Oregon's Air Quality Public Education and Incentive Program

As part of a strategic plan to reduce air pollution and comply with Environmental Protection Agency standards established under the Clean Air Act, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality introduced and piloted the Air Quality Public Education and Incentive Program from 1995 – 1998. Through targeting businesses and residential areas in metropolitan Portland, the program sought to change the behaviors of residents that could lead to a reduction of volatile organic compound emissions (VOCs). The program itself consisted of several non-regulatory programs that operated simultaneously and included: Clean Air Action Days, nonwork trips, lawn mower buy-back, promotions of consumer products low in VOC emissions, and paint partnerships. Each of these individual programs worked to support the overarching goal of reducing VOC emissions by helping Portland residents overcome specific barriers through building motivation, obtaining commitments, offering financial incentives, and providing reminders that prompted residents to engage in desired behaviors. Baseline and follow-up telephone surveys were administered to random households and used to evaluate changes in behavior among residents, asking questions about their consumer spending habits, automobile and lawn mower use, and awareness of air quality issues. By 1998, at least one million people had been contacted through the program and an increased number of residents reported using alternatives to single person commuting. Awareness of Clean Air Action Days had also increased from one-third to almost one-half of Portland residents.

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