Langley's E3 Fleet Program Success
The Township of Langley (Langley) had an environmentally motivated Council before seeing a 2005 presentation by the Fraser Basin Council about their upcoming E3 Fleet program. Langley joined the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program in January 2001 and was well along in the process of developing a corporate action plan for reducing GHG emissions. The E3 program provided a focus, methodology and resources to help it green its fleet as one component of this larger corporate plan.
“Langley is a beautiful place. We have a lot of good fresh air here and we want to keep it that way,” explained Ryan Schmidt, Environmental Coordinator for the Langley Engineering Division. "But greening our fleet wasn't just about the environmental benefits", added colleague John McQueen, Equipment Maintenance Manager for the Division. “We also talked to senior management and Council about the potential cost savings of changing the way we managed our corporate vehicles."
Switching to Biodiesel - a Starting Point
The Fraser Basin Council had also been promoting the use of alternate fuels. So even before taking its first steps under the E3 Fleet program, Langley Engineering Division had already implemented the use of biodiesel fuel. Starting in the fall of 2005, they moved their diesel fleet over to biodiesel, starting with a B5 blend (5% biodiesel/95% diesel) and increasing the percentage every three months until reaching a B20 blend. The staged process made sure that there were no engine or fuel filter issues.
To support this switch, Langley was also instrumental in organizing the procurement of pre-mixed biodiesel fuel for its own use and for other purchasers in the region. This eliminated the barrier of having to mix the fuel on site.
John and Ryan were conscious of concerns that using biodiesel might have negative environmental consequences, such as diverting the use of food crops to fuel production. “We went to our suppliers to get assurances that the feedstock used to produce the fuel was not coming from the food chain,” said Ryan. “We use three suppliers: two use non-food grade stock and one uses waste fat.” John continues, “We understand that it is a sensitive issue. New stock is being identified, such as from pine beetle damaged trees and algae. We expect that in the future more and more biodiesel will come from waste."
Commitment to E3
On becoming a charter organization in the E3 green fleet program in November 2006, Langley undertook a comprehensive review of its fleet. Based on this data analysis, it has begun working on various E3 initiatives for reducing fuel consumption and costs.
A good place to start was the idling reduction strategy, which included both staff awareness and training components. It was presented to staff as the first step under a corporate-wide initiative knows as the "one - our new environment", a collaboration between departments in the Engineering Division. Presentations were given to staff on the benefits of reducing idling, and how trip and route planning and more efficient vehicle operation can help reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions. John explained, “We included the fire department and administrative staff. We wanted to convey that these were actions that should be practiced at home as well, not just when driving corporate vehicles.” Staff even went through real scenarios training, such as school pickup and drop-off. Decals on the inside of windshields, bumper stickers, and pay stub attachments all remind staff of the corporate anti-idling policy.
It seemed to be slow going at first. “Of course we had to win over the naysayers. But all of a sudden a few people caught on and then they started to regulate each other a bit. Everyone took ownership of it,” said John. Ryan and John plan to use the “one – our new environment” campaign in the community as well starting in 2009, but drivers have already had local store keepers approach them and remind them why they should turn off the ignition.
Barriers and Breakthroughs
“The E3 framework was very important in helping us implement all our changes,” John said when discussing trip and route planning, vehicle and fleet right-sizing, and especially benchmarking. “E3 gave us the opportunity to benchmark – where we were, what we are doing, where we can and should go.” Langley is now managing fuel consumption with GPS monitoring and on-board computers. This allow them to see exactly how each vehicle is performing and then determine what to do next to improve vehicle utilization and reduce GHG emissions.
“We ran into some union issues with the GPS. Drivers were concerned that it would be used as a disciplinary tool, but that was never our intent,” said John. To ease drivers into the GPS introduction, John and Ryan set up a kiosk in the work area with the GPS monitoring software for staff to look at and play with. “We gave them access to the exact information that management was seeing. Openness and transparency proved to be a powerful tool,” said Ryan. In fact, it actually benefitted at least one driver. “We had a complaint that one of our drivers was speeding in a school zone. We were able to use the GPS to prove that he wasn’t.”
Between 2006 and 2008 Langley improved their median fleet fuel efficiency by 8.5%, decreased overall GHG intensity by 6.1%, decreased the number of vehicles with low utilization by 10%, and decreased the number of vehicles reporting high fuel consumption by 52%. “And we did everything within budget,” said John. “In fact, the new Honda Civic Hybrids cost $5,000 to $6,000 less than the cars we were buying before.”
Langley has a more positive image in the community as well and has received a lot of recognition from local government peers. Then in September 2008, the Fraser Basin Council awarded the Township of Langley a Silver Rating under the E3 Green Fleet Program for excellence in “greening” its vehicle fleet, making it the first municipality in British Columbia and the third in Canada to be recognized for sustainable fleet management.
Langley will continue to monitor its fleet performance using the E3 rating card to understand where they can make further improvements. They are also investigating a corporate carpool program to utilize vehicles that just sit overnight. Driver training for both employees and the Environmental Youth Alliance Association could be on the horizon as well.
Langley has also started community outreach by taking on a unique community issue. They targeted five railway crossings over the summer of 2008 as good locations to reduce unnecessary idling. “We are doing some post pilot assessment now and the numbers are staggering. There were up to three days worth of idling every day at just five crossings!” said Ryan. “That’s a lot of unnecessary GHGs being released into the atmosphere.” Click here and here to see two ways Langley is communicating the importance of idling reduction to the community.
They will continue taking what they have learned into the community, including the eventual implementation of an anti-idling bylaw. “We really wanted to show leadership by starting with our own fleet first and demonstrating best practices within the corporation", said Ryan. "We believe that this helps build support in the community."
Key Messages to Other Local Governments
"Get involved with E3," said John. "Vehicle maintenance and management systems are challenging aspects of local government operations. E3 is a tool that can help local governments get on top of their fleet management, improve efficiency and reduce GHGs."
Ryan continued, "Council and upper management support is essential. A strong organizational commitment will make it easier to invest in the right resources, assign staff and be successful in implementing an E3 approach."
Both finished by agreeing that local governments should talk to and learn from each other. "This has been done before. There is no need to reinvent the wheel." They are happy to share their own experiences. "It is nice to be able to help others reduce their emissions," said Ryan.
Fuel Efficient Driving Poster Series
As part of their efforts, Langley has developed a series of fuel efficient driving posters.
- Avoid Aggressive Driving
- Check Your Tire Pressure
- Drive Steadily
- Idling Gets You Nowhere!
- Lighten Your Load
- Plan Your Trips
The following is a list of documents related to GHG emissions reductions in Langley that you may find useful: