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WNC Air Quality News

Standing Ovation Awards - 2006

The WNC Regional Air Quality Agency is responsible for air quality permitting and enforcement in Asheville and Buncombe County . We are pleased to announce that five local firms are being recognized by the Agency for their outstanding efforts to improve air quality in the region. All have gone above and beyond what is required by air quality rules and regulations to make a real difference in reducing pollution in their communities.

Those being recognized are: Buncombe County Government, Mission Hospitals, Shorewood Packaging Corporation, Charles D. Owen Manufacturing Company, Inc., and Tyco Valves and Controls.

Buncombe County Government is being recognized for their efforts to reduce air emissions at the landfill. In 2006, the solid waste department began voluntarily operating a landfill gas collection and control system that substantially reduces methane emissions from the landfill. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, estimated to be 21 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. In 2006, the landfill's capture and control equipment destroyed 1,945 tons of methane and also resulted in emissions reductions of several hazardous air pollutants. The global warming benefits of the methane reductions are equivalent to removing 7,167 cars from area roads. Additionally, the gas capture and control system actively removes pollutants from the landfill, which reduces the potential for groundwater contamination.

Mission Hospitals has undertaken numerous efforts to reduce air pollution. As an ENERGY STAR partner, Mission Hospitals is committed to improving energy efficiency through a variety of measures, including energy efficient lighting, automated peak electrical power consumption control systems, and the use of a boiler stack heat recovery system to reclaim heat. Mission Hospitals has also reduced mobile source emissions from their fleet. They purchased two Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered vehicles in 2006, and plan to replace six more fleet vehicles with CNG powered vehicles over the next couple of years. They partnered with the City of Asheville and Buncombe County to secure funding for the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station that the City of Asheville opened in December of 2005. They have replaced Facility Services trucks with smaller more efficient alternate fuel vehicles (ATVs), and provided an Express Shuttle on campus to reduce the use of staff vehicles. Mission Hospitals sought to reduce air pollution associated with employee commuting by actively promoting the Share the Ride NC program, a rideshare matching service, and by promoting the city bus program. Mission Hospitals has eliminated tobacco smoke and mercury from their campus and they recently received the Making Medicine Mercury Free Award from the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment in Washington, DC.

Shorewood Packaging's Weaverville facility has a very strong Environmental, Health, and Safety program that has demonstrated a commitment to researching and utilizing less-polluting products in its printing process. In 2005 and 2006, the facility reformulated its process chemicals to significantly reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. In addition to switching to products with a lower VOC content, Shorewood has reduced the amount of those products that are necessary for use. VOC reductions resulting from the additional product reformulations and usage reductions in 2006 were 1.7 tons.

Each of these three organizations will receive a Standing Ovation Award for its hard work and dedication in protecting and strengthening this vital natural resource.

In addition to recognizing our Standing Ovation Award recipients, we would also like to recognize two companies that joined our ongoing local ENERGY STAR Million Monitor Drive this year. Charles D. Owen Manufacturing Company, Inc. has pledged to implement power management settings on 88 computer monitors and Tyco Valves and Controls has pledged to power down 75 computer monitors when not in use. With the addition of these companies, our local Million Monitor Drive now includes 3,296 monitors in Buncombe and Madison Counties. The organizations that are participating in this program are saving money and helping to improve air quality. The amount of energy that is being saved each year is enough to light over 1,000 homes and results in annual pollution offsets of approximately 900 tons of carbon dioxide and over 9 tons of criteria air pollutants that contribute to regional haze and ozone in our area.

A reception honoring the Standing Ovation Award recipients and Million Monitor Drive participants will take place on January 8, 2007 from 3:30 to 4:00 pm at the Agency. The awards and certificates will be presented at 4:00 pm. For more information, call 828-250-6778.