Detroit Environmental Vision Healthy Air

Outcomes and Conclusions

After the purchasing and refund processes have been completed, the local government or business has a vehicle that produces fewer emissions. The vehicle accomplishes the same work while emitting less pollution to create a healthier environment for staff and residents.  

The new vehicles also increase the fleet’s resilience. A diverse fuel supply, for both communities and businesses, can reduce the chance that fleet operations will be interrupted. For instance, during Superstorm Sandy, diesel supplies were interrupted. However, buses that ran on fuels other than diesel continued evacuations without interruption. As the climate changes and fuel supplies are interrupted, having a diverse fuel supply can ensure your community meets all its transportation needs.  

From 2008 to 2020, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision and their partners have avoided 35,000 tons of diesel emissions. Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision’s Healthy Air Program is run by two program managers and includes interns from local universities. 


One challenge, particularly for local governments, is matching budget cycles to the grant. Some grants close in March with funding becoming available in July for projects that start in October. Since this timeline might overlap fiscal years for some communities with budget items that need to be spent in the same year, communities need to plan for the project to ensure the funding timelines match.  

Another challenge is making sure to have all the information needed for the grant proposal. Some of the equipment being ordered through these grants are not replaced often, so past purchase records might be difficult to find. It is important for communities and businesses looking to upgrade their vehicles to find as much detailed information as they can in advance of the application process. 

Lessons Learned

“We need to get out of the mindset that spending money on upgrades is irresponsible,” said Maggie Striz Calnin, the Healthy Air Program Manager for the Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision. “Cleaning up our air is beneficial for our staff and residents as it protects their health. It also creates a diverse fuel supply that can help us increase our operational resilience.”

Questions for Discussion

These questions are designed to inspire readers—especially those wanting to learn broadly about climate change solutions—to think critically about the case study on this page and encourage deeper, more meaningful conversations. A list of ERIT case studies that include discussion questions can be found on the Resilient Communities Case Studies page. 

  1. What are some of the negative impacts of diesel emissions on human health and the environment? 
    1. How are these impacts distributed inequitably?  
  2. Describe the grant process for replacing a diesel vehicle, in general? 
    1. Go to the Diesel Emissions and Reduction Act (DERA) grants page. What are some of the things a community would need to know when filling out an application? 
  3. How does having a diverse fuel supply increase a community’s resilience?  

To learn more about the Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, contact:

Maggie Striz Calnin  
Healthy Air Program Manager 
Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision  

Maria Cercone 
Clean Diesel Initiative Project Manager 
Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision

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