Tag Archives: clean air

2022 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference a Success for the Clean Transportation Community

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) welcomed more than 350 registered attendees in Durham, NC for the 2022 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo. The conference showcased the latest and greatest technologies in the biofuels, electric, natural gas and propane arenas – including everything from Progress Solar’s latest mobile solar electric vehicle (EV) charging model to the diverse display of alternative fuel vehicles and other clean transportation technologies.

Over 80 speakers from a variety of backgrounds presented their ideas and best practices during the conference – highlighting the leading edge of sustainable fleet practices and clean transportation opportunities – including fleet managers, technicians, company presidents and CEOs, university professors, researchers, analysts, nonprofit managers, motivational speakers and more. “It was inspiring to see professionals from different industries and backgrounds coming together to exchange ideas for improving the sustainability of transportation in our state and beyond,” said Heather Brutz, Director of the NCCETC Clean Transportation Program.

The sixth annual Sustainable Fleet Technology (SFT) Conference was able to return in-person in 2022 for the first time since 2019, bringing together fleet professionals and decision-makers to share and discuss evolving clean transportation strategies and technologies. Brutz marked SFT 2022 as a success in meeting this objective. “We’re fostering a community where members support each other during this transition to integrate sustainable operations and technologies into their fleets,” said Brutz.

During expo hall hours, attendees were able to network with more than 60 exhibitors while exploring over a dozen vehicles inside and outside of the convention center, with displays including a Chevy Bolt, Ford E-Transit, the City of Charlotte’s Ford F-150 Lightning and Ford Mustang Mach-E, the City of Durham’s bucket truck with a plug-in electric power take-off (PTO) solution by Viatec, Lightning eMotors, Thomas Built Buses Jouley Saf-T-Liner C2 electric school bus, Zero Motorcycles, an Electric Vehicle (EV) Fast Charger from Siemens, Progress Solar’s Mobile Solar Light Tower solution, XL Flee’s Hybrid Electric Upfit, Cenntro’s all-electric Logistar 400 and off-road utility task vehicle ORV, a long-range electric low-speed vehicle from Carolina Industrial Equipment, and more.

“This year the expo hall was full of a lot of electrifying conversations,” said John Bonitz, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC. “There’s a lot of opportunities coming from recent federal and state actions encouraging creativity from both the manufacturers and the end-users.”

During the pre-conference day, NAFA Fleet Management Association hosted a Sustainable Fleet Management Program Boot Camp before announcing the 2022 winners of the 100 Best Fleets and Green Fleet Awards. Triangle Clean Cities also hosted the Triangle Electric Vehicle Summit, and Cenntro vehicles were available for the ride & drive outside of the convention center.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS & BREAKOUT SESSIONS

Keynote speakers John Konkel, Director of GM Fleet in the Southeast Region, and Robert Gordon, Fleet Management Deputy Director in Dekalb County kicked off day one of SFT 2022.

SFT Conference tracks included Vehicle Applications, Fueling Infrastructure, and Planning & Technology. Attendees were able to choose from 12 breakout sessions across the tracks:

  • Alternative Fuel Vehicle Emissions Reductions & Case Studies
  • Best Practices for Managing Fleet Charging Equipment
  • Telematics: Realtime Information for Optimizing Fleet Performance & Safety
  • Hydrogen as a Transportation Solution
  • Charging Equipment Service & Maintenance for Reliability
  • Considerations & Opportunities for Rural Communities
  • Alternative Fuel Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Case Studies
  • Alternative Fuel Resilience Considerations
  • Funding & Financing Your Sustainable Fleet
  • Understanding Batteries
  • Considerations in EVSE Networking, Communications & Specifications
  • Idle Reduction an Easy Win

The plenary panel Industry Roundtable: Getting the Win in Sustainable Fleet was moderated by John Davis, Emmy® Award-winning producer, host and creator of MotorWeek. The panel featured Ted Koupparis of General Motors Fleet, Patrick Campbell of Cummins, Dawn Fenton of Volvo Group North America, Stuart Weidie of Alliance AutoGas, and Patrick Scully of Ballard Fuel Systems.

Stuart Weidie spoke of the long future of the internal combustion engine and the viable role for propane and other alternative fuels, a view shared by others on the panel. They examined the current state of sustainable transportation and identified opportunities for overcoming barriers to meeting goals for today and the future.

