University of Pittsburgh
September 21, 1998



PITTSBURGH, Sept. 21 -- The University of Pittsburgh's natural gas powered vehicles program, part of Pitt's ridesharing effort in the Office of Parking and Transportation, has won a 1998 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence in the category of Technology Innovation.

The Governor's Awards are open to any Pennsylvania organization or individual engaged in a pollution prevention or energy efficiency effort. The winners represent some of Pennsylvania's best when it comes to demonstrating that environmental stewardship and smart business practices go hand and hand.

With 125,000 vehicles passing through Pitt's Oakland campus daily, vehicle emissions are a major source of air pollution. The university addressed this problem by acquiring and operating 20 natural gas powered commuter vans for its community ridesharing program. As a result of this effort, approximately 230 private automobiles have been removed from the streets of Oakland and traffic congestion and air emissions have been significantly improved. Emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides were reduced from 10,000 pounds per year to 2,000 pounds per year. This creates a yearly savings of 80,000 gallons of gasoline and $500,000 in reduced vehicle operating costs.

"This award means state-wide recognition for what the University of Pittsburgh is doing through this program to reduce auto emissions in Western Pennsylvania, said John Morgan of Pitt's Parking and Transportation Office. "With expanded funding, we hope we can further reduce the number of vehicles and get some others into alternative fuels with low or zero emissions."

The natural gas vehicles were also used by the University's School of Engineering to conduct an in-depth research program which evaluated the operation of a fleet on alternative fuel. A portable on-board vehicular mass emissions monitoring system was invented and calibrated on the University's natural gas vehicles, with assistance from a commercial stationary emissions measurement station. This system monitors emissions and processes data that previously had not been collected. Two years worth of data on fuel usage, oil properties, maintenance and how the vehicles perform in daily use, document the program's achievements.

The Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence will be awarded by Governor Tom Ridge during a ceremony, Tuesday Sept. 22 at 9 a.m. at the Forum Auditorium in Harrisburg.

For more information: Otilie English, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (717) 783-0543

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