Princeton University Receives Award for Taking Big Steps to Improve Air Quality

Elise Turner ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Princeton University will receive a 2013 Air Quality Excellence Award for its sustainability efforts. Each year, the Air Quality Partnership, a program of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, honors one public and one private institution for their efforts to improve air quality.

As warmer weather approaches, so does the onset of ground-level ozone. High levels of ozone pose health risks for everyone, and large segments of the population are considered especially sensitive to ozone pollution. Fortunately, ozone levels are being monitored and the public can be alerted when levels become unhealthy. The AQP educates residents about the dangerous effects of ground-level ozone and provides air quality forecasts to the public.

Princeton University is a big proponent of alternative commuting options and provides such for use by the community, including:

  • “TigerTransit” buses that run on B20 diesel fuel, have bike racks, and can be tracked online for arrival information;
  • Transit subsidies, carpooling and vanpooling incentives to faculty and staff as well as alternative transportation incentives for students;
  • A car-sharing service with eight hybrid vehicles; and
  • Bicycle accommodations across campus.

Millbourne Borough in Delaware County also received an award for promoting walking, biking, and taking transit to employees; developing a transit-oriented plan for the revitalization of a brownfield; and upgrading the Millbourne Borough Hall and street lighting system for maximum energy efficiency.

“Businesses, nonprofits, local governments, and individuals all play important roles in reducing air pollution by cutting waste, conserving energy, and making wise transportation choices,” said DVRPC’s Executive Director, Barry Seymour. “Cooperation between people and organizations that care about the air we breathe presents our greatest opportunity to ensure cleaner air for our region.”

The AQP’s “ozone season” runs through September. Currently, Greater Philadelphia does not meet the federal air quality standards for ground-level ozone. In the summer, sunlight and high temperatures “bake” pollutants emitted by motor vehicles, power plants and other sources, to form high levels of ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog.

In order to protect your health and further reduce air pollution, the Air Quality Partnership sends out alerts on days when the ozone levels are forecast to be dangerous, known as Air Quality Action Days. Small steps such as using public transit and conserving energy in our homes can make a big difference.