COUNTY, BREATHE PROJECT JOIN IN SECOND ROUND OF GRANTS TO SMALL CONTRACTORS FOR DIESEL EQUIPMENT RETROFITS
Air quality improvement at center of $1.6 million fund managed by Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association
The Allegheny County Health Department and the Breathe Project, a wide-ranging coalition dedicated to raising the region’s air quality from the worst to the best in the country, are funding a second round of the Small Construction Contractors Retrofit Program. Applications are now accepted.
The program, managed by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association, provides grants to small business construction companies seeking assistance in reducing costs of retrofitting construction equipment with the latest emissions-reduction technologies.Small construction companies whose business operations have been located in Allegheny County (including the city of Pittsburgh) for the past three years are eligible.
The first round, which began in February and was completed in September, produced six applicant companies. Their awards, expected to total about $500,000, will be issued in the next two months as technical requirements are completed. The new round of grants will cover as many as 30 projects ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the maximum allowed under the program rules.
Construction activity and diesel exhaust from construction equipment contribute to smog, acid rain, climate change and a range of health problems. Poor air quality has been associated with increased respiratory symptoms such as asthma and other adverse health effects that include heart and lung disease and an increased risk of premature death.
(photo: Caren Glotfelty-Sr. Program Director)
“This grant project will lead to significant improvement in air quality in the region over time,” said Caren Glotfelty, senior director of the Environment Program at The Heinz Endowments, a Breathe Project coalition sponsor and contributor of the retrofit fund. “And there will be dramatic reductions in harmful emissions in neighborhoods and public thoroughfares where construction projects are underway.”
The funding pool and administrative expenses for the new round of grants comes from two $920,000 grants – one from the Endowments, the other from the Allegheny County Health Department.
“In Allegheny County, diesel exhaust contributes more cancer risk than fixed industrial sources,” said Dr. Ron Voorhees, acting health department director. “This project will help reduce air pollution-related health risks.”
Non-road construction equipment can last 25 to 30 years, reducing the turnaround to newer, cleaner equipment. A typical bulldozer engine emits as much particulate matter pollution as about 500 cars. Diesel exhaust from this type of equipment contributes to pollution, climate change and serious health problems. Upgrading diesel engines with new technologies is healthier for the city as well as the construction crews who are exposed to it on a daily basis.
The technologies will reduce harmful emissions of particulate matter (PM) – aka “soot” – from construction equipment by 85 percent or more. According to a recent Environmental Protection Agency study, diesel construction equipment generates an estimated 25 percent of the county’s diesel particulate matter pollution.
Funds from the program can be used for engine upgrades and rebuilds, installation of diesel particulate filters and engine repowers. Included on the long list of equipment that is eligible to be retrofitted are cranes, dump trucks, forklifts, graders and paving equipment.
The funds are awarded through an ongoing application process that helps small construction companies make needed investments to upgrade equipment and reduce air pollution.
To be eligible for funding, construction companies must meet the following requirements:
- The equipment being covered by the grant must be non-road.
- The company applying for funding must be a small construction company operating in Allegheny County, including the city of Pittsburgh.
- The company must have completed the federal Contractor Registration process.
The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.
The Breathe Project is a coalition of 126 organizations and 1,300 individuals who have come together under a commitment to make significant improvement in air quality in southwestern Pennsylvania. Leaders of the coalition represent nearly every aspect of life in the region, including industries, environmental groups, local governments, foundations and civic groups.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association is a cooperative association of 10 air pollution control agencies in the Mid-Atlantic Region. MARAMA’s mission is to strengthen the skills and capabilities of member agencies and help them work together to prevent and reduce air pollution impacts.
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