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Air Quality Stewardship Awards
Air Quality Stewardship Awards
Through its annual Air Quality Stewardship Awards, the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) recognizes businesses, agencies, schools, and other organizations whose outstanding voluntary efforts help to reduce air pollution.  Both an organization as a whole or a specific project that an organization has undertaken are eligible for this award.  The 2016 Air Quality Stewardship Awardees are listed below, along with just a few of the many accomplishments for which their air quality stewardship is recognized:

Organization: The DoSeum: San Antonio’s Museum for Kids
Description/Background: After 20 years in a downtown San Antonio location, the San Antonio Children’s Museum morphed into the DoSeum and opened in a new location in June 2015 near Brackenridge Park, where it emphasizes learning by doing. The museum was designed to be an extension of Brackenridge Park, incorporating 30,000 square feet of outside area, and extensively using natural light. Built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standards, the museum features a wide array of sustainable design features. 
Accomplishments:
  • It supports bicycle commuting by proving bike racks, lockers and showers; encourages carpooling; and reserves several parking spaces in employee parking lot for LE/FE cars
  • It has 616 280-Watt Photovoltaic panels that provide about 20% of its power needs
  • Its energy-efficiency features include LED lighting controlled by a computerized efficiency management tool, light colored roof, protective sheeting on west side of buildings to decrease radiant heat, UV protection on all windows, HVAC software to control temperature and humidity
  • Its water conservation and irrigation system can collect up to 33,000 gallons of water per year from the heating and cooling systems, along with street and parking lot runoff
  • It suspends the use of gasoline-powered landscaping equipment on Ozone Action Days
  • It provides air quality education to employees including Ozone Action Day alert notification availability, distribution of informational materials on ozone’s health effects, and on-site education on emissions reduction

Project: A-AAAKey Mini Storage Solar Energy Project
Organization: Brundage Management Company

Description/Background: Over the past few years, Brundage Management Company has installed 1.1 megawatts of solar energy systems on 13 of its San Antonio area A-AAAKey Mini Storage facilities with a 14th site to be added in 2016, to reduce the cost of electricity and support local renewable energy initiatives. The installed capacity of the system is 1,006 kW or 1.006 megawatts and by early 2016 further expansion will bring the total to 1.184 megawatts. The lifetime of this project is estimated at 40 years.
Accomplishments: Brundage Management Company is the largest owner of distributed, net-metered solar energy systems in the CPS Energy service territory. The electricity usage has been reduced by 75% across the portfolio of A-AAAKey Mini Storage sites using solar energy. It is estimated that the total amount of energy saved in 2015 was 1,308,977 KW hours. The amount of ozone-forming nitrogen oxides saved from the air by the portfolio was 3.27 tons. (Carbon dioxide emissions saved was about 916.3 tons.)

Project: ECHO Data Center
Organization: CPS Energy

Description/Background: The ECHO Data Center replaces three older, less reliable, energy-inefficient CPS Energy data centers. It is designed to handle any plausible IT support requirements through 2035. During its life, ECHO is expected to achieve a Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) of less than 1.4 while the older data centers have a PUE of 2.0 or more.   A major reason for ECHO’s higher efficiency is the use of pumped refrigerant for IT cabinet cooling, rather than conventional air conditioning. Because cooling the IT equipment is the second largest use of electricity in a data center (the IT electrical consumption is the largest), ECHO uses significantly less energy than other data centers of its size. Less energy demand directly impacts air emissions, reducing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other pollutants.
Accomplishments: ECHO became operational in May 2015 and CPS Energy’s IT operations are continuing to migrate into ECHO during 2016. ECHO should provide a net reduction of 500 KW of electricity consumption on a continuous basis by late 2016 (or over 4 million KW hours annually), as the old data centers it replaces are decommissioned and shut down. The amount of reduction of nitrogen oxides in a year’s time will be about 10 tons. (The amount of CO2 emissions reduction in a year’s time will be 2900 tons.) As computing requirements continue to grow beyond 2016, ECHO’s greater capacity and efficiency will enable CPS Energy to triple its computing load with no net increase in electricity consumption, compared to 2015.

Project: RideShare and vCommuter Center Program
Organization: Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA)
Description/Background: Based on an agreement with the Alamo Area Council of Governments, Enterprise Rent-a-Car Rideshare, VIA Metropolitan Transit, and vRide Incorporated, JBSA’s 502nd Air Base Wing (ABW) initiated the Rideshare and vCommuter Center Program in 2015, to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, and to expand commuting alternatives for government employees. As a part of this initiative, it set up a Website area that provides information on the Mass Transit Benefit Program (MTBP) , current transportation options, and links to corresponding services, such as NuRide and AACOG’s CARE program. JBSA is the first Joint Base in the Department of Defense to encourage the use of mass transportation for commuting to and/or from work by establishing and promoting a virtual commuter center and ridesharing program.
Accomplishments: By the end of 2015, JBSA had 134 VIA vanpools enrolled in the JBSA RideShare Program. The savings in vehicle miles traveled with 134 vanpools is about 6.6 million per year, which would keep about 5 tons of nitrogen oxides from our air (and 3000 tons of carbon dioxide). JBSA aims to increase the number of vanpools by 50 percent by December 2016. In addition to focusing on vanpooling, it has partnered with VIA to expand weekend express bus service from JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Fort Sam Houston to the downtown San Antonio USO. With more than 1,000 JBSA personnel using the service every weekend, the “JBSA Express” is proving to be a viable alternative to the use of private vehicles. There are also plans to add B-Cycle, Lyft and Uber to the vCommuter Center focus.

