BC School Bus Emission Reduction Project
Executive Summary April 2007
The BC School Bus Emissions Reduction Project was a partnership among Environment Canada, 29 public school districts and one private school. Two school districts participated in a pilot program in the Fraser Valley (Phases 1 and 2), while 27 school districts and the private school participated in the province-wide project (Phase 3). A report on Phases 1 and 2 of the project is available from Environment Canada (see contact information below). The project provided the funds and resources to help organizations responsible for student transportation to reduce vehicle emissions through school bus engine retrofits and an anti-idling campaign. It is hoped that this report, which summarizes the process and results, will assist future projects.
II. Diesel Exhaust and Health
Reducing diesel emissions from school buses is very important because children are more susceptible than adults to the effects of air pollutants. They breathe more air relative to their body weight and their respiratory systems are not completely developed. Retrofitting school buses with emission control devices and implementing an anti-idling campaign can significantly reduce the effects of diesel emissions on children's health.
To select school districts for Phase 3 of the project, Environment Canada issued a Request for Expressions of Interest to school districts and organizations responsible for student transportation in British Columbia and the Yukon.
After receiving expressions of interest and school bus fleet details from 27 school districts and one private school, Environment Canada evaluated the emission reduction potential of retrofitting each of the vehicles in their fleets with a diesel oxidation catalyst and/or a closed crankcase ventilation device. This information was used to select the most appropriate vehicles to be retrofitted. All the parties that responded to the Request for Expressions of Interest ultimately participated in the program.
IV. Retrofit Devices
A total of 557 emission control devices were installed on school buses in the province—49 during the Phases 1 and 2 pilots in two school districts, and 508 during Phase 3. The Phase 3 installations took place between December 2005 and March 2006, and resulted in reduced emissions from tailpipe exhaust and lower crankcase emissions from the engine blocks. In this phase of the project, 308 diesel oxidation catalyst and 200 crankcase ventilation retrofit devices were used. A diesel oxidation catalyst uses a chemical process to break down pollutants in exhaust into less harmful components. A crankcase ventilation device captures and returns oil in crankcase emissions to the oil pan (engine block), collects particulate matter from the crankcase vapours, and directs filtered exhaust gas containing nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and toxics to the air intake for re-combustion.
(Source: Abbotsford School District)
This project is part of the Clean Vehicle and Fuels Improvements Initiative under the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy.
(Source: Abbotsford School District)
V. Device Performance
The diesel oxidation catalysts chosen for Phase 3 were supplied by Engine Control Systems and have been verified by the United States' Environmental Protection Agency to reduce tailpipe exhaust emissions in the following amounts:
One diesel oxidation catalyst failed within a year of installation and was replaced under warranty. There were no other reported problems with diesel oxidation catalyst performance or failures.
The crankcase ventilation device chosen for Phase 3 was supplied by Cummins Western Canada. There were a number of difficulties with the performance of the crankcase ventilation devices. In the case of ten school districts, the problems were due in part to improper installation. An investigation by Cummins Western Canada determined that the problems originated from dips, loops, or goose necks on the crankcase ventilation hoses, allowing condensation to pool in the lines. During cold weather, the condensation would freeze, resulting in a plug. An additional problem with the devices was that the impactor design of the crankcase ventilation device, which does not incorporate a replaceable filter, allowed a proportion of the oil droplets to carry over, creating an oil film on the air intake and turbocharger. As a final solution to the reported problems, Cummins Western Canada recommended and offered to upgrade all the 200 original crankcase ventilation devices with a new crankcase ventilation design that incorporates a replaceable filter element. This was done at no cost to the school districts. This redesigned crankcase ventilation device is identical to the devices now being installed on 2007 and later Cummins engines. As of April 2007, about 75% of the devices have been replaced, and all the devices are expected to be upgraded by the summer of 2007. Early reports are that the new devices are functioning well and without problems.
VI. Anti-idling Campaign – Part 1 (to March 2006)
As a condition for receiving the retrofit devices, the school districts agreed to participate in an anti-idling campaign. This campaign targeted school buses and vehicles idling in school zones. The purpose of the new initiative was to further diminish children's exposure to exhaust from diesel school buses and private vehicles and improve local air quality. Educational material and anti-idling signs were used to encourage parents and school bus drivers to turn off their engines when dropping off or waiting for students.
Over 1500 anti-idling signs were distributed to the school districts participating in both Phases 1 and 2, as well as Phase 3. The graphic chosen illustrates a vehicle emitting tailpipe emissions in the presence of children with the slogan “Young Lungs at Work.” Anti-idling educational material was also compiled in a single resource package and distributed to transportation supervisors before the signs were delivered.
VII. Anti-idling Campaign – Part 2 (ongoing)
Using feedback provided by the school district transportation supervisors on the success of the anti-idling signs, Part 2 of the anti-idling campaign was devised to provide additional anti-idling educational material to schools and parents, and is being piloted in three school districts.
Environment Canada staff met with the District Parent Advisory Committees of the Central Okanagan and the North Island School Districts to give a presentation on idling reduction and to distribute resource packages. The resource packages were designed to give parents the tools they need to develop idling reduction campaigns within their schools.
During these school district visits, Environment Canada staff members also met with district transportation supervisors to discuss the pilot project and to receive feedback. Transportation supervisors explained what steps were being taken to reduce school bus idling and voiced support for the project.
For further information on this project, or to receive a copy of the complete report, please contact Richard Holt of Environment Canada at email@example.com or at 604-666-6552.
Select link to obtain a list of the participating agencies in the Georgia Basin / Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy.