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My objective is to reduce the amount of GHG’s and air pollution in Sunnyvale through reducing unnecessary vehicle idling.

Photo of Cheryl Weiden
4 11

Written by

Cheryl Weiden

How are you connected to Sunnyvale?

  • I visit Sunnyvale regularly.

What type of applicant are you?

  • Community member

Stage of Development.

  • Idea with a working prototype

What problem are you aiming to solve? (100 words)

Vehicle emissions contribute to climate change and are harmful to human health. Anti-idling program is aimed at reducing emissions from unnecessary vehicle idling.

Tell us more about your climate strategy or solution (500 words)

An Anti-Idling program aims to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and air toxins that harm human health simply by having people turn off their cars when they do not need to be running. Modern cars do not need to idle to warm up, and they are not harmed by being turned off and on. Many people sit in their cars while the car is running and mindlessly read email, text, talk on the phone, eat, or even sleep. This is especially true at schools where parents arrive early to pick up their children and wait with the car running. Such areas create "hot spots" of air pollution which are especially harmful to the health of children. Additionally, unnecessary idling occurs in parking lots, parking along streets, and with trucks and city fleets. As a side benefit, cities can save considerable money by implementing an anti-idling effort with their own fleet. Reference attached "Analyzing the Data" doc shows savings of $9,500+ for 25 sedans and 35 SUV's idling 15 minutes a day. Consider number of vehicles in City of Sunnyvale fleet and how much time they idle each day. Probably much more than 15 minutes/day.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (100 words)

An anti-idling program should be "low hanging fruit" relative to reducing vehicle emissions, air pollution, wasted gas and money. It could result in consuming less gas, emitting less pollution and C02 with simply a relatively small change in behaviour. Although the amount of reduction vis a vis the total Climate Action Plan may be small, the reductions is "hot spots" where most damage is done to health may be significant.

Explain how your idea would be implemented in Sunnyvale (700 words)

I am trying to implement the program in Los Altos now. In general we are following the procedure outlined in the video posted by EPA Region 8 attached. We started with surveys to quantify the "before" idling. We have surveyed downtown, Community Centers, shopping centers and schools. We will then implement and educational/outreach program at least through the schools and possibly the city (maybe city fleet). The tactics will vary by user segment, i.e. schools can use newsletters, student/parent incentives, and signs; downtown may include signs, city fleets could implement new policies. Afterwards we will perform the surveys again to estimate how much of reduction the program accomplished. Please note I am involved in Los Altos and for an individual the effort is considerable. I offer the idea to Sunnyvale. I can provide recommendations and advice but I do not have the bandwidth to implement this in Sunnyvale.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (250 words)

No link, but I believe we can have a small but significant reduction in CO2 emissions and accompanying air toxins as well as cost savings to consumers and city. More significantly, however, we can reduce air toxins in hot spots, especially at schools where children are most susceptible.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of people affected. (250 words)

Some states/cities/communities have passed ordinances. (See idle-box database). Interestingly, some of the most conservative states have the most stringent ordinances. However, there is resistance for ordinances. Police staffs feel burdened by enforcement (i.e. how enforceable is a leaf blower ban?), and some residents feel it is an impingement on their behaviour. Consequently, education, communication and signage would most likely be best. The specific communication piece/sign would be tailored to the specific market/audience, i.e., school, downtown, etc.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (500 words)

Anti-idling efforts exist in many forms across the country. This is completely feasible.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (300 words)

As I mentioned above, I cannot do this for Sunnyvale. It does not take a lot of skill, but it does take manpower and the will of policy makers to do it. Does Sunnyvale have a Environmental Commission? A "Green Team" at the schools? A non-city affiliated Environmental entity? The effort could be picked up by any one or more of these entities.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with our partners?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).

I have a MBA and worked for IBM and HP for many years before retiring and becoming a fitness instructor. I am also a mother and an avid environmentalist. I have been active in many environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, Committee for Green Foothills, GreenTown Los Altos, and others.

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. From a range of 1-5, how interested/compelled are you to bring this idea into your own life or into the city?

1 - Not Interested - 20%

2 - 20%

3 - 20%

4 - 0%

5 - Very interested - 40%

2. From a range of 1-5, does this idea provide benefits aside from reducing carbon emissions?

1 - Low co-benefits - 25%

2 - 0%

3 - 0%

4 - 50%

5 - High co-benefits - 25%

3. From a scale of 1-5, what do you feel is the feasibility of this idea to work well in Sunnyvale?

1 - Not feasible - 25%

2 - 50%

3 - 0%

4 - 25%

5 - Very feasible - 0%

4. From a range of 1-5, what is your hunch about how much this idea will cost the Sunnyvale community to implement properly?

1 - High cost to the community - 0%

2 - 20%

3 - 40%

4 - 20%

5 - Low cost to the community - 20%

View more

Attachments (5)


Gallons of Gas and $ Wasted by Idling - Estimates per EPA


Flyer from EPA Region 8 on Anti-idling

PA Colleagues memo.pdf

This is Palo Alto Colleagues' memo prepared for Palo Alto City Council to consider anti-idling ordinance. Ordinance was passed.


This is proposal I made for Anti-Idling effort for Los Altos. Impact would be larger for Sunnyvale as it is a larger city.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Gary

This is a great idea. The city could include articles in the quarterly newsletter and in utility bills explaining why cars should not be idled, and why it's better for cars not to be as well as better for human (especially children's) health and for the climate.

Photo of DeletedUser


Hi Cheryl Warnick this is such a great post. I wonder how we can expand this idea to also include public transport vehicles. Rubykiwi3! had a great idea about Free or Reduced Cost Green Shuttle - it made me think how we could combine these two ideas and encourage public transport options to reduce vehicle idling as well.

Photo of Cheryl Weiden

That would be great too. I am offering the idea to City of Sunnyvale and they can run however they would like to. We really do not have much public transit in Los Altos and I have not focused on that.

Photo of Jérémie Gluckman-Picard

Thank you for your submission, Cheryl Warnick . This is such an awesome concept. Please remember to hit `publish` so that your proposal is live on the platform. Love that you included a video!

Your proposal highlights an opportunity for education and awareness about how Sunnyvale residents can behave when driving -- we are a very car-centric community. I have a quick thought: Projects related to how students get to and from school, like Safe Routes to School, would be great to collaborate on this with (a lot of idling happens during drop off and pickup)

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