Leaders For Clean Air Wants To Work With Utah’s Businesses To Improve Air Quality In The State

A non-profit organization that takes a quantitative approach — arranging the installation of electric charging stations — to improve air quality in Utah.

Catch Utah on the right day and its beauty is breathtaking.

Mountains rise and fall on every side, trees of orange and brown dispersed amongst jagged stone. Rivers rush past, water clear and cold, insects buzzing and hopping in late afternoon air. Deer mingling in the distance, furry ears perked in unison. The occasional golf course or ski resort, great expanses of unblemished green and white. A person could choose any activity — running, biking, fishing, hiking, skiing, golfing — and find happiness.

Catch Utah on the wrong day and it is literally breathtaking.

The haze — that’s the first thing people see. It hangs in the air, a giant stain filtered into each person’s lungs like a pack of Malboros. Some mistake it for fog, but Utahns know better — a wall of pollution in toxic gray. It coils around mountains, buildings, deprives our bodies of oxygen. In a state known for natural beauty, poor air quality stands as a lone, giant blemish.

(AP image)

Leaders for Clean Air is a non-profit organization started by Packsize CEO Hanko Kiessner, a German implant who realized that one of Utah’s greatest barriers to economic growth was poor air quality. In response, Kiessner converted his entire fleet to electric vehicles and created Leaders for Clean Air as a way to encourage other businesses to do the same.

“He wanted to create a non-profit that had measurable effects — a boots-on-the-ground, quantitative approach,” said Erin Strahm, program administrator at Leaders for Clean Air. “We’re able to help businesses plan large-scale charger operations. We’re able to collect and offer data on workplace charging incentives, how to plan for parking management, how to mitigate some of the install costs. The program has become a much bigger thing where we’re now getting involved with some planning and development, clean air legislation, and the program has really taken off.”

As a non-profit organization, Leaders for Clean Air has received grant money that goes directly towards electric charging station installs for Utah-based businesses. Strahm and Micah Kagan have come aboard as full-time employees dedicated to this mission, working alongside a host of companies — including Adobe, Zagg, Vivint, and USANA — to bring electric stations to the workplace.

“We call ourselves Leaders for Clean Air because we want clean air,” said Kagan. “How do we get clean air? We take internal combustion engines off the road. How do we do that? We encourage people to adopt electric by offering them workplace charging. We view ourselves more as consultants — helping to plan charging projects — rather than setting up a charger and saying, ‘Plug it in and go have fun.’”

Consultation is key — most businesses have no idea how to begin installing charging stations, so it’s necessary for Strahm and Kagan to provide guidance through that process. They can help prospective companies in many ways, from connecting them to qualified electricians to helping structure employee incentives for switching to electric. So far, Leaders for Clean Air has helped to install nearly 200 electric charging stations in Utah and they’re open to working with companies of all shapes and sizes. For those interested in learning more about the Leaders for Clean Air program, email Erin Strahm (erin@leadersforcleanair.org) or Micah Kagan (micah@leadersforcleanair.org).

“We’re trying to address workplace charging, alleviate range anxiety, and we’re trying to make it really easy for businesses to do,” said Strahm. “We don’t want them doing this because they’re forced to, we want this to be something that’s easy and a value-added proposition.”

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