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Clean Air Excellence Awards

Past Award Recipients

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Community Action Award Recipients

2014

Regional 8-Hour Ozone Flex Planning
Central Texas Clean Air Coalition

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC) of the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) is a regional collaboration of local governments in Central Texas, consisting of elected officials appointed by city and county governments from the Austin- Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area. The CAC has successfully implemented a voluntary, regional 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan (8-O3 Flex) and continues its positive impact on the community through ongoing air quality planning efforts. Through the 8-O3 Flex, the region has successfully stayed in attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone despite a population growth rate that far exceeds the state and national averages. The plan was developed through an innovative partnership of a diverse group of 69 stakeholders in the Austin-Round Rock area, including governmental, business and non-profit entities. The participants, led by the CAC, implemented more than 95 measures, with a focus on keeping the area in attainment of federal ozone standards. Many of these measures, such as energy efficiency and resource conservation, have also resulted in reductions in other criteria pollutants, air toxics and greenhouse gases. The CAC adopted the 8-O3 Flex in 2008 to replace the CAC's Early Action Compact (2004), which in turn replaced the 1-Hour Ozone Flex Plan (2002). The group has now adopted a new air quality plan under the Ozone Advance Program that will continue the region's voluntary ozone planning efforts through 2018. The new plan includes 491 emission reduction commitments from five county governments, 13 city governments and 11 other governmental, nonprofit and business entities from the region.

Ducktown 28-Kilowatt Solar Array
City of Ducktown, TN

Located in southeast Tennessee, the City of Ducktown is a small rural community of 475 citizens. After years of environmental devastation caused by ore mining and its processing through open pit roasting, the community has undergone a complete transformation. Over the past five decades, the area has been rejuvenated through reclamation and reforestation provided by public and private partnerships. More than 500,000 visitors from nearby metropolitan areas now come to enjoy the natural amenities annually. Building on these environmental improvements and continuing to invest in economic development, city leaders chose to pursue renewable energy projects. In partnership with the Tennessee Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council (TREEDC), city leaders have attended multiple classes and conferences, learning about renewable energy sources and alternative fuels. In 2010, Ducktown constructed its first solar project: a 28-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, through a federal grant received from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and local funds. With a total project cost of $108,000, the city should only have been able to build a 14-kilowatt system, but by thinking out of the box, providing training for staff and completing construction themselves, the city was able to double the size of the system. In the first year of operation, the 28-kilowatt system created $9,000 in revenues, offsetting approximately 45 percent of the energy cost. To date, this project has avoided more than 35 tons of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Ducktown has also partnered with other private businesses and installed an additional 60 kilowatts of solar capacity, offsetting the total energy cost by 65 percent to date.

2011

Frazier Courtyard Homes
Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity

As part of the Fair Park Partnership with Inner-city Community Development Corporation, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity worked in conjunction with the Dallas Housing Authority, the City of Dallas, the Dallas Sustainable Skyline Initiative, and many other public and private partners to redevelop 55 acres of public housing into a sustainable, healthy community. Forty affordable single-family homes now stand where there was once a crime-ridden, decayed public housing project. These forty homes, all certified as LEEDTM Silver and purchased by low-income homeowners, are part of a larger effort to build sustainable neighborhoods that improve the community's quality of life.

These collaborative and visionary efforts paid off. A Texas A&M University study found that the average energy savings of a three-bedroom Habitat home in Frazier Courtyards is 10 -12 percent and from 21 -22 percent for two-bedroom homes, when compared to the standard building code in effect at the time of construction. This translates into a savings of approximately 1 ton of carbon dioxide air pollution per year, per home.

Because of its experience at Frazier Courtyard Homes, since 2010, Dallas Habitat has built all of its new homes to LEED standards. As the largest builder of single-family homes in the City of Dallas, and the largest builder of LEED-certified homes in Dallas, the commitment to green building drastically improves the air quality not only for homeowners, but for the surrounding community as well.

