Annual Award Luncheon

Partners for Clean Air
Award Luncheon

Each year, the Partners for Clean Air program acknowledges individuals, businesses, or organizations who have made special efforts to improve air quality in our region. The Annual Partners for Clean Air Awards Luncheon is an opportunity for the Partners to network with others who share their interest in clean air and sustainability. At the luncheon, Partners will learn about projects and programs being conducted in the region or throughout the State that work to improve air quality. The 2024 luncheon was held on April 17, 2024 in Elkhart.

Partners for Clean Air
2024 Award Winners



Regional Air Quality Update

Shawn Seals, IDEM

The Fast..and the Funded

Therese Dorau, Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute

Funding Roundtable

Moderator: Drive Clean Indiana

2024 Award Winners

Award Winners

Valmont Industries, Inc.

Recognized after opening its first sustainability-focused concrete utility pole manufacturing facility in Bristol, Indiana. The concrete manufactured within the facility utilizes slag steel, a byproduct of the steel making process, that helps eliminate the waste and decreases the amount of cement used in the utility poles. Valmont plans to transition all of its concrete utility pole facilities to incorporate this sustainable concrete formula. Further reducing emissions, a solar array located adjacent to the facility is intended to offset 100 percent of the electricity used at the facility. The array includes single-axis trackers from Valmont’s solar product line, which produces up to 25% more energy generation than fixed-in-place panels.

The Beacon Resource Center, Inc.

Recognized for energy efficiency and clean energy retrofits to their building, including a 40kw solar array system, an energy efficient HVAC system, and a new recycling program. The solar array and HVAC upgrades were made possible in large part by through the City of South Bend’s Energy Assistance & Solar Savings Initiative (EASSI) program. The City of South Bend provided an EASSI grant of $33,795. Other financial support included $17,000 from a foundation and a $1,500 rebate from Indiana Michigan Power. Additionally, The Beacon launched a recycling program in October 2023 partnering with the City of South Bend's Smart Businesses Recycle initiative. This program introduced single-stream recycling, improved their waste management capabilities, and reduced overall waste generation. For the next round of the EASSI program, the Beacon plans to install two new heat pump water heaters and an LED lighting upgrade in the renovated side of the building.

South Bend Public Transportation Corporation (Transpo)

Recognized for reaching a major milestone in transitioning to a cleaner burning compressed natural gas (CNG) bus fleet. In 2023, Transpo retired its last diesel transit bus and placed its 50th CNG bus in service. Transpo acquired its first 16 CNG buses in 2014. Transpo transitioned their fleet with financial support from Federal Transit Administration (FTA) discretionary grants, CARES funding, and the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund. The decade-long effort to scale up CNG adoption was possible due to investment in a $4.4M fast-fuel CNG station which opened in 2015. The CNG facility was funded through the FTA, Indiana DieselWise program, federal funding through MACOG, and the City of South Bend. Transpo currently partners with the City of South Bend to share use of their fueling station. Transpo last received this award in 2011 for their LEED Platinum Transit Facility. CNG buses mitigate local air pollution as they emit significantly less nitrogen oxides (NOx) which contributes to ground level ozone and its associated health risks for children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations.


Award Winners

City of Elkhart

Recognized for the River Greenway Trail and connecting local trails into the regional trail network, through improvements along 4 miles connecting the Riverwalk to American Park, Studebaker Park, and the Elkhart Environmental Center which connects to the regional Mapleheart Trail into Goshen. The city received $642,600 from the state of Indiana to construct about a mile of new trail and improve sidewalks and signage to improve safety, with the Community Foundation of Elkhart County contributing $100,000.


Awarded for the largest direct investment in solar by a manufacture in the region, installing nearly 4,000 solar panels on six manufacturing buildings for a total of nearly 2 MW which went online in 2022. The project was sized to offset nearly 75% of their electricity on an annual basis, equivalent to the electricity used by about 200 Hoosier households. Viewrail has also participated in NISPCO's energy efficiency program, implementing a number of projects across their portfolio such as lighting and manufacturing heating custom projects.

