Regional Air Quality Council’s Clean Air Champions
RAQC Clean Air Champions
As the lead air quality planning agency for the Metro Denver/North Front Range Ozone Nonattainment Area – and in alignment with its mission to “improve air quality and protect Colorado’s health, environment and economy” – the RAQC created the Clean Air Champions Recognition Program to recognize entities, including public, private and nonprofit organizations, local governments and municipalities, that demonstrate a commitment to improving the region’s air quality. The RAQC has identified the following categories as being of particular interest:
- Diesel: Recognizing entities that are working towards reducing emissions from medium and heavy-duty diesel engines – both on and off road.
- Electrification: Recognizing entities that are working towards reducing emissions through supporting electrification efforts.
- Transit and Outreach Options: Recognizing entities that are promoting programs and projects that encourage low/no emission transit options.
The RAQC is pleased to highlight members of our community who have demonstrated this continuous commitment to improving air quality in the Denver Metro/North Front Range region. As a reward, the RAQC will make a donation to a charitable cause selected by each Clean Air Champion.
Winter 2022 Champions
City of Westminster
Category: Electrification, Transportation & Outreach
Charity: Growing Home
The City of Westminster has demonstrated their commitment to improving air quality through their commitment to fleet electrification and public transit advocacy.
The City of Westminster has been committed to electrifying the municipal fleet – through the addition of electric vehicles to its municipal fleet, creation of a replacement schedule to ensure the rapid transition of the entire municipal fleet to electric vehicles, and completing an Electric Vehicle Action Plan in a partnership with Xcel Energy.
The City has also supported public transit and worked to reduce employee commuting, including a reimbursement program for employees who commute by transit, a compressed 4-day work week to reduce employee commuting, and a Transportation and Mobility Action plan for the City.
Charity: The Greenway Foundation
By the end of 2020, 53% of Waste Management’s (WM) collection fleet had been transitioned to compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, avoiding the use of millions of gallons of diesel fuel per year and comprising the largest heavy-duty natural gas fleet of its kind in North America. Over half of our CNG vehicles use dairy or landfill biogas, including gas captured from our own landfills. For every diesel-powered truck we replace with natural gas, we reduce our annual fuel use by an average of 8,000 gallons, an equivalent of 14 metric tons of GHG. CNG vehicles are quieter than diesel trucks and emit nearly zero particulate emissions, which helps improve air quality. In the Four Corners, WM has 828 CNG trucks serving commercial and residential customers. These trucks are saving 1,656,000 gallons of diesel and 11,592 tons of GHG emissions.
WM has invested $2.5 billion in CNG vehicles, and an additional $550 million in fueling infrastructure. Our goal is to create a near-zero-emissions fleet fueled almost entirely with renewable fuel. Beyond using cleaner fuel, we are decreasing the amount of fuel we consume via logistics solutions, including route optimization technology that allows us to reach customers while traveling the shortest possible distance. Efficient routing translates into reduced fuel consumption and associated emissions, while also improving the quality of our service by limiting delays.
Landfill gas, or biogas, is recognized by the U.S. EPA as a renewable energy resource and is used beneficially as a fossil fuel alternative. WM captures landfill gas and turns it into renewable electricity and fuel at 146 of the active landfills we own or operate. In the Four Corners, two of our largest landfills collect landfill gas and provide to the utility to turn into electricity – Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site (Denver, CO) and Northwest Regional Landfill (Surprise, AZ).
Summer 2021 Clean Air Champions
Awardee: Via Mobility Services
Category: Electrification, Transportation and Outreach
Charity: Colorado Car Share
Project Summary: Via Mobility Services’ air quality improvement efforts began in 2018 when they announced their commitment to investing in an equitable energy future and a new microgrid project. Later that year, Via launched the first electric HOP, an old diesel bus that was converted to electric by a company up in Loveland. The success was leveraged into funding for three brand new electric buses that arrived in spring 2021. In late 2020, they announced their vision to become a zero-emission transit provider and earlier this year they shared further details about the plan.