Dawn Fenton outlined two of the barriers many heavy-duty fleets face when building toward a sustainable fleet: the lack of established infrastructure for refueling alternative fuel vehicles and the need for incentives on local and nationwide scales.

Fenton said recent federal programs like those outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act have the potential to help public fleets overcome these obstacles. The Act includes expansions and extensions of utility-scale tax credits and rebates to incentivize the purchase of electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks as well as its associated refueling infrastructure.

“Many utilities have also established make-ready programs to help lower the cost of infrastructure for heavy-duty fleet vehicles and equipment,” Fenton added.

Day two began with plenary panel Leadership Triple Play featuring Motivational Speaker & Scottsdale-based Leadership Development Coach Ramsey Bergeron of Bergeron Wellbeing, Lonnie Mayne of Red Shoes Living, Inc. and City of Orlando’s Facilities Management Division Manager David Dunn. The panel highlighted principles for fleet managers to employ to help their organizations successfully embrace change and improve results.

Later that day, Robbie Astrop, Sr. Business Development Manager at ABM moderated the plenary panel Industry Roundtable: Delivering Electrons for Transportation Electrification. Speakers on the panel were Todd Ritter, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of EvStructure; James Tillman, Sr. Vice President Business Development, Brytemove Energy; Sean Ackley, EV & Mobility Segment Lead of Hitachi Energy; and Anne Blair, Electrification Coalition’s Director of Policy.

Sean Ackley, an engineering graduate of NC State University, has had a career focus on electrical infrastructure technologies and execution projects. As Hitachi America’s resident expert on EV technologies, Ackley leverages his background in cloud managed services, product development, testing interoperability, and construction project management in facilitating critical thinking around the transition of large fleets to electric powertrain.

Ackley knows the transition to alternative fuel of large fleets is no small feat and he expressed that during the panel. “It’s a whole ecosystem,” said Ackley. “We’re changing the world.”

Ackley stressed the importance of future-proofing technology to support the expansion of infrastructure and equipment as it evolves. “Start early, think ahead, and get creative,” Ackley advised when asked about specific strategies for load management and deployment.

Overall, the panelists agreed that transitioning fleets to electric vehicles is a multi-aspect process that involves planning, coordination, maintenance, strategies for managing electrical load, and more. The roundtable discussion focused on charging options, use cases, policies and strategies to meet today’s needs, as well as what is needed to further transportation electrification.

Industry Roundtable: Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Electric Vehicle Portfolio Planning was the conference’s final plenary panel and joined together several major OEMs to share their plans and investments related to bringing a light-duty EV line-up to market from what is available to what is coming.

”A lot of OEMs have been announcing major developments in regards to electric vehicle offerings within their portfolio,” said Brutz, who moderated the panel’s speakers: Bryan Chapman, Southeast Government Sales Account Manager, Stellantis NA; Ted Koupparis, Sales Enablement Manager, General Motors Fleet; James Morgan, Government Sales Manager, Ford Motor Company; Mark Namuth, Manager, Fleet Commercial Sales, Nissan; and Scott Bargatze, Southeast Commercial Sales Manager, Nissan.

The NCCETC hosts the annual Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference as part of its mission to advance a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies.

PowerPoint presentations will be available in the coming weeks at www.SustainableFleetExpo.com. Stay tuned for next year’s conference dates. Don’t miss out on future updates for the 2023 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference – sign up for the clean transportation newsletter now!

2022 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Winners Share Their Story

In the fifth year of the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC)’s “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest, students in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school submitted their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state. Students were asked to create art focused on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep the air clean. NCCETC congratulated three artists located in Morrisville, Weddington and Raleigh, N.C. 

The art contest originated from Heather Brutz, Interim Director of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC, who thought of the Student Art Contest while recalling her previous experience as a middle school teacher. “I hoped the contest could engage young people’s creativity to help spread awareness about the ways we can reduce air pollution from vehicles,” Brutz said. 

Air pollution is one of the ways climate change impacts our health today, with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) reporting almost 9 out of 10 people who live in urban areas worldwide are affected by air pollution. The NIEHS explains air pollution can affect lung development and increase the amount and seriousness of lung disease and asthma. Children, the elderly, and people living in areas with high levels of air pollution are especially susceptible. 

“Clean air is vital for health,” Brutz said. “This is true for people of all ages, but there is research that shows that exposure to air pollution for kids increases their chances of getting asthma, which affects their health for the rest of their lives.”

