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Polis Report

Air Up There

By Larry Smith

Despite all that talk about 30-hour work weeks, universal health care, and sky boxes on Mars, we all seem to be working longer, harder, and hotter than ever.

Indeed, in this Age of Incrementalization and downsizing, the small but measurable virtues of virtual work seem so reasonable, a credo not lost on Bay Area Clean Air Partnership and Smart Valley, Inc., which have joined forces to seriously encourage telecommuting as a means to preserve the air quality in the Bay Area, never more important than during the late summer when smog levels are at their nastiest.

The drill goes as follows: visitors to their Web pages sign on to a mailing list, which is used to send out "Spare the Air Alerts" whenever the next day is expected to exceed state and federal limits for ozone levels. Registrants are later asked to report back as to whether they were actually able to telecommute on short notice. The data's later used to measure the success of the program by providing concrete feedback via the number of commuting miles saved and info on why people were unable to telecommute.

It's still too soon to tell whether all the folks working from home are making an impact on air quality. By grabbing what I need from work the day before a "Spare the Air Alert," I feel that I am offering my own small step toward better living. Plus I've already saved a chunk of dough at the dry cleaners by drinking my java from the rockiless road called home.

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From the August 22-28, 1996 issue of Metro

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Copyright © 1996 Metro Publishing, Inc.


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