The Center for the Environment at Catawba College received one of four 2012 N.C. Mobile Clean Air Renewable Energy (CARE) Awards from the N.C. Solar Center/N.C. State University on April 20 at the 9th Annual Sustainable Energy Conference in Raleigh. The Center's Campaign for Clean Air was the winner in the Policy/Organization Innovation category.
The awards recognize initiative and leadership efforts at improving North Carolina's air quality through alternative fuel, advanced transportation technologies and fuel economy practices. The N.C. Department of Transportation sponsored the sixth annual Mobile CARE awards.
Elaine Loyack, program coordinator of Triangle Air Awareness, nominated the Center for the award. She noted that the Center "serves as a leading example of how an organization dedicated to improving air quality can have a considerable impact through varied and innovative educational initiatives and the facilitation of emission reduction programs.
The Center's "intentional effort to help others replicate programs is particularly noteworthy," she said in the nomination document.
Center Executive Director John Wear said it was gratifying to learn that the Campaign for Clean Air had received statewide recognition for its efforts. "Former Air Quality Outreach Coordinator Shelia Armstrong and our staff have worked tirelessly to educate our citizens about the causes and effects of air pollution and to show them how they can help mitigate this pollution," he said. "To receive recognition from other professionals in the field is a tribute to our staff's innovative ideas and ability to tailor programs to various audiences."
The Center's work with air quality education began in 2004 when the American Lung Association's State of the Air Report listed the Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury metropolitan area, which includes Rowan and Cabarrus counties, 14th in the nation for the worst ozone pollution. The Center launched the current Campaign for Clean Air (CCA) in 2009 to educate citizens in Rowan and Cabarrus counties and the surrounding area about the region's poor air quality and its impact on the public's health, the local economy and citizens' quality of life.
A multi-year grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation allowed the Center to go above and beyond its initial air quality efforts. Its current educational initiatives include:
- A Campaign for Clean Air educational website and Salisbury Post microsite, dedicated to air issues; ;
- A Campaign for Clean Air newsletter; ;
- A Clean Air Lecture Series; ;
- Leadership in guiding multiple community groups in their implementation of mobile emission reduction programs; ;
- A host of outreachEvents related to air quality; ;
- Programs that promote emission reduction with local government officials and industry groups; ;
- Programs that educate the public about alternative fuels and modes of transportation; ;
- Model emission reduction programs that can be replicated by other communities.
The Campaign for Clean Air's No Idling Program has met with particular success. It educates and guides student groups who undertake the project. An online toolkit designed by Campaign staff allows schools and other groups across the state – and the nation – to replicate the program, which meets competency goals set by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.