Clubhouse of St. Joseph County

Recognized for offsetting 80% of their annual electricity use with nearly 25 kW solar panels as a participant in the City of South Bend’s Energy Assistance and Solar Savings Initiative (EASSI). Energy efficiency projects included solar shades to reduce solar heat and insulating windows. The Clubhouse is also recognized for their team-based approach led by their members to identify and implement environmentally-friendly practices in their daily operations through their Go Green Campaign. From carpooling, composting, and recycling practices, to evaluating electric lawn equipment.

South Bend Community School Corporation

Celebrated for piloting the first electric school buses in the MACOG region. Funds were sourced from the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund Grant program and Indiana Michigan Power to provide $822,354 in private funding towards this all-electric school bus replacement project. This project was made possible by MACOG’s Northern Indiana Green Fleet program with Drive Clean Indiana which provided fleet analysis information to help South Bend Community School Corporation meet its sustainability goals. The school’s commitment to reduce nitrogen oxides, particulate matter 2.5, carbon dioxide and other harmful diesel emissions is vital in improving air quality in the community it serves. Over 30,000 gallons of diesel will be displaced as a result of this project.



Regional Air Quality Update

Shawn Seals, IDEM

Active Transportation Update & Tactical Urbanism Roundtable

Featuring Goshen, Plymouth, and Warsaw Projects

Clean Transportation Funding

Lauri Keagle, Drive Clean Indiana

2022 Award Winners

Award Winners

933 Corridor Improvement Association, Inc.

The Association closed a gap in the regional trail network, connecting the East Bank Trail to LaSalle Trail by constructing a 1.14-mile trail connector along State Road 933 from East Angela Boulevard to Douglas Road. The project was a 2019 recipient of a Next Level Trails grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The project was successful due to collaboration, with easements donated by property owners and institutions along the corridor. The Association includes Saint Mary’s College, Holy Cross College, University of Notre Dame, Congregation of Holy Cross, Sisters of the Holy Cross, Brothers of Holy Cross and Holladay Properties. Additional investments, including lighting to further enhance the trail, are planned.

Saint Mary's

Saint Mary’s College was recognized for significant investments in various energy conservation projects in the past few years, including LED lighting conversions, window and roofing upgrades, campus-wide energy monitoring, and converting gas-powered maintenance carts to electric. Funded in part by Saint Mary’s partnership with the Sisters of the Holy Cross through their Carbon Reduction Grants program


Simon, owner of University Park Mall, was awarded for encouraging the adoption of cleaner all-electric vehicles by installing charging infrastructure to make long distance travel to and through the MACOG region possible for all-electric vehicles. Simon was the first in the region to host fast charging and collaborated with Electrify America, the largest open ultra-fast DC charging network in the U.S., to bring ultra-fast DC charging (Level 3 stations) to the University Park Mall. Installed in 2019, the charging station features two 150 kW and two 350 kW chargers, giving customers access to the fastest charging speeds available today. Simon hosts two slower Level 2 destination stations and since 2013, six 150 kW Tesla Superchargers.



MACOG & Air Quality Action Season

North Central Indiana Air Quality and Indiana Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Program Update

Shawn Seals, IDEM - Office of Air Quality

Green Fleet Program

Lauri Keagle, South Shore Clean Cities

Award Winner Presentations

Virtual Meeting Recording

Meeting Recording Link

Award Winners

John Glenn School Corporation

John Glenn School Corporation is being recognized for being a leader in energy conservation and clean energy, after recently completing a $7M energy savings project which brought LED lighting with updated controls, new windows, a new HVAC system, and a field of 846 solar panels to North Liberty Elementary School. The 338.4 kWdc solar project is equivalent to the electricity used by almost 40 households each year.


