Rod Sinks, chairman of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, speaks at a Monday news conference to introduce the district's effort to encourage telecommuting and other business practices to help reduce the region's carbon footprint. (Image courtesy of Bay Area Air Quality Management District/Facebook)

As Santa Clara County begins to reopen for business, Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on Monday signed the “Cut the Commute” pledge to maintain the progress of the Bay Area's air quality.

The goal is to get Bay Area businesses to increase the number of employees working remotely when possible. The pledge is being signed by the county, air quality officials and companies intending to do the same.

The proposal would start with 22,000 employees countywide, and all departments will be asked to look at ways to support telecommuting as much as possible.

Switching to working remotely will have many benefits, according to the county, like cleaner air and less congestion.

In the first seven weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bay Area saw a 32 percent reduction to carbon monoxide emissions.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 people in Santa Clara County drive more than three hours to get to and from work on a normal day. More employees who can work remotely from home will lead to less congestion, making the Bay Area a place where people want to move to instead of away from, according to the county.

In the last 15 years, the average commute time for a Silicon Valley resident has risen by 25 percent.

The county also highlighted that an increase in remote working could also cut costs on real estate and construction. For example, Stanford saved more than $107 million between 2002 and 2012 from not having to build parking facilities.

Monday's news conference took place in the parking lot of the San Jose Water Company, 110 Taylor St., San Jose. It can be viewed on Facebook.