The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, commonly referred to as MORPC, is the regional council for more than 70 counties, cities, villages, townships and regional organizations in central Ohio, including Hilliard.

Its initiatives and programs focus on four core areas -- transportation, data and maps, sustainability and government affairs -- with the overarching goal of "improving the lives of residents and making central Ohio stand out on the world stage," as its website states.

The Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission is preparing its application for certification under MORPC's Sustainability2050, an initiative helping local communities to benchmark sustainability efforts and track progress toward long-term goals.

In the meantime, we want to share with you three MORPC services that Hilliard residents can take advantage of.

The three are air-quality alerts, a residential energy-efficiency program and the Franklin County home-repair program.

First, we encourage you to sign up for daily air-quality alerts at morpc.org/airquality.

The alerts use the color-coded Air Quality Index, which is the Environmental Protection Agency's measure for air-quality reporting.

The index measures the prevalence of five main pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

Most central Ohio days are rated Green or Yellow, indicating air quality is fine for outdoor activities. However, each year we see a few days that rank Orange (unsafe for sensitive groups such as people living with asthma or heart disease) or Red (unsafe for all).

MORPC's air-quality tracking serves as an important driver for reducing health-impacting emissions through partnerships with local governments and businesses.

Second, we bring your attention to MORPC's Residential Energy Efficiency Program. This program focuses on providing income-eligible Franklin County residents with upgrades and repairs to make homes more energy-efficient.

Eligibility is offered to residents whose income is less than double the federal poverty guideline.

Based on eligibility, customers may receive the following services at no cost: repair or replacement of furnaces and water heaters; attic and sidewall insulation; and air sealing or replacement of refrigerators, freezers and light bulbs with more-efficient models.

The program is available year-round and the application takes about two minutes to complete at MORPC's website.

Third, MORPC offers a home-repair program for health- and safety-related fixes for homeowners living in Franklin County but outside the city of Columbus.

Like the energy-efficiency program, the home-repair program is aimed at low- and moderate-income residents.

Qualified homeowners can receive a grant for repair projects such as furnace and heating systems; leaking or failing roofs; faulty plumbing or electrical systems; structural issues; accessibility modifications; and sewage disposal and private water systems.

We appreciate MORPC making it easy for Hilliard residents to be sustainability-minded, and we hope you find these programs useful.

Peter Spreitzer is a member of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission. The Eye on the Environment column is submitted by the commission.