Center honors clean air champs
By Juanita Teschner
Center for the Environment
The Center for the Environment at Catawba College will honor three organizations in Rowan and Cabarrus counties this spring as Champions for Clean Air.
The winners are Roush Fenway Racing, the city of Concord and the Centralina Council of Governments/Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition.
The awards recognize their extraordinary commitments toward reducing harmful emissions during 2009 and 2010. An independent panel reviewed all submissions and selected the winners.
“These winners have demonstrated a real commitment to improving the air quality in our region, which, in turn, positively impacts our citizens’ health and well being,” says John Wear, director of the Center for the Environment.
“We are delighted to shine the light on these exemplars of corporate and environmental responsibility. Thanks to them, our citizens can breathe easier.”
Roush Fenway Racing has made a significant commitment to reducing its impact on the environment, mitigating air pollution and reducing its dependency on foreign energy resources.
Its new photovoltaic system has generated 11,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in the past six months — enough to offset 17,500 pounds of carbon dioxide and to save the equivalent of 250 trees. The organization’s recent installation of 12,000 square feet of radiant floor heat, powered by 24 solar hot water panels, provides all the energy needed to maintain a 70-degree slab temperature without burning any fossil fuels during the day.
In the past two years, Roush Fenway Racing has recycled more than 30,000 pounds of paper which equates to saving 5,700 gallons of oil, 45 cubic yards of landfill space and 60,000 kilowatts of energy. It has also recycled more than 200,000 pounds of steel and aluminum. These actions saved 372,960 kilowatts of energy, enough to power 10 average homes for a year.
In 2010, approximately 66 tons of material was recycled, reducing the waste that would normally go to landfills by more than 11 tons. A total of 96 percent of each race car produced at Roush Fenway Racing is recycled.
Roush has introduced an alternative fuel vehicle to the fleet market. Factory Authorized Propane Powered conversions of the Ford F150 are now available for consumers.
Roush Fenway Racing uses these vehicles and has installed a filling station at the Concord Regional Airport for Roush Propane customers. Propane runs 30 percent cleaner than traditional fossil fuels and is a byproduct of the oil refining process.
Roush Fenway Racing has a fleet of six bicycles and 12 golf carts for use on its 25-acre campus. It has also adopted a no idling policy for its vehicles and customers at its Concord campus.
City of Concord
The city of Concord has taken numerous steps to improve air quality through a reduction in mobile-source emissions. The municipality fuels 243 vehicles with a biodiesel blend, which results in the displacement of about 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. This means a reduction of nearly 5,800 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) and 176 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The city has seen a 24 percent increase in fuel economy over five years by switching to smaller vehicles in its police fleet. In addition, the use of hybrid and electric vehicles has saved an estimated 12,000 gallons of fuel over the past seven years.
Its drive-by auto-read meters permit the city to read more meters with fewer vehicles, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in fuel consumption and emissions for this group of vehicles.
Its transit and commuter services take a significant number of cars off the road. The fixed-route transit service, which began in 2004, transports about 400,000 riders each year, and the commuter service eliminates about 200 cars from the road, reducing CO2 by more than 46,000 pounds, VOCs by nearly 4,000 pounds and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 472 pounds.
Other practices that have reduced energy use include LED traffic light bulbs, closed-loop traffic signal systems, solar-powered school zone flashers, a video conferencing system and the purchase of green power from the local landfill that creates electricity from methane.
The RIDER Transit Center, the first LEED-certified building in Cabarrus County, includes several features that directly enhance air quality: high-efficiency heating and air conditioning system, low-VOC-emitting materials, recycled content, maximum use of day-lighting, motion sensors for lighting, and a vegetative roof.
The Centralina Council of Governments and Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition were instrumental in facilitating the Derrick Travel Center Truck Stop Electrification project in Rowan County. It was the second such project in the state.
The private-public partnership that brought this about involved other organizations as well: the Cabarrus Rowan Metropolitan Organization, Rowan County, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), N.C. Department of Transportation, CabAire, and Worsley/VPS, operators of the Derrick Travel Center.
Truck stop electrification technology allows truck drivers to connect to an external power grid to power their heaters, air-conditioning, TV, Internet and other accessories without idling their engines during mandatory rest periods. It eliminates the emissions associated with idling and reduces fuel use. Consequently, it has significant air quality benefits.
This technology also helps truck drivers comply with a North Carolina rule that requires operators of heavy-duty vehicles to reduce unnecessary idling.
The idle-reduction rule applies to on-road gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles with loaded weights greater than 10,000 pounds. Under the rule, operators are not allowed to idle their vehicles more than five consecutive minutes in any 60-minute period except for certain cases dealing with safety, health or economic concerns.
Diesel exhaust from idling vehicles contains dangerous air pollutants, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and harmful particulate matter (PM), which can damage lung and cardiovascular tissue.
Truck engine idling contributes to air pollution and wastes a significant amount of diesel fuel and money.
More than a billion gallons of diesel fuel is consumed annually by truck and locomotive engine idling, and 200,000 tons of NOx, and 5,000 tons of PM are emitted from these vehicles. Studies by the EPA and others suggest that long-haul trucks often idle up to eight hours per day, more than 300 days per year. That translates into more than 1,900 gallons of fuel each year per truck.