WICHITA — Wink Hartman's Hartman Arena, Intrust Bank Arena, the elevated railroad corridor in downtown Wichita, Sierra Club Southwind Group and several large industrial companies won clean air awards at the Regional Energy and Sustainability Conference held at Wichita State University today.
Hartman won because when the arena is not in use, a 150-foot wind turbine powers it, event-goers can park free if they drive a hybrid or carpool, and the facility was built out of many recycled materials.
Intrust Bank Arena won in the government category because the construction contract required companies to recycle as much material as possible. Construction also involved cleaning some of the polluted soil beneath it. And the utilities are energy efficient, the city says.
The elevated rail corridor was given an award because it cuts about 2 million hours of vehicle idling per year because cars no longer have to stop and wait for trains downtown.
At a glance, the business category winners included some unlikely environmental champions.
But many are among the biggest, most active companies in Kansas — so when they trim pollution a little, it means a lot.
Boeing Wichita Integrated Defense Systems, for example, secured ISO 14001 environmental management certification, which means it measures its environmental impact and sets goals to reduce it.
The company also handed out 1,900 fluorescent light bulbs to employees. It projects the bulbs could result in a 1.3 million pound reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Hawker Beechcraft Corp. cut its electrical use by 9.2 percent from 2008 to 2009. It also trimmed its natural gas use by 9.3 percent.
That came as the company laid off workers, but it will result in significant reductions in pollution generated by electrical and gas use.
Schofield Honda partnered with Universal Lubricants to produce a Generation Green oil. Universal uses a closed-loop process of pick-up, recycling and delivery back to the end user.
The Southwind Group of the Sierra Club won for organizing hundreds of Kansans to learn more about environmental problems and come up with ideas to reduce pollution.
The car dealership also works with Waste Connections Recycle Bank program, which encourages residential recycling by offering discounted services, such as oil changes.
The winners were picked by a panel of judges from local and state government and local businesses.
Selections were based on how well the entities reduced air pollution and emissions in Butler, Harvey, Sedgwick and Sumner counties.
The second annual contest comes as the Wichita metro area teeters on the brink of exceeding new federal clean air standards.
"Wichita was fortunate to avoid violations this summer because cool temperatures and above-average rainfalls helped keep the city in compliance with the EPA's new ozone standards," the city's news release says.
Even stricter standards are expected to be adopted in coming months, and it's likely Wichita will exceed the limits based on historical data.