Tag Archives: sustainability

Posted by Nicole Deck

100 Best Fleets – City of Raleigh

https://www.raleighnc.gov/home/content/AdminServSustain/Articles/AltFuelProgram.html
City of Raleigh Prius vehicles charging up. Courtesy: www.raleighnc.gov

The City of Raleigh has more than 2,000 registered vehicles in its fleet used for a wide variety of services, including the police force, garbage, maintenance and repairs, public utilities, water and sewer and more, according to Fleet Services Superintendent Travis Brown.

Along with the wide range of vehicles, Raleigh also has a large number of alternative fuels and alternative vehicles to match.

The City, which isn’t new to the 100 Best Fleets list, uses 385 vehicles with B20 biodiesel, over 1,000 E85 flex fuel-compatible vehicles, 223 hybrids, 18 electric powered neighborhood vehicles,  25 vehicles that use propane, and 7 that use natural gas.

Brown, who has worked with the City of Raleigh for 16 years, said the City has been working to transform the fleet even before he arrived, when the City was already using biodiesel.

Brown said that so many alternative fuels have been introduced into the fleet because they help to reduce emissions, improve air quality, promote domestic energy production, help decrease fuel costs, and can help farmers.

The goal of the City is to take care of its citizens, Brown said – and using alternative fuels is a part of that.

“It’s about being a good steward of a city, and trying to do the right thing,” Brown said.

Raleigh also uses anti-idling technology in many of the police fleet vehicles. The Energy Xtreme Law Enforcement anti-idling system allows vehicles to operate their full electrical system (including lights, camera and radio) without using the vehicle’s engine, according to the City of Raleigh website.

After the first quarter of the anti-idling technology usage, about 962 gallons were saved from 29 vehicles that used it, according to the website. The projected annual savings were estimated at $63,199.

Previously, many City police vehicles were driving Ford Crown Victorias, and now they’re driving hybrid sedans – which Brown said saves a lot of money when it comes to fuel. The Crown Victorias were getting around 13-18 miles per gallon (MPG), he said, and the hybrids get around 30-38 MPG.

“It’s been a good investment on return, going that way,” Brown said.

In addition to alternative fuels, the City schedules vehicle replacements every year to ensure the fleet is kept modern.

Raleigh also uses a maintenance management system, which provides GPS information for departments on engine faults, idling, equipment and accountability.

The most challenging part of managing a fleet, Brown said, is communicating and educating – getting the word out to all staff about changes and plans, and educating on new ways of doing things and how those changes are beneficial.

Brown said he addresses it as much as he can by having meetings with service departments and providing data on fuel usage.

When running a fleet, Brown advises doing research, networking with those in the same industry to see what works for their fleet, looking at your own to figure out what could work for yours, and attempting to do some forecasting.

“There’s so much technology out there, and the automotive industry is changing so much,” Brown said. “Don’t look at necessarily what’s happening today – try to find what’s coming up three years down the road. You don’t want to get something approved, and then it’s outdated.”

Looking ahead, Brown said Raleigh hopes to push more telematics, eventually adding the technology to all vehicles being used. Currently, Raleigh uses a maintenance management system, but the City would like to upgrade to a web-based system so they can provide more transparency to users and customers.

Learn more about the City of Raleigh’s alternative fuel use by visiting the website here.

Posted by Nicole Deck

Sustainable Fleet Management Practices & Technologies Training

From left: Heather Brutz, Al Curtis, George Survant, Brandon Pasinski, and Emily Barrett at the Sustainable Fleet Management & Technologies Training on June 20.

While experts at the Sustainable Fleet Management & Technologies Training came from a wide variety of backgrounds in fleet management, they shared a similar sentiment.

“The world’s changing; the climate’s changing. We’re finding out it’s a dirty fuel we’re relying on,” said Michael Taylor, of Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “Alternative fuels are here to stay.”

The June 20 training covered an assortment of topics involving all things fleets — including sustainability metrics, vehicle selection standards, life-cycle cost analysis, change management, electric/hybrid vehicles and charging, idle reduction technologies, CNG, LPG and biofuels.

Rick Sapienza, of the NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC), estimated there was about 200 years of experience in the room.

George Survant talks about fleet sustainability metrics.

Presenters included Emily Barrett, Town of Cary NC Sustainability; Al Curtis, Cobb County GA Fleet Management; Chris Facente, University of NC Charlotte; Joe O’Neill, CNG Guy Consulting; Brandon Pasinski, Town of Cary NC Fleet Management; George Survant, National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA); and Michael Taylor, PERC; as well as Rick Sapienza, John Bonitz and Heather Brutz of the NCCETC.

