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Sustainability Spotlight: 11th Annual Clean Air Excellence Awards

Jun 23, 2011

In recognition of both public and private sector achievements, the U.S. EPA is honoring 12 programs from organizations across the United States for their efforts in achieving cleaner air. The winning organizations have demonstrated a commitment to creating a greener infrastructure and in so doing, have also created jobs. Award-winning entries have directly or indirectly reduced pollutant emissions, demonstrated innovation, and have provided a model for others to follow.

This year's award recipients were selected from 75 applicants and represent achievements in five categories: clean air technology, community action, education/outreach, regulatory policy innovations, and transportation efficiency.

A notable achievement in Clean Air Technology is the Genset Ultra Low Emitting Locomotive developed by Union Pacific Railroad. The Genset performs the same work as a conventional switcher but uses multiple smaller, lower-emitting, high-speed diesel engines instead of a single large, medium-speed conventional locomotive diesel engine. This innovation reduces NOx and PM emissions by 80-90 percent, fuel consumption by 16-40 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions by an equivalent amount.

In the Community Action category, New York University's Climate Action Plan (CAP), after achieving cuts of more than 20% between 2006 and 2010 through building retrofits, efficiency, and conservation, has installed an expanded on-campus cogeneration power plant that provides twice the power of the old facility. To get the whole campus involved, it also held a successful inter-residence hall competition called NYU unplugged. This month-long competition generated an 8 percent energy savings across more than a dozen dorms.

The Dust Handbook and Field Guide represents an achievement in the Education/Outreach category. After being designated as a "serious nonattainment area," Maricopa County's (AZ) Air Quality Department developed the Dust Abatement Handbook and accompanying Dust Abatement Field Guide for the construction industry as one component of a program to reduce dust emissions. Multiple stakeholders actively participated in this collaborative effort, and the handbook and field guide reflect their commitment to achieve improved air quality.

Demonstrating leadership in Transportation Efficiency, Pacific Gas & Electric constructed and refurbished 14 public Level II (240V) electric vehicle charging stations at nine different sites throughout northern California, and installed the nation's first publicly available DC fast charger.

These are a few among many notable achievements. To read more about all of the award winning projects, visit

The complete list of winners:

Clean Air Technology

Union Pacific Railroad Company, Melrose Park, Ill.

Project: Genset Ultra Low Emitting Locomotive

California Cartage Company, LLC, Santa Monica, Calif.

Project: Liquefied Natural Gas Port Truck Project

Community Action

Placer County Air Pollution Control District, Auburn, Calif.

Project: Forest Resource Sustainability in Placer County, Calif.

New York University, N.Y.

Project: New York University Climate Action Plan

Education Outreach

City of Bellevue Utilities, Bellevue, Wash.

Project: Community greenhouse gas reduction program.

Houston-Galveston Area Council, Houston, Texas

Project: Commuter traffic reduction program

Maricopa County Air Quality Department, Phoenix, Ariz.

Project: Particulate matter reduction handbook

Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission, Springvale, Maine

Project: Air quality and transportation educational program

Regulation/Policy Innovations

The Cape Cod Commission, Barnstable, Mass.

Project: Energy Performance Standards for Developments of Regional Impact

North Central Texas Council of Governments, Arlington, Texas

Project: Regional Emissions Enforcement Program

Eglin Air Force Base, 96 CEG/CEV (Environment Management Division), Fla.

Project: Air Quality Compliance Assistance Program

Transportation Efficiency Innovations

Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Francisco, Calif.

Project: Advancing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations