Idle-Free California, which became Green Driving America Inc. in October 2020, owes its beginnings to Idle-Free VT Inc., begun in the State of Vermont in 2006.
Wayne Michaud had an awareness of idling being wasteful as far back as the 1970s (shutting off engines in drive-thru lines). However, the seeds of anti-idling were really planted in 2006: the movie An Inconvenient Truth was playing in theaters, Wayne was a participant in a Middlebury, VT relocalization network, and then he observed vehicles idling at one of the recycling and waste disposal drop-off centers near the City of Burlington. Following his concern being brought to the attention of the center and his subsequent letter to the editor being published in a local newspaper, to Wayne's surprise, the center responded by adopting a no-idling policy for their vehicle fleet and posting anti-idling signs at their five drop-off centers.
Wayne researched extensively about idling and learned of scattered interest on the issue, both in Vermont and elsewhere (the State of Massachusetts already had an all vehicle five-minute idling limitation law and the Natural Resources Canada federal agency had their Idle-Free Zone comprehensive resource). He then built the Idle-Free VT website, networked with state environmental and health organizations and started a statewide petition drive advocating for an idle restriction law in the state.
Rebecca Ryan, American Lung Association in Vermont's senior director, took an interest in Wayne's petition drive. Together with an idle-free campaign being led by a Vermont middle school teacher and her passionate class, the Vermont legislature was persuaded to enact Vermont's school bus idling rule which took effect in 2008.
Wayne continued his grassroots effort by recruiting several partners to implement a Business Idle-Free effort to raise awareness about idling in the business community, and in 2008 worked with the Vermont DMV to bring idle-free flyers and posters into the DMV's six office locations, and in 2013 to include anti-idling and green driving language in the Driver's Manual.
After honoring Wayne as its Air Quality Champion in 2009, the American Lung Association in Vermont hired him to coordinate Vermont Idle-Free Fleets, a Vermont Agency of Natural Resources funded program, from 2010-2012. Fleet operators in the state's most populous areas of Burlington and Rutland were educated on the benefits of idle reduction and in adopting idling reduction policies. Sixteen business and municipal fleets adopted polices impacting up to 1,800 mostly diesel trucks. One of these fleet operators—FairPoint Communications (now Consolidated Communications) of northern New England—adopted an idle reduction practice that included installation of telematics on its 1,200 vehicle fleet. This resulted in a 30-percent annual reduction in fleet idling times and a 40-percent reduction in fuel used for idling.
In 2013, Idle-Free VT achieved 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.
Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas signing ceremony at Browns River Middle School in Jericho, VT, 2007 re enactment of school bus idling rule.
Rebecca Ryan, American Lung Association in Vermont senior director, presents Wayne Michaud with Air Quality Champion award, 2009.
The end of the Vermont 2013 legislative session marked the culmination of seven years of effort by the American Lung Association, Idle-Free VT, and other Vermont idle-free advocates when Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law a legislative bill which included the section, Prohibited Idling of Motor Vehicles. This state law became effective in 2014 and strengthened the state's ongoing educational efforts. More details from the Brattleboro Reformer.
To 2016, Wayne Michaud, in his role as director of Idle-Free VT, participated in meetings and ongoing discussions with legislators, the American Lung Association, and state agencies—DMV, BGS (Buidlings and General Services) and DEC (Dept. of Environmental Conservation)—to improve enforcement of state idling laws and to involve the state in print and web idling awareness education. This led to the installation of No Idling signs at all state facilities and the launching of the DEC webpage: BeIdleFree.
Wayne would like to acknowledge all the Vermont individuals and organizations who helped in guidance, inspiration, collaboration and support of this effort. Just some of these individuals include: Wayne's wife: Ellen Michaud, David Polow (an original Idle-Free VT board member who remains on the board of Green Driving America Inc.), former Idle-Free VT board members Paul Markowitz and Nadine Barnicle, Rebecca Ryan, Gaye Symington, Dick Valentinetti, Tom Moye, Deirdra Ritzer, Rep. David Sharpe, Rep. Mollie S. Burke, Karen Glitman, Abby Bleything, Barbara Brody, Gabriella Netsch, George Rooney, Kevin Anderson, Hugh Pfingst, Robb Kidd, Dennis Rydjeski, Laura Asermily, Jim Flint, Deb Markowitz, Jennifer Green, Deb Sachs, Otie Filkorn, Virginia Elliott, Janet Warren, Eric Williams, Katherine Blume, Nancy Rae Mallery, Joel Banner Baird, Cara Robechek, Jonathan Corcoran, Greg Pahl, and Samuel H. Press. Plus non-Vermonters: Linda Gaines, Patricia Weikersheimer, George Pakenham and Richard Gregg. Organizations include: the American Lung Association in Vermont/of the Northeast, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, High Meadows Fund, Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, Vermont Transportation Efficiency Network, Vermont Clean Cities, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Vermont Dept. of Health, Agency of Natural Resources, and all the schools that participated in our educational sessions and campaigns.
• 2013: Idle-Free for Fleet$, a Vermont Dept. of Health/CDC funded project showing fleet operators the benefits in idling reduction
• 2013-14: School No Idling Policies, a second Vermont Dept. of Health/CDC funded project bringing idling awareness education to schools and seeking to increase the number of schools with no-idling policies
• 2014-15; Vermont Idle-Free Schools, a High Meadows Fund supported project for the 2014-15 school year providing more than 60 Idle-Free from the Start idling awareness and eco-driving educational guest-lecturing presentations before high school students, and coordinating six long-term, student-led idling study and measuring campaigns, and seeking to increase the number of schools with no-idling guidelines
• 2015-16: Vermont Idle-Free Schools project funded by the High Meadows Fund and the Vermont Community Foundation, continuing the work of the previous school year: 49 Idle-Free from the Start sessions and five idling study and measuring campaigns
Wayne at The Sharon Academy, South Royalton, Vermont in 2014 following Idle-Free from the Start presentation