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Northwest orgs. receive national recognition for creative clean air projects

Release Date: 05/13/2009
Contact Information: Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203,

(Seattle, Wash. - May 13, 2009) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored three Pacific Northwest organizations for their innovative projects to improve air quality in the region.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Seattle, Wash., Renaissance Fireplaces of Bellevue, Wash., and the Nez Perce Tribe in Meridian, Idaho are winners of EPA’s Clean Air Excellence Award for air quality improvement programs. Nationwide 15 entities received the award.

The following is a summary of the Pacific Northwest projects:

Cool School Challenge
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Seattle, Wash.

Simple actions, taken together, can create a climate of change. This is the founding principle of the Cool School Challenge, a climate education program that engages students and teachers in practical strategies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions school-wide. The program also encourages student leadership and empowerment, fostering a new generation of air quality advocates.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and partners Puget Sound Energy and Northwest Clean Air Agency built the program around an idea created by environmental science teacher Mike Town and the students of Redmond High School.

In the Cool School Challenge, student teams conduct energy audits of classrooms assessing the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity use, waste and recycling practices, transportation, and heating. Classrooms then pledge to shrink their carbon footprint through simple but effective behavior changes, such as turning off one panel of lights, using durable coffee tumblers instead of disposable cups, or carpooling instead of driving alone. The Web-based program is designed for grades 7-12 and includes a Web site (, a Challenge toolkit, classroom carbon calculator, classroom activities, and supplemental resources.

To introduce the program into schools, the partners offer free teacher training workshops throughout western Washington, which to date have drawn nearly 200 teachers and educators. Subsequently, more than 30 schools have pledged to reduce their carbon footprints, reporting nearly 600,000 pounds in potential greenhouse gas reductions.

Renaissance Rumford 1,000
Renaissance Fireplaces, Bellevue, Wash.

Renaissance Fireplaces has produced the world’s first certified clean burning open fireplace. First introduced to the fireplace industry at the Hearth Patio and BBQ Association trade show in February 2008, the Renaissance Rumford 1,000 has been specifically developed to surpass the low emissions performance requirements of the new ASTM low mass fireplace standard. It incorporates a positive sealing outside air intake, a gasketed guillotine style glass door, and utilizes an insulated chimney to prevent uncontrolled cold air leakage from the chimney system. In addition to surpassing the national standards for woodstove emissions, the Renaissance Rumford fireplace surpasses the most stringent state standard of 4.5 g/hr set by the State of Washington.

Nez Perce Tribe Air Quality Program
Nez Perce Tribe Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Division, Meridian, Idaho

The Nez Perce Tribe Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Division’s Air Quality Program is a model program that has developed and implemented a number of significant innovative air quality programs that go beyond applicable laws and regulations. An example of this leadership is the Nez Perce Tribe’s smoke management program. This program promotes community awareness of air quality concerns in connection with agricultural, open, and forestry burning.

The Nez Perce Tribe’s smoke management program, which has been in place since 2002 in a voluntary capacity, has achieved compliance through collaboration. The policies implemented by the program provide flexibility to the regulated community by allowing input, ownership, and responsibility to them as the affected public. There are also collaborative meetings with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states, and tribes in the region to amend the program’s policies and procedures.

The voluntary nature of the program allowed the agricultural community to prepare for the Federal Air Rules for Reservations (FARR) implementation in 2005. The agricultural community, which initially resisted the new FARR rules, now fully supports the program and is encouraging the State of Idaho to parallel the Nez Perce Tribe’s smoke management program. The vision of the program is that the technical guidance and burn prescriptions will always be living documents to be revisited when warranted to implement changes as necessary.

Information on all award winners:

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EPA HQ's News Release

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA Recognizes Innovation in Clean Air Projects

Contact: Dave Ryan, 202-564-7827 / 4355 /

(Washington, D.C – May 13, 2009) A gardening tool that runs on propane, a climate education program that engages students and teachers in strategies for reducing carbon dioxide emissions at school, and a Tribe’s smoke management program are just three of the winners of EPA’s Clean Air Excellence Awards. For the ninth year, EPA is honoring 15 recipients from across the United States for their environmental achievements in community action, education, and science and technology. These innovative air quality programs provide environmental benefits and create green products and jobs.

“Each year, our Clean Air Excellence Award winners offer amazing new examples of how we keep our air safe and clean,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This year’s winners have built on that tradition of innovation to show what is possible in protecting human health and the environment.”

This year’s award recipients were selected from 125 applicants and represent achievements in five categories: clean air technology, community action, education/outreach, regulatory policy innovations, and outstanding individual achievement.

The awards program, established in 2000 at the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, annually recognizes and honors outstanding innovative efforts to help make progress in achieving cleaner air. Award-winning entries must directly or indirectly reduce pollutant emissions, demonstrate innovation, offer sustainable outcomes, and provide a model for others to follow.

Information on all award winners: