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Some of the best work being done anywhere for less traffic and cleaner air is happening right here in Georgia.  That was the message at the PACE Awards, which drew more than 200 guests to celebrate the good news about transportation and air quality.

The ceremony, held this morning at the Georgia-Pacific building in downtown Atlanta, recognized a total of 15 employers, property managers, individuals and schools for their work on programs that encourage the use of commute options and yield demonstrable results.  Get more details on winners and finalists here.



It's easy to dwell on the problems facing metro Atlanta with respect to gridlock and air pollution, but there are lots of things going right … and some of the best work being done anywhere to beat back traffic and tame smog is happening right here. The Clean Air Campaign and its partners recognized the region's best workplaces for commuters on Tuesday, celebrating the 10th annual PACE Awards along with a crowd of about 200 guests.

The PACE Awards program is the good news about traffic and air quality. It is among the most tangible examples of the shared responsibility that exists between the public and private sector to take actions that improve the way we commute and the air we breathe. And in this tight economy, where everybody must find creative ways to do more with less, commute options programs have become a frontline strategy to create stronger workplaces.

The Clean Air Campaign's executive director, Kevin Green, talks traffic and commute options with a crowd of 200 employer and property management partners at the 2009 PACE Awards.

When the curtain fell on the 2008 PACE Awards last October, nobody predicted the budget ax would fall at the same time. But the bleak economy and the ripple effect of shortfalls in the state budget in the months that ensued made the PACE program impossible to sustain financially.

Still, when it became clear in early-2009 that the recession was going to make it tough for the business community to have enough good stories to rally around, The Clean Air Campaign and the local Transportation Management Associations responded with a scaled-down PACE Awards program built on sweat equity that has successfully kept the torch lit for recognizing the region's best commute options programs.

From a terrific field of more than 50 applicants, four employers (small, medium, large, public sector) and a property manager were recognized for their great programs to make it easier for commuters heading to their worksites to choose alternatives to driving alone. Get the scoop on the winners and finalists here. One employer led a commute options essay contest during President's Week in February, asking commuters which U.S. President they'd like to share a ride with and why. Another employer rolled out an innovative bike share program that has been well received.

PACE hardware. In all, five organizations, representing the most outstanding workplaces for commuters, were recognized with awards at the 2009 PACE event: Georgia Natural Gas/SouthStar Energy Services, Porsche Cars North America, Emory University, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Carter.

In addition, the accomplishments of a handful of commuters whose long term individual efforts at clean commuting have kept 50,000 pounds of pollution out of the skies were recognized at the PACE Awards.

50,000 pounds of pollution kept out of the skies through sustained efforts at clean commuting. That's what Howard Mindel (left) has accomplished, making him among the first 50K Clean Air Commuter Champions in Georgia. Howard, a dedicated bicycle commuter, receives his certificate of appreciation from The Clean Air Campaign's Mike Williams (right) at the 2009 PACE Awards.

Many thanks to Midtown Alliance and AT&T for the donated venue, Aramark for catering services, WABE-90.1 FM for being a media sponsor, Perimeter Transportation Coalition for contributing the trophies, a great stable of PACE Awards judges from a cross-section of organizations with an interest in the issues we follow and all the employer, property manager, agency and funding partners who work to promote commute options in Georgia. Looking forward to next year's program, and hope you can be part of it!



Labor Day is fast approaching, and The Clean Air Campaign has quite a few irons in the fire, from PACE Awards to telework tax credit opportunities for Georgia employers. So, roll up your sleeves and multitask away with this installment of Merging Lanes.

Green Streak Keeps Smog at Bay

Good news on the air quality front. Metro Atlanta has gone “green” – and just a handful of times yellow – on the Air Quality Index for nearly three weeks straight, meaning air quality has been “good” or “moderate” at a time of the year when things can turn smoggy for days on end. With one month remaining in the 2009 Smog Season, it’s like déjà vu all over again compared to 2008, when cooler weather and more rainfall helped keep the region free of Code Orange and Code Red days for the final 6 weeks of Smog Season, which ends September 30. Let’s hope these conditions keep up, but let’s also continue taking actions to reduce our contribution to metro Atlanta’s smog problems.