As a teacher, Brutz would try a variety of different teaching methods to capture students’ attention. “I applied that same thinking when I first came up with the idea for the art contest- I wanted to engage a different audience than we sometimes interact with in our other educational activities at the Center and engage that audience in a different way than what we were already doing,” explained Brutz. “Artwork is a powerful tool and I was excited to find a way to work together with young artists to help spread the message about ways we can keep our air clean.” 

NCCETC received submissions from students in elementary, middle and high schools across the state. “It’s always rewarding to see how creative students are with their work,” said Brutz. “Although we are only able to choose three winners whose artwork will be displayed on billboards, every single young artist who submitted should feel proud of their contribution.”

To learn what clean air means to them, we asked the winners some questions about their artwork:

Elementary School Winner – Sudeep Asam | Morrisville Elementary School | Morrisville, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I want to express my feelings in the “keep our air clean” contest.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

My artwork expresses how pollution spoils our environment and ways to stop the pollution and be a solution.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

If our air is clean, people and nature stay healthy.

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

Yes, I do walking and biking.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I feel very happy.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

I am hoping my artwork inspires some of the people and will start working on stopping pollution.

Anything else you’d like to share.

Everyone should take a pledge to stop the pollution and be a solution.

Middle School Winner – Evie Frain | Weddington Middle School | Weddington, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I entered this contest with the purpose to show the progression of pollution, because it is commonly seen as something intangible. People often think that climate change, pollution, and global warming are far off in the future, when in reality they aren’t.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

My artwork is meant to express that the current rate of fossil fuel burning is dangerous to both the lives of humans and the environment.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

To me, “keep our air clean” stresses the importance of conscientious efforts today. Clean air is needed for all living organisms, so the viability of the future depends on us acting now. 

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

I try to carpool and limit the amount of places I have to go.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I was surprised, I had never expected to win. I only put my artwork into the contest because I am passionate about switching to clean energy.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

I hope people will rethink some of their own personal uses of fossil fuels and find a way to limit them.

Anything else you’d like to share.

Besides limiting fossil fuels, it’s also environmentally beneficial to recycle and reuse items.

High School Winner – Emilyn Haddock | Broughton High School | Raleigh, NC 

Why did you want to enter the contest?

​The reason why I wanted to enter the contest was to get the chance to express my artwork. There are rare times in my life I was able to have a chance to submit my artwork into a contest. Usually when I enter my creations, I do it for the sole purpose of expressing my work and have a chance for someone to review. It is nice to see my artwork being appreciated and to be seen by people.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

​My meaning behind my artwork is to have a conscious decision between riding your bike to work or to your local grocery store then potentially spending more money on gas and burn more carbon fuel.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

​The phrase “keep our air clean” means that keeping toxic fumes in our air we breathe. We take clean air for granted and if we don’t appreciate and take measures of keeping it clean, masks will be more ingrained to our daily routine then the pandemic. It is important to keep our air clean because having unclean air can cause health problems, terrible living conditions and people with breathing conditions will have a much harder time going outside. Keeping our air clean also means some caring about other peoples health by going to measures of reducing carbon fuel and debris in the air.

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

​Yes! I have bought my own bicycle so that I can easily travel to my local stores. Recently, I have the responsibility of buying grocery items for my parents to make dinner so having a bike makes it 10 times more faster to get to my destination and 10 times more fun.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

​It was actually two months after I found out that I won the contest. I wish I found out sooner because I was traveling with my parents over the summer outside of America, so my phone was practically dead. Having to find out now is pretty exciting and gave me butterflies in my stomach.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

​I hope that the next time they drive by my billboard, they would’ve use their bikes or scooters instead for the next time they wanna go out. Riding your bike is a totally different experience than just driving your car.

Anything else you’d like to share.

​The last thing I wanted to share is, I hope my local government makes more sidewalks or bike lanes for bikers like me that can travel more openly and safer for me to travel. As much as I want to make a good decision on riding my bike instead of driving, I cannot take full advantage of riding my bike to father destinations if there is no extended sidewalks for me to go. If they’re more sidewalks, I my prediction will be that more people will be willing to walk or use their scooters then traveling with cars.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

​It was actually two months after I found out that I won the contest. I wish I found out sooner because I was traveling with my parents over the summer outside of America, so my phone was practically dead. Having to find out now is pretty exciting and gave me butterflies in my stomach.

Anything else you’d like to share.

