Office of Sustainability
Breathe Today. SA Tomorrow

Contact

Contact Us
P.O. Box 839966
San Antonio, TX 78283-3966

Physical Address
1400 S. Flores, Unit #2
San Antonio, TX 78204

Phone
210.207.6103

Fax
210.207.6934

E-mail
sustainability@sanantonio.gov 

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Staff

  • Douglas Melnick Email Douglas Melnick
    Chief Sustainability Officer

American Planning Association - Texas Chapter: Current Planning Award 2018

What can you do?

The City of San Antonio’s award-winning public awareness campaign, Breathe Today. SA Tomorrow, educates residents and businesses about ways to reduce air pollution.

Breath Today. SA Tomorrow. Clean air for kids! School anti-idling program.

Introduction

The Breathe Today, SA Tomorrow: Clean Air for Kids! Program brings awareness to the community about air pollution resulting from idling of cars, trucks and buses, especially around schools, and empowers community members to help mitigate the situation. Excessive and unnecessary vehicle idling is a serious, avoidable contributor to environmental pollution and poor human health. This behavior occurs throughout virtually all transportation activities, including parents picking up children after school, customers waiting in line at a drive-through ATM or restaurant, trucks delivering goods, and buses waiting to pick up passengers.

Unnecessary idling significantly contributes to air pollution, which in turn worsens environmental and health problems, including contributing to the dramatic rise of childhood asthma. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pilot projects at pick-up and drop-off areas of primary schools have proven that parents of school-age children are most likely to change their idling behavior when presented with the facts.

San Antonio has taken an active role in implementing pollution prevention measures, but there is more work to do, especially as our community adds more people and vehicles that emit toxic and dangerous particulates that exacerbate health conditions and diminish the resiliency of our natural environment. It begins with awareness.

San Antonio Problem Statement

Making sure our air is healthy to breathe is a priority for our city, as our most vulnerable residents including children, the elderly and those who work outside are the most affected by dirty air. Our region has been on the verge of “non-attainment” of air pollution standards set by the EPA for a number of years. The EPA is expected to declare San Antonio as officially exceeding health-based air quality measures in 2018.

In 2017, the City of San Antonio (COSA) commissioned a study to estimate the impact on health of Bexar County residents and the economic costs associated with changes in outdoor air pollution. An estimated 24 deaths could be avoided annually if San Antonio air quality improves to a lower level than the EPA’s standard. The avoided cost of these deaths is estimated to be $220 million. In addition, school representatives from the South Texas Asthma Coalition (STAC) report that absences and trips to school clinics due to asthma are frequent, and therefore a top concern in need of mitigation. Though triggers for asthma attacks are widely varied and complex, the need exists to work solutions to the problem from all angles and employ proven tactics that reduce exposure to harmful emissions, especially for children waiting to be picked up by their parents from school.

Local Air Quality Policy

COSA works with area partners to enact policies and programs that mitigate air pollution through regulation and voluntary action. In 2016, San Antonio and Bexar County passed anti-idling legislation for large trucks and buses. The City’s SA Tomorrow Sustainability Plan (adopted in 2016) and SA Climate Ready Plan (in progress) outline desired Outcomes and Strategies in critical focus areas to keep the city’s natural resources, including clean air, healthy and available for all present and future residents. The award-winning public information campaign entitled “Breathe Today, SA Tomorrow” seeks to encourage all residents of our region to consider ways to reduce harmful emissions by working together.

Breathe Today, SA Tomorrow: Clean Air for Kids!

The City would like to continue the momentum of these efforts by launching the voluntary Breathe Today, SA Tomorrow: Clean Air for Kids! Program based on a proven model developed by the EPA. COSA’s Office of Sustainability will be partnering with area schools to engage faculty, staff, parents and students in this outreach effort.

At a basic level, steps recommended in the plan include installing idling reduction signs in the drop-off/pick-up area and sending idling reduction fact sheets home to the parents and asking them to sign an anti-idling pledge form. For those schools willing to participate at a deeper level, the plan provides methods to observe and record idling behavior, analyze results, present findings and utilize incentives for behavior change.

Partnership Opportunities

Because clean air is important and essential for everyone in San Antonio, this effort furthers a number of goals in our city including a healthy population, equity for all residents, resiliency of our natural environment and prepared and successful youth. The Office of Sustainability seeks partners who are able to contribute resources to further this initiative city-wide. For more information, please contact Julia Murphy, City of San Antonio Office of Sustainability, julia.murphy@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.6372.

cars waiting to pick up children at school group of children car exhaust

Sample Budget for 2 Schools

Item Unit Price Total
10 IPads for Student Observations (5/school = 10) $300.00 $3000.00
Anti-Idling School Pick-Up Area Signs (5/school = 10) $120.00 $1200.00
Printing for Backpack Campaign $500.00 $500.00
Refreshments subsidy for Student Monitors ($150/school) $300.00 $300.00
Total $5000.00
Breath Today. SA Tomorrow. Clean air for kids! School anti-idling program.

School Anti-Idling Toolkit

  1. Clean Air for Kids! Presentation
  2. Making It a Student Project
  3. How to Conduct Observations
  4. Observation Form
  5. Parent Pledge Form (English & Spanish)
  6. Anti-Idling Sign

This toolkit is provided for schools who want to improve air quality, and provides an easy-to-follow methodology to help all people become aware of ways they can help reduce air pollution.

School Project Steps

School Project Steps
Community Business Initiatives

Take the clean air “PLEDGE”.

Business can email completed forms and their company logo to Office of Sustainability.

Clean Air Pledge Supporters

Breathe Today. SA Tomorrow. We pledge to help protect San Antonio's Air Quality.

Community Initiatives

Share on social media pictures of you and your family or friends taking the PLEDGE and providing good Air Quality for San Antonio.

Watch video clips - 60-Second and 30-Second commercials to find out how you can keep San Antonio's air clean.