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New Sun Rising and evolveEA Receive Environmental Excellence Award for Triboro Ecodistrict Air Quality Projects

October 8, 2021

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) honored the Breathe Easy project, a collaboration between New Sun Rising, evolveEA, and community partners, with a 2021 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence

The Breathe Easy project, developed in Millvale, Pennsylvania, enables communities to improve the air quality in their home, workplace and neighborhood. The Breathe Easy Plan summarizes a six-month process that engaged residents in citizen science experiments, education, and advocacy. Several projects from the Plan have since been implemented to give the public access to air quality data and tools to take action. Monitors were installed in several locations, and a program in Millvale also helps residents monitor and improve their indoor air quality. An online Air Quality Dashboard was created to display real-time outdoor air quality data, and most recently each borough installed a uniquely designed Monitoring Station that doubles as a public space and social media selfie spot to help promote a regional Breathe Easy campaign. A Community Air Toolkit was created to help other communities learn about air quality and jump-start air quality planning processes in their own neighborhoods. The planning process and implementation projects have activated many residents across the Triboro Ecodistrict.


The quality of the air we all breathe is a silent but oversized contributor to our health and well-being. Equitable, collaborative planning processes like Breathe Easy are imperative to help communities organize around issues that impact their most vulnerable residents. This toolkit and set of innovative project ideas can inspire people across Pennsylvania to begin healing our communities and planet.
— Scott Wolovich, Executive Director of New Sun Rising


Poor air quality is an invisible challenge that cannot be solved within a single municipality. The Breathe Easy program leverages regional change by enabling individuals to take action in their neighborhood and to contribute to the growing coalition of communities advocating for clean air.
—evolveEA Principal, Christine Mondor


This year’s Environmental Excellence honorees showcase the innovation and passion that our students, educators, and community and business leaders bring to environmental challenges. Their dedication brings health, economic, and recreation benefits not only to their communities, but to all Pennsylvanians.
—Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf


The Triboro Ecodistrict in Southwestern Pennsylvania was formed in 2017 by the Allegheny River boroughs, Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg to collaborate on social equity and environmental sustainability initiatives. The three Certified EcoDistrict communities have been attracting regional and national attention for their award-winning plans and projects since partnering on the Triboro Ecodistrict, and now their collaboration on a series of projects targeting the region’s air quality is being celebrated by the state government. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) honored New Sun Rising and evolveEA, who developed the Breathe Easy Plan, as well as several air quality projects including an air quality dashboard and interactive air quality monitoring stations for the Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg Ecodistricts, with a 2021 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence

evolveEA Breathe Easy Millvale Air Quality PlanThe Breathe Easy Millvale Air Quality Plan, completed in 2016, was supported by a grant from the Heinz Endowments. The award-winning projects were conceived in the planning process and implemented in the three years following, supported by a Triboro Ecodistrict grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

The Breathe Easy Planning and implementation process is an example of how valuing science, as well as lived experience, can inspire transformational solutions. The Breathe Easy projects unite placemaking and performance, making air quality more tangible and easier for residents to understand.


  • To learn more about the Breathe Easy Plan, click here.
  • To visit the Millvale air quality dashboard, click here.
  • To view the Clean Air education series videos click here.
  • To view the Community Air Toolkit click here


#BreatheEasy Air Quality Monitoring Station designed by evolveEA
#BreatheEasy Air Quality Monitoring Station
#BreatheEasy Air Quality Monitoring Station in Sharpsburg
#BreatheEasy Air Quality Monitoring Station in front of Sharpsburg Community Library

Evolve EA