ACE and AQMD Work for an Idle Free Washoe County

Earlier this year we introduced you to ACE’s Reno-Tahoe Action Fellows: student leaders working to educate their communities on climate science and fight climate change. In Washoe County, Nevada, ACE Action Fellows are working with the Washoe County Health District Air Quality Management Division (AQMD) to run a regional Idle Free Schools Campaign. This campaign began in 2013 with the goals of reducing car engine idling at all Washoe County Schools and passing a district-wide Idle Free policy.

The campaign began in the fall of 2013, when AQMD gave a guest presentation on air quality at the GREENevada Student/Teacher Leadership Retreat. This presentation sparked a discussion among students about car and bus idling at schools and led to the creation of Idle Free schools.

In the first year of the campaign, six pilot high schools competed to reduce car and bus idling. Reed High School won by reducing idling by 63% and on average, the six schools reduced idling by 40%.

In the second year of the campaign, ACE’s Director of Education Reb Anderson has been working with the Action Fellows: Alicia Wong, Kimberly Garcia and Oscar Garcia to bring the Idle Free Campaign to more schools throughout the region. They’ve spoken about the environmental and health benefits of going Idle Free, brought educational materials and installed “Idle Free Zone” signs at school pick up and drop-off areas. In total, 18 schools in Washoe County are now Idle Free with more to come. They’ve also spoken before the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees in support of the Idle Free Policy. Following the Fellows’ presentation, the Board of Trustees requested district staff to draft a full district-wide sustainability policy that would include Idle Free. A draft of the policy is expected to be released in May. The creation of a district-wide sustainability policy wouldn’t have been possible without the initial spark that was Idle Free Schools.

Reb, Alicia, Kimberly and Oscar have been working closely with Julie Hunter, Senior Air Quality Specialist at AQMD. AQMD has been instrumental in the creation and implementation of the campaign: providing grant funding for the signs, stickers and flyers and working with district staff and Safe Routes to Schools to secure speaking spots for the Action Fellows at the district Board of Trustees Meeting.

To learn more about the campaign, follow our blog for updates on the Action Fellows’ progress.

About AQMD

The Washoe County Health District Air Quality Management Division’s mission is to find solutions to improve air quality for Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. They conduct air monitoring, permitting and enforcement and work to educate the public about the health impacts of air quality.

The AQMD has been working with ACE since 2013 to educate school district staff and students about the benefits of cleaner air through the Idle Free campaign.