Programs to Reduce Vehicle Idling

Idling vehicles waste fuel and emit air pollutants that can cause serious health effects. Buses and parents’ vehicles idling during school drop-off and pick-up can produce concentrated exhaust emissions not only outside school buildings, but also inside: Exhaust can be pulled into a school through the air intakes of the building’s ventilation system where it can accumulate and cause serious health issues for staff and students.  Diesel exhaust from aging school buses has a negative impact on human health, especially for children who have a faster breathing rate than adults and whose lungs are not yet fully developed.  While new buses must meet EPA’s tougher emission standards, many older school buses continue to emit harmful diesel exhaust that produces hazardous pollutants and significant levels of particulate matter that can cause lung damage and aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma.

Taking action to address car and bus idling can positively impact air quality and the health of students and staff as well as reduce fuel costs, energy costs and unnecessary engine wear. Learn more about how to implement healthier transportation policies like establishing “Idle-Free Zones”, locating passenger pickup and drop off areas away from a school’s air intake supply and classroom windows, starting a carpooling program and encouraging active transportation like walking and biking. (Also be sure to visit our National & State Green School Programs page to learn more about local and national Green School programs and resources to help you to continue to improve the health and sustainability of your school!)

Before You Start

Form an Action Team

Center for Green Schools: Transportation Video (8mins)

Center for Green Schools: Transportation Companion Guide

Design and Preparation

Conduct a General Environmental Review Checklist

Conduct a Transportation Audit

Sample Commute Survey for Staff & Faculty

Extra Credit: Track the number of vehicles and time spent idling


Sample Transportation Action Plan (review program options & develop an action plan)

Implement an Idle Reduction Campaign

EPA Idle-Free Schools Toolkit

Airwatch NW Idle Reduction Toolkit

Organize Carpools, Bikepools & Walkpools:

Biodiesel: Start a district-wide campaign to use it in school buses

See Also: Walking, Biking & Safe Routes to School

Using Your Project

Eco School Transportation Pathway

Eco School National Standards & Curriculum Alignment

Project Learning Tree Curriculum Offerings

Green Education Foundation: Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Learning Lab Sustainability Lessons

EPA MyEnvironment: Search Tool of Environmental Data by Zipcode

Eco Schools Green STEM Initiative

Sharing Your Project

Overview: Sharing Your Project

Resource Center

Project Resource Library: Learn More!
National & State Green School Programs
Eco Schools USA
Bay Backpack Teaching Resources Search Engine
EPA Learning & Teaching About the Environment (awards, resources, more)