John Glenn is one of a growing list of public school corporations in the region that have collectively installed at least 18 large solar projects in the last several years: Argos Community Schools, Baugo Community Schools (under construction), Goshen Community Schools, Tippecanoe Valley Schools, Wawasee Community School Corporation, and Warsaw Community Schools. 

City of Goshen

The City of Goshen is being recognized for leadership in clean transportation and environmental resilience. In 2019 and 2020, the city promoted clean transportation by installing a free public charging station for electric vehicles, piloting the first all-electric vehicle in the city’s fleet, and purchasing hybrid police vehicles. Two additional public charging stations are scheduled to be installed near downtown in 2021. City leadership also made a concerted effort to enhance and protect the local environment, by expanding the city forestry program to a new Department of Environmental Resilience, and developing a plan of action to address the impacts of municipal operations.

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is recognized for significant investments in clean energy towards the goal of cutting its carbon footprint in half by 2030 from 2005 levels through key partnerships. The 2.5 MW hydroelectric plant envisioned over a decade ago is nearing completion in downtown South Bend through an innovative partnership with the city, and will generate about 7% of the University’s electrical needs. The University is also a major partner with local electric utility Indiana Michigan Power on the 20 MW St. Joseph Solar Farm, committing to purchase 40% of the clean energy credits from the facility which is equivalent to the renewable energy needed to power nearly 11,000 homes annually or 10% of the University’s usage. The University also maintains three solar arrays directly powering its facilities, totaling 0.2 MW. In 2019, the University initiated a new food waste-to-energy project, completed a geothermal heating and cooling plant, and stopped burning coal a year ahead of schedule.

Recycling Works, Inc.

Recycling Works, a sister company of Borden Waste-Away, is recognized for innovating and forming new partnerships locally to overcome challenges in the broader recycling market, such as low commodity prices, contamination in single stream recycling, and China’s ban on importing plastics. Recycling benefits air quality by reducing the energy and emissions produced by mining, processing, and shipping raw materials and from landfills. A $3.5 million upgrade to high efficiency machinery is underway at the Elkhart-based materials recovery facility. The retrofit will increase capacity by 60%, which is equivalent to 3,400 tons per month or recycling generated by over 185,000 households. Recycle Works is also implementing a new education partnership with local Solid Waste Districts to reduce contamination and improve recovery, funded in part by Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Finally, a new partnership with Brightmark, a waste-to-energy facility completed this year in Ashley, Indiana. This will further reduce Recycle Works’ residue rate, or collected materials that are ultimately landfilled, to 6% which is well-under the state mandated residue rate maximum of 10%. By partnering with Brightmark, Recycling Works has diverted an additional 435 tons of hard-to-recycle plastics per month. Brightmark converts hard-to-recycle plastics into an ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel and other products.



North Central Indiana Air Quality and Indiana Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Program Update

Shawn Seals, IDEM - Office of Air Quality

Beyond the Low Hanging Fruit: Energy Efficiency Gains for Advanced Companies

Kelly Weger, Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Northern Indiana Green Fleet Program Update

Carl Lisek, South Shore Clean Cities

Elkhart County Leaf Management Pilot

Suzanne Weirick, Elkhart County Commissioner

MACOG Updates – Transit, Trails, and More

Zach Dripps and Caitlin Stevens, MACOG

Award Winners and Air Quality Action Season

Award Winners

South Bend Fire Department

For regional leadership in sustainable buildings. Fire Station 4, completed in 2018, was the first city-owned building designed to achieve LEED certification and a second, Station 9, is under construction. Both stations are designed to be highly energy efficient with LED lighting, natural lighting, occupancy sensors and more. Station 9 will use 32% less energy and 63% less water than a standard fire station. Each station includes a solar array, which will produce more energy than the average Hoosier household uses in a year. Both use the latest HVAC systems and vehicle exhaust extraction system technologies to reduce exposure to cancer-causing toxins inherent in firefighting, as well as using low-emitting materials to promote healthier indoor air quality. The stations also used recycled content and regionally harvested and manufactured components. Natural vegetation and no-mow grasses are incorporated into the landscaping at Station 9 to promote natural habitat and lower maintenance demands for the station crew. Fire Station 4 will eventually provide a natural area with a pedestrian trail for community use.

