Clear the Air Challenge Kickoff: One month of driving less and smarter to help improve Utah’s Air

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Today the Salt Lake Chamber and its clean air partners kicked off the 9th Annual Clear the Air Challenge. The Challenge, issued by business, government and community leaders, is a month-long competition designed to encourage Utahns to reduce their vehicle emissions by choosing alternatives to driving alone. And for the first time, the Clear the Air Challenge will be held during the month of February, when our air quality is visibly at its worst.

“There is no greater health threat to our community than poor air quality,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “Doing our part to clear the air isn’t just about our quality of life, it’s about the quality of life for our children and grandchildren. It’s also an economic issue. In order to attract and retain the kind of talent we need to further our state’s economy, we have to protect our unparalleled quality of life. This is everyone’s responsibility. The Clear the Air Challenge shows us that small individual changes can, and do, make a difference to Utah’s air quality.”

Transportation emissions are responsible for nearly fifty percent of the pollutants that make up our poor air quality. By reducing vehicle trips, we can protect our health, environment, economy and quality of life. That’s why participants of the Clear the Air Challenge use TravelWise strategies like carpooling, using public transit, teleworking, trip chaining, walking or riding their bike, and, new this year, using electric vehicles, to reduce their emissions and help clear up Utah’s air.

“As we all know, there are no perfect answers to solving Utah’s air quality problems, but there are practical solutions,” said Thom Carter, UCAIR executive director. “The Clear the Air Challenge is one way to engage the citizens of Utah in finding practical solutions that make a real difference in improving our air quality.”

Since the Challenge started in 2009, participants have helped make a big difference in improving Utah’s air quality. In that time, almost a million trips have been eliminated, 13.6 million miles were saved, 4,700 tons of emissions were reduced and more than $6 million was saved.

“While many seemingly small individual behaviors contribute to the problem, it is also small changes on each of our parts which can make the biggest difference,” said Michael Shea, senior policy associate with HEAL Utah. “This is why the Clear the Air Challenge is such a great event. It creates a coordinated framework to show Utahns how easy it is to make difference and how big of an impact they can make.”

Business and organization participation is a key component of the challenge. By encouraging employees to participate, businesses can create a team to make an even bigger impact. Employees from last year’s winner, Fidelity Investments, prevented 492 tons of emissions from entering the air.

“Fidelity Investments has participated in the Clear the Air Challenge for the past seven years. The pride of being a responsible corporate citizen motivates our employees tremendously,” said Carly Seely, head of Fidelity’s Sustainability Committee. “Environmental sustainability has long been a part of Fidelity’s commitment to our community and participating in the Challenge is a tangible way to really make an impact.”

Ultimately, we all breathe the same air and want it to be healthy. By working together, we can continue to make progress in cleaning up Utah’s air. That’s why this year Mark Miller Subaru is also participating in the Clear the Air Challenge.

“As a Certified Eco-Friendly Subaru retailer in our beautiful state, we take environmental sustainability very seriously,” said Jeff Miller, General Manager of Mark Miller Subaru.  “It’s during days of poor air-quality that I ask myself, my team, and members of our community, ‘What can we do differently?’ While it seems antithetical for a car dealer to suggest public transportation, biking and other alternatives to driving, our way of life and the air we breathe far exceeds all else.  Our team at Mark Miller Subaru is looking forward to participating in the Clear the Air Challenge to make steps in improving Utah’s air quality.”

Tracking your miles during the Clear the Air Challenge from your mobile device or computer is easy thanks to the TravelWise Tracker. Once you register for the challenge at ClearTheAirChallenge.org you can enter in a starting and ending location and receive carpool options, transit routes, or biking and walking routes. The TravelWise tracker gives the amount of emissions you’ll save and the time it will take to make your trip.

The Clear the Air Challenge starts February 1st.  Register your team of coworkers, family or friends at ClearTheAirChallenge.org and be part of the solution.

Utah Clear the Air Challenge Starts This Week

Originally published by Fox 13 Salt Lake City on January 29, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Corporations and other organizations are gearing up to ramp down their driving for the month of February, in an annual competition aimed at helping clean up the air along the Wasatch Front.

Utah’s Clear the Air Challenge will last through February this year, with corporate teams taking trains, buses, bikes, and walking to work.

For six of the last seven years, the Fidelity team has taken home top honors.

“We have a lot of pride in that. It comes with a lot of work,” said Fidelity team leader Carly Seely.

Seely says the University of Utah has been their strongest competition over the years.

The Utah Clean Air Partnership organizes the event, in which participants keep an online journal of their actions to combat pollution.

“Everybody’s the problem so everybody needs to be the solution,” said UCAIR Executive Director Thom Carter.

