February is (finally!) here! And that means that the Clear the Air Challenge has begun!
In the last few years, Utahns have worked together to improve air quality in the Salt Lake Valley. Early last year, the EPA announced Salt Lake City and Provo were in compliance with federal standards for PM 2.5, the fine particulate matter that pollutes our air quality along the Wasatch Front. This significant milestone came after years of community wide work to take action to clear the air.
In 2020, we learned that the steps we took to slow coronavirus cases resulted in quick changes to our air quality. COVID-19 continues to threaten our community’s health and economic security, resulting in increased social inequities. Many of the changes we’ve made in this crisis are not sustainable in the long term. However, our work to improve Salt Lake City’s resiliency includes taking actions that support public health and security, and that address environmental issues like air quality.
This month, we challenge Salt Lake City community members to participate in the 12th annual Clear the Air Challenge! The Clear the Air Challenge is a chance to level up your efforts to improve air quality. The Challenge runs the entire month of February, chosen due to the seasonal inversion that makes wintertime air quality especially bad. However, the steps you take this month can make a difference for our air all year long.
For many of us who are still spending more time at home, the challenge will feel a little different this year. We’ve put together some helpful facts, tips, and inspiration to get you going on the 2021 Clear the Air Challenge!
Interested in learning how to help clean Utah’s air while having a great time??
Come down to Catalyst Magazine’s 6th annual Clean Air Solutions Fair, Saturday, January 19th, at The Gateway. The Clean Air Solutions Fair is a community event aimed at presenting attendees with solutions to help clean Utah’s air while having a great time with friends and family.
There will be projects for kids, workshops for adults, and the chance to win some great clean air prizes like an electric snowblower or solar oven!!
Last year’s Clean Air Solutions Fair brought out over 1,000 enthusiastic Utahns. This year the Clean Air Solutions Fair’s mission is to amplify communal engagement and empowerment, spread awareness of our unique air issues, and create an environment for family fun.
We’re all used to winter smog here along the Wasatch Front, with brown haze moving in and obscuring the mountains. But there is another pollutant in the valley, invisible but no less dangerous — ozone.
What is Ozone?
Ozone, a molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms, is created when nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mix and are heated by the sunlight.
NOx and VOCs are typically emitted by motor vehicles, but they can come from consumer products as well as industrial sources. (Read more about how ozone forms.)
Ozone is often found in the Earth’s stratosphere, where it plays a beneficial role by protecting us from damaging rays. But when ozone sits in the atmosphere where we can breathe it in, it can be very damaging to our health.
We’re excited to let you know the winners of the SLC Corp 2018 Clear the Air Challenge. You may recall that this year we organized an internal bracket between SLC Corp departments to complement the statewide competition. The internal winner of the most brackets would ultimately win the “Mayor’s Cup” for their efforts.
Transportation emissions are responsible for nearly 50% of the pollutants that make up our poor air quality. These pollutants become a serious concern during the winter months when normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted. This allows the air quality in the valley to become filled with particles that can quickly become unhealthy.
While there is much work being done to reduce those emissions (better transit, cleaner vehicles, more active transportation), the fact is– we can and should all help. We can each be a #CleanAirChampion.
There are many ways to participate! They all help the air and give you points in the Challenge:
Ride the bus or train
Bike or walk to work
Link your errands together when you are driving (aka “trip chain”)
Skip the trip by working from home or saving that errand for later
It all adds up!
The Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that if every driver along the Wasatch Front were to give up driving for just one day per week, it would keep 6,500 tons of emissions (or 85 times the weight of the International Space Station) out of our airshed.
Do you hate bad air days? We do too. Luckily, there are more and more options for cleaner transportation in Salt Lake City from Ride With Hive to the Live Electric EV & E-Bike discount program, a deal worth looking into if you have ever considered purchasing an electric vehicle.
The month long Challenge is just that — an excellent way to challenge yourself to “drive down your miles” and reduce your emissions. Choose alternatives to driving alone and track your impact on air quality.
