How each of us makes a difference for clean air quality

Originally published by Good4Utah on February 5, 2017.

2/5/2018 – SALT LAKE CITY, UT – The Salt Lake Chamber and its clean air partners kick 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. Kimberly Flores, Director of Public Relations and Communication for the Salt Lake Chamber shared the main goal of the challenge and how we can all individually be responsible.

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.

About the Clear the Air Challenge

The Clear the Air Challenge, issued by business, government and community leaders, is a month-long competition starting February 1st, that gives you the chance to reduce your vehicle emissions by choosing alternatives to driving alone. The Clear the Air Challenge is a partnership between TravelWise, UCAIR, Penna Powers and the Salt Lake Chamber.

Simple ways you can help clean up Utah’s air for the 9th Annual Clear the Air Challenge

Originally published by Good4Utah on February 1, 2018.

Today kicks off the 9th Annual Clear the Air Challenge. The goal for the movement is simple: clean up Utah’s dirty air. Lara Fritts, Director of the Salt Lake Department of Economic Development, and Vicki Bennett, the city’s Director of Sustainability, joined Brian Carlson to talk about how it works.

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 Clear the Air Challenge will be held during the month of February, when our air quality is visibly at its worst.

The Clear the Air Challenge has helped make a big difference in improving Utah’s air. But we need to stay on it. Here is the main goal for this year’s challenge:

  • Eliminate 300,000 single-occupant trips to save 2 million miles

In order to do this, at least 10,000 Utahns will need to engage and register at ClearTheAirChallenge.org. Clear the Air Challenge is a great event, because it creates a coordinated framework to show Utahns how easy it is to make difference. Visit the website to see the impact and get stats of last year’s challenge.

Fidelity Investments in downtown SLC won last year’s team competition, followed closely by University of Utah and L3 Technologies. Fidelity’s team efforts alone prevented 492 tons of emissions from entering the air last year. When you register at ClearTheAirChallenge.org, it’s quick and easy to create or join a team.

Teams can be anything: companies, departments, neighbors, or friends. Salt Lake City Economic Development has challenged the city’s Finance Department this year. In fact, every city department is getting involved. All 3000 of the city’s staff members are encouraged to participate in the challenge.

Fritts and Bennett say it starts from the top, usually with your company’s CEO recognizing it’s importance.

A good place to start planning your commute and finding options can start with the Travel Wise Tracker. It’s a free, easy tool you are able to use anytime. Simply find your route, then enter beginning and ending destination. It will show you all of the alternatives to driving your car. It will even show you carpools that are available.

Doing our part to clear the air isn’t just about our quality of life, it’s also an economic issue. In order to attract and retain the kind of talent needed to further our state’s economy, we have to protect our unparalleled quality of life, and they say this is everyone’s responsibility.

There are no perfect answers but there are practical solutions. The Clear the Air Challenge shows us that small individual changes can, and do, make a difference to Utah’s air quality.

Visit ClearTheAirChallenge.org now to join and make a difference.