How to convince your building occupants to stop car idling

car idling

Calgarians are the worst for car idling. They idle year round because it’s freezing for most of the year, and then it’s really hot for a couple of months during the summer. 

And the thing is, idling is terrible for the environment, for cars, and for people’s health. Car idling produces as many hazardous pollutants (like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds) as moving cars. These pollutants are known to cause illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, and even cancer.

Car idling also can send your car to the mechanic: since the engine is not performing at its peak when idling, fuel waste accumulates on cylinder walls and can cause damage to the engine. 

One of the places this frequent practice is more harmful in Calgary is in parkades, where the dangers of car idling increase. Since parkades are closed spaces, air pollutants tend to condense more, putting vulnerable occupants and visitors, such as children and people with prior health problems, at risk. Idling a car indoors for as little as ten seconds creates more emissions than turning your car off and restarting.

So, what can Calgary building managers do to convince building occupants and visitors to stop car idling in the parkade? We have a few tips and suggestions:

How to convince your building occupants to stop car idling


One of the best ways to convince people is by educating them. You’d be surprised at what you can achieve by simply sharing the importance of reducing idling by putting visible signs on your parkade. 

However, managers need to go beyond putting signs prohibiting people to idle, and start telling them why they need to stop idle. If people are aware of the environmental and health consequences of their actions, they will be more prone to ditch their idling habit. 

Leverage your internal communication

Start a campaign on the next newsletter you send to your occupants. You can use the same information you use on the parkade’s signs, and take a step further by adding videos, links to news related to the dangers of idling, and more statistics to bring awareness among your building’s community.

Offer incentives

Let’s face it: people will be more likely to do what you want them to do if they see a potential reward. If you add incentives to your no-idling campaign, such as coffee coupons or gift cards, both occupants and visitors will start to decrease their car idling. You can promote the reward system near your educational signs to attract people’s attention.

Highlight the non-idlers 

Another fact about people’s behavior is that they’re driven by example and social pressure. You can use this to your advantage by thanking occupants that stopped idling their cars in your building’s newsletter.

You can start using yourself and building board members as examples, and eventually others will follow. Sooner than you think, you will have a group of non-idlers large enough to convince the remaining idlers to change their habit.

These actions and incentives are based on a theory called Schwartz’s altruism model. Applied originally on a community recycling program, this model uses awareness of consequences and social examples as pillars to drive pro-environment behavioral changes.

We would love to know about the results of your no-idling campaign. In the meantime, we want to help you start by offering you our own “no idling indoors” sign. Get it for free here.

How to convince your building occupants to stop car idling


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