Whether a fleet uses electric, CNG, LPG, biofuels or a combination of those applications, some work better than others — it all depends on the individual fleets’ needs.

“It isn’t one size fits all,” Sapienza said.

Survant, who discussed fleet sustainability metrics, said he encourages fleets to stay focused by regularly trying to come up with creative, innovative solutions.

“The array of solutions is unprecedented for us,” Survant said. “I think if we as fleet leaders don’t keep our antennae up to that right solution match to the problems we have to deal with, we miss a good opportunity.”

Emily Barrett and Brandon Pasinski of the Town of Cary.

Barrett and Pasinski, who shared the Town of Cary’s sustainable fleet journey, advised utilizing the right vehicle for the job, using what you already have, and buying only what you need. The two also suggested driving correctly, limiting waste, spending time on maintenance, and planning your routes.

“The key is getting to know your resources,” Barrett said. “It’s a process. It takes time and culture.”

Al Curtis discusses Change Management.

Curtis discussed change management, explaining that giving your team what they need to kick-start and accelerate change is of utmost importance. You can inspire and empower your team by offering ideas and using storytelling, and offering insights and practical methods, Curtis said.

Cobb County started with CNG stations, then purchased Flex Fuel cars, propane vehicles, hybrid cars, and now has 29 Nissan Leafs, 4 Zero Cycles and 45 charging stations with 1 DC fast charger, Curtis said.

“You must not just change, you must transform,” Curtis said.

Lisa Poger discusses the value of electric vehicles.

Poger talked about electric vehicles and their wide-range of benefits. Among them are fuel cost savings, lower maintenance, noise reduction and employee safety, exhaust/emissions reduction and more.

Michael Taylor discusses propane.

Taylor showed how propane is widely used, increasing in its use both in the US and abroad, and how it can be utilized more in the future. Propane is also non-toxic, he said — if it’s spilled it would dissipate, and it can’t be blown up like gas can.

Joe O’Neill discussed the value of NVGs (Natural Gas Vehicles) — informing that natural gas supply is estimated to be large enough to meet the US energy needs for the next 100 years. NVG is also a cleaner burning fuel, he said, with greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 20 to 30 percent when compared to diesel and gasoline. NVGs are also at a lower cost per energy unit compared to diesel or gasoline.

Joe O’Neill discusses NVGs.

Brutz talked about creating a sustainable fleet plan, vehicles selection standards, and life-cycle cost analysis — which looks at all the costs associated with owning or leasing a vehicle to determine what the total cost of owning the vehicle is over its lifetime.

Sustainable fleet goals should include emissions (environmental), energy (economic), and efficiency, Brutz said. The key components of a sustainable fleet plan are to commit to a process, set reduction targets, measure actions, and review and revise.

When it comes to managing a sustainable fleet and making any kind of change — even with the right knowledge, ideas and equipment — standstills and setbacks are not uncommon.

“It’s not always a magic bullet,” Facente said. “You do have challenges when going uphill.”

But the presenters agreed the future looks bright.

“These technologies work, they’re just different,” Sapienza said. “Embrace technology and embrace change.”

From left: Chris Facente, George Survant, Joe O’Neill, Brandon Pasinski, Emily Barrett, and Michael Taylor.
Posted by Nicole Deck

100 Best Fleets series: UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte fleet vehicles. Photo provided by Christopher Facente.

This week, we take a look at UNC Charlotte‘s fleet and talk to Automotive/Motor Fleet Supervisor Christopher Facente. The university has been a part of the 100 Best Fleets three years in a row, improving its place each time.

There are 500 vehicles in the fleet, and about 150 of them are electric — ranging from Nissan Leafs to smaller work trucks, Facente said.

Older, less fuel-efficient vehicles have been replaced with utility carts and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs), and most of the fleet’s Ford Rangers are now NEV Global Electric Motorcars (GEMs). The total cost of ownership, potential future repairs, and life-cycle costs are calculated to keep the fleet up to date and sustainable.

Facente said to keep improving on the fleet, he’s looking at more sustainability in general. There is already a recycling program in place, and the fleet reduces waste by carrying out practices such as recycling oil filters and enforcing a no-idle policy on campus.

“We looked at our processes, started to streamline little things…”  Facente said. “It’s slow, but it does take time to implement these changes. As we work on them, we get better.”

UNC Charlotte also has a robust maintenance program for electric vehicles, which are maintenanced monthly, Facente said. The repairs are tracked through Archibus, a centralized data platform, and history is checked for repeat problems/technician faults.

