The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will host the fifth annual Great Race for Clean Air commuter challenge, which begins today, organization officials announced in August.

From today through October 31, Bay Area commuters will compete against other companies and agencies to see which organization can reduce its CO2 production the most, district spokeswoman Kristine Roselius said.

Approximately 200 companies will take part in the event. Companies such as Oracle, Facebook and Yahoo have previously taken part in the event.

“Employees are more likely to take transit, carpool or walk or bike to work when it is encouraged at work,” the district’s executive director Jack Broadbent said in a press release. “The Great Race for Clean Air is a fun competitive way to improve air quality, reduce traffic and save money while giving Bay Area commuters an opportunity to try alternatives to driving alone.”

Employees will record their commutes on the Spare the Air website, including mileage, type of transportation and their previous mode of transportation. This will help determine the amount of CO2 each employee is saving, Roselius said.

The district will recognize the companies with the greatest CO2 savings per capita and the highest participation rates in each county, Roselius said.

Participating employees are automatically entered into weekly random drawings for incentive prizes, Roselius said.

Some individual companies also give awards for participation and CO2 reduction, Roselius said.

Companies are broken up into three categories: small, mid-size and large employers.

San Francisco’s SYSTIME Computer Corporation had the largest CO2 reduction per capita overall in the Bay Area last year.

Last year’s Bay Area-wide participation winners include Oracle, the Office of Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.

It is the second consecutive year the competition will be Bay Area-wide.

For its first three years, the competition focused on the Tri-Valley area, but its success allowed it to branch out to the entire Bay Area, Roselius said.

Zack Farmer, Bay City News

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