BannerReducing Diesel Emissions from Construction Equipment in 

Allegheny County & The City of Pittsburgh

Supported by:

The Allegheny County Health Department

Program Materials & Contact Information


For more information, please contact:

Program Application

Program FAQ's

(Frequently Asked Questions)

Debbie Thomas
dthomas (at)


Project Overview

According to the 2011 Heinz Endowments publication Clearing the Haze: Understanding Western Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Problem, “Pittsburgh’s air pollution problem is among the most serious in the country. Air quality in Pittsburgh relative to the rest of the county has been consistently poor throughout the last decade.”

Build It with Clean Diesel is a grant funded program that provides significant financial assistance to qualified small construction companies that wish to upgrade their equipment and help reduce emissions in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Newer and cleaner diesel equipment will lower emissions in the community, and can reduce fuel consumption, improve engine reliability, extend the life of equipment, and lower maintenance costs.

New engines will improve the work environment for equipment operators and can help a company stay competitive in the construction industry – all while reducing harmful emissions.

The fund, originally started by Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) will provide grants to eligible small business construction companies seeking assistance with the cost of emission reduction technologies.   The technologies will reduce harmful emissions of particulate matter (PM) – aka “soot” – from construction equipment by 85 percent or more.   Diesel construction equipment is estimated to generate 25 percent of the County’s diesel particulate matter pollution.

Elgibility Requirements

Small construction companies (small business defined as companies with annual revenue under $36,500,000) with a majority of their business operations over the past three years in Allegheny County and/or the City of Pittsburgh are encouraged to apply.  Applicants will be reviewed and selected based on the number of construction contracts in the past or planned for the future in the City of Pittsburgh and/or Allegheny County, and the cost effectiveness and estimated emission reductions.  Preference will be given to projects benefiting areas designated as not attaining the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for particulate matter.

Funding for an individual company will be limited to no more than $100,000.

Application Specifics:  See below for Program Application, Explanation of Terms, and List of Equipment Types.

1) Program Application.

2) Explanation of terms for completing application and program considerations. 

3) List of equipment types.

We ask that applicants fill out the application entirely before submitting.


Explanation of Terms
Current usage rate (hours/vehicle/year):
Calculate the hours each vehicle is used in the span of one year. Include idling hours.  Accurate numbers will provide us with a more accurate cost-effectiveness report. If unavailable, please provide an accurate estimation. Some manufacturers may be able to provide you with an estimated range of annual vehicle usage.

Amount of fuel used (gallons/yr): Calculate the gallons of fuel used in the vehicle over the span of one year. Accurate numbers will provide us with a more accurate cost-effectiveness report. If unavailable, please provide an accurate estimation. Some manufacturers may be able to provide you with an estimated range of annual fuel usage.

Fuel type: Please choose from the following list of fuel types – Ultra-low sulfur diesel (15 ppm), liquefied natural gas, liquefied propane gas, emulsion, E85 ethanol blend, compressed natural gas (in lbs.), compressed natural gas (in ft3), Biodiesel 5%, Biodiesel 20%, Biodiesel 100%.

Retrofit Technology Requested:  For this section, it is expected that the applicant knows what type of retrofit equipment is best suited for his/her equipment. Please contact the manufacturer of your equipment for help determining what diesel retrofit technology is best suited for your machine before submitting your application.

Requested Retrofit Technology Cost Estimate: Please provide an estimate of the cost to purchase and install your preferred diesel retrofit technology. Manufacturers of your equipment and/or of diesel retrofit technologies can provide a rough estimate of cost. Please note that for this project, each applicant is applying for funding between $10,000 and $100,000.

Other Program Considerations

Installing diesel retrofit equipment may require logging equipment data for exhaust temperature during normal usage over the span of a few days. This technique is offered by most diesel particulate filter manufacturers. If selected for funding, applicants will be reimbursed the cost of data logging.

Multiple vehicle retrofits may be requested, but applicants will receive up to $100,000 maximum for technology procurement, data logging, and labor/installation costs.

Diesel Retrofits and Small Contractor Competitiveness

The Pittsburgh City Council approved a resolution on July 12, 2011, to require contractors on projects totaling $2.5 million or more with city-subsidies of $250,000 or more to retrofit off-road diesel construction equipment.

A portion of this project is dedicated to helping small construction companies remain competitive for such contract work. Fully retrofitted fleets are an attractive option to general contractors looking for subcontractors on City of Pittsburgh or City of Pittsburgh-subsidized work.

Emission Reduction Technologies

Technologies that can achieve PM reductions of 85 percent or more include engine repowers, retrofits with diesel particulate filters (DPFs), and rebuilds/upgrades:

  • Engine Repowers  and Equipment Replacements
    • Replacement refers to replacing the entire piece of equipment with a new machine. 
    • Repowering refers to installing a new engine and replacing the old engine in a piece of equipment for a newer, cleaner model, and scrapping the older model. Older diesel equipment can be repowered with newer diesel engines, including cleaner highway engines, or in some cases with engines that operate on alternative fuels (e.g. CNG, LNG, electric).
      •  Good candidates for repowers:   It may be a cost-effective emissions reduction strategy when a vehicle or machine has a long useful life and the cost of the engine does not approach the cost of the entire vehicle or machine.
      • (EPA )
  •  DPFs
    • Diesel particulate filters (DPFs) are exhaust after-treatment devices that significantly reduce emissions from diesel-fueled vehicles and equipment. DPFs physically trap PM and remove it from the exhaust stream.  DPFs can be installed on existing vehicles and must be used in conjunction with ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) which has a sulfur content of less than 15 ppm.  DPFs may require special mounting or brackets.  In addition, an electronic back pressure monitoring and driver notification system must be used with a DPF.
    • DPFs use either passive or active regeneration systems to oxidize the PM accumulated in the DPF. Passive filters require operating temperatures high enough to initiate combustion of collected soot. Active regeneration uses other heat sources, such as fuel burning or electric heaters, to raise a DPF temperature sufficiently to combust accumulated PM. In addition, filters require periodic maintenance to clean out non-combustible materials, such as ash.
      • Good candidates for DPF retrofits:  DPFs work best on engines built after 1995. Knowing the age and type of each engine in the fleet as well as the duty cycles of the equipment is an important part of any retrofit project. Exhaust gas temperature data logging must be performed to determine if the exhaust temperature profile meets DPF-specific requirements. DPFs can be coupled with closed crankcase ventilation, selective catalytic reduction or lean NOx catalyst technologies for additional emission reductions.
  • Engine upgrade/rebuild
    • Diesel engines often can be rebuilt to continue to operate in the same capacity, and sometimes comply with cleaner emission standards.  An engine in need of rebuild may have low power, increased emissions and increased fuel consumption. Engine manufacturers often can supply rebuild kits as well as fully rebuilt engines.

For additional emission reductions, a recently rebuilt engine in proper operating condition is a good candidate for retrofit with an appropriately verified technology. An engine with low compression or high crankcase flow-by flow rate is not a good candidate for retrofit.

Why Does Reducing PM Matter?

Particle pollution not only impacts our air quality by being a major contributor to both reduced visibility (haze) and acid rain, it has serious health effects as well.  Particle pollution - especially fine particles - contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems.  Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including:

  • increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing, for example;
  • decreased lung function;
  • aggravated asthma;
  • development of chronic bronchitis;
  • irregular heartbeat;
  • nonfatal heart attacks; and
  • premature death in people with heart or lung disease.