High-emitting Vehicles Pilot Project

Environmental Initiative is partnering with two local nonprofit garages to pilot a project to reduce emissions from older passenger vehicles like cars and light-duty trucks. We’ll reduce emissions by targeting and fixing vehicle exhaust systems for lower-income residents in the Twin Cities.

Currently, it is estimated that 25% of passenger vehicles cause 90% of air pollution. This is mostly due to older cars having outdated or broken emission controls and exhaust equipment. By partnering with Cars for Neighbors and The Lift Garage, Environmental Initiative is offering repairs to broken emission systems, cleaning up some of the most polluting cars on the road while reducing barriers to transportation for those most impacted by them.


While funding lasts, partner garages will offer low-cost or no-cost repairs to three priority emission control systems: catalytic converters, Evaporative Emission Control (EVAP) systems, and oxygen sensors. During the initial pilot, Environmental Initiative plans to repair roughly 40 vehicles.

Ultimately, Environmental Initiative’s goal is to secure additional funding to significantly increase and broaden the reach and impact of the project.


Poor air quality isn’t evenly dispersed across the landscape – meaning that depending on where you live and work, you might be exposed to more or less pollution than other people. The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently published a report on these air quality disparities. According to the report, negative health impacts fall disproportionately on the sick, the elderly, children with asthma, and disadvantaged communities that tend to be predisposed to respiratory and cardiac illness.

Cars for Neighbors and The Lift Garage are helping Environmental Initiative repair vehicles in neighborhoods most affected by poor air quality. The high-emitting vehicles project is a big opportunity to reduce pollution where it is most felt.

Emission Reduction Technologies

There are many different ways to reduce air pollution from passenger vehicles. In order to efficiently address emissions, Environmental Initiative and partner garages identified three types of equipment repairs: catalytic converters, Evaporative Emission Control (EVAP) systems, and oxygen sensors.


Catalytic converters are devices that convert harmful gases and pollutants normally found in exhaust gas into harmless compounds by triggering chemical reactions that break down carbon monoxide and the precursors to smog. They can be installed ahead of the existing muffler or as a unit combined with a muffler.


A functioning Evaporative Emission Control (EVAP) system prevents fuel vapors from exiting the fuel tank and other fuel system components, blocking harmful volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s from entering the air. The major components of an EVAP system include the fuel tank, gas cap, EVAP canister, and liquid-vapor separator.


Oxygen sensors are devices that measure the oxygen to fuel ratio, controlling how much fuel is injected into the engine. Oxygen sensors are mounted inside the exhaust system. From there, they track how much oxygen is in the exhaust being emitted. Repairing the oxygen sensors can improve fuel efficiency, minimize exhaust emissions, and extend the life of the catalytic converter.