Keystone RV Company

For proactively utilizing energy efficiency programs to save energy and reduce environmental impacts. In the last three years, Keystone RV has undertaken extensive exterior and interior lighting upgrades across all their facilities in Elkhart County in addition to HVAC upgrades and converting to variable speed air compressors. Keystone RV utilized the NIPSCO Energy Efficiency Rebate Program to improve the payback on these investments. Annually, these upgrades are projected to save over 3,387,000 kWh of electricity and 91,584 therms of natural gas. From the electricity reduction alone, this is equivalent to eliminating the electricity use of almost 300 Hoosier households. Keystone also continues their waste diversion efforts, including many components and packaging, and utilizes an on-site densifier for Styrofoam.

Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County Habitat

For their commitment to building energy efficient homes that lower energy usage and costs for homeowners. As part of the 2018 Carter Work Project, Habitat and volunteers built and improved 41 homes with all-LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, and 95% efficient furnaces. The 23 new homes in Mishawaka exceed national residential building codes by at least 10% for insulation, windows, and other components which is verified by a third party, Energy Diagnostics. In partnership with New Energy Homes, Habitat also piloted five net zero energy homes in South Bend, that are designed to produce as much energy as they use. This is achieved through an innovative, high performance building system and a 5 kW thin film solar array glued to the metal roofs.

The Center at Donaldson

For leadership in implementing clean energy, LEED buildings, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure and other sustainability initiatives that promote clean air. After reducing electricity-related emissions by 15% through an LED lighting retrofit in 2017, TCAD commissioned the first phase of a campus-wide solar project in 2018 with 83 kW of solar panels. The second phase will be installed this year in both ground mounted and rooftop systems, totaling 550 kW, equivalent to about 60 Hoosier households. These solar arrays will also help power their transportation fleet as they transition to electric vehicles. Early adopters of hybrid vehicles, they now have two plug-in hybrids and one fully electric vehicle. A public charging station allows guests, residents, and co-workers access to electric transportation as well. As a part of TCAD, Moontree Studios is a LEED Gold facility that now features small-scale wind, solar, and native prairie landscaping. TCAD is a community of ministries in Marshall County sponsored by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ and includes Ancilla College.



North Central Indiana Air Quality & Clean Diesel Programs Update

Shawn Seals, IDEM - Office of Air Quality

Using LEED to Enhance Sustainability in the Built Environment

Martin Mechtenberg, Catalyst Partners LLC

Funding Whole-Building Energy Savings Projects

Therese Dorau, South Bend Office of Sustainability

Warasw Schools Going Solar

Brandon Pendrod, Chief Financial Officer

Award Winners

Tippecanoe Valley School Corportation

Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation in Kosciusko County has a long standing energy conservation program which positively impact both their budget and our air. This includes Guaranteed Energy Savings projects, geothermal applications, and a wind turbine project. Last year, Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation installed a 425 kW 1,440 panel solar array. It is sized to cover the annual electricity consumption of the school and will generate about $70,000 in electricity bills savings annually. This project demonstrates how solar can help schools maintain educational programs by lowering and stabilizing utility costs. It also demonstrates how solar benefits the local economy, as Ag Technologies of Rochester installed the solar array and the adjustable steel support system was manufactured by Craig Welding & Manufacturing of Mentone. The school continues to work to bring down utility costs and energy use, as Mentone Elementary is completing a school-wide conversion to LED lighting this summer.

