Green Operations

How Minneapolis Implemented its Green Fleet Policy

May 2011, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

The City of Minneapolis Fleet Services division green team includes, l-r, Gary Dahl, Bill Gauthier, Al Thunberg, and Director of FSD John Scharffbillig. Photo courtesy John Scharffbillig.
The City of Minneapolis Fleet Services division green team includes, l-r, Gary Dahl, Bill Gauthier, Al Thunberg, and Director of FSD John Scharffbillig. Photo courtesy John Scharffbillig.

The Minneapolis City Council on March 7 approved a green fleet policy written by the City's Fleet Services division (FSD). The policy details changes to the City fleet to reduce vehicle emissions, optimize fleet size, and ensure low-emission vehicle procurement. Fleet veteran John Scharffbillig, director of fleet services, discusses how the policy came to be, as well as the fleet team's methods and progression during the year-long process.

From Idea to Implementation

When the City hired Scharffbillig two years ago, there had already been talks about a green fleet policy. "The environmental section here said we need to address our concerns with our mobile fleet in making sure we are getting the cleanest-burning equipment that we can to reduce our tailpipe emissions," he said. "When I was hired, it was one of the things they asked me to start working on."

Scharffbillig and the fleet staff began writing the policy more than a year ago. They began by researching other areas that had created a green fleet policy and found some policies in place in various municipalities and agencies. After reviewing these resources, FSD worked with the City Environmental Coordinating staff to determine what they goals.

"This turned into a real education exercise on both [sides]," Scharffbillig said. Fleet Services wanted to ensure cost-effectiveness, while the Environmental Coordinating staff had to make sure the policy had an environmentally friendly impact, and the two teams worked together to find middle ground, Scharffbillig said.

In addition, FSD also spoke to fleet managers in the area "to find out how they were dealing with the process of going green." The division also spoke to the State of Minnesota Fleet Council, chaired by Tim Morris, on cost-effective green strategies, according to Scharffbillig.

To determine methods for emissions measuring, FSD worked with the City's energy manager as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They decided to use the EPA's formula for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. "This has been a slow process due to not understanding the formula and getting the data in the right format," Scharffbillig said.

FSD also spoke to the Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC) to educate members about the policy and have them review it before presenting it to City Council in December 2010. The policy went through several revisions and edits with various committees before it was approved. Scharffbillig said these revisions were mostly edits to wording and clarifications on data availability.

The final policy, which can be found in its entirety here, is extensive, and lists procedures for additional vehicle acquisition, calls for an annual fleet report, creates a Green Fleet Team that ensures compliance, advocates use of recycled materials during preventive maintenance, and gives Fleet Services division authority in vehicle purchases and exemption requests.

The Next Steps

With the policy now in effect, FSD is currently working to establish baseline numbers for its gasoline-powered light-duty trucks. FSD has already completed emissions baseline numbers for fleet sedans. "Hopefully by this fall, we will have all the data and will be benchmarking our light-duty truck fleet," Scharffbillig said.

In the meantime, the City will continue to purchase lower-emission vehicles, using the EPA SmartWay list as a guide, and rotating out older vehicles that emit more pollutants.

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