The fleet restructured the campus into zones and put maintenance shops near areas where the fleets work. In the old system,  there was a central base dispatch to anywhere on campus.  Now, each zone has electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians and are never over 3 miles from the buildings they service.  Telematics have also been put on vehicles.

UNC Charlotte fleet vehicles. Photo provided by Christopher Facente.

With all of the different changes, Facente handles it by communicating.

“You’re always going to have challenges with change,” Facente said. “Getting an employee to give up a truck and go to an EV can be a challenge. But if you take your time, explain the benefits, you can pretty much get everyone on board.”

As for advice, Facente suggests having a top-down strategy so that upper management approves, and being sure to not make a sudden change. In addition, taking the time to do a lot of homework to find the correct vehicles that will fit your fleet is vital.

“Electric works for us, but it may not work for everyone,” Facente said.

To share ideas among employees freely within the fleet, there is a brainstorming session every month, a fleet email group to share ideas, and a shop meeting weekly where technicians are encouraged to share ideas and problem-solve. The fleet has a Learning and Development center on campus with a variety of soft skill classes for every staff member.

Along with brainstorming meetings, there is a staff meeting every quarter where teams are recognized for their job performances. The safe team award is also given when the team goes without accidents.

(Facente would like to thank Associate Vice Chancellor Phil Jones and the late Larry Lane, who was his predecessor getting the program started.)

Posted by Nicole Deck

100 Best Fleets winners series – City of Durham

Fleet members of the City of Durham. Photo contributed by City of Durham.

This week, Fuel What Matters features 100 Best Fleets of the Americas winner City of Durham.

City of Durham’s fleet, which consists of about 1,520 vehicles and equipment, is a typical municipal fleet with cars and trucks (both light/heavy duty), refuse collection vehicles, police and fire vehicles, and construction equipment, according to Fleet Management Director Joseph Clark.

Durham has received the 100 Best Fleets Award every year since 2010, has been named as a Top 50 Fleet by the Leading Fleets Award Program from 2014 to 2018, and has multiple times been recognized for the Green Fleet Awards.

“We are proud to be afforded the opportunity to both participate and be recognized,” Clark said of the 100 Best Fleets award.  “Our highest ranking has been 7th, but we are optimistic for the future.”

Clark said he thinks the City of Durham fleet’s careful cost analyzation to determine what works well for the organization and its stakeholders is what the fleet does best.

Durham uses a  Fleet Information Management System that captures accurate relative data; and dealer and OEM level software and technician training.  The fleet also benchmarks other leading agencies in their successes and failures to minimize missteps and maximize returns; and uses optimized tuning equipment, advanced telematics and idle reduction technology to increase fleet efficiency.

“Our recognition is tied to our dedication to managing the fleet utilizing some of the best and latest tools available,” Clark said.

Durham also has plan in place with a goal of reducing annual maintenance cost and average cost per mile, increasing average fuel economy, and reducing fossil fuel consumption, Clark said.

Through the years, underutilized vehicles have been removed, allowing the fleet to decrease in size. Clark said this has been done by outsourcing police upfit builds, remarketing used vehicles within the City, and adopting a sustainability plan that includes fuel reduction goals, right-sizing and right-typing vehicles, utilizing smaller engines in police vehicles, eliminating 4-wheel drive when not needed, and more.

To keep improving on the City of Durham’s fleet, Clark said they hope to further invest in hybrid vehicles, along with continued investment in anti-idle technology.

In addition to reducing fossil fuel use and right-sizing vehicles, Durham’s fleet also implements programs for its staff.

The fleet holds monthly staff meetings where discussion is focused on topics that encompass the whole organization, Clark said. The City has a program called Idea Starter that encourages new ideas and has a pool of funds to contribute to selected ideas.

“Recognition is a key component that encourages ideas to be brought forward,” Clark said. “We push a continuous learning philosophy.”

Throughout the years, the fleet has also faced challenges. There was a period of time when economic factors forced underfunding of fleet replacement — a deficit that created a backlog of vehicles, Clark said. The fleet continues to try to remedy the backlog while investing new ideas when opportunities exist.

When it comes to advice, Clark suggests “buy-in from the top.”

“Buy-in from the top is paramount — if upper management does not support the idea, it will be difficult to be successful,” Clark said.

 

Posted by Nicole Deck

National Bike to Work Day 2018

A bicyclist chats at a pit stop at last year’s Bike to Work Day in Raleigh, NC. Photo contributed by BikeRaleigh.

All month long, communities around the US have been celebrating National Bike Month 2018. May is halfway through, but there are dozens of bicycling events happening around North Carolina that are still to come — including this Friday’s Bike to Work Day in Raleigh, NC.