​The last thing I wanted to share is, I hope my local government makes more sidewalks or bike lanes for bikers like me that can travel more openly and safer for me to travel. As much as I want to make a good decision on riding my bike instead of driving, I cannot take full advantage of riding my bike to father destinations if there is no extended sidewalks for me to go. If they’re more sidewalks, I my prediction will be that more people will be willing to walk or use their scooters then traveling with cars.

Thank you to all you participated in the 2022 Student Art Contest!

Vote Now: 2022 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Polls Open

The polls are open for the “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest – vote now for your favorites!

Vote for your favorite art in each age category (kindergarten through high school). Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep our air clean. Examples: walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, using electric vehicles or biofuels, and more.

Winners in each category will be featured on billboards across the state!

The contest poll closes at 11:59 p.m. this Sunday, May 22.

Winners will be announced soon. Stay tuned on nccleantech.ncsu.edu and FuelWhatMatters.org. For more information or any questions, email Amira Ferjani at aferjan@ncsu.edu.

Vote Now

DEADLINE EXTENDED THROUGH MAY 13: Submit Your Artwork for the 2022 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

North Carolina students from kindergarten through high school can submit their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state

Show how you can help keep the air clean for Earth Day this year! Submissions will now be accepted through Friday, May 13 at 11:59pm.

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has officially launched the 5th Annual “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest, where students in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school can submit their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state!

Students’ artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep our air clean. Examples include walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, using electric vehicles or biofuels, and more. Please make artwork family-friendly, non-partisan and non-copyrighted. You can learn about the alternatives at cleantransportation.org or fuelwhatmatters.org or see examples from past winners and best practices for art submissions here.

Students now have until Friday, May 13 at 11:59 to submit their artwork. Please read the rules below to find out how to submit your artwork. Public voting will begin on Monday, May 16 and last through Monday, May 23 – stay tuned for a link to vote once submissions have closed!

For more information or questions please email Amira Ferjani at aferjan@ncsu.edu

Winners will be announced in June. Stay tuned on www.facebook.com/NCCleanTech and www.FuelWhatMatters.org!

GUIDELINES & SPECIFICATIONS

The winner will be chosen based on:

  • Relevance and appropriateness of the message, as determined by the contest judges
  • Visual design, as determined by the contest judges
  • Public votes on our Facebook account

ARTWORK SPECIFICATIONS

Artwork in a more horizontal rectangular shape (about the shape of a billboard) is recommended.

Recommended dimensions:

  • 400h x 840w pixels at 72 ppi
  • 400h x 1400w pixels at 72 ppi 
  • Save as JPG, PNG or BMP at maximum quality in RGB mode

Note: Make sure to leave space in the submission to include the “Keep Our Air Clean” tagline on the final billboards if it is not incorporated into your artwork.

RULES

  1. Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles.
  2. Please make artwork family-friendly, non-partisan and non-copyrighted.
  3. Only one entry per student is allowed and all submissions must be made via the submission form or by emailing Amira Ferjani at aferjan@ncsu.edu.
  4. Teachers may submit artwork on behalf of their students through email or the submission form; all artwork submitted must return a signed permission form with each submission.
  5. Artists who are over 18 or parents/legal guardians submitting on behalf of their children can submit artwork in one of two ways:
    1. You may email artwork directly to Amira Ferjani at  aferjan@ncsu.edu, please include a signed permission form with each submission.
    2. You may submit artwork via the Facebook submission poll. By submitting this work, you will be agreeing to the legal terms listed below. 
Legal Terms
By submitting this photograph, image, graphic, or video (collectively the “work”) you hereby agree to the following:
  • You certify and warrant that you are the legal guardian of the minor who is submitting the artwork or are the artist and are legally an adult.
  • You certify and warrant that the work is your work or your child’s own original creative work and does not violate or infringe the copyright or other proprietary or intellectual property rights of others.
  • You retain all copyright and equivalent rights but grant permission for NC State to use, reproduce, distribute, and/or release the work to the public in any manner and in any medium without payment of any fee, and in perpetuity.  
  • North Carolina State University reserves the right to use contestants’ names and works for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes, including website or exhibition of winning entries. You understand that the works will be shared with reporters covering these awards and for promotion of the competition itself. You hereby give North Carolina State University nonexclusive rights to use yours or your child’s name, likenesses, quotes and submissions for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes. This includes but is not limited to website display, print materials and exhibits.
  • You hereby agree to indemnify NC State, its trustees, officers, agents, and employees, from any and all claims, demands, and liabilities (including attorneys’ fees) incurred as a result of a final judgment or settlement or any claim or legal proceeding arising out of or resulting from a breach or claimed breach of the foregoing representations and warranties.

