Let's Make Sonoma Academy Idle-Free!

The Idle-Free Schools Impact Group has set out to educate the Sonoma Academy and greater community about the damage done by idling cars on both the environment and people’s health. Their goal is to reduce unnecessary idling in our community. 
So what is idling and does it happen on SA’s campus? Imagine it’s 3:20 p.m. and you arrive on campus to pick up your student. You have ten minutes to spare, so you sit in your car with the engine running while you listen to music and run the AC. If you do this in a gas-powered vehicle this is idling. You may not be aware, but this habit of idling actually wastes fuel, emits air toxins and pollutants, contributes to climate change, and according to the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Ambient Air Quality, “...causes excessive wear or even damages a car’s engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and the exhaust system.”

When we began this Impact project, we were curious to learn how often this actually happens at Sonoma Academy. So, over the course of a month last fall semester, we observed a sample of roughly 166 cars on the entry road during pickup time. We found that 76% of people in gas-powered cars idled for an average of 8.1 minutes when picking up their students.

166 cars idling for 8.1 minutes might not seem like a lot, but according to the US Department of Energy, each year all passenger vehicles in the US waste about 3 billion gallons of gasoline idling, which turns into about 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. If all of those 250 million passenger vehicles stopped idling, that would be equivalent to taking 5 million gas-powered vehicles off the road.

We would like to see Sonoma Academy become an idle-free school. To do that, we are raising awareness by putting up signs around campus, handing out stickers, educating our community through outreach like this, presenting at Community Meeting, and encouraging the greater community to cease unnecessary idling.

Please watch our video to become more educated about the effects of idling on a large scale and to hear myths debunked, such as the myth of needing to warm up your car in cold weather. Join us in this cause to make SA’s campus idle-free, and finally, please spread the word to your own friends, families, and communities.

With Much Appreciation,

The Idle-Free Schools Impact Group

Sources on Idling
Carrico, Amanda R., et al. “Costly Myths: An Analysis of Idling Beliefs and Behavior in Personal Motor Vehicles.” Energy Policy, Elsevier, 23 Apr. 2009, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421509001633.
“Fuel Economy in Cold Weather.” Www.fueleconomy.gov - the Official Government Source for Fuel Economy Information, https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/coldweather.shtml.
Cole, Steven, and Wesley Brown. “How Long Should I Let My Car Idle to Charge Its Battery?” Car Care Portal, 5 Mar. 2021, https://www.carcareportal.com/how-long-should-i-let-my-car-idle-to-charge-its-battery/.
Burgess, Edward, et al. “IDLING GETS YOU NOWHERE: THE HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF ENGINE IDLING IN NEW YORK CITY.” Environmental Defense Fund, Feb. 2009, https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/9236_Idling_Nowhere_2009.pdf.
“Idling Reduction for Personal Vehicles.” US Department of Energy, May 2015, https://afdc.energy.gov/files/u/publication/idling_personal_vehicles.pdf.
“Charging Phone While Car Is off? Safe or Unsafe.” CAR FROM JAPAN, 30 Apr. 2018, https://carfromjapan.com/article/car-maintenance/charging-phone-while-car-is-off-safe-or-unsafe/.
Mooney, Chris. “This Is Why People Still Think They Should Idle Their Cars in Winter.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 25 Nov. 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/01/06/this-is-why-people-still-think-they-should-idle-their-cars-in-winter/.

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