(And keep an eye on the leader board for the Salt Lake City Corporation network, which is SLCgreen’s home team!)
Carpool — Carpooling involves more than one person traveling together in a car and can be used for many occasions including commuting to work, attending special events or taking kids to school, practices or recreational activities. This strategy requires some coordination of schedules, but can be easily implemented to achieve significant results.
Telework — Teleworking is possible from just about anywhere – from home, a telecenter, the local coffee shop or anywhere that has a wireless Internet connection. Teleworking can include conference calling or video conferencing for meetings instead of driving to an off-site location or working from a remote office.
Skip the trip — The skip the trip strategy is as easy as it sounds. Just plan ahead to avoid unnecessary trips. These can be trips taken for work or for home activities.
Join a network, track your impact and compete for great prizes!
This year there is a new and greatly improved tracking tool for the Clear the Air Challenge. The new tool will require all users to re-register, but the registration process will only take about 30 seconds and users now have the ability to sign up using their Facebook profile.
During the registration process you will be asked to join a team/network, although it’s not required. If you do not see your team/network listed, please email email@example.com with the following information:
Team/network admin name (the person on your team who will have admin rights)
Team/network description (a little about who your team is- optional)
The Challenge has approximately $10,000 in prizes to give out this year to participants. A number of weekly prizes will be randomly given to people who have earned badges. Grand prizes will be given to the winners in various categories, including: most trips saved, most miles saved and overall champion. The Grand Prize for the overall individual champion will be a $1,300 pair of powder skis provided by Ramp Sports.
Here are some of the features of the new technology implemented this year:
Social media integration: Sign up with your Facebook account and share Clear the Air Challenge posts to your Timeline.
Easier tracking and recording of saved trips:
Set up favorite trips – Trips you take often can be easily added to your tracker dashboard
Multiple day trip recording – Forgot to track each time you took the TRAX over the past week? Simply click on each of the days you made the same trip and record them all at once!
Trip Planner: Not sure how you might use alternative transportation to get somewhere rather than your car? Simply enter in your starting and ending locations, and you’ll receive carpool, vanpool, transit, walking and biking options to get to your destination. Use this feature all year round whether you are tracking trips or not!
Passes Are Another Way SLC Residents Can Help Clear the Air
For nearly two months, Salt Lake City Council members have been battling each other for bragging rights and district pride in a challenge posed by Mayor Ralph Becker in April to see who could put the most new Hive transit passes in the pockets of residents.
Well, the results are in and Councilman Luke Garrott’s Fightin’ Dist. 4 has emerged the victor. As promised, all Dist. 4 residents who purchased Hive Passes will be treated to a Salt Lake Bees game on June 18 (vs. the Memphis Redbirds) at 7:05 p.m. at Smith’s Ballpark.
“While our Dist. 4 residents get the prize, it’s truly the case that anyone who has already purchased a Hive Pass is a winner,” said Mayor Becker. “Not only does the discounted pass get you were you need to go, but using it is one of the best ways anyone can help make a positive impact on our air quality challenges.”
“I’m proud of the Dist. 4 folks who work at both reducing air emissions and recognizing a great transportation deal when they see one,” said Councilman Garrott. “It’s a win for everybody in the Valley as the City supports a pass aimed at enhancing mass transit.”
The new Hive Pass is a pilot program created through a partnership between Salt Lake City and the Utah Transit Authority that is initially only available to Salt Lake City residents. The annual pass is good on all UTA TRAX, Frontrunner, bus and S-line Streetcar services and available for an up-front payment of $350 or for $360 in twelve monthly installments. The pass is good for one-year after its first use.
Dist. 4 Hive Pass purchasers can pick up their tickets (one per pass purchased) at the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, Salt Lake City & County Building, 451 S. State Street, outside of Room 306. Tickets will be available weekdays beginning Thursday, June 12 through Tuesday, June 17 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. On game day, Wednesday, June 18, tickets can be picked up from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For questions, call 801-535-7704.