The Punch List – 7/6/18

Hyped about faster, cleaner transportation. The first Hyperloop transit route in the U.S. will span from Pittsburgh to Chicago, and its development is quickly progressing. Consultants will soon begin environmental impact and feasibility studies, following this past year of testing in Las Vegas. The transit system is vacuum based with some propulsion, and the projected air and noise pollution is less than that of any other type of railroad. Moving at 700+ mph, the Virgin Hyperloop One will run along existing roadways for efficiency and limited environmental disruption. Look for it in 2023. 

Pittsburgh women are killin’ it. The founders of For Good PGH (Kristen Michaels & Gisele Fetterman) are opening the doors for the Hollander Project, a newly renovated space in Braddock to be a hub for female entrepreneurs and female-run startups. Planned to perform as a revolving door, the space will provide temporary, low-cost space for businesses to work from and leverage relationships while they get established, as well as act as an educational space. Named after the neighborhood pharmacy that occupied the building years ago, the Hollander Project will be financially self-sufficient in two years, thanks to various grants.

Summer takes its toll on Pittsburgh air quality. Air conditioning is a hot commodity this time of year, but AC units emit hydro-fluorocarbons, which trap thousands of times as much heat as does CO2 in the atmosphere. Researchers believe nearly 10% of air pollution-related deaths in the future could be related to air conditioning. Making matters worse: fireworks. Despite the U.S. banning fireworks with highly toxic chemicals, studies show fine particulate matter is typically 42% higher on July 4th, causing both short- and long-term health effects for some. Not good for Pittsburgh which ranked high on the ALA’s list of cities with the worst particle pollution this year. 

Peoples-PWSA potential partnership proposal brings a few details and a lot of questions. Peoples Gas began a public information campaign for their proposed public-private partnership this week. Plans include a new water treatment facility that uses hydroelectric power and solar panels and produces water 10 times cleaner than the current water from PWSA. Some incentives may sweeten the deal: fixed rates for three years, support for low-income customers, and a commitment that 1/3 of new employees will be African Americans. Critics maintain that there are concerns-like who the board will be composed of-that come with privatization, even partial privatization. Regardless, Peoples’ CEO is confident PWSA will accept the proposal. 

Rain, rain, go away. Extreme weather in Western Pennsylvania has hit some communities hard. Riverside towns like Millvale and Aspinwall were overwhelmed by flooding that caused fallen trees, street closures, bus evacuations, and countless damaged homes. The Millvale Mayor declared disaster, calling for the help of Allegheny County for cleanup. And two days after the rain, 10,000 homes are still without power in places like Lawrenceville and Highland Park. 

A grant for sustainable food. A $305,764 grant will help to fund research on the links between food, water, and energy resources. Two University of Pittsburgh professors are taking on the task of understanding the best ways to sustain those three vital resources. 

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