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Developed by the CONNECT Air Quality Work Group, the Diesel Construction Equipment (DCE) Emissions Assessment Tool provides municipalities and counties in the region an efficient way to assess needs and compare strategies for reducing emissions from heavy-duty diesel (HDD) equipment used on construction projects. Using this tool and the other resources described below, can help the region improve air quality and protect human health from harmful emissions associated with building for growth.

Why is this important to your community?

The region currently does not meet the 2008 federal standards for ground-level ozone. Projected population growth and the construction that is expected to accompany the region’s growth, including new roads, bridges, and housing, will result in further negative impacts on air quality in the shorter term. Older HDD equipment often lacks the emissions controls required in newer models but will remain in use because of the diesel engines’ long “life expectancy.” While the entire HDD fleet will turn over eventually and become cleaner, in the interim fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon emissions (a major component of soot) will remain a problem. PM2.5—as a marker of diesel exhaust—is associated with serious health consequences and is a known contributor to cancer and respiratory diseases. Reducing PM2.5 and black carbon emissions now and before older equipment is replaced is a significant air quality and human health need in high-growth areas of the CONNECT region.

How does it work?

The Diesel Construction Equipment (DCE) Emissions Assessment Tool was developed through the CONNECT Air Quality Work Group to assess the amount of major construction expected in the 14-county region through 2018, and to provide local governments an efficient way to prioritize construction projects’ need for emissions reduction strategies. The Assessment Tool, an Excel spreadsheet, allows users to estimate emissions from upcoming construction projects. Stakeholders can use the tool to compare several emissions control scenarios that might be successful for individual construction projects. It also helps the user to understand the benefits of various control strategies, such as replacing a percentage of diesel fuel with other alternative fuels (e.g., compressed natural gas, biodiesel), adding particulate filters, or replacing older engines with newer ones. Emissions estimates from the tool can be used in a Scoring System for Evaluating the Public Health Significance of Construction Projects (link), to compare projects’ relative impacts on public health and air quality. In the longer-term, high-emissions sites can be targeted for emissions control strategies.

Ready to get started?

Using the Tool

  • Work with facilities, public works, and transportation departments to set policies and goals for local clean construction and reduction in fine particulates, black carbon and other pollutants from diesel engine exhaust. Conduct focus group or interviews with local construction, industry, and real estate representatives as needed to address cost and procurement implications of any proposed policies.
  • Review and download the online tool at: (web link)
  • Integrate the regional Diesel Carbon Emissions tool into capital improvements planning for highway, transit, and major building construction projects, including prioritization of projects for emissions reduction strategies.
  • Implement clean construction policies or incentives in RFPs where risks are high.
  • Consider participating in rating and recognition programs with LEED and Greenroads Rating System.
  • Consider applying for and/or participating in grant applications at the local, regional, or national level (e.g., the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program) to reduce particulate matter and black carbon emissions, focusing on high-priority projects and/or high-emitting equipment that is used frequently.
  • Provide policy and marketing support which could include supporting alternative fuel tax credits, rebates or incentives for transitioning fleets, state loan programs, and public awareness campaigns.

Where has it worked?

Capital Area Council of Governments - Central Texas



About the Program

The Capital Area Council of Governments employed similar DCE profiles to develop Texas’s 2012 statewide emission inventory (EI) specifically for highway construction activity.

Why it works

Heavy-highway construction is among the highest contributors to overall DCE emissions in the state. In addition, the profiles used in the DCE Emissions Assessment Tool to assess residential, commercial, and “other” construction activity were also based on earlier statewide emissions inventory efforts in Texas.