Carbon Free Boston was developed through comprehensive engagement with City staff, utilities, neighboring municipalities, regional authorities, state agencies, industry experts, and community representatives, among others, and was supported by comprehensive analysis using models that project feasible pathways to carbon neutrality by 2050. To ensure meaningful and actionable outcomes, we looked across scales and considered opportunities and challenges associated with specific actions at the city, state, and regional levels. We also addressed disparities in communities' capacity both to mitigate climate damages and to benefit from the transition to a carbon-neutral city.Supporting technical reports and other resources are also available on the project web site: http://sites.bu.edu/cfb/

Climate - Clean Energy; Climate - Mobility; Climate - Resilience

Opportunities to Invest in Community Resilience for COVID and Climate

May 6, 2021

The reality that COVID-19 was a pandemic became clear by mid-March 2020. Immediately, grassroots, community-led groups organized mutual aid and other COVID response efforts to bridge the gaps created by lack of preparedness as well as inadequate response on the part of the state and federal governments.The Barr Foundation is interested in learning how these community based responses were organized, how they operated, and what the network ecology looked like in Boston, Chelsea, and Revere. The overall goal is to understand how community-focused and community-led responses like these can be built upon and reinforced to support equity-centered climate resilience.

Results of Energy Polling Survey fielded by Global Strategy Group

September 30, 2020

A September 2020 survey of Massachusetts voters on clean energy shows increasingly negative attitudes towards gas and other fossil fuels and heightened concerns about air pollution and public safety amidst the COVID crisis.Description:A survey fielded by Global Strategies Group in September 2020 showed Massachusetts voters continue to view clean energy as an imperative to protect the climate and public health and safety.65% of Massachusetts voters surveyed are ready for bold and decisive action to address the climate crisis, including a complete transition to clean and renewable energy statewide.Massachusetts voters trust scientists and public health experts above all others to convey the facts on energy issues. 85% of Massachusetts voters surveyed trust scientists and 82% trust public health experts to provide them with information on energy issues.Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly support using more solar and wind to generate electricity and a majority supports reducing our reliance on gas. 88% support using more solar, while 85% support using more wind. 52% support reducing reliance on gas.Finally, as the poll was conducted in the midst of the COVID crisis, in terms of stimulus spending to build back from COVID, providing assistance to people to pay their energy bills (86% support) and more incentives for energy efficiency (79% support) topped the list for Massachusetts voters followed by strong support for incentives to switch to cleaner heating alternatives such as heat pumps (68%).

Climate - Clean Energy

Designing Shelters for Dignity: Energy Shift Boston Rentify Chinatown

September 1, 2020

Resilient communities are strong communities. Unfortunately, some communities - especially those that are primarily people of color or historically low-income - are disproportionately impacted by environmental, economic, and social challenges. And yet, when we design the built environment to address these challenges, the voices of the residents are often left out of the process.The Sasaki Foundation Design Grants focused on the biennial theme of resilience to highlight the role of design in building stronger communities - proactive approaches to climate adaptation, housing, transit, and placekeeping - the Sasaki Foundation issued a call for proposals to find projects that engaged with communities in the Gateway Cities, Metro West, and Greater Boston.In 2019, the Sasaki Foundation received 18 applications representing 42 organizations, 11 institutions, 8 Boston communities, 6 Greater Boston cities, and 2 Gateway Cities. Finalists pitched their ideas to win grant money and coworking space in the Incubator at Sasaki. The three winning teams spent ten months in the Incubator working on projects that promote equity in design.

Climate - Mobility

Field Notes: Equity & State Climate Policy

September 5, 2019

For more than a decade, states and cities across the country have served a leadership role in advancing science-informed climate policy through city, state and multi-state efforts. The rapid pace by which state climate policy is emerging is evidenced by the number of new laws, directives and policies adopted in 2018 and the first half of 2019 alone. Currently, there is an active ongoing dialogue across the U.S. regarding the intersection of climate and equity objectives with efforts targeted at addressing needs of disadvantaged communities and consumers. This climate/equity intersection is due to several factors, including recognition by many cities and states that climate change is and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations and will exacerbate existing stressors faced by disadvantaged communities and consumers. Research indicates that a greater proportion of environmental burden exists in geographic areas with majority populations of people of color, low-income residents, and/or indigenous people. It is well known that certain households (including some that are low-income, African American, Latino, multi-family and rural) spend a larger portion on their income on home energy costs. States and stakeholders are realizing that a transition to a low-carbon future by mid-century will require significantly increased participation of disadvantaged communities and households in the benefits of climate and clean energy programs.

