Construction giant Lafarge Canada has hopped on board a campaign to improve air quality in the Calgary area by launching an idle-free initiative.
On Monday, the company installed the first of 54 “Idle Free Zone” traffic signs at their Ready Mix Plant at 13012, 85 Street N.W. in Calgary. Nearly all vehicles have been equipped with GPS tracking systems that let drivers know when a vehicle has idled for ten minutes.
“People thought for a long time that diesel engines needed to run all day long or they needed to be heated up to run again, which isn’t true,” said Mark Hilton, who is with Lafarge Canada’s concrete division. “So we have our drivers who are going to be stationary for longer than 10 minutes that they shut them down. There’s a slight heating process when they turn them back on, but they’re good to go. But it’s a bit of a myth that a lot of people thought for a long time that we are trying to disprove.”
Lafarge is working with the Calgary Region Airshed Zone (CRAZ) to improve air quality. The group is hoping truck drivers can set an example for all drivers.
“I would hope that if they see that Lafarge and other industries are promoting idle-free that they can sit back and say, ‘oh if that truck can do that, then maybe I shouldn’t be idling as long in my driveway, either,’” CRAZ executive director Jill Bloor said.
Idling produces even more harmful gases than driving because of incomplete fuel combustion, which is harmful for your car and health.
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Mount Royal University associate professor Israel Dunmade with the faculty of science and technology says the carbon monoxide and other toxic chemicals contribute to smog. Dunmade said children are the most vulnerable.
“The photochemical smog affects our health, particularly those that have asthma, it will make it difficult to breathe,” Dunmade said. “The children are just growing up so it will affect their pulmonary and consequently it could lead to asthma. And those that have asthma, it could aggravate the problem. That is why it is better if we can minimize or eliminate idling.”
Idling isn’t just a waste of energy, it’s a waste of money. Calgary city councillor Brian Pincott wants city staff to help taxpayers by shutting off engines in city vehicles.
“We have not done enough,” he said. “We have an idle-free policy but I would say it’s not embedded deeply enough into the culture of the organization. We certainly can do a lot more when it comes to that.”
A government of Canada website suggests the rule: if you are going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds, it is more efficient to turn the engine off.
Lafarge Canada first began their anti-idling campaign nine years ago with guidelines for light and medium-duty gasoline-powered vehicles, diesel-powered vehicles, ready-mix and diesel-powered equipment.
The company will be placing the traffic signs in high-traffic density areas at all Lafarge locations in the CRAZ zone in Alberta.
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