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Best Practices for a Sustainable Fleet

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The greening of municipal fleets is part of a commitment by elected officials to show citizens that they care about their environment. Photo Sustainable Fleet Technology

As part of its webinars, Sustainable Fleet Technology, in collaboration with NAFA, presented the environmental best practices of sustainable U.S. fleet managers on September 15.

Three fleet managers who have distinguished themselves by their commitment to sustainable mobility explained how they have evolved their fleets to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Tracy Ochsner, Fleet Manager for Fort Collins, near Denver, Colorado, is aiming for an 80% reduction in GHG emissions from municipal vehicles by 2030. “Our approach has been to work with elected officials to establish a clear objective. This has resulted in an infrastructure development program and a vehicle purchasing policy that focuses on electric solutions first. The first choice must be electric and we will go towards natural gas or propane. If nothing is available, we will systematically choose the smallest possible gasoline vehicles, depending on the needs of the users.

Carbon footprint reduction

He explains that there is no single solution to reducing the carbon footprint. Since this manager has been introducing low-emission vehicles since the early 1980s, he admits that there have been some mistakes along the way. This does not discourage him from testing new motorized equipment at the rate they are introduced to the market. Street sweepers and electric ice resurfacers are currently being tested, for example.

His colleague in the city of Dublin, Ohio, John Hyatt, has been managing a similar plan since 2009. Currently, 66% of its fleet runs on electricity or alternative fuels. The goal is to reach 70% by 2025. “We have put in place fleet replacement criteria to achieve this goal. Previously, our strategy has been to optimize the use of vehicles. For example, trucks that were only used for snow removal now take to the road in the summer for public works. We monitor usage and have resold vehicles that were sitting in the parking lot, even renting them out as needed. Optimization has also been simple at times, for example, purchasing a four-door van for our four-worker crews that used to leave with two two-passenger vans. By switching to hybrid patrol cars, we have saved, to date, 50% of our operating costs for the police department fleet.”

All municipal teams are on the same page. For example, employees have become accustomed to using cars from the vehicle pool instead of requesting a personal vehicle.

Various environmental solutions

The City of Riverside, California has 1361 vehicles of all sizes in its fleet. Michael Turnbull is responsible for this. The objectives are clear and the solutions are numerous,” he says. One of the obstacles at the moment is obviously the supply problems. For example, we have 17 F150 Lighting vans on order and we don’t know when they will be delivered. So we have to put temporary solutions in place to make sure we can deliver our services.”

The municipality has also worked hard to ensure the availability of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and service points for propane, compressed natural gas, hydrogen and biodiesel. The municipality has also connected all the vehicles in its fleet to telemetry. This is essential for the manager to measure usage and also to strategically plan preventive maintenance. The data analysis is so advanced in this case that the manager can determine that it will be more economical to replace or repair the battery of an electric or hybrid vehicle than to purchase a new car.

All three stakeholders agree that progress in greening their parks is facilitated by the commitment of elected municipal officials. With their support, grants were obtained to accelerate this shift. City Council authorizes our purchases,” says Turnbull. If we’re going to choose a fuel vehicle as a last resort, we’d better have solid reasons.”

 

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