Ten at the Top’s commitment over the years to clean air and energy reduction has manifested itself through various initiatives like a no-idling pledge at schools and electric car charging stations. The organization’s newest initiative is called Connecting Our Future, which seeks to increase mobility and connectivity while reducing traffic congestion across the Upstate.
The initiative, which begins with an event on Oct. 18 at the TD Convention Center in Greenville, will last for about a year, resulting in a regional vision document and related strategies for reducing congestion, moving people and freight across the region safely, and improving health and quality of life for Upstate residents by reducing emissions. Results of the initiative will be unveiled in Summer 2018.
“We’re working with a lot of the transportation organizations on mobility and connectivity,” said Dean Hybl, executive director of Ten at the Top. “If we increase the use of alternative transportation methods then that’s going to have a positive air quality impact.”
Right now, 94% of people who work in Upstate get there by personal vehicles. Providing dependable transportation can reduce that number, he said.
“We need to identify modes of transportation that can help us reduce our levels of congestion and be easier to move people. Then we need to support and fund those ideas,” Hybl said.
The event will include breakout sessions focused on various components of connectivity and mobility. It builds upon Ten at the Top’s commitment to clean air and energy that began with the formation of Clean Air Upstate, which was the result of the desire to maintain desirable air quality levels that meet standards of the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA.
Hybl said the Clean Air Upstate initiative is a good example of how working collaboratively can impact an issue. That initiative provided grants to different Upstate schools to promote the Breathe Better Program, a no-idling initiative for parents waiting in line to pick up students.
“We went from 15 schools in the Upstate to nearly 40 now participating,” Hybl said. ”If you are in any car line at a school at 2:30 p.m., and if everyone is running their engine, that’s 100 cars sitting there idling while the kids are out there breathing the air.”
Hybl said there are many ways to reduce emissions. He said there are pieces within our control and “we need to educate and make people aware of the things that they can do to impact and make the air better for all of us.”
Individual action can have cumulative results, he added.
“If we have 1.4 million people in the Upstate, and if everyone is doing some small thing to change, the mass of that has an impact,” he said, adding that the Connecting Our Future initiative that begins later this month is a logical next step.
The Connecting Our Future effort is led by a coalition of Upstate stakeholders representing education, transit systems, local governments, economic development organizations, healthcare, conservation groups and Upstate businesses, Hybl said. The initiative has the goals of reducing congestion, increase connectivity and mobility in the Upstate, moving people and freight across the region safely, and improving the quality of life and health of Upstate residents by reducing emissions.