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What Are Zero Emission Day and National Drive Electric Week?

Posted 09/21/2023

September 21 is Zero Emissions Day. It’s also the kickoff to National Drive Electric Week which runs from September 22 - October 1, 2023. Let’s look at these two annual events and what they mean for current and future electric vehicle (EV) drivers.

Zero Emission Day

September 21st is Zero Emission Day. As the story goes, its origins go back all the way to the 1980s when graphic designer Ken Wallace was walking outside of his Nova Scotia home with his daughter and noticed idling vehicles. Wallace came up with the idea to give the earth one day free from fossil fuel emissions. Fast forward to 2008 and Wallace started taking advantage of the internet’s ability to reach vast amounts of people simultaneously. Eventually, Zero Emission Day turned into a full-blown movement and got its own date: September 21st.

How you can be a part of Zero Emission Day

Taking part in Zero Emissions Day is super easy. There are four guidelines to follow:

  1. Refrain from using or burning oil, gas or coal.

  2. Minimize your use of electricity generated by fossil fuels as much as possible.

  3. Refrain from putting anyone in harm’s way. (This means all essential and emergency services operate normally.)

  4. Do your best, have fun, and enjoy the day without generating any emissions (or as few as possible).

How electric vehicles contribute to the reduction of fossil fuel emissions

Fully electric vehicles are sometimes known as zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). That is because these vehicles do not produce any tailpipe emissions. You can drive an EV without worrying about generating any harmful emissions, which is obviously great for the planet. In the EV world, there is a concept called “well to wheel emissions,” which considers fossil fuel emissions during the charging process depending on the electricity generation itself. If an EV is charged with electricity that is generated from renewable sources (such as solar, wind, geothermal, or hydroelectric), then there are no fossil fuel emissions associated with that charging or driving process. However, if an EV is charged using electricity that is generated by burning coal or in some other way that generates fossil fuel emissions, those emissions would be associated with that EV’s well to wheel emissions. According to the US Energy Information Administration: “In 2022, renewable energy sources accounted for about 13.1% of total U.S. primary energy consumption. Renewable energy sources accounted for about 21.5% of total utility-scale electricity generation.” You can use the US Environmental Protection Agency Power Profiler tool to find out the mix of electricity sources in your region by entering your zip code. The US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center also has a tool which compares the annual emissions of an EV versus internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle on a national or state level. It is important to remember that even if you have an EV that does not emit any tailpipe emissions, your charging process may generate well to wheel emissions. Therefore, if you want to follow all the rules of Zero Emissions Day, you can  consider not charging your vehicle  and using as little electricity as possible.

National Drive Electric Week (NDEW)

This year, National Drive Electric Week-and-a-half is from September 22 - October 1, 2023. NDEW is a nationwide celebration that is meant to raise awareness of the benefits of driving electric vehicles and their plug-in hybrid cousins. Its origins go back to 2011 when Zan Dubin-Scott, the co-founder of EV advocacy organization Plug In America, and longtime EV driver Jeff U’Ren came up with the idea of holding a coordinated series of national events to espouse the benefits of transitioning to EVs. Plug In America, along with the Electric Vehicle Association and the Sierra Club, joined the effort and the first National Plug In Day was held on October 16th, 2011. In 2014, the day was expanded to a whole week and National Drive Electric Week was born. Now, there are events across the entire country, along with online events, that people can participate in. You can easily get involved by attending, volunteering, or sponsoring an event. Attendees who are curious about transitioning to an EV can:

  • Talk to real EV owners.

  • Attend an online or in-person event.

  • Watch an EV parade.

  • Watch virtual test drives.

For drivers wondering about the benefits of switching to an EV, the National Drive Electric Week website lists the following benefits:

  • EVs give you instant torque, allowing you to quickly speed up and merge onto the freeway.

  • They are less costly to drive at $1.24 per eGallon (US Average).

  • They come with the latest technology, like driver assist lane tracking, emergency braking, and over-the-air updates.

  • EVs require less maintenance and therefore have lower maintenance costs.

  • They’re safer. EVs are ten times less likely to catch fire than conventional gas cars.

  • They’re better for the environment, even when accounting for their manufacturing carbon emissions and when using electricity from coal plants.

Transitioning to an EV

The federal government has made it even easier to transition to an EV by providing tax breaks for their purchase and the purchase of EV charging equipment, including:

You can also search for state and municipal rebates and incentives using Blink’s Commercial Incentives and Residential Incentives tools.

National Drive Electric Week 2023 Events

While there are many NDEW events happening across the country, here are some of the events where you can talk to a Blink Charging representative:

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