If you would like to participate, just go to: http://cleartheairchallenge.org/

Clear the Air Challenge Encourages Utahns to be Part of Air Quality Solution

Originally published by ABC4Utah on January 29, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Starting February, community leaders are challenging you to help be part of the air quality solution.

In a press conference Monday afternoon, the Salt Lake Chamber and its clear air partners kicked off the 9th annual Clear the Air challenge. The challenge is a month-long competition designed to encourage Utahns to reduce their vehicle emissions by choosing alternatives to driving alone.

For the first time, the challenge is held during the month of February. Staff with the Salt Lake Chamber say that’s when the air quality is visibly at its worst.

“There is no greater health threat to our community than poor air quality,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt lake Chamber. “Doing our part to clear the air isn’t just about our quality of life, it’s about the quality of life for our children and grandchildren. It’s also an economic issue. In order to attract and retain the kind of talent we need to further our state’s economy, we have to protect our unparalleled quality of life. This is everyone’s responsibility. The Clear the Air Challenge shows us that small individual changes can, and do, make a difference to Utah’s air quality.”

According to Beattie, transportation emissions are responsible for nearly fifty percent of the pollutants that make up our poor air quality. He acknowledged that other big cities face the same problem, but there’s one addition problem that Utah has.

“We’re in the Great Basin. So it’s a little harder to clean that out with breezes and what they have coming into the ocean or some other place,” said Beattie.

The Salt Lake Chamber reports that since the challenge started in 2009, participants have helped improve Utah’s air quality by:
– Eliminated almost a million trips
– Saved 13.6 million miles
– Reduced 4,700 of emissions
– Saved $6 million

“This is probably the cleanest air we’ve had in a hundred years. The reality is we’re much more aware of the costs of bad air and pollution and what that does to us,” said Beattie.

Other ways to travel include:
– Carpooling
– Using public transit
– Teleworking
– Trip chaining
– Walking
– Biking
– Using electric vehicles

Participants can track their miles during the Clear the Air Challenge from their mobile device or computer using the TravelWise Tracker. You can register for the challenge by visiting http://cleartheairchallenge.org. The TravelWise tracker allows participants to enter in a starting and ending location to receive carpool options, transit routes, biking, and walking routes. It can also give the amount of emissions saved and provide the amount of time it will take to make the trip.

Salt Lake Chamber Visits Utah Capitol to Kick Off Clear the Air Challenge

Originally published by the Deseret News on January 29, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Chamber kicked off its ninth annual Clear the Air Challenge on Monday.

“We’re very excited about the announcement, because … it is taking place in February,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.

In the past, the challenge took place during the summer. In February, “our air quality is visibly at its worse,” the chamber said in a news release.

“The challenge is … a monthlong competition that is designed to encourage Utahns, who go to work … and take kids to school every day to reduce their vehicle emissions by choosing alternative(s) (to) driving,” Beattie said.

“We know transportation emissions are very, very critical to the airshed that we have. Over 50 percent of the issues that we have come out of the tailpipe of a car. We really do believe that by reducing the vehicles on the road and the vehicle miles can make a significant difference,” he said.

“There’s no greater health threat to our community than our air quality,” Beattie said.

Cleaning Utah’s air, he said, is an economic issue.

“We want to make sure that people want to live here,” Beattie said. “Small and incremental changes can and do make a difference.”

Scott Williams, executive director of HEAL Utah, said “Salt Lake has had 164 mandatory air action days, or an average about 30 days every year,” over the past five years.

“… Half of our toxic emission in the air comes from our cars. So for those 30 days every year, we each need to have a plan B alternative to driving alone,” Williams said.

“The Clear the Air Challenge is a way to practice our personal plan B and hopefully eventually make it our plan A, and reduce the the output of toxins … that our cars emit by working from home, taking public transportation, carpooling, combining our errands into fewer trips, or using our foot power to walk or take our bike,” he said.

Utah residents can visit cleartheairchallenge.org to register for the challenge. The website tracks the miles saved by all participants.

5 Little Ways to Show UCAIR About Utah’s Air

Originally published on January 23, 2018 by UCAIR on KSL.com.

While it doesn’t always look like it outside, inversion season is in full swing this winter. We’ve already experienced multiple “red” air quality days in the Salt Lake Valley and can expect to see more as winter continues. However, making small changes to your current lifestyle can yield tremendous results when it comes to air quality. Here are five little ways to show UCAIR about Utah’s air:

1. Carpool once a week
If you have a 60-mile daily commute, you could save $4,388 annually if you carpooled with another person. Even if you can’t carpool every day, aim for once a week. There are easy resources, such as the TravelWise Tracker and UTA’s RideShare Program, to get you started.

