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Clean Air Communities
WTC Diesel Emissions Reduction Project
WTC Diesel Emissions Reduction Project
Project Aspects


The 7 WTC Diesel Emissions Reduction Project is a national model for demonstrating clean construction through the use of less polluting ultra low sulfur diesel fuel and retrofits on off-road, heavy-duty diesel construction equipment. The WTC Diesel Emission Reduction Project is the first public-private initiative in the New York construction market focused on reducing emissions from heavy-duty diesel construction equipment. This project calls for a variety of control measures to reduce emissions from construction equipment, most immediately ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel, diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), and diesel particulate filters (DPFs). DOCs and DPFs are more commonly referred to as retrofit technologies or devices. A clean construction project of this scope is without precedent in New York State. The project plan calls for the immediate delivery of ULSD fuel to selected equipment on-site and the phase-in of retrofit technologies on diesel equipment owned by participating contractors or sub-contractors working on the 7 WTC site.

Initiated by Clean Air Communities, the diesel emissions reduction (DER) project is a unique, groundbreaking collaboration between city, state and federal officials, community leaders, construction contractors, and diesel technology experts to demonstrate that real reductions in diesel emissions from heavy-duty vehicle operations are achievable at the WTC recovery and rebuilding sites in lower Manhattan. Clean Air Communities (CAC) is a non-profit entity formed in partnership by Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Northeast States Center for a Clean Air Future (NESCCAF), and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) with initial funding donated by Con Edison.

Clean Air Communities' clean construction project stems from direction by New York State and US Environmental Protection Agency to reduce diesel emissions impacting lower Manhattan. With Governor Pataki's green building proclamation and EPA's 2006 ULSD fuel standards as a guide, the partnership demonstrates the feasibility of clean equipment construction by operating participating heavy duty machinery on ULSD fuel and diesel catalytic mufflers. The project further demonstrates Silverstein Properties' and Tishman Construction's commitment to uphold the mission of Lower Manhattan Development Corporation by pursuing "environmentally sensitive" development practices. An environmental specification requirement has been incorporated into Tishman Construction's bid documents for all construction efforts.

Clean Air Communities provides technical support and funding to construction contractors working at 7 WTC to implement ULSD fuel use and to retrofit selected equipment, thereby demonstrating clean construction practices. Funding has also been provided to construction corporations and transit fleets operating in the vicinity of 7 WTC in partnership with the Battery Park City Authority.

CAC, in technical partnership with Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), NYS DEC, and US EPA Region 2, oversees the scientific and engineering aspects of the demonstration. CAC will provide the funds for cost-effectively switching to this readily available alternative fuel. Additionally, CAC funds will go towards the design, manufacture and installation of diesel exhaust after treatment devices or retrofit technologies to further reduce equipment emissions.

CAC's efforts will include education and outreach to demonstrate that an off-road, diesel equipment based program can be implemented in an operationally efficient and cost effective manner in advance of diesel regulations. The project will also employ portable emissions monitoring systems (PEMS) to record and measure real-time, tailpipe emissions levels.

The overall initiative will be represented by the complete complement of personnel from the collaborative formed by the partner members.

Project Aspects


  • ULSD fuel is a grade of diesel fuel that has extremely low sulfur content. The sulfur content of fuel currently used in the rebuilding effort by non-road equipment contains on the order of 1,800 to 2,000 parts per million (ppm) sulfur. Over-the-road (highway) fuel contains on the order of 300 to 500 ppm sulfur. ULSD fuel supplied by the participating fuel partner, Sprague Energy, contains 10 to 15 ppm sulfur, resulting in an overall reduction of over 99%.
  • The use of ULSD fuel, in combination with diesel retrofit devices, is expected to decrease tailpipe emissions by 30% to 70 %.
  • A portable emissions monitoring system (PEMS) will be used by the participating environmental monitoring partner, Clean Air Technologies International, Inc., to measure real time emissions and engine data.
  • Baseline ambient air quality measurements were performed by CAC, in conjunction with NESCAUM, to characterize the ambient or background air quality in the construction zone.


The CAC project will retrofit 8 pieces of construction equipment at the 7 WTC site.

  • 10 pieces of equipment will use the ULSD fuel, including: 2 Drill Rigs, 1 Excavator, 2 Loaders, 1 Crane, 2 Compressors, and 2 Generators.
  • Operators, upon interview, state that they are satisfied with the fuel switch to ULSD, fuel filters are cleaner, and engines are running well.


  • The total project value, including funding, in-kind resources and technical assistance dedicated to the 7 WTC clean construction initiative, is an estimated $500,000. CAC will dedicate $300,000 in direct funds and provide technical and project management for the duration of the project.
  • CAC intends to fund any retrofit control technology during the demonstration period. The cost of this retrofit technology is closely related to the size of the equipment; oxidation catalysts range from $2000 to $3000 installed, while diesel particulate filters range from $6,500 - $10,000 installed. CAC will work with, and has budgeted for the purchase and installation of after treatment technology from the country's leading retrofit manufacturers.


  • The project will include ULSD fuel use of approximately 500 gallons/day or 3,000 gallons/week.
  • On average, ULSD fuel costs $0.05 - $0.10 per gallon higher than off-road grade #2 fuel oil, so there is a potential price differential associated with its use. CAC will cover this cost, and the associated costs of delivery, supply and fueling as part of the project implementation.


  • Executive Partners: EPA, NYS DEC, Silverstein Properties, Mayor's Office, City of New York, NRDC, and NESCCAF.
  • Construction Partners: Tishman Construction, Urban Foundation, MTA MoreTrench, Danella Construction, Falcon Steel, Sonic, Metrotech, and Golden Touch Transportation of NY.
  • Technical Partners: NESCAUM, Sprague Energy, Clean Air Technologies International, Johnson Matthey Inc., Fleetguard Emissions Solutions, Environmental Solutions Worldwide, and NYS DEC.

(Note: Bold-faced names are parties enjoining project MOU.)

© 2003-2009 Northeast States Center for a Clean Air Future (NESCCAF)