Electric Vehicle Ecosystem Pilot Project
City and County of Greenville, South Carolina

The Electric Vehicle (EV) Ecosystem Pilot Project was created to provide area companies and residents with access to electric vehicles and charging stations throughout the region. With the help of Enterprise Rental Car, Duke Energy, General Electric, and other partners, the City and County of Greenville were able to implement the EV Ecosystem Program. The program also seeks to improve the quality of life and air quality by cutting fuel use and tailpipe emissions. The goal is being accomplished by combining two models to access EVs: public pods and dedicated use. There are two public pods, one at the GSP Airport and another one in Downtown Greenville. Both pods have EVs available for rent. At the airport, people may rent EVs from Enterprise through its regular car rental program. Enterprise launched its car sharing WeCar Program with EVs, which allows people to use alternative fuel vehicles while reducing emissions and the number of vehicles on the road. Members of the WeCar Program pay for the hours they use the EVs (the rate includes all maintenance and insurance). There are WeCar EVs conveniently available at a public parking garage just across the GreenLink and Greyhound bus terminal in Downtown Greenville. The dedicated use model allows private businesses to have EVs as company vehicles thru a six-month lease with Enterprise. Companies have an option to extend the lease on a monthly basis or leasing them longer. There are more than 45 charging stations for public and private use in the Greenville area. The program has made Greenville one of the most EV friendly areas in the world.

Free Zoo & Trolley Too!
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) offered Rhode Islanders a free and environmentally-friendly way to travel to the local Roger Williams Park Zoo. From May to September 2011, the "Free Zoo and Trolley Too!" program offered passengers a complimentary bus ride on the Route 6 (Prairie/R. W. Zoo) line every first Saturday of the month to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI on a new hybrid/diesel red trolley. These new vehicles run quieter and cleaner and are expected to help RIPTA save approximately 20 percent on fuel costs. This partnership with the Roger Williams Park Zoo encouraged city residents to leave their cars at home and try transit at no cost. Astonishingly, ridership doubled on the first day of this promotion. Other forms of encouragement were flyers that were distributed throughout the local Providence school system and at local community events. In addition to online advertising, bus shelters ads, in both English and Spanish, were utilized to spread the message. "Free Zoo and Trolley Too!" is an innovative program which provided passengers with a positive transit experience-all while reducing air pollution.

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2010

Forest Resource Sustainability in Placer County, California
Placer County Air Pollution Control District

With over half of Placer County comprised of forested land, County leaders understand the risk and consequences of catastrophic wildfires. In response, the Placer County Air Pollution Control District and Placer County have teamed with public and private partners - including the U.S. Forest Service and Sierra Pacific Industries - to implement projects to cost effectively manage portions of the 550,000 acres of forest that are at severe risk for wildfire in the Lake Tahoe region and on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Efforts are aimed at reducing wildfire risk, protecting forest resources, improving air and watershed quality, lowering firefighting costs, and reducing the use of fossil fuels for energy in the region. Forest management operations for harvesting commercial products or for reducing wildfire hazards produce excess woody biomass in the form of limbs, tops, and brush. This biomass material usually has no commercial value and is disposed through mastication, or open burning which produces significant amounts of air pollutants. In the past four years, projects have been initiated focusing on waste that was otherwise destined for open burning. The project has processed and transported 15,000 tons of wastes to biomass energy facilities to fuel the generation of 15,000 megawatt hours of renewable electricity, enough to power more than 1,500 homes for one year. The projects, which are continuing, achieved emission reductions of 90 tons of fine particulate, 23 tons of nitrogen oxides, 70 tons of volatile organics, 900 tons of carbon monoxide, and over 6,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Additional impacts include reducing wildfire intensity, and preserving water, wildlife habitat, and soil productivity.

NYU Climate Action Plan
New York University

New York University's Climate Action Plan (CAP) addresses NYU's recent participation in NYC Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC Challenge to Universities regarding sustainability. The CAP encapsulates NYU's initiatives that are reducing campus-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria air pollutant emissions. NYU achieved cuts of more than 20% between 2006 and 2010 through building retrofits, efficiency, and conservation from behavioral change. Greater progress is achieved in 2011 with the completion of an expanded on-campus cogeneration (CHP) power plant that provides twice the power of NYU's old facility and avoids the combustion of 500,000 gallons of fuel oil and 280,000 therms of natural gas per year. This new plant yields an additional 23 percent decrease in GHG emissions and a 68 percent decrease in criteria air pollutants. NYU has also reduced air pollution by cutting electricity demand through its successful inter-residence hall competition called NYU unplugged. This month-long competition generated an 8 percent energy savings across more than a dozen dorms. NYU has also created a Sustainability Task Force that has made over 100 recommendations to improve environmental performance and foster a campus culture of sustainability. The university is currently implementing one of these recommendations by upgrading the efficiency of NYU's shuttle bus fleet route changes helped to cut diesel fuel use by 16 percent in 2010, and the university's new contract will replace existing buses with efficient hybrid-electric equivalent buses at a rate of one per year. These and other projects combine to form a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions, moving NYU closer to its long-term commitment to carbon neutrality by the year 2040.