2. Ride transit when you can
Did you know that if you ride transit just once a week, you can reduce emissions by 5.4 pounds? Riding transit in Utah is easy and convenient. Not only are you improving the air quality, but you also earn significant “me-time” by letting someone else drive.

3. Never idle your car
Choosing to never idle your car is perhaps the easiest lifestyle change you can make on this list. Research indicates that the average person idles their car five to 10 minutes a day. Cutting idle time makes sense during inversions, because reduced idling also reduces the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), both precursor gases for the formation of PM2.5 during inversions. If you are going to stop your car for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine.

4. Plan ahead
By planning ahead, you can save significant time and money on your commute. UDOT Traffic communicates Utah’s traffic status to the public by using more than 700 overhead traffic cameras and 1,500 in-road traffic sensors on all major UDOT roads. Utilizing alternative work schedules — such as leaving 15 minutes later — can save you serious time when it comes to your commute when you plan ahead.

5. Have your company participate in the Clear the Air Challenge
In February, companies all across the state of Utah will participate in the Clear the Air Challenge. The goal is to eliminate 300,000 single-occupant trips to save two million miles. Encourage your company to participate with a startup toolkit that contains resources to spread the word. There’s nothing like friendly competition to encourage your coworkers to clean up their act when it comes to air quality.

While our air quality is affected by numerous little acts, we have the power to improve air quality based on our little acts. If all Utahns work together to make small changes to our current routines, we can make a difference in improving the air we breathe.

Finding a Solution for Clear Air in Utah

Originally published by Derek Miller, World Trade Center Utah, on Utahpolicy.com on January 21, 2018.

You may not equate economic prosperity with air quality, but you should. Air quality is an important economic issue.

Poor air quality hinders corporate relocation efforts, places additional regulatory burdens on businesses, increases health care costs and puts Utah’s federal highway funding at risk. Improving our air quality is essential to maintaining Utah’s quality of life and economic prowess.That’s one message Thom Carter, executive director of UCAIR, the Utah Clean Air Partnership, emphasized when I visited with him last week.

While his career has taken him all over the country and world, Thom loves the Beehive State’s quality of life, fantastic landscape and economic strength. In the few years he’s been back in the state, he’s come to love “the Utah way of getting things done,” referring to our many public/private partnerships.Thom describes UCAIR as a state-wide clean air partnership created to make it easier for individuals, businesses and communities to make small changes that improve Utah’s air. The organization strives to raise awareness through public education, grants and partnerships with businesses and other organizations to promote changes that will improve our air quality.

Given that we can’t change the state’s topography or weather, owning our air quality problem means we must make behavioral changes. As Thom told me, when it comes to air quality, “Everyone is the problem, so everyone is the solution. Every small change adds to a collective bigger step toward better health, a better economy and better overall quality of life for all of us.”

For example, with more than half the state’s air pollution coming from vehicles, individuals and businesses can make a significant difference in our air quality simply by changing their driving habits. According to the Utah Division of Air Quality, if all drivers living along the Wasatch Front were to park their cars just one day per week, vehicle emissions would be reduced by 6,500 tons per year.

Thom says there are no perfect answers, but there are practical solutions. Driving less, carpooling, using mass transit and telecommuting – those are practical solutions that make a difference. He points to the Utah Clear the Air Challenge as another solution that is working well. The Challenge begins Feb. 1 and is a month-long competition that gives individuals and businesses the chance to reduce vehicle emissions by choosing alternatives to driving. Results from the 2016 Challenge showed that the 2,281 participants reduced C02 emissions by 492.6 tons for the month of February.

“It all boils down to one person, one business at a time,” Thom continues.

UCAIR will hold its third annual summit on Feb. 21 at Rice-Eccles Stadium from 6:30-9 p.m. NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton will keynote the event. Bill is a lifelong fan of Utah and its unparalleled outdoor recreation.

Participants will gain insight into UCAIR’s progress, grants and updates. UCAIR will also recognize the “Clean Air Person of the Year,” “Clean Air Business of the Year,” and “Clean Air Partner of the Year.” For more information on the summit, contact Mike Deaver at 801-245-9329 or Angie Koford at 801-660-8571.

A Little Competition is Healthy. Start from the Top.

Originally published by the Salt Lake City Economic Development on January 19, 2018.

Sometimes a little competition is just what you need to jump-start new habits. While Utah’s air quality is no laughing matter, the challenge is one way to amp up your daily routine and see how many miles and dollars you can save just by making more air-conscious decisions.

Clear the Air Challenge starts February 1st. And you can sign up your company for the team challenge. Get your employees and coworkers involved and see how easy it is to reduce emissions and help Utah’s air.

