Mecklenburg County GRADE was first launched in 2007 to provide funding to organizations in their region to replace or repower heavy duty non-road construction equipment. The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners funded 13 engine retrofits in 2007 with an initial investment of $500,000 and the program leveraged additional funds over the next five years to fund nearly $2 million more in projects. In 2011, GRADE received funding from the EPA to implement the first airline rebate program in the US. This reduced emissions from ground support equipment at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. 66 airport ground support equipment were funded, with a reduction of over 349 tons of NOx over the 5 year project life.
GRADE also utilizes CMAQ funding for projects and has completed 176 projects since the program’s inception. Extensive education and outreach efforts have been made by hosting workshops with specific nonroad industries. At the AeroGRADE workshop this past year, over 13 domestic airlines were invited to attend to learn about potential clean diesel strategies which could be applied on their ground support equipment. In addition, Mecklenburg County worked with the construction, mining, forestry and airline industries to develop a promotional video which explains the GRADE program, the potential air quality benefits of clean diesel technology strategies, and testimonials from industry and the air quality agency. Mecklenburg County will use the video to promote widespread adoption of clean diesel strategies in all non-road sector applications.