The EPA has developed a handy guide that identifies SmartWay vehicles, a set of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks that have above-average fuel economy.

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Just imagine for a moment that you didn't have a car, but you still had to get to the places that are important in your daily life. You could take public transportation, like the bus or the subway, but it's not always convenient to take the bus or train. Carpooling is an option, but sometimes can be difficult to organize, especially if you don't know anyone. You might have to travel miles just to get to work or school. Without a car, you might be stuck.

Of course, some people simply don't own a car, and others have the fortune of being able to use public transportation, live close to work or even work from home. But because most people live complex, fast-paced modern lifestyles, it's difficult for them to get around without a vehicle. Whether it's career-related activities like work and school or everyday things like shopping and other errands, cars, SUVs and pickup trucks help us get from point A to point B with relative ease.

­On one hand, cars are convenient for us -- they carry our belongings, groceries and, most importantly, people. But most realize that automobiles create harmful pollution that contributes significantly to global warming. The byproduct of burning fuel in an internal combustion engine is the emissions that come out of your vehicle's tailpipe -- greenhouse gases that get trapped in the Earth's atmosphere cause global temperatures to rise.

There are a number of initiatives you can take to reduce automobile emissions. For one, you can try the above-mentioned methods, like public transportation or carpooling, to reduce your carbon footprint. And even changing the way you drive and learning green driving habits, like obeying speed limits and avoiding rapid acceleration and braking, will lower your emissions and increase your vehicle's fuel efficiency.

And thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if you're thinking about buying a new car with the intent of doing a little eco-friendly driving, you can start even earlier by buying smart. The organization has developed a certification system, called SmartWay, to help future green-minded car owners easily identify vehicles that pollute less and have better fuel economy. The better environmental performer a car is, the more chance it has of getting recognized by the EPA. So how does SmartWay certification work?