Dometic Automotive, a Richmond-based manufacturing company, was awarded the Virginia Governor's Environmental Excellence Award for Manufacturers for the company's efforts to reduce engine idling in the U.S. trucking industry.

The award recognized Dometic's pioneering work in developing a battery-powered auxiliary air conditioning system that keeps the driver comfortable without idling the truck's engine. The company's battery-based solution eliminates the need for running the main engine, or a separate diesel generator to operate an auxiliary air conditioning system. This achieves important reductions in fuel consumption and harmful emissions of exhaust fumes into the air.

"The engineering goal for this project was to design, build, test and prove a commercially viable system that would provide a comfortable environment for the driver while achieving 100 percent elimination of fuel consumption and air pollution from truck idling," said Lou Siegel, senior vice president.

In the past, truck drivers have been accustomed to running the main engine at idle speeds to keep the sleeper or cab comfortable during federally mandated rest stops or while waiting to pick up or discharge loads. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, idling consumes approximately three billion gallons of fuel and produces 180,000 tons of nitrous oxide, 5,000 tons of particulate matter and 7.6 million tons of carbon dioxide nationwide each year.

"Virginia's I-81, I-64 and I-95 interstate corridors are among the nation's busiest in terms of truck traffic. Virginia's highway rest areas and truck stops are packed with vehicles day and night, and Virginia's ports and warehousing/distribution facilities are used by thousands of trucks each year," said Rick Weeks, chief deputy of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

The Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards are supported by the Virginia governor, secretary of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Conservation and Recreation, and other partner organizations, including the Virginia Manufacturers Association and Dominion. This awards program encourages Virginia companies, organizations and individuals to implement the Commonwealth's pollution prevention policy and to practice excellent environmental stewardship by recognizing outstanding efforts in these areas each year.

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