Via also offers webinars covering their sustainability efforts and their services in their Transit Talk events available on Via’s YouTube channel.
Awardee: Town of Erie
Category: Electrification, Transportation and Outreach
Charity: Erie Community Food Bank
Project Summary: The Town of Erie has partnered with the Regional Air Quality Council since 2019 to create a network of 25 publicly available charging stations by 2025; dubbed “25 by 25”. The growing charging station network, along with incrementally electrifying its light-duty fleet vehicles, and creative benefits options for staff will work towards improving local air quality and reducing GHG emissions.
Additionally, the Town of Erie is pleased to announce the deployment of 10 air quality monitoring stations operated by Ajax Analytics and Colorado State University (CSU) in August 2021. The stations were deployed near oil and gas well pads and in adjacent neighborhoods as part of the Town’s Air Quality Monitoring Program.
Lastly, the launch of Colorado’s first Green HOA Certification program in 2020, in partnership with its existing Green Business Certification, public engagement and participation towards achieving its communitywide Energy Action Plan goals towards more renewables and electrification have never been stronger. Erie realizes that there is a lot more work to do and strong leadership from its elected officials, passionate staff, and its citizen-lead volunteer Sustainability Advisory Board will continue moving the town towards a future of less greenhouse gas emissions and more responsible use of its natural resources so to improve air quality, protect Colorado’s health, environment and economy.
Winter 2020 Clean Air Champions
Awardee: City of Fort Collins – Municipal Sustainability and Air Quality Programs
Charity: Meals on Wheels
Project Summary: The City of Fort Collins has been an active advocate for air quality for more than 25 years through supporting community based efforts to improve air quality as well as being a leader in reducing air emissions throughout their own operations. Recently the city has been focused on electrification efforts – including the electrification of commercial grade lawn and garden equipment used by the city’s parks department and continuing efforts to electrify the municipal fleet.
Since 2017, the City has leveraged $55K in grant funding from the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) to pilot use of commercial grade electric lawn and garden equipment and accelerate progress towards a full fleet of electric powered equipment for municipal lawn and garden maintenance. For the City’s Parks Department, approximately 50% of small engine, non-road equipment has been converted to electric alternatives, and the City is the first municipal owner of a Mean Green riding mower. An electric auto-mower is also being tested at one of the City’s Cemeteries, and so has been reported to provide a quitter and more peaceful experience for visitors.
Additionally, the City has a strategy to “Increase electric vehicles in the City fleet by making 100% of light duty vehicle purchases plug-in electric by 2025.” In addition to vehicles, purchases have included an electric ice resurfacer and an electric street sweeper. Fort Collins’ Fleet Services division was named a Top 10 Leading Fleet in 2018 by the Government Fleet and American Public Works Association, which recognizes public-sector fleets for their leadership, efficiency and vision. In 2020, Fort Collins was also named #1 by “The 100 Best Green Fleets in the Americas”
Awardee: Regional Transportation District
Charity: COMTO Scholarship Fund
Project Summary: Regional Transportation District (RTD) has been an active partner in improving air quality since its inception through its purpose to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips and its leadership in electrifying its fleets. Since 2016, RTD has placed into operation 36 battery electric buses for the Free MallRide that is operated on Denver’s 16th Street Mall. This fleet total places RTD as a leader in electrification in the United States. According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) 2020 Vehicle Database, RTD has had one of the largest electric bus fleets in the Country. As a result, RTD has been recognized as a leader in this area by being invited to speak at many regional and national conferences. RTD is also a member of the Colorado Electric Vehicle Coalition (CEVC) and has taken a leadership role in forming the CEVC Transit Subgroup, which brings together stakeholders interested in transit electrification.
Beyond the current electric fleet, over the last year, RTD has received grant funding to purchase 17 new battery electric buses through the Volkswagen Settlement Agreement and have also been awarded grant funds from the Federal Transit Administration to purchase an additional 2 vehicles. These vehicles will likely be in service in late 2022 or early 2023.