AFMC Command News

ECARS reduces vehicle emissions and Hill fees

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Schneider, Air Force Civil Engineer Center

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS – The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is celebrating a decade of helping installations track vehicle air emissions through its Employee-vehicle Certification and Reporting System, or ECARS.

The tool has been estimated to be saving the Air Force more than $11.8 million annually.

“ECARS helps the Air Force comply with mandatory Clean Air Act requirements in areas that do not meet air quality standards for ozone and carbon monoxide,” said Frank Castaneda, AFCEC air quality subject matter expert and ECARS program lead. “In these locations, federal facilities must provide proof that privately-owned vehicles, operated by federal employees, comply with local inspection and maintenance requirements.”

Prior to ECARS, the Air Force relied on a vehicle decal program, where employees were required to provide proof of registration, insurance, and an emissions test to obtain a decal.

While the AFCEC system is estimated to save more than 200,000 man-hours per year compared to in-person registration verification, one installation is going the extra mile to also save its employees on their personal emission testing costs.

Hill Air Force Base is slashing annual testing costs for its employees by as much as 49 percent by offering the service through the base’s Auto Hobby Shop.

Testing costs at the hobby shop vary, depending on an employee’s military status and regulations required by the county in which they reside. About 14,000 employees on the base currently require annual emissions testing.

“The reduced-cost emissions testing can be about half the price for some employees, with the cost ranging between $23 and $29 currently,” said Scott Stoddard, pollution prevention program manager at Hill. “The counties that require testing used to set limits on what a garage could charge, but now most do not have a maximum charge limit. The going rate adjacent to base is around $45.”

The base recently expanded from offering appointments two days per week to three, Friday through Sunday, when maintenance work is not being completed on government-owned vehicles and equipment.

In addition to air emissions testing, the shop also allows employees to rent shop space and equipment at minimal cost to conduct their own oil changes and other minor vehicle repairs and maintenance.

“Mr. Stoddard and the Hill team have done a great job not only in implementing the APIMS ECARS module, but also in offering a valuable service to the base through their emissions testing,” Castaneda said. “Innovative solutions like these are saving time and money, while protecting the environment at the same time.”