Emory voluntarily takes lead
in cutting ozone pollution
with 'Hazy Days' program
One look at any of Atlanta's interstates during rush hour and it should
come as no surprise that the city has an air pollution problem. But this
summer Emory will join dozens of other state and private organizations in
helping reduce the haze created by all those gasoline engines.
Following Gov. Zell Miller's executive order last year mandating that
all state agencies participate in an ozone-reduction plan during the "ozone
season" from May 1 to Sept. 30, the University signed onto the Voluntary
Ozone Action Program (VOAP), coordinated by the Georgia Environmental Protection
Atlanta's 13-county metro area has been classified as a "serious"
nonattainment area under the federal Clean Air Act for its high levels of
ground-level, or tropospheric, ozone. Tropospheric ozone is produced by
a combination of weather conditions, the combustion of various fuels and
other airborne volatile organic compounds, and it differs from stratospheric
ozone, which protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Ground-level
ozone can cause a variety of health problems as well as aggravate respiratory
conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma.
Some 90 state agencies, along with another 25 federal offices, are required
to participate in VOAP. Emory is one of the handful of private firms and
organizations that have volunteered. The University's initiative, named
"Hazy Days," is a three-pronged attack on harmful emissions. Community
Services will continue to stress its commuter options program in order to
reduce the number of cars making the daily trek to and from campus; Facilities
Management Division has been and will continue to implement a number of
environmentally friendly initiatives; and Human Resources will emphasize
flexible hours and telecommuting as options for employees during the summer
"We must participate as vigorously as we can to making our area
clean and healthful," said President Bill Chace. "I am committed
to such activities and to the philosophy underlying them."
One of the most noticeable aspects of Hazy Days will be the forecasting
of Ozone Action Days. A day or two before predicted weather conditions indicate
an ozone nonattainment day, Georgia EPD will declare an action day. The
goal for the University on such days is to reduce the number of cars on
campus by 20 percent; Community Services and FMD will put red pennants on
parking deck exit arms and signs in decks and buildings, while HR will send
out advisory e-mails and faxes alerting the campus to the approaching action
Employees are urged to find alternative methods of transportation on
action days, and that's where the commuter option program comes in. Emory
offers a range of possibilities that continues to serve as a model in Atlanta.
The program won an award from the Atlanta Regional Commission last year
as an outstanding commuter program for large companies. Through its combination
of carpool, vanpool and MARTA pass programs, Community Services has been
able to keep literally hundreds of vehicles off campus.
"You've got a gem right there," said Jeane Pierce, VOAP coordinator
for Georgia EPD, of Emory's commuter options program. "It's absolutely
wonderful. It's always used as a model program in the region."
According to Cheryle Crumley, director of alternative transportation,
last year Atlanta had only 11 nonattainment days, and half of those were
on weekends. Crumley expects a similar number of action days during the
workweek-about a half-dozen-this year.
FMD has been implementing environmentally friendly programs for years
now, and Hazy Days has only hastened the department's activities. For instance,
though they may seem less harmful because of their size, the two-cycle engines
of most lawnmowers emit as much ozone in an hour of use as a car driven
for 635 miles. Robin Smith, building commissioning coordinator, said the
division is replacing two-cycle engine lawnmowers with four-cycle engines,
which burn cleaner. FMD is also looking into purchasing, as it becomes available,
equipment that is virtually emission-free.
Other FMD initiatives include cleaner burners in the steam plant's boilers;
replacing gasoline-powered vehicles with electric ones; requesting offices
to keep thermostats set at certain temperatures; delaying refueling of vehicles
until after 6 p.m.; and encouraging vanpool use among FMD employees. Already
10 percent of maintenance and custodial staff are working second and third
shift to cut down on daytime vehicle emissions.
Work schedules are also the topic for Human Resources. Alice Miller,
vice president for HR, urged participants at a recent HR representatives
meeting to seek out flexible scheduling and telecommuting options with employees
for whom such options are feasible. The University got the word out on telecommuting
and flexible hours during the 1996 Summer Olympics, and Miller urged employees
to adopt a similar frame of mind for Ozone Season.
"We've always encouraged flexible scheduling," said Julianne
McCarty, HR communications specialist, "but it is on a departmental
basis. We know some departments have employees who can use flexible scheduling
and some whose employees can't, just by the nature of their positions."
For more information on any aspect of Hazy Days, visit the program's
web site at <www.emory.edu/HR/VOAP/hazydays.html>.
to April 13, 1998 Contents Page