ORLANDO, Florida – With a combination of technology, policy, outreach and operating efficiency, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) had a major positive impact on our region’s air quality during the current fiscal year. All told, since July 2013, the district has avoided more than 16 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, while also saving more than $2 million.
This significant work helped OCPS receive the Central Florida Clean Air Team’s 2014 Clean Air Award. The breadth of the school district’s sustainability efforts, which included a large transportation component, impressed one of the judges as “great implementation of several practical changes that have a huge impact.”
Among OCPS’ accomplishments is air-purification technology, installed in eight district construction projects, that saves energy by reducing the amount of air-conditioning needed and also improves the quality of the indoor air by removing bacteria and mold. OCPS also made a commitment to safely remove all asbestos to protect the environment and improve the quality of indoor air in district buildings.
OCPS has an extensive clean-air effort aimed at transportation, which includes use of biodiesel fuel, more efficient bus routes and a “no-idling” policy to save fuel and emissions. Add to this an aggressive recycling program and a wide-reaching public awareness campaign for sustainability, and it’s easy to see why the judges were impressed.
Receiving Clean Air Honorable Mentions for this year are Orange County Government’s Get Ready Central Florida – Electric Transportation Initiative and the Valencia College Climate Action Commitment. These organizations also demonstrated a significant impact on regional air quality by cutting automobile emissions and providing multi-pronged approaches to contribute to cleaner air. Both Honorable Mention Awardees also conducted energetic education campaigns to raise awareness of environmental concerns associated with clean air.
The Clean Air Team, a volunteer coalition of government, businesses, and citizens, works to improve air quality in Central Florida through outreach and education. Each year, in May, the team presents a deserving business or organization with the Clean Air Award to coincide with Clean Air Month. Judging is based on innovation and uniqueness, direct or indirect efforts to reduce emissions, providing a model for others to follow, and sustainability. Previous winners include The City of Casselberry, reThink Your Commute, LYNX’s Biodiesel Blending Facility and the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
The 2014 Clean Air Award will be presented to OCPS on June 24 at the 5:30 p.m. Orange County School Board meeting in the School Board Meeting Room of the Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center, 445 W. Amelia St., in downtown Orlando. Individual events are being held for the Honorable Mention awardees.
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About the Central Florida Clean Air Team
The Central Florida Clean Air Team is a partnership of government, business organizations, and individuals all working together to improve air quality in our community. The group encourages everyone to do their part by developing and practicing clean air habits. The Team is a partnership of MetroPlan Orlando, the region’s transportation planning organization. For more information, visit www.cleanairteam.org or call 407.481.5672.