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Issue Date: ch/ro/nicle

Saturday, March 8, 2014


EDITOR TODD GILLIS 902-426-2811 (ext. 2466) tgillis@herald.ca

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IDLE FREE FOR OUR KIDS!

From left: Ron Zima, AKA IDLE-FREE Guy, founder, The Childrens Clean Air Network; Al MacPhee, Honourary Chair, IDLE-FREE for our kids; Rachel Hood, campaign poster girl since 2007; Heather Hood, Rachels mom (educator at Halifax West High School); Dave Kowlessar, BSc, PMP, C-Level Executive Solutions (Idle-Free web app development partner); and Tom Nicolle, GoGreen Communications. JOSEPH ROBICHAUD PHOTOGRAPHY

Mobile app to spread idle-free awareness


HEATHER LAURA CLARKE CUSTOM CONTENT WRITER heatherlauraclarke@gmail.com @HFXHeather During a hot afternoon in 2004, Ron Zimas vehicle was running in his driveway the air-conditioner on full-blast to cool it down before he got in. Before heading out to the comfort of his icy-cool car, he looked at a Businessweek cover story about global warming and sheepishly realized he was using his remote starter way too often. I started doing some research, and the numbers oored me, says Zima. If we all went idle-free for our kids, we could save an estimated $33 billion while parked while dramatically cutting greenhouse gas and improving air quality. The Halifax dad devoted the last decade to promoting the merits of going idle-free. Zima says drivers typically let their vehicles idle for two reasons theyre either not thinking about it, or theyre operating on bad information. Im from Alberta, where its really cold and everyone lets their cars idle for a long time, says Zima. But car guys will tell you that any car built within the last 10 years needs virtually no idle time. Its actually bad for the car. Zima says many drivers leave the engine running to control the interior climate, but you actually feel little or no change in the air because todays vehicles are so well-insulated. Another old myth is that you can damage a cars starter by turning the ignition on and off, but Zima says it just isnt true anymore. You could turn it on and off 1,000 times a day without affecting your starter, but its hard for people to accept. On Feb. 28, Zima launched an Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign to fund development of his new idle-free app. He has put $50,000 of his own savings toward the cause, and hopes to bring in another $99,999. The app will track a vehicles idle time, and tell the user what its costing them approximately $200 per year, per vehicle and how much theyre saving by shutting off the engine more often. People will want to know that information, and we can see some really fun competitions as they try to see how much idle time they can save, says Zima. Funder perks include carbon caps branded toques made from bamboo that will serve as a reminder not to idle, when parents check their rear-view mirror and see their sons or daughters sporting them. In every element of his campaign, Zima says kids are the key to switching on the publics emotional light switch. Long-time Kingswood principal Carmelita Rowe served as an early mentor for the campaign, and compared it to Nova Scotias 1990s efforts to become a world-class recycler. She said the key to success is teaching it to the kids, because they bring the information home and tell their parents, says Zima. Kids break through and make a message stick, and when the parents realize these are facts and not just some left-wing conspiracy they say Wow, I want to take a

You could turn it on and off 1,000 times a day without affecting your starter, but its hard for people to accept.
Ron Zima Founder, The Childrens Clean Air Network

closer look at that. While there have been campaigns encouraging people not to idle their vehicles for 40 years now, Zima says many of them rubbed people the wrong way with negative language. As soon as you say anti-idling, youre polarizing people in a different camp, and people feel youre against them if they idle, says Zima. But our message is that we dont care how long youve done it. We care about bringing you the facts now, in a positive way. To publicize the app and the campaign, Zima will leave Vancouver on May 1 on a cross-Canada drive in his idle-free pace car donated by Al McPhee. With the help of social media, he believes if he can create a big enough movement, there could be massive positive change. Weve become a society of likes passing things along if we like them, so theres never been a better time to create a positive movement than now. For more information, please visit www.idlefree.org

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