"Getting to Zero" [January 7] is a comprehensive piece on, as the subhead says, "... ways Vermonters can reduce their carbon footprint — at home." There's an additional low-hanging fruit, no-cost way to do this at home: Limit warm-up vehicle idling time in your driveway.
According to the UVM Transportation Research Center, Vermonters' discretionary idling (while parked) emits 36,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually — no small potatoes when much of this is simply unnecessary.
The U.S. Department of Energy says, "The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. No more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days is needed." Driving slowly to moderately is the best way to warm up. A few caveats: Don't drive until defrosting is adequate; don't put an infant or elderly person in a totally cold car; and if the temperature is below zero, idle for two to three minutes.
Concern No. 1: No way will I get in a cold car without warming it up. Weigh the consequences: a few minutes of idling comfort versus emitting carbon, wasting energy and money, and polluting the air.
Concern No. 2: You know nothing about an engine's need to warm up below freezing. Idling causes engine wear. Don't believe the DOE? Many auto manufacturers recommend limiting idling, including warming up. Ford's 2015 F-250 Power Stroke diesel manual states, "Idling in cold weather does not heat the engine to its normal operating temperature. Long periods of idling, especially in cold weather, can cause a build up of deposits which can cause engine damage."
Michaud is director of Idle-Free VT.
Gun control is always going to be a hot topic, and I don't have the answers. I would, however, like to correct a couple of things in [Fair Game, "Shot in the Dark," January 14].
"Assault weapon," or more appropriately "assault rifle," means fully automatic. When you pull the trigger, more than one shot is fired. I would bet there are fewer than a handful of these guns in Vermont, since none has been manufactured since the mid-'80s, and their low quantity and high price limit them to wealthy collectors who have to fill out a lot of paperwork. Assault rifles are not the focus of most proposed legislation, but rather more common, semiautomatic sporting rifles with particular aesthetic features that deliver one shot with each trigger pull.
Also, "high-capacity ammunition" doesn't exist or make sense. If Sen. Philip Baruth meant "magazine-capacity limitations," they are arbitrary at best. Is a bad guy that much safer to be around if he has two 10-round magazines rather than one 20-round magazine? The answer is no.
The other problem here is that we as a society react with our emotions and not our brains after tragic incidents such as the Newtown shooting. I understand why, and am susceptible as well, but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. If you look at the data, you would see that violent crime and gun-related deaths have been on a steady decline for two decades. Larry Bell from Forbes had a nice piece a couple of years back titled "Disarming Realities: As gun sales soar, gun crimes plummet."
Regardless of your opinions as readers, writers, parents, politicians or whoever you are, please do your homework around important issues. Bad people will always do bad things, regardless of the rules. This is not to say we shouldn't have laws at all, but let's dig under the surface a little before we get up in arms.
Congratulations on your excellent articles ["Passive House" and "Vermod," January 7]. I am a builder in the area specializing in high-performance homes, and articles like these are extremely helpful in bringing awareness to the public about better ways to build a home. These homes are healthier and more cost-effective and have a reduced global impact as a benefit of their energy conservation.
I'm a little curious why there was not a mention of Efficiency Vermont's new High Performance Homes program. I believe Vermod was built to its Gold standard. The program, designed specifically to meet the goal of net zero by 2030, creates homes that are cost-optimized using many Passive House details. Vermonters should know that there is another energy standard designed specifically for our Vermont climate, one that very nearly reaches the performance of Passive Homes, with the added benefit of incentives and the resources of some excellent energy consultants at Efficiency Vermont.
It's an exciting time to be building a new home in Vermont. With the advent of cold-climate heat pumps and the application of building science and energy modeling in the design stage, there has been a substantial shift in the affordability, durability and performance of a well-designed and built high-performance home. This has also helped us improve the performance of existing homes, as well.
Ruddy is a Certified Green Professional and owner of Fiddlehead Construction.
Listen to Goodkind
Burlington mayoral candidate Steve Goodkind has an image problem: That long, white ponytail screams 1960s — old, stuck in the past and seemingly not really relevant today. Even worse, he has to overcome the anger voters still feel at former mayor Bob Kiss for the Burlington Telecom debacle.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is younger, clean-cut, handsome, personable and, with three years' experience, he is already a well-oiled politician. He has political heavyweights on his side, including Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Patrick Leahy, former governor Howard Dean, Congressman Peter Welch and possibly U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. And, surely, lots more money.
The odds seem insurmountable.
With Goodkind as Weinberger's opponent, I was gripped by hopelessness. Weinberger is on his pre-mayor developer mission — to build and build and build. Another two years of forced crowding and gobbling up every acre of green space — further alienating me from my hometown.
Maybe not all is lost. After listening to Goodkind, I was pleasantly impressed and uplifted. Having managed public works for more than 30 years, he knows the inside workings of city hall, infrastructure, balanced budgets and the fallacy of endless growth as economic savior. He also recognizes the need for intelligent and respectful development.
I am not a Progressive, but I will be listening very closely to Goodkind's every word.