Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Clean Air Zone Program for Local Governments

DEQ's Anti-Idling Program

The Clean Air Zone Program is designed to encourage Idahoans to turn off their engines instead of idling. The program began in 2004 with a campaign aimed at encouraging school bus drivers and others not to idle on school grounds. To date, more than 300 Idaho schools and child care facilities have voluntarily joined the program.

In 2006, the program expanded to discourage vehicle idling at community facilities where idling is common, such as airports, libraries, parks, sports areas, and universities. To date, more than 30 Idaho communities have joined the program.

Subsequent efforts have focused on encouraging businesses to join the Clean Air Zone program. Businesses with delivery vans or truck fleets are great candidates for participation in the program, as are businesses with loading docks or drive-through lanes or parking lots where vendors or customers often sit and idle.

Why is Vehicle Idling a Problem?

It wastes fuel.

Idling for 10 seconds or more uses more fuel than restarting your engine. Idling for 10 minutes a day wastes an average of 26 gallons of gas per vehicle per year. People sometimes think vehicles should idle for several minutes before being driven. This is not true. Modern engines do not need more than a few seconds of idling time, even in cold weather, before they can be safely driven. In fact, the best way to warm up a car is to drive it, since that warms up the catalytic converter and other mechanical parts of the car, in addition to the engine.

It wastes money.

If fuel costs $4 a gallon, idling for 10 minutes a day costs $104 per vehicle per year. Even at $1.50 a gallon, you're still wasting $39 per vehicle per year.

It pollutes the air.

Vehicles emit many pollutants into the air. Compared to the smokestack image many people associate with air pollution, emissions from an individual car may seem insignificant. Emissions from many vehicles on the road or idling in a waiting area add up, however, and can have a serious impact on air quality.

It's harmful to our health.

Breathing elevated levels of air pollutants can adversely affect human health, especially in sensitive populations such as children, the elderly, and people with certain health conditions such as asthma.

It can damage our vehicles' engines.

Cylinders, spark plugs, and exhaust system are at risk. Idling an engine forces it to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage.

Is Your Community a Good Candidate?

Clean Air Zone is for all communities! Any community that has facilities where citizens may idle their vehicles, such as libraries, parks, sports areas, universities, and airports, is a good candidate for participation in the Clean Air Zone program.

Things Your Community Can Do

  • Adopt a no-idling policy at public facilities. DEQ can provide you with suggested text.
  • Establish Clean Air Zones around public facilities.
  • Post "Turn off your engine" signs in Clean Air Zones to remind drivers not to idle vehicles.
  • Spread the word. Publicize the program at community events.
  • Support the use of alternative fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol blends that burn cleaner and produce lower emissions, and the use of hybrid vehicles that can run part of the time on electricity.
  • Consider purchasing alternative fueled and hybrid vehicles for your fleet.
  • Work with area businesses to encourage creating no-idling zones at delivery areas, drop-off zones, and drive-up windows with typical wait-times of over 30 seconds. Businesses can obtain Clean Air Zone window stickers from DEQ.

Staff Contacts

Pollution Prevention and Continuous Improvement Lead
Ben Jarvis
DEQ State Office
Director's Office
1410 N. Hilton
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0146

More Information

Clean Air Zone Idaho: How your community can help improve air quality and protect public health by reducing vehicle emissions

Related Pages

Environmental Guide for Local Governments