If you’ve never tried out a bike route to work, National Bike to Work Day is a great day to explore your options and meet other bicycling enthusiasts. Commuting with a bike can help you save money on gas, avoid traffic, get exercise, and be more environmentally friendly by not contributing to air pollution.

Fontaine Burruss, Bikeshare Coordinator for City of Raleigh Department of Transportation, said Raleigh’s Bike to Work Day event is for anyone from longtime bicycle commuters to those who are trying it for the first time.

Sign for a pit stop during last year’s Bike to Work Day in Raleigh, NC. Photo contributed by Bike Raleigh

“It’s a great way to both celebrate those who bike to work already, and also encourage people who are in interested in biking to work but maybe haven’t taken that leap,” Burruss said.

The City of Raleigh’s Bike to Work Day event will be throughout the morning and evening this Friday, May 18, with pit stops located around the city packed with refreshments and giveaways. Most pit stops will be around in the morning, ranging from 6 to 11 a.m., with one pit stop after work from 4 to 6 p.m.

To find the map of pit stops in Raleigh, view below (pit stops are indicated by the orange bicycle symbols) and click here for the interactive version complete with hosts and times they will be there. You can also map out your route and view bike lanes by using Raleigh’s online bike map or downloading BikeRaleigh’s free mobile app.

Raleigh’s Bike to Work Day is a one-day event, but Burress said she hopes it makes a lasting change in people’s lives.

“Often what we find is people who try it once realize it’s not as hard as they think it is to bike to work, and they’re open to trying more often,” Burress said.

If you can’t make it out Friday, Durham County will also have a Bike to Work Day event next Thursday, May 24, with several pit stops located throughout the city from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.  Stop on your way to work for food and prizes; and for each location you stop, you also get entered into a raffle.

If you’re new to commuting, Durham County has a Bike Buddy program, where a partner can help show the way. View the Durham event map here and visit www.bikedurham.org for more information.

There are plenty of more National Bike Month events happening around North Carolina in May. For more in Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, Knightdale and Wake Forest, visit gotriangle.org. For events in Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville and Black Mountain, visit strivenottodrive.org.

Before you go, be sure to check NC Department of Transportation Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation’s safety and education page to be aware of laws and safety measures when it comes to bicycling in the city.

Posted by Nicole Deck

Particle Falls art exhibit in Winston-Salem

Particle Falls projected on the Stevens Center building in downtown Winston-Salem, NC. Photos provided by Clean Air Carolina
The orange fireball represents the amount of particulate matter in the air in real time, a form of pollution that can negatively affect your health just by breathing.

Winston-Salem’s 10-story tall Stevens Center was illuminated last month, displaying a giant animated light art projection of a blue waterfall turning into a fireball.
But the art wasn’t just for show — the spectacle represented the amount of particulate matter in the air in real time, a form of air pollution that can negatively affect your health just by breathing.
The animation, Particle Falls: Air Made Visible, was designed by artist Andrea Polli, Art and Ecology professor at the University of New Mexico, by using specialized computer software. It is generated by translating real-time particulate matter data from the surrounding air, using a nephelometer — an instrument that takes in air samples and gathers data about the concentration of particle pollution. A computer program then transforms the data into visual bursts of color over the background of blue light.
“With this particular exhibit, it’s so beautiful … yet it stands for something that can be so ugly,” said Dr. Stephanie Dance-Barnes, Associate Professor of Cellular & Molecular Biology at Winston-Salem State University.
Particulate matter, which occurs year-round, is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets, the smallest measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter – just 1/30th the width of a human hair, according to Clean Air Carolina. While larger particles known as soot affect your health, it is the fine particulate matter that is more dangerous because it can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, enter the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier.
There is no safe level of particulate matter.
“Most air pollution in North Carolina is invisible, so it’s not on most people’s radar at all,” said June Blotnick, Executive Director of Clean Air Carolina. “So this particular public art installation gets people’s attention, and gets them to start asking questions.”
Winston-Salem has been ranked as the 142nd most polluted cities in 2016 and traditionally ranks above the national average of US cities for average annual particle pollution, according to Clean Air Carolina.
Sources of particle pollution in Winston-Salem include cars, trucks, diesel buses and construction equipment, landscaping tools, agriculture, industrial facilities, power plants, biomass, and residential wood burning.
“For climate deniers, for climate believers — it’s something that you can come down and say, ‘You know what? I may not believe about the climate changing, but I know that I’m breathing that in, and what that means for me,'” said Wendell Hardin, Sustainability Manager of City of Winston-Salem.
For more information about Particle Falls, check out this video.

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