Best Practices for Submitting Artwork for the 2022 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

North Carolina students from kindergarten through high school are invited to submit their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state!

This Earth Day, you can show us how you help keep the air clean! 

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) recently announced the 5th Annual “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest will begin accepting submissions on Monday, March 14, 2022. Students residing in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school can submit their artwork focused on the theme of actions that individual families can take to reduce the amount of air pollution from vehicles. Before the contest launches next week, NCCETC wanted to share best practices for students to use so their artwork can shine through in their submissions.

ABOUT THE “KEEP OUR AIR CLEAN” STUDENT ART CONTEST

Heather Brutz, Finance & Operations Manager of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC, and leader of the Student Art Contest, said her goals were to educate the public about steps we can take to improve air quality, as well as engage young people’s creative talents to help get the word out.

Students are asked to create art focused on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep the air clean. Examples include walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, using biofuels, electric vehicles, and more. You can learn about the alternatives at cleantransportation.org or fuelwhatmatters.org

See some examples from students whose artwork has won in the past:

Ashleigh Smith’s artwork was selected as the winning high school submission in the 2021 Student Art Contest for her creative combination of personal storytelling and visual skill to portray how she keeps our air clean. 

Smith featured a greenway near her house that she often visits with her family in her submission. “I was inspired by that greenway and my brother’s love for mountain biking to create a piece that incorporated both and displayed a love for the beauty of nature and the outdoors, which will hopefully help convince people to help keep their air clean,” Smith said. 

In 2019, Adriana Ryder’s artwork was the middle school winner for the Student Art Contest. Ryder focused on reducing pollution from driving in her submission. She explained, “Car-based pollution is one of the most common ways we are poisoning our air. Instead of driving, we could walk or bike- not only will it be keeping our air clean, but it is good exercise!”

Both Smith and Ryder’s artwork convey the “keep our air clean” theme with engaging subjects that show how someone can support it themselves. 

Since the winning artwork is displayed on a billboard, students should try to keep their artwork clear and uncluttered to make it easily comprehensible from a distance. A clear and captivating subject can also aid a student in receiving more votes during the public voting period NCCETC hosts after submissions close. Last year, Smith’s artwork (pictured to the left; photo originally from Cary Academy) was the most popular for high school submissions and gained over 300 votes from the public. 

It is also recommended that students use bright or high-contrast colors to make their artwork clear. Drivers passing by billboards on the highway only have a few seconds to grasp the message, so keeping the focus simple will make the artwork more effective.

GUIDELINES & SPECIFICATIONS

The winner will be chosen based on:

  • Relevance and appropriateness of the message, as determined by the contest judges
  • Visual design, as determined by the contest judges
  • Public votes on our Facebook account

ARTWORK SPECIFICATIONS

Artwork in a more horizontal rectangular shape (about the shape of a billboard) is recommended.

Recommended dimensions:

  • 400h x 840w pixels at 72 ppi
  • 400h x 1400w pixels at 72 ppi 
  • Save as JPG, PNG or BMP at maximum quality in RGB mode

Note: Make sure to leave space in the submission to include the “Keep Our Air Clean” tagline on the final billboards if it is not incorporated into your artwork.

RULES

  1. Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles.
  2. Please make artwork family-friendly, non-partisan and non-copyrighted.
  3. Only one entry per student is allowed and all submissions must be made via the submission form or by email.
  4. Teachers may submit artwork on behalf of their students through email or the submission form; all artwork submitted must return a signed permission form. 
  5. Artists who are over 18 or parents/legal guardians submitting on behalf of their children via email must include a signed permission form for each submission. 

The official link and email to submit photos will be posted on March 14! Stay tuned on www.facebook.com/NCCleanTech and www.FuelWhatMatters.org!

Eastern Band of Cherokee Adding Four All-Electric School Buses thanks to US EPA DERA Grant Funds

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) are leading the way with cleaner student transportation in North Carolina.  Following their groundbreaking award of VW Settlement funds for a new electric school bus last year, this year EBCI received notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of an award for 4 additional electric school buses.  EBCI will be replacing 5 diesel school buses with 4 new electric buses in collaboration with the Cherokee Boys Club (CBC) and the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC).  This latest award marks The Eastern Band as the first tribe east of the Mississippi to be awarded grant funding through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Program administered by the EPA.

