Kids, Show Us How to Help Keep the Air Clean and Win a Bike and A Thousand Dollars for Your School!

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We all share the air, so what can we do to keep our air clean? Create a picture that shows simple steps that we can all take to help keep the Front Ranges’ air clean and you could win a new bike for yourself and $1,000 for your school.  Winning entries will be featured at Envirotest – Air Care Colorado stations along the Front Range, and you will have the chance to record a clean air message to be heard on Radio Disney this fall.

Envirotest - Air Care Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Regional Air Quality Council, the American Lung Association of Colorado and National Jewish Health have teamed up to launch the “Kids 4 Clean Air Colorado” poster contest. The contest will help kids learn about and teach their friends and family how they can all do their part to help keep the air clean and protect it for the future!

Kids here’s where we need your help, and where you can help your school!  Kids 4 Clean Air Colorado is holding a poster contest for all kids in first to eighth grade.  There will be four winners, one in each group, and these winners will receive a bicycle for themselves and a $1,000 grant for an environmental initiative at their school!  The poster themes are separated as follows:

1st to 2nd Grade: Put a Cap On Ozone –

​Broken or missing gas caps can allow up to 30 gallons of gasoline to evaporate per year.  These stinky fumes can create harmful ozone that can make your lungs burn.  Help demonstrate how we can put a cap on these gross ozone gasses and make our environment more fun outside!

3rd Grade to 4th Grade: Stop at the Click! –

​If you help out by filling the family car with gas, you might be tempted to put just a little extra in after the gas pump clicks off, or you might see your mom or dad do this.  Don’t.  It’s bad for the car and bad for the air.  Learn why you should not overfill a car’s gas tank and illustrate your ideas to remind people to Stop at the Click!

5th to 6th Grade: Engines Off! -

When your parents are waiting to pick you up from school or soccer practice, leaving their car running creates nasty pollution, as well as wastes their gas.  In order to help our environment and save your parents some money, teach them to turn off their car during long waiting periods.  Help show how we can demonstrate the benefits of turning your car off when going nowhere!

7th Grade to 8th Grade: Maintenance Matters –

​Keeping up with your car maintenance is not only important to keeping your car running, but also to protecting our air.  Encouraging your parents to keep their car maintained not only helps them get you to your games on time, but it also helps keep our air clean.  The pollution produced from not properly maintained cars is the leading cause to the brown cloud over Denver.  Your poster should help educate your parents on how to keep their car running great and keep our air and get the smog out of the air!

Show us your creativity by entering the Kids 4 Clean Air poster contest today.  Posters must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, September 20, 2013.  Students may either send or bring their posters to the Envirotest – Air Care Colorado offices at 5175 Marshall St., Arvada, CO  80002, or at the Regional Air Quality Council located at 1445 Market St., Suite 260, Denver, CO 80202.

Winners will be chosen in late September and award presentations will be held in October.

Visit www.AirCareColorado.com for rules and regulations, entry forms and more information on how to help keep our air clean. You can also follow Air Care Colorado on Twitter.

Defective Gas Caps Can Lead to Failed Emissions Test

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The initial use of a gas cap was to keep dirt and water out of the fuel tank. However, as automobiles got more sophisticated, the function of the gas cap increased. Over time, it has become an emissions control device.

Gas_Cap.pngOne element of the Colorado vehicle emissions inspection is the Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) check. An automobile EVAP prevents vapor from the fuel system and gas tank from being released into the atmosphere. One reason for an emissions EVAP system failure is a defective/missing gas caps.

The Car Care Council states that, "A missing or leaking gas cap can allow up to 30 gallons of gasoline per year to evaporate into the atmosphere." Using today’s gas prices, a bad cap could cost you more than $100 a year. In addition, these escaping gas fumes, when combined with heat and sunlight, cause the type of harmful air pollution known as ground-level ozone.

Unlike the good, protective ozone layer in the stratosphere, ground level ozone is a harmful air pollutant that affects all of us. It’s formed when emissions from everyday items combine with other pollutants and “cook” in the heat and sunlight. Weather plays a key role in ozone formation. The highest ozone levels are usually recorded in summer months when temperatures approach the high 80s and 90s and the wind is stagnant of light.

