Hi, I’m Jenny Colfer and I’m a Sustainability Manager at DIO. I deal with a broad range of environmental, economic and social issues in my role but my specialism is in the field of air quality. Air pollution is a key issue for us all as it impacts upon our health, particularly that of the elderly, the very young, and those with pre-existing lung or heart conditions. The UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day on 15 June is intended to bring focus to what we can do about air pollution – to both protect our health and reduce air pollution.
What is National Clean Air Day?
DIO is one of a range of health institutions, charities, businesses and public sector bodies across the UK coming together to provide information about how we can create cleaner air for everyone.
On National Clean Air Day, why not try a new action that protects your health and reduces pollution? 25% of all car journeys in the UK are less than two miles. If all of these journeys were walked instead it would save £16m in fuel and the population would burn an additional 3.6 billion calories.
There are also ways of reducing your exposure to air pollution. Avoiding a busy road and walking down a side street can cut exposure to pollution by 20% or more. Also, cars gather pollution from the vehicle in front, meaning that car drivers can be exposed to significant pollution. One research project found that drivers were exposed to nine times more pollution than cyclists on the same route.
What DIO is doing to help
At DIO we’re working on a pilot programme to look at introducing electric charging points for vehicles. We’ve established an Electric Vehicle Charging Point (EVCP) Working Group which aims to trial the introduction of EVCP to a number of Defence Estate locations. It will then examine the uptake of these charging points with a view to rolling them out across the Defence Estate.
The first four trial sites are RAF Brize Norton, Whale Island, Bulford/Tidworth and St George’s Barracks. Different payment and access options will be tested to see what is most effective.
One of the issues being considered at the Defence Utilities Group Behavioural Change meetings is the choices being made around methods of transport. Encouraging the use of technology such as videoconferencing, teleconferencing and virtual conferencing to avoid travel where possible is a key aim. It has a triple benefit – it’s safer, it’s cheaper and it’s better for the environment. When travel is required, wherever possible public transport should be used and when private vehicles are necessary, car sharing and eco-driving methods should be utilised. Air travel should be minimised and any hire vehicles selected should be as low emission as possible.
Travel plans exist for a number of defence locations, which highlight the alternatives to single occupancy private vehicle commuting. Through promoting public transport use, walking, cycling, car sharing and eco-driving each site can reduce the emissions associated with their staff commuting to work.
DIO applies a process called Sustainability Appraisal and sustainable construction tools such as DREAM to improve the environmental standards and energy efficiency of our projects and reduce emissions.
Our suppliers are also taking action to improve air quality. For example, Interserve has introduced electric vehicles with solar chargers on Ascension Island and is exploring the feasibility of solar electricity generation in Gibraltar. CarillionAmey has signed new estate maintenance fleet contracts to include more low emission vehicles and hybrids.
Working together we can improve air quality and protect our health. To find out more about what you can do visit www.cleanairday.org.uk.