Plymouth Products

Plymouth Products provides a great example of how small local businesses in our communities can contribute to cleaner air while sustaining their businesses financially with lower and more stable electricity costs using a variety of efficiency and renewable measures. Plymouth Products aggressively cut their electricity use by 65% by replacing florescent lighting with LEDs throughout the factory and office. The NIPSCO energy efficiency rebate program brought the total cost down by 37% with a payback period of one year. Plymouth Products replaced the rest of their electricity with a 25 kW solar array.

Indiana Toll Road

ITR Concession Company designed their Indiana Toll Road Travel Plaza Master Plan above and beyond standard practices to incorporate a broad range of improvements that promote cleaner air. They are phasing out older vehicles for new diesel trucks, and cars with better fuel economy, converting back-up diesel generators to natural gas, and consolidating fueling stations to eliminate underground storage tanks at their facilities. This year they are on schedule to replace a total of 42 plow and dump trucks with clean diesel, right-size the fleet by 7 vehicles, and convert 11 diesel generators to CNG. The ITR also planted 700 trees and converted over 1,000 light fixtures to LEDs. The new Administration building is on track to be certified LEED Gold, including a 73. 5 kW solar array in addition to the two 35 kW solar arrays on each of the upgraded Elkhart Travel Plazas.

Goshen College

Goshen College is a leader in energy conservation and land management, which are rooted in their deep commitment to ecological stewardship. Over the last several years, Goshen College has converted 12 acres of its approximate 55 acres of lawn to native landscaping which significantly reduced in mowing, irrigation, use of chemical herbicides and has improved air quality. In 2017, they were named Indiana’s first Bee Campus USA. Goshen College has steadily reduced their energy consumption through energy efficiency improvements like smart LED lighting and digitized energy management and by moving to renewables like solar thermal for hot water and geothermal. Electrical consumption has been brought back down to 1992 levels and natural gas consumption has been reduced by 30 percent. This is quite an accomplishment considering that the campus’ building square footage increased 60 percent during that same period.



North Central Indiana Air Quality 101

Shawn Seals, IDEM - Office of Air Quality

South Shore Clean Cities Take Action

Carl Lisek, South Shore Clean Cities, Inc.

The Changing Solar Landscape in Indiana

Leah Thill, SolSmart

Award Winners


NIPSCO’s In-Charge Around-Town program has assisted individuals and companies in learning about the environmental benefits of Electric Vehicles and Electric Charging Stations. Working with South Shore Clean Cities, NIPSCO has install over 250 home charging stations and approximately 100 public charging stations across Northern Indiana. Additionally, NIPSCO’s work on ordinances, First Responder Training, and Electrician training will assist in moving the program forward. In addition, NIPSCO has been a long standing supporter of the Partners for Clean Air Program. Over 15 years their financial support has allowed the program to spread the message…it all adds up to cleaner air!

City of South Bend

The City of South Bend has been Indiana’s leader with the implementation of alternative fuels and fleet emission reduction activities thru MACOG’s Green Fleet Program. Their Central Service Division has been the go-to organization in our State, sharing Best Management Practices to other fleets throughout the State. By utilizing a variety of procedures and technology at the fleet level, ranging from vehicle type, maintenance, CNG, Electric, E85, oils and lubricants, and diesel emission reductions technologies, they have used a creative approach to implementing sustainable practices and making a difference in Northern Indiana.

Goshen Community Schools

Goshen Community Schools has had a long standing Energy Conservation Program. Through this program, over the course of 7 years and multiple phases, several schools were able to note a significant decrease in energy consumption totaling a reduction of 1.6 million kWH and a natural gas reduction by 363,683 therms. Goshen Community Schools has also expanded this program into project-based learning for students, challenging them come up with ideas and solutions for reducing the school’s carbon footprint. This program is an excellent example of how schools can have a continuing direct impact on our local air quality.

Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light

Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light (HIPL) works to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. In 2016, five local faith communities were able to install solar thanks to the funding and support provided through HIPL: Kern Road Mennonite Church; First United Methodist Church; Islamic Society of Michiana; Olivet African Methodist Episcopal Church; and St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church of South Bend. Combined, these faith communities have installed 77 kW of solar PV, about 3 times the size of the South Bend Century Center System. In addition, HIPL provides energy conservation workshops to help leaders in local congregations reduce energy use.



North Central Indiana Air Quality Update

Shawn Seals, IDEM - Office of Air Quality

Our Energy Future

Linda Curtos, University of Notre Dame

South Shore Clean Cities Take Action

Carl Lisek, South Shore Clean Cities, Inc.

Award Winners

South Bend Century Center

The Century Center hosts hundreds of meetings, conventions, trade shows, and conferences every year and has been relentlessly working to reduce their energy consumption for years. Their commitment to energy conservation can be seen in past investments of updating chillers, boilers, water heaters, and low flow-fixtures in restrooms; as well as recent investments in new LED lighting in their 20,000 square foot Convention Hall as part of a major lighting project for the center, which has resulted in an 86% reduction in electrical usage since its installation. Additionally looking to the future, the Century Center has been actively working with a local conservation group, Greening the Bend, to install a “green roof”, which would not only further reduce the center’s energy demand but also provide direct benefits to local air quality at the same time.

Green Cow Power

Green Cow Power is an energy production company based out of Goshen, IN. Green Cow Power is home to two anaerobic digesters which turns approximately 160,000 gallons of organic waste from local dairy farms and other businesses into electricity daily, powering around 1,900 homes for a year out of an energy substation in Wakarusa. It is for this reason Green Cow holds the title of the largest waste-to-energy facility in Elkhart County. Green technology is one of the many facets driving the improvements of air quality in Indiana and it is truly exciting to see such an innovative alternative energy company thriving in the Michiana region.

South Bend International Airport

The South Bend International Airport utilized a Federal Aviation Administration Voluntary Airport Low Emissions Program grant to replace their traditional boiler system with a geothermal heating and air conditioning system. The project has reduced the airports usage of natural gas by 3.8 million cubic feet per year, enough to power 38 households, as well as reducing the airports ozone and particulate matter emissions by 63%. This project is an excellent example of how local companies can have a direct impact on our local air quality.



Air Quality Overview for Northern Indiana

Shawn Seals, IDEM - Office of Air Quality

Sustainability: Utilization of FAA VALE Grants for Geothermal Projects

Tim O'Donnell, South Bend International Airport

Bikeshare: Building a Better Community

Kären Haley, Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc.

Award Winners

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD)

NICTD administers the South Shore Rail Line, which transports hundreds of citizens between South Bend and Chicago every day. In March 2015, the South Shore Line began running express trains, reducing this commute by approximately 40 minutes. These efforts make weekday commuting by rail a reality for many people traveling to Chicago every day and are a big step towards reducing vehicular air emissions.

Inovateus Solar, LLC

Inovateus Solar, LLC is a South Bend-based company founded in 2008 which designs and oversees the construction of solar energy projects for Fortune 500 companies, utilities, universities and municipalities all over the country. Locally, Inovateus solar energy projects include the roof of Fitzpatrick Hall of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, the Transpo facility, and the Pokagon Community Center in Dowagiac, Mi. Projects such as these enable local businesses to reduce their “green-footprint” in a realistic manner.

The Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

The Friends of Pumpkinvine Nature Trail are a non-profit corporation working to convert the abandoned Pumpkinvine railroad corridor into a linear park and greenway in Elkhart County. The Friends have been credited for purchasing land used for trail construction, coordinating volunteers, and even maintaining portions of the trail . In December the Friends were awarded a $300,000 matching grant to close two gaps on the trail between Middlebury and Goshen, bringing them one step closer to a completed trail and an environmentally friendly transportation alternative between communities in our region.