Climate - Clean Energy; Climate - Mobility; Climate - Resilience

Getting to BRT: An Implementation Guide for U.S. Cities

September 1, 2019

While momentum in recent decades has elevated bus rapid transit (BRT) as more than an emerging mode in the U.S., this high-capacity, high-quality bus-based mass transit system remains largely unfamiliar to most Americans. In the U.S., lack of clarity and confusion around what constitutes BRT stems both from its relatively low profile (most Americans have never experienced BRT) and its vague and often conflicting sets of definitions across cities, sectors, and levels of government. As a result, many projects that would otherwise be labeled as bus improvements or bus priority under international standards have become branded in American cities as BRT. This leads to misperceptions among U.S. decisionmakers and the public about what to expect from BRT. Since its inception in Curitiba, Brazil, BRT has become a fixture of urban transport systems in more than 70 cities on six continents throughout the globe. Just twelve BRT corridors exist in the United States so far.This guide offers proven strategies and insights for successfully implementing BRT within the political, regulatory, and social context that is unique to the United States. This guide seeks to illuminate the upward trends and innovations of BRT in U.S. cities. Through three in-depth case studies and other examples, the guide shares the critical lessons learned by several cities that have successfully implemented, or are in the midst of completing, their own BRT corridors. Distinct from previous BRT planning and implementation guides, this is a practical resource to help planners, and policy makers specifically working within the U.S. push beyond the parameters of bus priority and realize the comprehensive benefits of true BRT.

Climate - Mobility

Pathways to Climate Resilience: Strategies for the Greater Boston Area

August 28, 2019

In the summer of 2018, the Barr Foundation contracted with the Consensus Building Institute (CBI) to conduct a scan of highlights of climate resilience activities in the greater Boston area and to identify opportunities for ramping up those activities in coming years. The CBI team reviewed relevant technical reports and interviewed 36 individuals who work climate resilience.The ideas described in this document are the research team's synthesis of the broad knowledge about resilience activities today from the expertise of those with whom the team spoke and corresponded. The team would like to thank all of them for their insights and wisdom.

Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days

July 2, 2019

This UCS analysis provides a detailed view of how extreme heat events caused by dangerous combinations of temperature and humidity are likely to become more frequent and widespread in the United States over this century. It also describes the implications for everyday life in different regions of the country.We have analyzed where and how often in the contiguous United States the heat index—also known as the National Weather Service (NWS) "feels like" temperature—is expected to top 90°F, 100°F, or 105°F during future warm seasons (April through October). While there is no one standard definition of "extreme heat," in this report we refer to any individual days with conditions that exceed these thresholds as extreme heat days. We also analyzed the spread and frequency of heat conditions so extreme that the NWS formula cannot accurately calculate a corresponding heat index. The "feels like" temperatures in these cases are literally off the charts.We have conducted this analysis for three global climate scenarios associated with different levels of global heattrapping emissions and future warming. These scenarios reflect different levels of action to reduce global emissions, from effectively no action to rapid action. Even the scenario of rapid action to reduce emissions does not spare our communities a future of substantially increased extreme heat. For the greatest odds of securing a safe climate future for ourselves and the ecosystems we all depend on, we would need to take even more aggressive action, in the US and globally, than outlined in any of the scenarios used here. Our challenge is great, but the threat of not meeting it is far greater.

Climate - Resilience

The State of Zoning for Multi-Family Housing in Greater Boston

June 1, 2019

After a pause during the Great Recession, housing costs began rising again as the shortage of homes identified in 2001 began to widen. In some degree, this is because of nationwide changes that have increased demand for apartments and homes on small lots, especially in walkable, transit-connected places. But Greater Boston is also a victim of its own success. The many attractive characteristics of our region are drawing new households by the thousands. Young adults are forming new families and older residents are less likely to flee to Florida and Arizona. Overall, the population of the region is growing – in fact, Massachusetts is the fastest growing state in the Northeast. The disinvestment and population declines of earlier decades have been reversed, and the benefits are overwhelmingly positive. But, if housing supply cannot keep up with demand, these gains could be lost.From 2010 to 2017, the Metropolitan Boston region added 245,000 new jobs, a 14 percent increase. Yet according to the best data available, cities and towns permitted only 71,600 housing units over that same time period, growth of only 5.2 percent. When supply of new housing does not keep pace with the growing demand created by new workers and young adults forming new households, there is more competition for the existing units. Low rental vacancy rates (just above half of normal) and low for-sale inventory (just above a third of normal) make it a landlord and sellers' market, allowing them to charge top dollar to the highest bidder. Continued demand for labor, driven by economic growth and the retirement of the Baby Boomers is likely to continue driving strong population growth and housing demand well into the future. Compounding the issue is the fact that Baby Boomers will continue to need housing well after they retire, but are stuck in large single family homes because there are very few affordable options to downsize.For more information: https://ma-smartgrowth.org/resources/resourcesreports-books/

Climate - Resilience

Energy Storage: The New Efficiency

April 19, 2019

This report, which describes how states can use energy efficiency funds to provide incentives for energy storage, is a publication of Clean energy group (CEG), with appendices containing several white papers prepared by the applied economics Clinic under contract to CEG. This report explains the steps Massachusetts took to become the first state to integrate energy storage technologies into its energy efficiency plan, including actions to 1) expand the goals and definition of energy efficiency to include peak demand reduction, and 2) show that customer-sited battery storage can pass the required cost-effectiveness test. The report summarizes the economics of battery cost/benefit calculations, examines key elements of incentive design, and shows how battery storage would have been found to be even more cost-effective had the non-energy benefits of batteries been included in the calculations. The report also introduces seven non-energy benefits of batteries, and for the first time, assigns values to them. Finally, the report provides recommendations to other states for how to incentivize energy storage within their own energy efficiency plans. Four appendices provide detailed economics analysis, along with recommendations to Massachusetts on improving its demand reduction incentive program in future iterations of the energy efficiency plan.

Climate - Clean Energy

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