by Erin Strahm of Leaders for Clean Air
In the land of coal and sulfur mines, convincing businesses to adopt environmentally friendly policies is challenging at best. This is despite the fact that on some days, the air quality along the Wasatch Front rivals Beijing. 50 percent of the pollution that makes up our brown soupy inversions is directly related to tailpipe emissions. This makes clean transportation a prime target for measurable change. As individuals, we can agree that the air quality is, quite frankly, disturbing. Taking steps to make a change can feel overwhelming and out of reach without support and access. Range anxiety, concerns about affordability, and access to electric vehicle (EV) technology all present considerable consumer barriers to adopting zero-tailpipe emission technology.
Electric vehicles do make an environmental difference. A 2015 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council confirms that fueling vehicles with electricity instead of fossil fuels can significantly reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (CHG) and other pollutants that threaten our environment and our health.
However, despite Utah’s political emphasis on fossil fuels as a cornerstone of its economy, Utah businesses across all industries are taking steps to install charging stations as a way incentivize their employees to drive electric. What’s even more surprising about this movement is that it works. A study by the Idaho National Laboratories found that when workplace charging is available, drivers are six times more likely to drive an electric vehicle. It makes sense too. By reassuring commuters that they won’t run out of “fuel,” they are more likely to drive electric. The car is idle 90 percent of the time, both at home and at the workplace, which makes workplace charging the ideal gap-fill solution to address the phenomenon known as “range anxiety.” Range anxiety describes the fear that an electric vehicle has insufficient range to reach the target destination and will leave a driver stranded. Increasing battery range on the new models of EVs helps overcome this, but the availability of charging stations is a significant alleviating factor as well.
It’s not just about providing a charge. Workplace charging helps change company culture and attitudes towards sustainability. Packsize LLC recently installed the largest collection of workplace charging ports in Utah, cutting the ribbon on a project of 50 Level 2 EV charging stations and 2 DC Fast chargers. In addition to the EV chargers, Packsize also offers incentives for employees who purchase a plug-in electric vehicle, including help with their monthly payments and priority parking. Packsize also provides an electric fleet for their salespeople and traveling employees. Packsize CEO Hanko Kiessner wanted to create a culture of environmental consciousness and sustainability at the headquarters.
That’s why Kiessner started a non-profit to make it easy for other businesses to install their own workplace chargers. Leaders for Clean Air was founded in 2015 with the aim of providing charging stations and helping workplaces plan their charging projects. Today, LFCA has facilitated the placement of over 200 chargers along the Wasatch Front and has partnered with Rocky Mountain Power to help businesses apply for their workplace charger incentive program.
A culture of sustainability encourages drivers to adopt electric vehicles and attracts employees who list environmental consciousness as a key corporate value. There is a talent shortage in Utah, which add tremendous value to any perk that workplaces can offer to attract skilled, conscientious, and forward-thinking employees. Air quality along the Wasatch Front is also a deterrent to skilled employees who are looking for healthy places to live with their families. In one instance, a prospective Packsize employee refused to get off the plane for an interview because of the air quality. EV charging stations are a relatively inexpensive investment that can create measurable change and offer something incredibly valuable to employees…a zero emissions commute and a way to effect measurable change.