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2009

Santa Barbara Car Free Project — Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District

Santa Barbara Car Free is a community project founded and led by Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District to encourage car free travel to and around Santa Barbara.  More than 100 businesses, organizations, and individuals participate. The website (SantaBarbaraCarFree.org Exit EPA disclaimer ), how to be Car Free and Care Free map and publications, Amtrak specials, year-long discount packages with more than 40 partners (hotels, attractions, activities, restaurants), publicity efforts, and community outreach, all reduce pollution and establish Santa Barbara as a sustainable tourist destination and community. The project started in 1998 to address the peaking ozone levels during visitor season after the county was designated a "serious" ozone nonattainment area.  In 2008, the website had more than 1.5 million hits; up to 25 percent of website visitors are from outside the US. More that 65,000 maps and brochures are distributed every year. The project is one of the few organizations in the country that has its own savings code with Amtrak.  They launched a new promotion in 2008, "Take a Vacation from the Gas Pump", when gas prices were high. Other regions are looking to models their success.

City of Aspen ZGreen Certification Program — City of Aspen

The City of Aspen ZGreen program recognizes businesses and citizens for their environmental efforts through a credible third-party certification. Started in 2007, the program is a collaborative effort between the City of Aspen Environmental Health Department and the Canary Initiative. To become ZGreen certified, businesses and citizens must make changes to their operations or lifestyles in a variety of ways, including taking actions to improve air quality. Citizens must commit to five new actions out of a possible 100 and then they receive a summary of how selected actions will shrink their carbon footprint, conserve energy, and reduce PM-10 emissions, one of Aspen’s priority air quality concerns. The business certification requires businesses to get at least 50 points out of a possible 140 on the checklist (five specific items are required of every ZGreen business). Each business must complete an Energy Tracker, which records its gas, electricity, and water use, and calculates its yearly carbon footprint and air emissions. The ZGreen program indirectly reduces air pollution and emissions by rewarding businesses and citizens for using alternative transportation, using low-emission vehicles, prohibiting vehicle idling for more than five minutes, and encouraging energy-efficiency measures. The program now has 18 certified ZGreen businesses, more than 200 certified citizens, 130 have agreed to make a change to reduce air pollution, and their commitment will reduce PM-10 levels in Aspen by an average of 173,435 grams over 2 years. 

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2008

Greater Boston Breathes Better — The Consensus Building Institute, Cambridge, Mass.

The Greater Boston Breathes Better (GB3) partnership is a multi-stakeholder partnership dedicated to improving air quality and reducing emissions from transportation and construction. GB3 provides a forum for sharing experiences, concerns, and lessons learned, while offering funding opportunities and technical resources. Through voluntary partnerships, expanding networks, and increasing collaboration among the area’s diverse sectors, GB3 is able to educate the public and apply innovative technologies to reduce emissions from transportation and construction sources in the City of Boston.

Partner projects have significantly reduced the local impact of diesel emissions, including: training over 1,000 school bus drivers in anti-idling procedures; the adoption of construction contract language requiring retrofits and cleaner fuels at several significant construction projects; the use of biodiesel in Harvard University’s vehicles; and retrofitting the Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization’s 17 shuttle buses and Boston’s 600 diesel school buses with advanced pollution control technology.

GB3 hosted sector-based workshops providing technical assistance and facilitating discussion on emission control strategies. These workshops educated a large community of stakeholders beyond GB3’s members and resulted in quantifiable emission reductions. GB3’s partners include Boston area academic institutions, federal, state, and municipal government representatives, hospitals, technology and energy vendors, construction firms, environmental non-profits, and community organizations.

The GB3 partnership is a successful model for fostering collaborative actions to address local environmental issues. The partnership has begun to share experiences, resources, and tools with communities beyond Greater Boston and has promoted similar partnerships in Manchester, New Hampshire and Providence, Rhode Island.

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2007

Project Green Fleet — Minnesota Environmental Initiative

Project Green Fleet (PGF) is a voluntary collaborative effort of the Minnesota Environmental Initiative, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, businesses, state government agencies, and nonprofits. The project reduces emissions and children’s exposure to exhaust through idle reduction and by installing EPA-verified pollution control equipment on school buses. The project is unique because Minnesota is already in attainment for all pollutants under the Clean Air Act; even so, it has funded more than $3.6 million worth of diesel emission reduction projects through a combination of partner and government funding.

