Reducing emissions in city vehicles while finding useful alternative fuels and technologies is part of the mission of the city’s green fleet strategy, a plan undertaken by the city that focuses on the municipal fleet.
Scott Bone, manager of supply and fleet services, Lance Bulmer, sustainable procurement coordinator, and Terry Hawkes, superintendent fleet services, all appeared before city council last week seeking approval for the green fleet’s strategic plan for the new year.
The municipal fleet is currently comprised of 400 vehicles with an annual fuel budget of $1.3 million, which is about 20 per cent of the total operating cost, and produced 2,063 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in 2009.
The city fleet emissions equal 38 per cent of the 2009 corporate GHG in tonnes, making it the second largest contributor to corporate GHG emissions.
Working to lower those emissions will save the city the cost of buying carbon offsets. Improving efficiency by using the best possible routes will save on the cost of fuel as will using the right-sized vehicle for the job and optimizing efficiency when it comes to the life cycle of a vehicle.
Changes made with the green fleet strategy helped the city earn silver status through the Fraser Basin Council E3 Fleet program, which helps municipalities monitor how well their programs are doing, however by 2013 the city’s goal is to achieve gold status.
Bone explained that the report from E3 not only listed what the city was doing well with the program but also contained information on gaps and how they could be improved upon.
Some successes already achieved include the implementation of a sustainable procurement policy and the purchase of hybrid vehicles in 2009. A city idling policy, approved by city council, which includes guidelines for staff and contractors, is already in place. Preventive maintenance has become a focus and a pilot project is in place to measure and monitor idling times.
Going into the future will include investigating how well cars using other kinds of fuel work in Prince George, including electric and propane conversion vehicles.
“We want to see how electric motors work in our environment and how well they fit into the fleet,” Hawkes said.
Accomplishing that may include a potential partnership with UNBC, the Regional District, the City of Prince George and Northern Health to purchase a 100 per cent electric vehicle which would help develop community awareness on the benefits of electric cars.
Five city vehicles will be converted to propane in 2012 with the possibility of expanding the program in 2013.
A computer that will report and measure idling times will be installed in 40 city vehicles to compare idling times against baseline data and help achieve the goal of reducing fuel consumption by 10 per cent by 2013.