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ACTing for Change … and Getting Results

This week, many of Atlanta’s transportation demand management leaders are in Washington, D.C. for the annual conference of the Association for Commuter Transportation to share ideas and best practices for getting cars off the road and reducing traffic. The breakthrough work being done in Atlanta to address these issues is often recognized by other cities and this forum will be used to announce several recent successes that have happened here. Stay tuned for more coming out of the ACT Conference.

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Work smart to prevent H1N1 from stalling your business.

H1N1 isn’t coming. It’s already here. The pandemic flu is hitting classrooms and workplaces, and the numbers in Georgia are steadily beginning to add up. Individuals can make decisions about how to protect their well-being. So can employers. It begins with business continuity planning. The topic could not be more timely for the business community as we head into National Preparedness Month. Whether it’s flu or natural disasters

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PACE Awards – November 10, 2009

The 2009 PACE Awards are fast approaching, with a goal to recognize the region’s most outstanding workplaces for commuters. The awards event has undergone major changes and so have the applications, which were revamped to strike more balance between exceptional performance and innovative ideas for reducing traffic and improving air quality. If you’re an employer or property manager, now is a great time to take inventory of the success of your commute options programs and use the PACE Awards to create positive news about your efforts. Apply for a PACE Award by October 9.

Merge



The 2008 PACE Awards are upon us, recognizing metro Atlanta's outstanding workplaces for commuters. This event brings together public and private sector leaders to celebrate creative solutions that reduce traffic and improve air quality.

And while many of these initiatives work their way down from management to the commuting workforce, there are a growing number of individuals whose inspired actions truly stand out -- even if it's not in their job description -- making them champions for our cause. One such individual is Paige Medina, Immigration Practice Group Billing Liaison at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP and last year's recipient of the PACE Commuter Champion Award. The Clean Air Campaign caught up with Paige to find out what drives her support of commute options.

Q: You’ve been clean commuting for more than a decade. Why do you do it?

A: At the request of the City of Atlanta, I initially started commuting during the 1996 Olympics to help reduce traffic. It turned out to be a better alternative for me in terms of time (fighting traffic!) and costs, so I continued.

Q: What motivates you to bring commute options into your employer worksite?
A: I have three motivating factors: (1) I think it is very important to improve our air quality. (2) The traffic congestion during the morning and evening commute has become increasingly worse, making driving to work really time consuming and stressful. (3) Commuting has helped me save money, which everyone wants to do! After sharing my knowledge of alternative ways to commute, others become interested. When they decide to take a closer look and improve their commute as I have done, it motivates me!

Q: What have the results been like in terms of employee adoption of commute alternatives at your firm?
A: By providing them information when I find interest, I've counted 12 single-occupancy-vehicle "converts" so far that I have been able to assist with improving their commute.

Q: You were nominated for and received a PACE Award for your efforts. How does it feel to be recognized, and what do you remember about that event?

A: I was unaware that such an award existed, so when I received the email, I was quite surprised! It was an honor to be recognized for my efforts and for sharing my knowledge with others. It felt great to be able to speak in front of a group of over 600 people, who share a common goal: improving our air quality and traffic congestion. It feels good to know that my contributions make a difference.

Q: What has been the biggest hurdle to overcome in getting your colleagues to use alternatives to driving alone?

A: People have a huge dependence on their cars for the flexibility and convenience that they provide. Realistically, most alternatives would require a compromise of that flexibility and convenience. Additionally, it's unfortunate that
people don't have more confidence in Atlanta's public transportation system when it comes to routes, schedules, safety, timeliness and cleanliness. I find these to be the biggest hurdles to overcome.

Terrific insight from a person who leads by example. The region needs more Paige Medinas to roll up their sleeves and motivate others to tame traffic so we can breathe easier. And we'll bring more people like her across the stage on Thursday, October 16 at the PACE Awards. In the meantime, let's start some dialog on who the champions are at your workplace and what they're doing to make a difference. Chime in ... and come back soon to meet the 2008 PACE Award winners.



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