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Fleet Fuel Reduction: A Symposium on Challenges, Strategies and Success
- By Jody E Ciano
More than 20 fleet managers from around the state representing public and private sectors attended a breakfast symposium on March 21, 2011 at the Burlington Community Boathouse hosted by the Vermont Clean Cities Coalition, the University of Vermont Transportation Research Center and Burlington’s CEDO (Community and Economic Development Office). The meeting was held in efforts to stimulate dialogue among the group by addressing future strategies and opportunities for fleet fuel reduction and the everyday needs and challenges associated with fuel reduction. Burlington’s Mayor Bob Kiss gave the welcome address and stressed to those in attendance that it is imperative to commit to using energy more efficiently and to invest in our future.
Tom McGrath, University of Vermont Transportation Research Center and Coordinator of the Vermont Clean Cities Coalition, provided an overview of the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which advocates the use of alternative fuels, fuel blends, fuel economy, hybrids and idling reduction efforts. Since its inception in 1993, Clean Cities Coalitions have displaced nearly 3 billion gallons of petroleum through reduction, replacement and elimination projects and have been instrumental in the deployment of more than 775,000 alternative fuel vehicles and the utilization of 6,600 alternative refueling stations.
Peter Rusy from The Neutral Group, an engineering and consulting company, presented an eight month vehicle telematics trial program in fleet operations implemented at two DHL facilities in the Netherlands. The trial involved technological and human elements. Telematics devices were installed in the vehicles informatics system and weekly reporting with fleet managers and drivers were necessary for good results. The results showed a fuel reduction of 16,000 liters (4,000 gallons) over the trial period (a 7% reduction at one location and a 5% at the other) and that heavy trucks yielded better results. Rusy stated that a reduction of 10% is possible but that human driver activity (braking, acceleration and idling) and their interaction in telematics supported programs are critical.
Speaker Peter Vanderhoof of Casella Waste Management presented his company’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to impove resource sustainability. In 2007, Casella Waste Systems introduced its first hybrid diesel electric collection vehicle; and in 2010, with interest from the State of Vermont and Vermont Gas, Casella built an on-site CNG station in Williston, Vermont. Casella is currently running three CNG fueled trucks and plans for purchasing nine more trucks are slated for this year. Vanderhoof reported that the alternative fuel is safer and the trucks are quieter and require longer spans between maintenance. Although the start-up costs aren't cheap and the fueling time for vehicles is lengthy, it is hard to argue against the $2.00 per gallon savings they are now generating.