  • It’s easy to get started. Create an administrator account and have individual teams under one workplace. Competition could be for overall participation or based on % within your department. Or you can opt to compete for calories burned, $ saved, miles traveled, etc.
  • Prizes could be anything from cash gift cards, something with a sustainability theme like a bike light or a water bottle, or even an extra day off work. It could also be lunch with the boss or a certificate.
  • Clear the Air Challenge has made it easy with their business tool kit – it has all of the communication materials you need to send out to staff.

WHO’S IN THE LEAD?

Check back daily to CleartheAirChallenge.org to see the top winners in our business whoiscompetingcommunity. By signing up you will receive updates to let you know where your team stands in the running.

ADVICE FROM PAST CLEAR THE AIR CHALLENGE TEAMS

Here are some tips from past Clear the Air Challenge team leaders…

  • Communication is key. Make the Challenge an agenda item for your internal meetings, send weekly reminders to staff – the more airtime it gets the better your team will do.
  • Work with your employees. Help them identify opportunities for carpool matching, public transportation and flexible work arrangements, if applicable.
  • It starts from the top. Your CEO or president really needs to say, “This is important.”
  • Emphasize the impact. When you look at the emissions you can save by being involved in the Challenge, and when you look at the way we can improve our state, I think that is an easy thing to communicate to employees.
  • Don’t be afraid to just give it a try. My advice is to try it – the tools are provided for you. Put a committee together of people who believe in the issue – champions in your organization who can help share the message.

Salt Lake City Green has very helpful resources to keep your team informed. They recommend keeping these key tactics in mind: Carpool, take transit, telework, support active transportation, trip chain, and consider clean air vehicles (electric vehicles) for personal and fleet.

solutions

Share your progress on social media. Follow SLC GreenSalt Lake ChamberUCAIRClear the Air Challenge, and other community clean air leaders. Share their content on your channels.

NOW is the time to start your team.  Join the Challenge and together we can clear Utah’s air.  Start at www.cleantheairchallenge.org

Make Clean Air Your Business: 5 Reasons to Participate in the Clear the Air Challenge

Originally published on January 18, 2018 by KSL.com.

We’ve all seen it — and breathed it, but what if there was something we could do to clean up Utah’s dirty air? The good news is, there is something we all can do to help create a better tomorrow, with cleaner air for our neighbors, children and grandchildren.

While Utah’s poor air quality is exacerbated by our geography that creates the inversions; it’s the emissions that get trapped in the inversions that are harmful to our health. So to clean up our air, we need to reduce our emissions. It’s that simple.

That’s why the Salt Lake Chamber is encouraging everyone to take part in the Clear the Air Challenge, a month-long competition that starts Feb. 1 and gives participants the chance to reduce their vehicle emissions by choosing alternative methods of transportation.

By driving less and driving smarter, which includes carpooling, telecommuting, taking public transit and more, we can see a significant reduction in our bad air days. For example, if all drivers living along the Wasatch Front were to park their cars just one day per week, vehicle emissions would be reduced by 6,500 tons per year!

If you’re still not convinced about why you should take the Clear the Air Challenge, here are five reasons you should reconsider:

1. Help improve the air you breathe
Reducing the number of cars on the road leads to improved air quality. As you change individual behavior to reduce your trips, and as you challenge your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to do the same, you can collectively reduce emissions, improve our air quality and the well-being of all Utahns. Small actions add up to make a big difference for our air.

2. Enhance your corporate culture
A recent survey of Utah employees found that poor air quality is a top concern across the state. More than just a competition, participating in the challenge is the perfect way for your company to show a commitment to a cause your employees care about — improving air quality. Demonstrate good corporate citizenship by taking action to make a difference.

3. Save money
Did you know, if a person with a longer than average commute (e.g. more than 12 miles) carpooled 250 days a year, the potential savings in a two-person carpool could exceed $1,500? [source: rideshare.org] TravelWise strategies like carpooling, trip-chaining, teleworking, and alternative transportation can all reduce the amount of fuel you use, resulting in more money in your pocket.

4. Help yourself and your community
Solo commuters have a large impact on our population, from traffic congestion and pollution to increased stress levels. Deciding to use an alternative form of transportation not only benefits your physical and mental health but the entire community.

5. It’s fun!
Sometimes a little competition is just what you need to jump-start new habits.While Utah’s air quality is no laughing matter, the challenge is one way to amp up your daily routine and see how many miles and dollars you can save just by making more air-conscious decisions. Get your coworkers involved and see how easy it is to reduce emissions and help Utah’s air.

Make clean air your business this winter. Challenge yourself and your co-workers to take part in the Clear the Air Challenge. The challenge starts Feb. 1.