Project: University Hospital Sky Tower
Organization: University Health System

Description/Background: In 2014, University Health System completed its new million-square-foot Sky Tower, an expansion and redesign of University Hospital that doubled its size. It was designed with both occupant health and resource conservation as the driving strategies. It uses 22 percent less energy than a standard building and less water than the previous hospital that was half the size of the new hospital. The project achieved LEED New Construction v2.2 Gold with 40 total points, and is the second LEED BD+C Certified Gold hospital in Texas and the fortieth nationwide.
Accomplishments: The highly efficient HVAC system includes multiple set-back controls and an optimized central plant containing heat pump chillers. Coupled with an optimized exterior glazing system and a 25 percent reduction in interior lighting power, 2,419,300 KW hours per year are expected to be saved. This savings equates to 6 tons of nitrogen oxides (and about 1,694 tons of carbon dioxide). In the building process, 40 percent of the material was locally sourced and over 30 percent of the material contained recycled content. This reduced emissions that would have otherwise been used to produce and ship the materials selected.

Project: VIA VILLA: Centro Plaza
Organization: VIA Metropolitan Transit
Description/Background: VIA’s core mission is to provide an alternative mode of transportation (i.e., transit) and Centro Plaza, which opened in November 2015 just west of downtown San Antonio, supports that mission by functioning as transfer station for VIA buses. It goes far beyond that basic function, however, by offering an improved, more efficient level of transit service and rider experience; enhancing the downtown environment to support residential and mixed-use development; and set a standard as a model transit agency for sustainability efforts. It is designed not only to provide transit-dependent customers with additional transit offerings/connections, but also to attract more individuals who have the means to commute in single occupant vehicles to choose to take transit instead (thus reducing vehicle emissions). Planned to accommodate food trucks, entertainment, and serve as a community meeting place, Centro Plaza is designed to be an attractive destination in its own right.
Accomplishments: In addition to features that promote, facilitate, and make transit riding more attractive, the physical design of the plaza incorporates several sustainable elements that also have a positive impact on air quality. For example, it boasts a solar array spread atop a structure that provides shade to patrons and reduces the heat island effect of the pavement. The solar array has a generation capacity of 68 kilowatts, which reduces the load for transit facility use. In addition, the surface of the plaza is sloped and covered with state-of-the-art pervious paver to draw rainwater into an underground storm water catchment system that disperses stored water through a network of underground pipes to 54 cedar elms that were planted on the plaza to offer natural shade and reduce the heat island effect.

The 2016 Air Quality Stewardship Award ceremony took place on April 16, 2016, during the Fiesta Earth Day celebration at Woodlawn Lake Park in San Antonio.

2016 Air Quality Stewardship Award Ceremony
AwardWinners3.jpg
Accepting awards from left to right: David Jaekle for the DoSeum, Colonel Mark Lee and Colonel Michael Gimbrone for Joint Base San Antonio, Charles Lampe for University Health System, Jeffrey Arndt for VIA Metropolitan Transit, William Badger for CPS Energy, and Donna Muse-Marcy for Brundage Management along with AACOG's AIR Executive Committee's Chair Councilman Ron Nirenberg.

About the Air Quality Stewardship Awards
The winners of the annual Air Quality Stewardship Awards are selected by AACOG’s Air Improvement Resources (AIR) Executive Committee, comprised of elected officials from local governments in the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area. Their selections are based on recommendations of the AIR Public Education Committee whose members reviewed information provided by nominated organizations within the AACOG region. The members of the AIR Public Education Committee represent local businesses and government agencies that are also committed to environmental stewardship.

Eligible for an Air Quality Stewardship Award is any organization with a physical presence within the 8-county San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area* that is helping to improve air quality in at least one of the following categories:

Commuter Assistance 
Examples: Offering programs or incentives that encourage employees to use mass transit and/or carpools and offering alternative (off traffic-peak) work schedules .

Fleet Management
Examples: Utilizing alternative-fuel vehicles and hybrids and establishing idle-reduction policies for delivery trucks/vans

Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Building
Examples: Using energy-efficient lighting and equipment in offices and using building materials made from recycled products

Industrial Process Pollution Reduction
Examples: Replacing outdated equipment and retrofitting stacks and furnaces with scrubbers or other control technologies or using low-VOC products in production processes 

Landscaping
Examples: Planting native, drought-resistant foliage and establishing policies that ban the use of gas-powered mowers and other landscaping equipment on Air Quality Health Alert days.

Air Quality Education
Examples: Participating in the region’s Air Quality Health Alert program by forwarding alerts to employees with recommendations for measures they can take to reduce pollution on Air Quality Health Alert days. 

The varying sizes, structures, and missions of nominated organizations are taken into consideration in the selection process.

Nominations for the 2017 Air Quality Stewardship Awards will be accepted from mid September, 2016 through mid November 2016.  A nomination form will be available through this Webpage during that time.  For more information, please contact Annette Prosterman at (210) 362-5213 or .

Air Quality Stewardship Awards in Recent Years
2015 – San Antonio Missions National Park, San Antonio College's Eco Centro Project, Zachry and Skyonic Corporations' Skymine Project
2014 – Bexar County, Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy
2013 – Lake|Flato Architects
2012 – City of Leon Valley, Eagle Veterinary Hospital, HOLT Cat
2011 – Build San Antonio Green, Clothesline Cleaners, Corbo Electric, Episcopal Church of Reconciliation, USAA
2010 – Green Vegetarian Cuisine, Palo Alto College, Pearl Historic Brewery, Sea World
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* The San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA includes Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Medina, and Wilson Counties.