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Feb 04

Pierce County Fleet Reduces Fuel Use by 13.66% Since 2010

Posted on February 4, 2016 at 8:34 AM by Ryan Dicks

The Pierce County vehicle fleet is made up of over 1,000 vehicles and operated by two different County Departments. The fleet is made up of EV's, hybrids, Sheriff vehicles, pickup trucks, bucket trucks and many large vehicles that help take care of our roads.  The light duty fleet is taken care of by budget and finance and 80% of these are Sheriff vehicles.

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The medium/heavy duty fleet is mainly diesel and it is managed by Public Works.

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What is not burning 129,000 gallons of fuel equivalent to from a greenhouse gas perspective?

- It is like taking 243 cars off the road.
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It is like not using 15.3 truck tankers of gasoline. 
- It is like 59.3 Garbage trucks being recycled instead of landfilled.
- It is equal to reducing 2,686 barrels of oil
- It is equal to the carbon sequestered by 29,610 trees grown for 10 years.
Source:
EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator


How did we use 129,000 fewer gallons in 2015 vs. 2010?

Pierce County has worked to reduce fossil fuel use for the last 6 years but the progress has been slow and sometimes not possible.  There are a lot of external factors like inclement weather, construction and poor site locations that have caused us to use more fuel in certain years. Pierce County must respond to the needs of the public and our work programs change and sometimes grow as projects are funded or grow in scope. The truth is that no one change has allowed us to reduce our fuel use by 13.66%. It has been many changes that have brought us to this point. 

How We Did It

LED lights
on our Sheriff and Roads vehicles use much less energy and allow our vehicles to burn much less fuel while stopped at accidents or construction sites.  These lights do not use much energy so drivers can leave their vehicles off and not worry about their battery dying.  

The Anti-idling policy
was put in place in 2011 and resulted in immediate savings on fuel.  As most of us know vehicles that idle waste lots of gas and create unnecessary air pollution that is bad for our health. The Sheriff's Department has started to put anti-idling technology on some of their vehicles and it has proven to work well and save fuel. Read the Fuel Reduction Policy Here

Green driver education
is something we offer all of our employees as part of the annual sustainability training that most Pierce County employees receive. If you are interested in saving some fuel and money check out the training here.   

More efficient vehicles play a big role as we remove older more polluting vehicles and replace them with modern vehicles that pollute less and are more efficient.

Improved facility locations
have been critical in limiting unnecessary long drives. The best example of this are the new Sheriff Precinct in Parkland-Spanaway. By centralizing their location it has helped them avoid the 15-20 minute drive from the South Hill Precinct improving safety and using less fuel.  Public Works is expecting to get similar benefits from their new STOP facility.

Video.pngCheck out the Parkland Precinct

More hybrids and electric vehicles including the new Sprinker Electric Zamboni have greatly improved the miles per gallon of our light duty fleet.  The Sprinker electric Zamboni alone saved us 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel that no longer harms the lungs of young ice skaters.  In the coming years electric vehicles will become much more common place and should replace many gas vehicles in the current fleet.

Video.pngElectric Zamboni



Our goal is to reduce fossil fuel use by 20% in our fleet by 2020.
I think new technology and green driver training can help us get there much faster maybe even by 2018.  Our fleet mangers and drivers have made the difference so far, but we all agree that more can be done to limit the burning of fossil fuels (the biggest greenhouse gas contributor in Pierce County). I am certain that adding biodiesel (B10 or B20) and the electrification of the fleet are viable solutions as we move forward.  Maybe someday in the future a portion of our fleet will run off renewable gas from our new sewer treatment plant. 

I want to thank our fleet managers and all the Pierce County drivers who are making an effort to drive smarter and cleaner.  Your efforts have saved 129,898 gallons of fuel in 2015.

Ryan Dicks
Pierce County Sustainability Manager