PGF has exceeded a two-year goal to retrofit 500 school buses with pollution control equipment in the State of Minnesota by 2008. Recognizing the importance of this work, Minnesota’s legislature recently appropriated $2.4 million to support retrofitting school buses statewide. This increased state funding will allow PGF to develop and implement plans to retrofit all of Minnesota’s 4,000 eligible school buses in four years.

These early PGF efforts will directly reduce emissions exposure for approximately 30,000 children statewide. Project Green Fleet will continue to track the emissions and exposure reductions for at least five years.

The foresight of establishing Project Green Fleet has allowed Minnesota to address air quality problems before they become more serious environmental and health threats.

Northern Wood Power Project — Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH)

The Public Service of New Hampshire’s (PSNH) Northern Wood Power Project (NWPP) permanently replaced a 50-megawatt coal-burning boiler with a state-of-the-art fluidized-bed wood-burning boiler of the same capacity. The NWPP is one of the largest coal-to-wood repowering conversion projects in the nation.

The NWPP was made possible through extensive collaboration of the NH Timberland Owners Association, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, New Hampshire Audubon, and the Office of the Governor. In addition to nurturing a cleaner environment, the program offers economic benefits by creating a demand for 450,000 tons of wood chips annually. The project provides a huge boost to the forest industry’s viability and adds approximately $20 million to the regional economy each year.

The Northern Wood Power Project reduces annual coal consumption by more than 130,000 tons and reduces the plant’s annual air emissions by thousands of tons. The project decreases emissions across the board; it reduces: NOx emissions by more than 75 percent, SO2 emissions by more than 95 percent, and mercury by more than 90 percent. In addition, instead of generating coal ash that may be landfilled, the project generates wood ash that can be reused as an agricultural product.

By selling Renewable Energy Certificates and avoiding the need to purchase emissions credits, PSNH has found innovative ways to generate renewable energy without increasing the cost to customers. SNH’s work demonstrates how a large emission reduction project can benefit a community environmentally and economically.

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2006

Cherokee Nation Clean Air Program — Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs, Tahlequah, OK

The Cherokee Nation became active in ambient air quality monitoring in 1996, and since that time has established a network of criteria pollutant monitors in Oklahoma and New Mexico. As the lead agency in the Inter-tribal Environmental Council (ITEC), Cherokee Nation has been the forerunner in protecting health, natural resources, and the environment for the Tribal Community.  Primarily, they oversee 5 stationary air monitoring stations and a mobile air monitoring station.  This system comprises the largest tribal air monitoring system in the United States and continues to grow and evolve.  The Cherokee Nation also offers technical assistance to the 42 tribes that are members of the ITEC consortia.  The Cherokee Nation has provided tribes with data they can use to manage and protect air quality within their tribal lands and boundaries and has filled major data gaps by providing baseline information on air quality in rural areas.  The leadership of the Cherokee Nation has provided a strong model for improving ambient air quality applicable to tribal communities across the United States.

Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) Program — Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District Louisville, KY

Louisville, KY citizens, industries, academia, and members of local, state and federal government were motivated to action by the results of a year long air monitoring program that detected unsafe levels of several chemicals in Louisville’s air.  A multi-stakeholder group, led by the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District, formed the Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) program, a comprehensive toxics program that addresses decades of public concern about potentially harmful effects from air toxics.  In June 2005, STAR was adopted and began its work to establish unique regulatory cumulative risk goals for multiple chemicals.   STAR provided the structure for: determining the environmental acceptability of toxic emissions; establishing goals and timetables for large industrial sources; and requiring risk assessment of small industrial, mobile, nonroad mobile, and area sources.  This innovative toxics program has the potential to serve as a model at the local, state, and federal level.

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2005

Transit Oriented Development Program — Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is turning a number of its 38 rail stations into live, work, and play communities through its Transit Oriented Development (TOD) program. MARTA planned the TOD program in 1983 to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in metropolitan Atlanta. The program utilized surplus land to develop office, retail, and mixed-use residential, hotel, and restaurant space around MARTA rail stations. In 1999, MARTA developed an award-winning, nationally recognized, flagship TOD, Lindbergh City Center, which has become a model for transit systems throughout the nation. Lindbergh City Center is situated on 47 acres around the Lindbergh Center rail station and will ultimately include 4.8 million square feet of office, hotel, and mixed-use residential, retail, and restaurant space. Through these developments, MARTA has grown its operating revenues while improving air quality and reducing congestion in Atlanta.

