SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council voted unanimously Monday to hire Consensus Building Institute, Inc. to help the Clean Air Advisory Committee create recommendations to “protect citizen health and quality of life.”

The Portland-based company, which promotes collaboration as a way to solve complex problems, says on its website that the staff are experts in facilitation, mediation, citizen engagement, and organizational strategy. 

According to the request for proposals, the Consensus Building Institute would be tasked in part to create localized benchmarks and goals for air quality standards.

Under its contract, Consensus Building Institute’s duties include becoming familiar with contaminants affecting the city’s air quality and likely and potential sources of emissions, identifying and recommending ways to obtain air quality data, and recommending ways to address any acute air quality issues.

The request for proposals defines air contaminants as including, but not limited to, dust, fumes, gas, mist, particulate matter, smoke, vapor, or any combination.

The Institute will receive $200 an hour, plus mileage, not to exceed $20,000 initially, City Manager Scott Morelli said in materials provided to the council. The council may need to allocate additional funds, depending on how long the committee needs to complete its work.

There is no specific timeline for the committee to report back to the council and, this week, Morelli said it could be a multiyear process.

The City Council created the Clean Air Advisory Committee this past fall to present the council with “timely” and “comprehensive recommendations” on improving air quality throughout the city. A number of concerns were raised nearly a year ago after the federal Environmental Protection Agency revealed that Global Partners, LLC, which operates several above-ground oil storage tanks, had violated the Clean Air Act. Later, the city learned there were also emission issues with the Sprague Energy tanks.