School system gets award for reducing emissions

The Coweta County School System is doing its part when it comes to reducing diesel emissions from its fleet of school buses. The school system was awarded the Georgia Diesel Engines Reduction (GaDer) Gold Award .

The award was presented by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

“This award recognizes school systems who have dedicated time, effort and resources toward keeping our air clean,” said school system operations director Doug Moore.

Moore recognized transportation manager Judy Gresham and transportation shop Foreman Keith McCullough at the Aug. 12 meeting of the Coweta County Board of Education.

The GaDER Gold Award is awarded to school systems that have reduced emissions in a significant portion of their school bus fleet by installing emissions control devices on the buses, early replacement of older buses, the use of alternative fuels or other strategies.

Gresham said Coweta County was among the first school systems in the United States to put a new type of new type of lower-emission catalyst on its school buses, through a grant awarded to the system by EPD in 2005.

Buses bought by the system after 2007 are lower-emission vehicles, but McCullough’s shop has expanded installation of the new catalyst in 1999 through 2006 buses over time, including all regular-route school buses. That translates into making 90 percent of the county’s transportation fleet cleaner-operating diesel vehicles, said school system spokesman Dean Jackson.

William Cook, EPD Environmental Engineer and Manager of the GaDER Program said that “older diesel buses emit a high amount of particles in the exhaust. New buses and those that have been retrofitted with diesel particulate filters reduce these particulates by more than 85 percent, which results in a significant improvement in the air quality inside and around the school bus. Transportation Directors and their staff who receive a GaDER award should be celebrated for their hard work and dedication to ensure that school children are riding in the safest and cleanest buses available.”

The GADER School Bus Program assists Georgia school systems by offering grants, technical assistance and education.