Colorado Puts a Cap on Ozone

If you are due for a vehicle emissions test, here is a reminder to make sure your gas cap is in place and secured tightly to give you the best chance to prevent a failure. However, from July 1 through Aug. 31 , 2013, any vehicle that fails the Colorado emissions test due to a faulty or missing gas cap will be provided with a voucher good for a new cap redeemable at NAPA Auto Parts stores located throughout the Greater Denver area and the North Front Range.

All failed vehicles must be retested. Retesting is FREE if completed within 10 calendar days.

For more information on solving the ozone problem, call the Regional Air Quality Council at 303-629-5450, or visit www.raqc.org.

Bike to Work Day: June 26, 2013

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Screen_shot_2013-06-20_at_8.41.04_AM.pngIt’s that time of year again. Time to pump up those tires and grab your helmet to join fellow Coloradans in Bike to Work Day on June 26, 2013. Bike to Work Day encourages biking as a choice for those who commonly drive to work. The overall goal of this free annual event is to introduce biking as a daily commuting option, promoting better personal health and wellness and decreasing damaging emissions to Mother Nature.

Colorado was recently rated the healthiest, fittest and one of the greenest states, so it’s not surprise that Bike to Work Day already has 10,000 participants registered. Biking to work is easier than ever, with Colorado’s numerous bicycle lanes, the B-Cycle bike sharing program and bike parking options, all to reduce traffic, improve air quality and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Here are three reasons you should Bike to Work June 26th (and all the time, really):

1. It saves you money.

Have you ever calculated how much money you spend on gas and vehicle maintenance per year? What about highway tolls and parking fees? Depending on where you live, you could save a lot of money by riding your bike from place to place. According to the National Household Transportation Survey, half of Americans live within five miles of their work. The average person could bike that in about 20 minutes. Ready to calculate how much you could save by biking to work? Try Kiplinger’s bike to work calculator.

2.  Better air quality.

Why does Mother Nature love bicycles? They are 100% emissions free! Motor vehicles, which contribute to air pollution, especially the pollutants that lead to harmful ground-level ozone, bicycles are completely eco-friendly. When driving short distances in a car, it takes the catalytic converter a while to kick in and clean up your emissions. Because of this, the first few miles of your drive are often the most polluting. For this reason, it makes sense to make short trips by bike in order to reduce the emissions that you are putting out into the air.

3. It’s good for you.

Biking burns calories and boosts energy, while getting you to where you need to go. Are you a runner? Biking puts less stress on your knees, ankles, and spine than either walking or running while giving you just as good of a workout. There is another healthy perk to riding your bike, like any aerobic exercise, biking helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It’s a win, win!

Air Care Colorado is proud to support Bike to Work Day! See you Wednesday June 26th on the bike path!

Environmentally Friendly Modes of Transportation to Utilize this Summer

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Denver Skyline.pngSnow is melting away and as the weather becomes warmer, more opportunities to get around town emerge. If you are looking for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation to help you get to work, the grocery store, to school, wherever, we have ideas that are good for you, and the environment.

Use your feet

The simplest form of transportation, overlooked by many, is walking. Not only does a quick stroll aid in your health and well-being, you can cut air pollution caused by traffic. Walking yields in decreasing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease risks and reduces stress. If you have a little extra time to spare, walking just makes sense!

Two-wheel it

Biking is a great mode of transportation. Not only does it allow you to get to destinations quickly, you also receive the added bonus of an aerobic workout. Biking promotes well-being for the heart and muscles, increases coordination, mental health and immunity. Denver makes it easy to bike from place to place, with plentiful trails throughout the city and the B-Cycle program.

Ride Along with Some Company

Denver offers great public transit options, from the RTD bus system to the light rail.  On average, Americans that choose to travel via public transportation save around 865 million hours in travel time and close to 450 million gallons of fuel each year. With the absence of current public transportation systems, congestion costs would have been an additional $21 billion.