BikeTown — Bicycling Magazine, Rodale, Inc.

BikeTown, an innovative program created by Bicycling Magazine, has been working to make cities more cycling friendly by giving away bikes and promoting clean transportation in cities throughout the nation. By giving away free bicycles to citizens in different communities chosen by the magazine, the program fosters the development of bicycle use in towns throughout the country. Through a partnership with Shimano and the League of American Bicyclists, BikeTown created ten Bike-to-Work cities. Participants in these cities agreed to use bikes as a replacement for cars during the majority of their transportation and a reduction of 626,048 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions over the course of six months resulted; as well as increased quality of health, community development, and other attributes. Now rapidly expanding throughout the nation and into parts of the world, BikeTown is encouraging biking as an alternative form of transportation, and creating connections within communities while sharing participant’s important stories through the magazine.

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2004

The Cherry Creek Bike Rack — Transportation Solutions & The Nichols Partnership; Colorado

Transportation Solutions and Nichols Partnership joined together to develop The Cherry Creek Bike Rack, the first of its kind “urban transportation center” in the state of Colorado. The Bike Rack, which opened in June 2004 in a 1,000 square foot storefront space, uniquely offers secure, indoor bicycle parking free of charge. It also provides bicycle and other transportation information for employees, residents, and visitors; and serves the needs of the neighborhood’s growing bicycle community. The Bike Rack project is estimated to generate a reduction of 6,505 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) daily; a total of over two million VMT saved every year. This VMT savings will correspond to a reduction of 245 pounds of pollution every day, almost 100,000 pounds of pollutants eliminated annually.

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2003

Sustainability Project becomes Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life (SEQL) — Centralina Council of Governments and the Catawba Regional Council of Governments; Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill Metropolitan Area, North Carolina

This two-phase effort, which began as the Sustainability Project and evolved into the Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life program is an example of how jurisdictions can work together regionally to address environmental issues. With the leadership of a strong policy team and the support of interested local and state stakeholders, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill region has been able to unite the region and adopt compatible environmental measures throughout the area.

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2002

IHM Motherhouse Sustainable Renovation — Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Monroe, Michigan

The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, have begun a green building renovation of a large institutional structure on their campus in Monroe, Michigan. This renovation uses comprehensive and sustainable design practices including passive energy systems, renewable energy sources, reduction of water use, habitat restoration, constructed wetlands, and use of green/recyclable materials. The green renovation of the motherhouse balances the current occupants' needs with environmental concerns.

Highlands' Garden Village — Perry Rose, an affiliate of Jonathan Rose Companies, LLC; Denver, Colorado

Located 10 minutes from downtown Denver, the Highlands' Garden Village is a walkable, transit-linked village that is a model for environmentally responsible infill development. Using green buildings and green transportation systems, the village has revitalized an underused site into a network of homes, gardens, plazas, and open spaces. The Village's car-share program provides vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas that can be rented by the half hour.

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2001

Playa Vista — Playa Capital Company, LLC; Los Angeles, California.

Playa Vista is creating a community where residents will be able to manage their household needs without getting into their cars. It is doing so by designing a balance of housing, office space, neighborhood services, community uses, and open space throughout the project, and interlinking these land uses with bikepaths and pedestrian friendly sidewalks and paths.  This unique community design will be enhanced by a hybrid-powered shuttle system connecting all parts of the community.

Hunts Point Cooperative Truck Stop Electrification Project — Con Edison and Clean Air Communities; Bronx, New York.

The Hunts Point Cooperative Market (The Market) is one of the world's largest produce and meat markets.  There are approximately 20,000 diesel truck trips into and out of the Hunts Point neighborhood each week, with hundreds of diesel vehicles idling at The Market each day.  The truck stop electrification project will allow trucks to connect to an electrical source that will keep heating and refrigeration units running while the truck is turned off.  At full operation, the 32-bay project is expected to eliminate 2,300 tons of air pollutants annually. 

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2000

Sustainable Development/Affordable Housing Pilot Program. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Program seeks to identify innovative and cost-effective approaches to housing design that decrease air pollution and energy costs due to their increased energy efficiency.

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If you have any questions about the Clean Air Excellence Awards Program, please contact Jeneva Craig of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation at (202) 564-1674, or craig.jeneva@epa.gov.

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