Obama, Dow and Waste Management Unveil Latest Green Fleet Moves

Obama, Dow and Waste Management Unveil Latest Green Fleet Moves

Image courtesy of the GSA, by Michelle Farrell

You may never see President Barack Obama, Dow Chemical and Waste Management ever again used in the same sentence, but this week the three generated separate headlines making the case for how undertaking fleet improvements today may blunt some of the petroleum-related pain of tomorrow.

Not that companies aren't feeling the pinch right now. With the summer driving season upon us, the outlook for gas prices is grim. Though the cost of a gallon of gas has fallen in recent weeks, the Energy Information Administration still predicts the retail price of a gallon will average $3.81 through late September. That's nearly 40 percent higher than last summer.

This of course threatens many a bottom line at a time when the economy is still in the midst of recovery. Though commercial fleets have been moving down greener roads at varying speeds for years, it remains to be seen if or how the current gas prices will accelerate the trend. In the meantime, here is a look at the most recent green fleet news from around the web that caught our eye this week.

Obama Orders Nation's Largest Fleet to Get Greener by 2015

President Obama ordered the General Services Administration (GSA) on Wednesday to take several steps that would move the country toward his goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025. Obama previously ordered federal agencies to cut petroleum consumption by 30 percent by 2020.

To mark the announcement, the GSA detailed a pilot project aimed at incorporating electric vehicles in the federal fleet. The government has ordered 101 Chevrolet Volts and 15 all-electric vehicles that will be leased to 20 agencies.

Obama's latest directive orders agencies to:

• Lay the groundwork and infrastructure for the government to purchase or lease only alternative fuel passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks by 2015. This may include vehicles powered by gasoline-electricity (hybrids), 100 percent electricity, compressed natural gas or bio-fuel.

• Devise and use methodologies to determine optimal fleet size and develop recommendations for acquisitions and optimization. Eliminate unnecessary or non-essential vehicles.

• Set targets for the size and composition of the federal fleet, as well as an action plan by 2015.

Dow Orders Plug-in Hybrid Electric Trucks

Although many companies want to add hybrid and electric vehicles to their fleets, they are largely only available as passenger vehicles. To satisfy its own demand, Dow Chemical has tapped Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies to convert conventional Ford F-150 trucks for its fleet with the Quantum F-Drive system.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) trucks will be converted in phases beginning in December. By the end of 2012, Dow plans to have more than 100 in operation. The vehicles will use power from their Dow Kokam lithium ion batteries for the first 35 miles before the conventional engine-assisted hybrid system kicks in, which then expands the range to more than 400 miles.

Dow has also purchased two Chevy Volts for its operations, in addition to installing charging stations at its headquarters and within its Michigan operations.

Waste Management Ups the Ante on Natural Gas

Lack of infrastructure often bedevils the hopes of companies to incorporate alternative fuel vehicles into their fleets. Waste Management cleared the hurdle this week by opening its own compressed natural gas filling station to serve is Chicago-area truck fleet.

The new facility sports 40 filling bays that will service the company fleet of six CNG-powered trucks. Waste Management will add 10 more CNG trucks this summer, with plans to boost CNG truck purchases moving forward.

The company's CNG-powered garbage and recycling trucks produce 23 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their conventional counterparts, meshing well with the company's overarching goal of reducing its total emissions by 15 percent by 2020, the same year be which Waste Management wants to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet by 15 percent.

Image courtesy of the GSA, by Michelle Farrell.