Communities that choose to invest in public transit ultimately reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually, which is equivalent to New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver and Los Angeles combined ceasing to use electricity. A single commuter switching their commute to bus or light rail can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent.

The next time the sun is shining and the temperatures are on the rise, choose one of these environmentally friendly modes of transportation. They are good for you and Mother Earth!

Trip Linking

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Enviromentalists call it “trip linking.”  You can call it “Savings.”

Most motorists don't realize that a single one-mile trip to the dry cleaners emits up to 70 percent as much pollution as a ten-mile excursion with several stops. If motorists cut their “cold starts” – starting a vehicle that has been sitting for an hour or more – many tons of pollutants could be removed from the air each day.  Just that simple change can make an enormous impact.  In fact, a study conducted in the San Francisco Bay area showed that if residents reduced their number of “cold starts” by 25 percent, they could remove up to 97 tons of pollutants from the air each day. What an achievement!

Even better, “trip linking” saves time, money and reduces air pollution – creating savings all around.

TripLinking Tips

Motor vehicles are one of the largest contributors to air pollution. An effective way for non-commuters to reduce automobile pollution is to "Trip-Link," or to combine several small car trips into one larger trip.

Non-commuters include parents taking their kids to school, seniors, shoppers, weekend travelers, church goers . . .in effect, everyone who drives. Commuters, too, add to the non-commuter problem when they leave their office by car during the day to run errands or go out to lunch.

If you must drive, you can reduce your vehicle’s emissions by minimizing "cold starts" and short/single-errand trips. A cold car, one that’s been sitting for an hour or more, pollutes up to five times more than a warm car. This is because the engine's air pollution control device, the catalytic converter, takes several minutes to warm up and work efficiently. By linking trips together and keeping your car engine warm, you can avoid cold starts.

Trip Linking is easy, and it will save you time and money.  Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Keep a running list of errands you need to do.
  • Give yourself enough time and plan ahead.
  • Think before you drive:
"Do I really need to make this trip?"
"How can I combine this errand with another trip I'll be making this week?"
  • Try to match items on your list that are located near each other. 

For example, if your child's school is located near your dry cleaner and post office, three trips could be linked together into one!

Don't Miss the Bus

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The Denver area’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) bus service provides alternative transportation for those who do not have or do not wish to use a car. From everyday commutes to specialty rides, RTD has a variety of metro area schedules and routes Bus1.pngto take you where you need to go fast and hassle-free; 365 days a year. All buses are wheelchair accessible and have bike racks for your convenience.

You know that RTD can carry more people at one time than a single car or truck, reducing the number of automobiles discharging emissions into the air, but did you know RTD is taking notable measures to be the most sustainable mode of transportation in the country?

Not only does RTD use alternative fuels such as electric propulsion and low sulfur diesel fuel in conjunction with hybrid-electric engine technology, but they have been named the leaders in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories.

RTD’s engine technology is constantly evolving. The biodiesel bus engines lower exhaust emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The fleet of 16th Street mall buses operate on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and electric motors to further combat our carbon footprint. These buses can carry 116 people running on an engine that is comparable to the engine size of the Toyota Prius Hybrid; and they are free to use.

This public transportation is so efficient it produces 95 percent less carbon monoxide and 50 percent less carbon dioxide per passenger mile than private vehicles.

Think of the gas money RTD can help you save. Withdaily and monthly passes and ticket books, you can buy rides in bulk and do your part to keep the air clean.

There is one more great thing about Denver’s RTD – they actually “walk-the-walk” by being a truly an environmentally conscientious organization.  RTD’s vehicles aren’t the only part of their system that is conscious of the environment. The RTD facilities use energy reducing heating and lighting, and are creatively designed to be environmentally friendly. They also have recycle programs for oil, engine fluids, and tires along with their office supplies and equipment.

From the factory to the streets, RTD is functioning with the environment in mind.

So next time you jump in your car, think of all the ways RTD is providing to make it easier and more cost efficient to just simply catch the bus.