Clean Construction for Hospitals

Diesel powered construction equipment has long been a major source of air pollution on construction sites. As one of the fastest growing states in the country, the construction sector in North Carolina is seeing an increase in their business especially in the growth of hospitals and health care facilities.  Because of the highly toxic nature of diesel exhaust Clean Air Carolina is focusing our outreach to healthcare systems to protect the health of patients, visitors, staff and construction workers. Clean construction projects take steps to reduce diesel emissions on construction sites by prioritizing the use of new equipment with particulate filters and enforcing an anti-idling policy.

Before 1996, diesel construction equipment had no emissions standards. The EPA adopted standards for diesel engines to reduce particle pollution by 90%. These standards have been phased in through 2015. While new engines meet the clean air standards there are still thousands of pieces of old equipment operating throughout North Carolina. But hospitals can include language in their bid contracts requiring cleaner equipment with modern pollution controls be used on site and limit unnecessary idling.

A Successful Partnership

Clean Air Carolina worked in partnership with Novant Health and RodgersLeeper construction company to track and encourage cleaner equipment (EPA Tier 3 and 4) be used on the new Matthews Women Center. The construction was located next to an existing health facility so focusing on clean construction was a priority. The good news is that by taking these steps the amount of fine particle pollution, a pollutant linked to low birth weight, pre-term birth and other women’s health issues, was reduced by an estimated 33%. Clean Air Carolina recognized Novant Health and RodgersLeeper with Airkeeper Awards in 2016 for their commitment to clean air.

NC Health News reported on this important environmental health story this past spring. Read the article “Clearing the Air Around Hospitals” for more information. The story was reprinted in HealthCare Facilities Today, a magazine for health care building professionals.

Clean Air Carolina is looking for more hospitals interested in clearing the air around their hospital construction sites. Email june@cleanaircarolina.org to learn more.