Clean Construction Strategies

Diesel exhaust is a complex mixture of pollutants including particulate matter (soot), nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds which contribute to smog and a range of health problems. The City of Charlotte is committed to minimizing potential negative impacts from diesel emissions to construction workers, the communities around the construction site, and to regional air quality. Contractors performing work at city construction sites are therefore encouraged to implement the following five strategies:

Idle reduction

Less idling means fuel savings, extended engine life, and a cleaner work environment for equipment operators. Contractors should establish and implement an idle-reduction policy (five minutes recommended);

  • reward operators for reduced idling;

  • track fuel usage and cost savings; and

  • encourage operators to follow manufacturer-recommended warm-up and cool-down periods.

Clean air zones

Contractors should be aware of the immediate communities in which they operate, and they are encouraged to establish "clean air zones" at sensitive air quality receptors such as hospitals, schools, parks, nursing homes and daycare centers. When working near such properties, contractors are especially encouraged to turn off engines instead of idling and minimize the long-term placement or operation of diesel equipment such as generators and fuel tanks nearby such properties.

Operator training and preventative maintenance

Proper training and maintenance help avoid costly equipment failures, maximizes fuel efficiency and extends engine life. A well-maintained engine runs more cleanly. Contractors should do the following:

  • address equipment problems promptly;

  • follow manufacturer-recommended preventive maintenance practices;

  • track preventive maintenance needs, schedules and warranty specifications;

  • inspect equipment daily and address any problems immediately; and

  • recognize that a smoking engine might indicate a problem that decreases efficiency.

ULSD fuel/biodiesel fuel

Contractors should use ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) or biodiesel fuel. ULSD is now widely available and required by federal EPA for use in diesel engines. Biodiesel is increasingly available in the Charlotte market.

Engine or vehicle retrofit/replacement

To the extent practical, Contractors are encouraged to utilize Tier 4 diesel engines at City construction sites. Information on the EPA Tier program may be found at USEPA non-road diesel engines.

In 2007, Mecklenburg County Air Quality initiated an air pollution control program called GRADE or Grants to Replace Aging Diesel Engines. GRADE is designed to reduce nitrogen, an ozone forming air pollutant, by providing funding incentives to replace or repower heavy-duty non-road equipment with newer, cleaner, less polluting engines. Additional information may be found at LUESA: GRADE: Grants to replace aging diesel engines.