To assist EBCI in writing their grant, NCCETC staff provided emissions quantifications to examine the potential reduction in air pollution from the retirement of older polluting buses, and the deployment of new zero-emission electric school buses.  NCCETC also assisted EBCI in teaming with Duke Energy, a crucial funding partner who is supporting this project in partial fulfillment of their Electric Transportation Pilot.  Long-term, NCCETC will be providing ongoing technical support to EBCI and CBC’s transportation division, which operates the bus system for Cherokee Central Schools on the Qualla Boundary.

“We’re really excited to be able to support EBCI and CBC staff through the entire process of retiring the old diesel buses and getting the new electric buses onto the road,” said John Bonitz, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC. “The EPA has a very detailed process for scrapping old buses that has to be completed within 90 days of receipt of the new buses – afterall, we all want to remove these polluting vehicles from the road permanently.”

NCCETC will guide EBCI and the CBC transportation division through the disabling and scrapping process and will assist in properly documenting the operation.  Additionally, NCCETC will draft quarterly reports for the entire project period, quantifying the emissions reductions for the electric school buses and analyzing the total project cost effectiveness as well as gallons of diesel fuel saved.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have a long tradition of stewardship and the EBCI Natural Resources Department (ECBI NRD) is committed to protecting and preserving natural resources for generations to come. For example, for nearly a decade, the CBC has been making biodiesel from waste fryer oil and using that fuel to displace petroleum diesel.  Since 2012 CBC’s school buses run on a B20 blend (20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent diesel) with their own locally made biodiesel.  Also, the EBCI Air Quality Program (AQP) helps monitor air conditions in order to maintain clean and healthy air quality for EBCI lands and the surrounding area.  The Cherokee Boys Club works with the EBCI AQP to achieve ambient air pollution reduction and environmental protection.  As a rural community, mobile emissions from vehicles and buses are a major focus point for EBCI to help reduce the harmful impacts of diesel emissions.  The primary contributor of NOx on EBCI lands are mobile sources (93 percent), according to EBCI NRD.

Another benefit from the replacement of old buses is the reduction of fine particulates from diesel exhaust that scatters sunlight and creates the haze that obscures mountain vistas on EBCI lands. “This improvement in visibility will help our tourism industry and increase our visitor experience,” explains EBCI NRD.

EBCI added its first electric bus to its fleet in 2021 after being awarded grant funds from the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Diesel Bus and Vehicle Programs, which was a part of Phase 1 of the Volkswagen Mitigation Plan. EBCI was the first organization in North Carolina to receive an electric school bus from the state’s VW Mitigation Plan along with charging infrastructure to power the vehicle.

“Diesel school buses drive through every neighborhood, every week, to transport Cherokee Central School students,” Bonitz said.  The four all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley buses funded by the grant have zero tailpipe emissions, and emissions reduced through the retirement of diesel buses in the EBCI communities will especially improve local air quality on neighborhood streets, heavily trafficked roads, and on school campuses.

On top of the harmful effects to public health caused by diesel exhaust, emissions from diesel engines also contribute to ground-level ozone, which damages crops, trees and other vegetation.  DERA supports environmental justice by prioritizing emissions reductions in areas receiving disproportionate impacts from diesel fleets to provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards.

The DERA Program was originally created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which gave the EPA new grant and loan authority for promoting diesel emissions reductions.  DERA was reauthorized in 2020 and includes up to $100 million annually in award grants and rebates to achieve diesel emissions reductions through 2024.  According to the EPA, there are nearly ten million old diesel engines currently still in use in the United States that commit large amounts of carbon emissions, which contribute to serious public health problems, including asthma, lung disease and various other cardiac and respiratory diseases.

Electric buses have already shown lower operational costs throughout the country due to reduced fuel expenses, eliminated fluid changes, and fewer mechanical parts.  School children, however, can benefit from the reduced noise and vibrations electric school buses cause, making the ride more pleasant for the whole community.

2021 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Winners Share Their Story

In the fourth year of the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC)’s “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest, students in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school submitted their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state. Students were asked to create art focused on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep the air clean. NCCETC congratulated three artists located in Black Mountain, Hampstead and Cary, N.C.

