University wins three clean air awards

The university’s efforts to go green are being recognized by North Texas.

The university walked away with three awards granted by the North Texas Clean Air Coalition. The three awards received were Employer of the Year, the Community Impact Award and the Commute Initiatives Award.

“Winning the Employer of the Year Award really shocked me because there is a lot of competition, and for TCU to go across all the categories and win was surprising,” said Dr. Tim Barth, a psychology professor and committee member of the NTCAC.

Ken Morgan, director of the TCU Energy Institute, said the university is a large operation, with 8,000 to 10,000 people working for it.

“When you have that many and you see all the programs because of the student interest, the faculty interest, the Institute of Environmental Studies and the Energy Institute, it added up pretty good on paper,” Morgan said.

Jennifer Cohen , project director for the NTCAC, said TCU is definitely a leader in the Tarrant County area and other businesses call TCU for advice about how they can start implementing cleaner initiatives,

The Commute Initiatives award was received because of the university’s transit pass that gives every faculty, staff and student a free transit pass for the Trinity Railroad Express and the T, the bus system in Fort Worth, Morgan said.

He said the Community Impact Award was based on the university’s effort to work with the community and demonstrate going green on campus by recycling and implementing programs such as the purple bike program.

This is TCU’s first year to take part in the event, and Morgan said he hopes TCU will win even more awards next year. He said the University of Texas at Arlington wants to take part in the competition next year, and he hopes more universities will follow in the clean air effort.

The NTCAC is nonprofit organization designed to reach out to the business community, to educate, engage and recognize it for all their voluntary effort in cleaner initiatives, Cohen said.

She said the NTCAC is compiled of nine counties in the North Texas area. The NTCAC gave out 13 awards and 24 companies competed for the awards, Cohen said.

Air quality in North Texas is not at the level it should be at, according to Environmental Inspection Agency standards and if North Texas can’t get back to EPA standards then there will be sanctions against the area, Barth said.

Cohen said EPA standards only allow a certain number of particles per billion to be emitted into the air in North Texas, such as particles in car smog. The standard is 85 parts per billion. Currently, North Texas emits 92 particles per billion, so Tarrant County does not meet the standard, she said.

In 2010, the EPA plans to adopt an even lower standard of 75 parts per billion, Cohen said.

The university has initiated many programs on campus to help meet EPA standards and contribute to clean air, Barth said.