The Associated General Contractors of Greater Florida in partnership with a coalition of construction associations in the Southeast will invest more than $1.6 million over the next two years to cut diesel emissions from off-road construction equipment that is currently in use. The U.S. EPA has awarded the National Funding Assistance Program grant to the Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association to support voluntary diesel retrofit efforts by AGC of Greater Florida contractors and other diesel users across Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
“We don’t just want to rebuild Florida’s economy, we want to rebuild our commitment to this state’s national treasures,” said Richard Marshall, the association’s president. “The industry is committed to building a better, greener, and more prosperous future for Floridians.”
Due to the federal grant and the coalition’s cost-sharing plan, AGC of Greater Florida members currently are being offered rebates and education support to facilitate equipment upgrades and cleaner operations. Assistance is being provided on a competitive first-come, first-served basis, according to priorities outlined in an application that has been circulated to members of the coalition associations. The coalition expects to retrofit or replace more than 200 pieces of construction equipment and train more than 300 individuals from its member companies over the next two years.
“Contractors are helping to boost our economy, and they’re committed to doing so in an environmentally friendly way,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America. “Our goal is to make digging in the brown dirt as green as possible.”
Sandherr said that the construction industry was investing in cleaner equipment to build on its already impressive record of safeguarding the environment. He noted for example that while the construction industry accounts for more than 8 percent of national GDP, its equipment contributes less than 1 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. He added that EPA currently is awarding National Funding Assistance Program grants totaling more than $60 million through its fiscal years 2009 and 2010 budget funds to eligible entities like AGC chapters to help construction companies, among others, to reduce emissions from the existing fleet of diesel engines nationwide.
Overall, the national association helped its Florida-based chapter, as well as more than a dozen other AGC chapters, prepare and submit applications for funding under the diesel emission reduction program (often known as DERA). In addition, AGC is currently working with other diesel stakeholders to urge Congress to reauthorize the DERA program, which is scheduled to expire this year.