Heather Brutz, Finance & Operations Manager of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC, and leader of the art contest, said her goals were to educate the public about what steps we can take to improve air quality, as well as engage young people’s creative talents to help get the word out. Brutz said she originally came up with the Student Art Contest while recalling a previous job as a middle school teacher and hoped that the contest would engage young people’s creativity to help spread the message about ways we can reduce air pollution from vehicles. 

“When I was a teacher, I would often try to engage students in a variety of different ways to teach a lesson. I applied that same thinking when I came up with the idea of the art contest. I wanted to engage a different audience than we sometimes engage in our other educational activities and I wanted to engage them in a different sort of activity than what we were already doing,” Brutz explained. “Artwork is so powerful and I wanted to work together with young artists to spread the message about ways we can keep our air clean.”

This year’s artwork was judged by a panel of four judges: Carla Davis, communications coordinator for NC State University’s Sustainability Office; Erin Champion, academic coordinator for the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State University; Traci Rider, assistant professor of architecture in the College of Design at NC State University; and Vincent Fazzio from Lamar Advertising. All of the winners selected by the judges were also voted in the top three artwork in their categories on NCCETC’s Facebook page.

The Center received a great number of submissions from students across the state. Brutz said, “I am very pleased at the number of submissions we received this year. We received 70 art submissions from all across North Carolina. It was a very competitive contest, and while we were only able to choose three winners to have their artwork displayed on billboards, every single young artist who submitted should feel proud of their artwork.”

We talked to winners of the contest about their artwork and what clean air means to them:

Ella Millwood – Elementary School Winner | Black Mountain Elementary School, Black Mountain, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I wanted to enter because I wanted everyone to see what the world could become. 

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

That people should help keep our air clean.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

I think it is important because if the air is really polluted, we wouldn’t be able to breathe and there would be very little life on earth.

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, etc?

We walk and carpool whenever possible. 

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I was surprised! I didn’t think I would actually win.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

People to stop polluting our air and realize what the world could be.

Anything else you’d like to share.

I think that’s all!

Vivienne Butanis – Middle School Winner | Surf City Middle School, Hampstead, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I wanted to enter the Student Art Contest because I wanted to express my disdain for the way we are treating our environment. It was an art class assignment to connect our art class to science. It was a way for me to see how I could interpret the current conditions of our environment into an art piece. 

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

My artwork is trying to express how badly we are currently treating the environment. My artwork depicts our earth from two points of view: the first point of view shows where the air is polluted, and another point of view of how our environment might look if taken better care of.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

Keeping our air clean is important to me because at the rate we are burning fossil fuels and destroying the ozone layer, the earth won’t be inhabitable much longer which is a big part of why taking care of the environment is vital. We are not protecting the environment for just ourselves but for generations to come.

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, etc?

I like to ride my bike and skateboard so I can get to places without having to increase my carbon footprint. It’s easier to get around in a coastal community only using a skateboard and a bike.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I was very surprised and happy because I saw this contest as a good opportunity to put myself out there. My teacher says that art is not meant to be hidden in a drawer. We should put our work out there to cause a change. Sometimes that change is as simple as a thought.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

I hope that people can see the current state of our environment and strive to make it better. Hopefully it will spark a change in everyone. We can not do everything but we can all do something.

Anything else you’d like to share.

Thank you for the opportunity of this contest that allows us to connect and reach people outside of our communities. 

Ashleigh Smith – High School Winner | Cary Academy, Cary, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I entered the contest because I thought that it provided a unique opportunity to spread an important message, and as an artist I really love to use my artwork to help out in my community if I can. It was also just really fun to make!

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

There is a really nice greenway near my house and my family and I love to use it to get some exercise or a breath of fresh air by walking, running, skateboarding, or riding our bikes. I was inspired by that greenway and my brother’s love for mountain biking to create a piece that incorporated both and displayed a love for the beauty of nature and the outdoors, which will hopefully help convince people to help keep their air clean.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

The state of our environment is more important to how we live our lives than I think a lot of people realize. If we care for our environment, it will care for us too and that can be as simple as carpooling with a friend or riding your bike to the store instead of driving. 

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, etc?

Yes! I take regular walks with my mom around our neighborhood, and I always try to organize a carpool when going someplace with friends because it’s both environmentally-friendly and fun.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I was so surprised, I couldn’t believe it! Everyone who submitted artwork is really talented and I’m glad that my work could be among theirs as well. 

