USEPA Clean Air Excellence Award

On May 28, 2008, the USEPA recognized Greenville County for its dedication to excellence in achieving clean air along with 10 more winners of the eighth annual Clean Air Excellence Awards. This year's award winners were recognized by EPA for their outstanding accomplishments in improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The Clean Air Excellence Awards recognize and honor outstanding, innovative efforts that make progress in achieving cleaner air. The awards were established in 2000, at the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC), a senior-level policy group that advises EPA on implementing the Clean Air Act.

"This year's Clean Air Excellence Award winners' dedication to creating a cleaner tomorrow is truly a breath of fresh air," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "From local to state governments, companies to citizen groups, these award-winners are helping EPA deliver healthier air and healthier lives to all Americans."

Implemented since 2006, the "Spare the Air in Greenville County, SC: Improving Air Quality in Greenville County Public Awareness Campaign" was recognized this year in the education/outreach category. The overall purpose of this campaign is to increase awareness of citizens and public officials on local air quality issues utilizing a comprehensive approach to disseminate the information. Understanding these issues allows officials to make informed recommendations and/or decisions on local public policy. It also allows the general public increase their knowledge on the effects of poor air quality on their health and things they can do to prevent exposure and to improve air quality.

Spare the Air successfully implemented the Breathe Better Air at School (B2@School) program at Fountain Inn Elementary School during the 2007 and 2008 school years. The B2@School component of the Spare the Air campaign seeks to educate parents, staff, bus drivers, and faculty about the importance of not idling vehicles on campus. The program emphasizes the positive impact of a "no idling" school policy on children's health, especially children with respiratory illnesses such as asthma. The program also seeks to educate the public on the value of reducing the amount of lawn areas necessitating mowing by replacing them with native gardens.

In fall 2007, Greenville County set up several B2@School (anti-idling) signs on campus. The signs included the B2 logo, the air quality forecast toll free telephone number, and the County's air quality website. Another educational piece of the B2 program is the Air Quality Patrol, which is made up of students. The patrol wears the "B2" vest and encourages parents and bus drivers to turn off engines while on campus. The patrol also helps gathering data prior, during and after implementation of the program to measure the impact of the B2 program. Fountain Inn Elementary School students also designed the 2008 activity calendar.

Greenville County partnered with garden clubs and TreesGreenville, a local non-profit organization, to complete the courtyard project. The original school expansion plans at Fountain Inn Elementary retained a courtyard that would have been reseeded with grass, requiring mowing during school hours. Instead, the B2 program considered replacing that area with an educational native tree garden modeling a local forest ecosystem. The courtyard is now being used as an outdoor classroom. The B2 program also required planting several shade trees on the students' drop off/pick up areas at the front entrance to encourage parents and visitors to turn off their vehicles. The B2@School program is now being expanded to Sevier Middle School.

B2 sign at Fountain Inn Elementary School B2 Patrol
B2 Sign at Fountain Inn Elementary School B2 Patrol

Dan Powell and Sandra Yudice Accept Award
Dan Powell and Sandra Yúdice

Sandra Yudice Addresses Attendees
Sandra Yúdice Addresses Attendees

Click award images for larger views.
Clean Air Excellence Award 1

Clean Air Excellence Award 2

EPA Newsroom
Click here to read the EPA's press release announcing the 2008 winners of the Clean Air Excellence Award.

Courtyard Before Clean Air Improvements Courtyard Construction Phase Courtyard With Completed Clean Air Improvements
Courtyard Before Clean Air
Improvements
Courtyard Construction Phase Courtyard With Completed Clean Air Improvements