Improving Air Quality
The City of Meridian continues to be proactive in efforts to improve air quality in the Treasure Valley. We are doing our part by working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), supporting valley-wide initiatives such as Treasure The Valley’s Air, implementing city policies, evaluating land use applications and making sure City departments and contracted entities have sound practices in place. If you want to see Meridian’s current air quality report click here.
Here is an in-depth look at what the City is doing to ensure Meridian has clean air for years to come.
Town Hall Meetings on Business Emissions – The City has worked with DEQ and the Idaho Small Business Development Center to give a presentation to local businesses on strategies for them to reduce their emissions. This included a discussion of new technologies, materials, process changes, and other best practices to help small- and medium-sized businesses reduce or eliminate harmful emissions which contribute to the creation of ozone. Click here to view the information that was presented.
Clean Air Zone Idaho – The City of Meridian is a member of the Clean Air Zone Idaho program. This program encourages citizens to avoid idling and “Turn Off Their Engines” while waiting in City parking lots. The City is placing these signs at all City locations including our parks, police and fire stations, water and waste water facilities, and City Hall. This program improves air quality by reducing vehicle emissions.
VPN – The City has instituted a VPN, or virtual private network, that allows city workers to telecommute. The VPN provides remote access to our network, file, and servers through a secure connection, allowing them to perform their work from home or other locations when needed. This has enabled the City to allow telecommuting for certain employees, a policy that reduces the number of days that employees have to commute to the office. This decreases the number of trips each week, and eases congestion on the roadway. Every trip that is eliminated from our roadway improves our overall air quality by eliminating vehicle emissions.
Flexible Work Hours – The City also allows for flexible working hours that reduce the number of days to work a 40 hour week (working 4 10 hours days), or allows the hours to be worked during non-traditional hours (7:00 a.m. to 4::00 p.m.). This allows commute times to change, easing congestion on the roadway during peak hours. Vehicle emissions are eliminated with every trip not taken on our roadways, also improving our overall air quality in the process.
Alternative Transportation Program – The City has implemented an Alternative Transportation Program to encourage employees to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles on the road. The program includes employees who carpool, vanpool, ride the bus, bike or walk to work. All of these provide opportunities to reduce overall vehicle emissions by having fewer cars on the road.
Carpool – The City of Meridian has created a “find-a-ride” program that allows employees to voluntary look for a carpool opportunity with another City employee. For those employees who may not be able to find a carpool with another employee, the City also promotes the “rideshare” program for carpool opportunities with others in the City of Meridian.
Walk/Bike – The City encourages employees to walk or bike to work. The City Hall will have 22 spaces for employees to park their bikes. In addition the building contains showers and lockers for employees who use these alternative forms of transportation.
Commuteride – As part of its Wellness Fair, the city includes ACHD for those employees who are interested in forming a vanpool.
Bus – Working with Valley Regional Transit, the City is pursuing a bus stop located in downtown Meridian at the new City Hall. This will allow the City to encourage its employees to have another way to commute to work.
Land-Use Policies – As part of its planning process, the City promotes mixed-use development that brings shopping and recreation opportunities within walking distance of homes. The Ten Mile Interchange Specific Area Plan exemplifies this type of compact, mixed-use development that will allow people to live in an area where they don’t necessarily need to get in an automobile to get to work, go shopping, or go to dinner and see a movie. Such compact developments will also provide the necessary density of homes to support bus and transit programs within the Valley. Through smart planning, automobile trips are being reduced along with their emissions.
Pathways – The City of Meridian is promoting transportation alternatives with a Pathways Plan designed for non-motorized usage. For many years, the City has required that developers install segments of our pathway system as subdivisions are built. The City of Meridian Parks & Recreation Commission is currently looking into the purchase and construction of important connecting segments of that pathway system. Sidewalks, paths, and bike lanes directly adjacent to roadways provide a link between pathways or between a pathway and a destination. People who choose to ride or walk rather than drive are typically replacing short automobile trips, which contribute disproportionately high amounts of pollutant emissions. Since bicycling and walking contribute no pollution, require no external energy source, and use land efficiently, they effectively move people from one place to another without adverse environmental impacts.
Dustless Surfaces – The City has long required that all new commercial and industrial uses provide a dustless surface for vehicles to drive on. Recently, the City extended the requirement to temporary uses as well. This is done to reduce the number of airborne particles that could affect the air quality in the Treasure Valley.
Vapor Recovery – Gasoline vapors from fueling stations are major contributors to unhealthy air quality, in a recent review of a proposed gas station, City Council required that the applicant install Stage 1 Vapor Recovery Technology. The City considered adopting a city-wide standard for all fuel facilities as part of their next amendment to their development standards. However, in discussion with DEQ, we will continue the practice of requiring Stage 1 Vapor Recovery Technology while rule-making takes place.
Covered Loads – Acting in conjunction with the Treasure Valley Partnership, the City of Meridian adopted an ordinance requiring that vehicles must cover their load of materials. By preventing materials from blowing out of a vehicle, this decreases the amount of dust or other material that may become airborne.
No Idle Practices – The Police and Fire Departments of Meridian have practices that limit when vehicles may be left idling. By eliminating traditional practices, these new practices will reduce vehicle idling except when essential to the success of a mission or the safety of an individual or animal.
Electric Vehicles – The City of Meridian Police Department will be purchasing the City’s first electric vehicle for use in Downtown Meridian. This vehicle does not emit any vehicle emissions.
Bike Patrols – The City of Meridian Police Department is increasing bike patrols. These patrols reduce vehicles on the road and reduce vehicle emissions that would otherwise be emitted.
Limit Burn Days – The City of Meridian Fire Department does not allow any opening burning or conduct any live-fire training exercises when the Air Quality is yellow or higher.
Radio Read Meters – The City of Meridian’s Public Works Department staff utilizes radio read meter technology and in-vehicle mounted computers to transmit and access information in an effort to reduce trips to and from the field and office. This helps not only to reduce fuel costs, but also emissions.
On-line Business – The City of Meridian is expanding the amount of business that can be conducted with the City on its website. The City recognizes that every transaction that can be done online is a potential trip off the road. Currently the City offers the following services online: filing police reports; public records requests; paying utility bills; filing out job applications; register for parks activities; and reserve park shelters.
Expanded City Services – Reducing miles traveled on roadways also reduces vehicle emissions. The City of Meridian has opened a police kiosk facility in North Meridian at Fire Station Number 5. This allows citizens the option of going to a nearby facility to interact with the Police Department rather than traveling to Meridian Police Department headquarters for certain purposes.
Sanitary Service Company biodiesel – Sanitary Services Co. (SSC) is the solid waste collection contractor for the City of Meridian. In 2002 SSC became the first entity in Idaho to use Biodiesel (B20) in all fleet vehicles (40+). Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act. The use of biodiesel in a conventional diesel engine results in substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter compared to emissions from diesel fuel. In addition, the exhaust emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates (major components of acid rain) from biodiesel are essentially eliminated compared to diesel.
Sanitary Services Company transfer station – SSC utilizes a transfer station – an enclosed facility, where it is compacted and later hauled to the landfill. The transfer station enables SSC to make 20 fewer trips to the Ada County landfill (approximately 20 miles from Meridian) per day improving air quality, and lowering traffic congestion.