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Computer Model May Help Lower Bay Area Air Pollution

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A new computer model, which estimates the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases of proposed development projects, is being put to use throughout the state.

The California Emissions Estimator Model was developed by air districts across the state.

"Projects, when they go through the environmental review process, are required to look at their air quality impacts associated with their projects," said Dave Vintze, Planning Manager at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. "This model helps projects do it more accurately."

Vintze said much of the estimation used to have to be done by hand. But now, planners and consultants can input details of their planned development and immediately see how, for instance, it will impact vehicle traffic and how much impact a facility's refrigeration or air conditioning units will have.

"It's a tool to evaluate planning," said Vintze.

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

Barbara Lee with the Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District said it's a great platform for businesses.

"When you pave a surface, the paving material releases some of the chemicals that are in the paving," she said. "It does that over time, so this model will calculate those kinds of emissions too."

Air districts have been hosting free training classes throughout California. The computer model is free and has already been downloaded 6,000 times.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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