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

I hope that it will inspire people to see the beauty and opportunities that nature holds, and further strive to understand how and why we need to take care of the air. 

Anything else you’d like to share.

Special thanks to my brother for modeling for me, as he is actually the person on the bike silhouetted in my art piece. He let me take pictures of him riding and then I used them to create my work.

Submit Your Artwork for the 2020 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

Due to interruptions caused by COVID-19, we have extended the submission deadline to around the end of the 2020 school year, Friday, June 12, to give students more time to submit their art.

Unfortunately, as of right now due to recent funding changes, Student Art Contest winners’ art will no longer be able to be featured on billboards this year. Winners in each category will still be featured in a blog post and receive a special certificate for their achievement. We apologize for the changes and any inconvenience this may have caused. 

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has officially launched the 3rd Annual “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest, where students in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school can submit their artwork to show how to keep the air clean.  Winners will be featured in a blog post and receive special certificates.

Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep our air clean. Examples include walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, using electric vehicles or biofuels, and more. Please make artwork family-friendly, non-partisan and non-copyrighted. You can learn about the alternatives at cleantransportation.org or fuelwhatmatters.org.

The winner will be chosen based on:
• Relevance and appropriateness of the message
• Visual design
• Public votes on our Facebook account (link to vote to come once all submissions are received)

See last year’s winners here.

Art submissions will be accepted through Friday, June 12. Please submit here or by emailing Nicole Wilson at nadeck@ncsu.edu. Public voting will begin on Monday, June 15 and last through Sunday, June 21 – stay tuned for a link to vote once all submissions are received!

Artists who are over 18 or parents/legal guardians submitting on behalf of their children can submit artwork by directly emailing Nicole Wilson at nadeck@ncsu.edu. You are agreeing to the legal terms below. Teachers submitting artwork on behalf of their students must return a signed permission form.

Winners will be announced in July. Stay tuned on nccleantech.ncsu.edu and FuelWhatMatters.org!

For more information or any questions, email Nicole Wilson at nadeck@ncsu.edu.

Legal Terms
By submitting this photograph, image, graphic, or video (collectively the “work”) you hereby agree to the following:
• You certify and warrant that you are the legal guardian of the minor who is submitting the artwork or are the artist and are legally an adult.
• 
You certify and warrant that the work is your work or your child’s own original creative work and does not violate or infringe the copyright or other proprietary or intellectual property rights of others.
• 
You retain all copyright and equivalent rights but grant permission for NC State to use, reproduce, distribute, and/or release the work to the public in any manner and in any medium without payment of any fee, and in perpetuity.
• 
North Carolina State University reserves the right to use contestants’ names and works for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes, including website or exhibition of winning entries. You understand that the works will be shared with reporters covering these awards and for promotion of the competition itself. You hereby give North Carolina State University nonexclusive rights to use yours or your child’s name, likenesses, quotes and submissions for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes. This includes but is not limited to website display, print materials and exhibits.
• 
You hereby agree to indemnify NC State, its trustees, officers, agents, and employees, from any and all claims, demands, and liabilities (including attorneys’ fees) incurred as a result of a final judgment or settlement or any claim or legal proceeding arising out of or resulting from a breach or claimed breach of the foregoing representations and warranties.

Winners announced for the “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest

The winners of the second annual “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest have been officially announced! Artwork will appear on billboards around North Carolina.

Elementary School Winner

Elizabeth Leonard | Fourth Grade | Grace Classical School, Jacksonville NC

 

Middle School Winner

Adriana Ryder | Eighth Grade | Arbor Academy, Waxhaw, NC.

 

High School Winner

Catalina Scott | Northwest School of the Arts | Charlotte, NC.

 

College Winner

Megan McLaughlin | Freshman | Wake Tech Community College | Raleigh, NC.

 

Thank you to all who participated!

Vote Now: “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Polls Open

The polls are open for the “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest – vote now for your favorites!

Vote for your favorite art in each age category (kindergarten through college). Artwork should focus on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep our air clean. Examples: walking, biking, using public transportation, using electric vehicles or biofuels, and more.

Winners in each category will be featured on billboards across the state!

The contest poll closes at midnight this Sunday, May 12.

Winners will be announced soon. Stay tuned on nccleantech.ncsu.edu and FuelWhatMatters.org. For more information or any questions, email Heather Brutz at hmbrutz@ncsu.edu.

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