Using 2007 national average diesel costs—a year that experienced a significant leap to $3.30 per gallon—an EPA study determined that a 5% improvement in fuel economy would save an owner $2,800 per year in fuel costs. Today, with average fuel costs at $4.00 per gallon, the savings could be closer to $3,300, a significant amount in anyone’s balance sheet…and that’s only 5%. There are a number of ways to curb fuel use and thus GHG emissions, but none so obvious as by cutting equipment idling time.
A 2005 study in California on construction equipment—different perhaps from waste operations but similar enough to consider—found that an average heavy-heavy-duty diesel truck idles 29.4% of its operational time. An analysis by one construction firm of all its construction equipment (over 300 pieces) estimated that an idling reduction equal to 10% of the total operating time would save almost 524,660 pounds (238 metric tons) CO2 per year, using the assumption that idling consumes 1.2 gallons fuel per hour.
Idling reductions can also reduce longer-term costs; each hour of idling eliminated can save as many as two hours of engine life. Since an idling engine does not generate enough heat for proper combustion, deposits form over time on the piston and cylinder walls and contaminate the oil. This contamination creates additional friction that will accelerate engine wear.
To reduce idling and the associated GHG emissions, you need to evaluate when, where, and why idling occurs in your operation’s activities. This evaluation may include interviews with drivers, reviews of fuel receipts (to understand which projects or groups are consuming more fuel), or making use of modern telematics systems that give a detailed look at what’s going on with your equipment. Idling reductions can be achieved through changes in work practices, such as training drivers to turn off equipment rather than idle, or through changes in equipment, such as adding fuel-efficient auxiliary power for the heat or air conditioning needed for driver comfort.
Regulations restricting idling are in place in more than half the states today. These regulations vary by state, county, or city, but typically restrict idling to 3–10 minutes and do not distinguish between gasoline or diesel vehicles. It is probably fair to suspect that many of these regulations are not fully implemented.
Idling time is what government folks are eager to call “low hanging fruit,” but there are other practices and strategies just in the fuel-use arena that can make a sizeable difference as well…tighter scheduling, advanced machine control equipment, and even such seemingly inconsequential activities as van-pooling for your workers and more energy-efficient HVAC systems in your offices.
On the public perception side of the coin—and as news items go—whether it involves the demonization of coal- and waste-burning power plants, the use of diesel fuels in diesel engines, or the specter of oceans rising to reclaim vast areas we’ve come to accept as the domain of nonaquatic creatures, the role of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in what is now concluded to be global climate change is front page material.
The point is, even if money is no object in your program, GHG reduction is going to become a religious affirmation for those who have to answer to the public, so maybe it’s time to stake out your place at the amen corner.
Upcomimg Forester University Webinars:
Dec 7th, 2011:
Maximize Your Energy Efficiency and Savings with Lighting Solutions
Stop wasting energy and savings on your lighting! Join Gregory Davis, Chief Technology Officer at Lumetric, Inc. on December 7th at 2p.m. EST to explore lighting efficiency technology as a means to maximize your energy efficiency and increase your savings. We’ll discuss efficiency opportunities, technologies, and applications available in lighting, and compare solutions (e.g., application, maintenance, lifespan, etc.) for your best ROI.
Dec 13th, 2011:
Stormwater Inspection and Maintenance
Don’t get caught in the storm. Join Andrew J. Erickson, M.S., P.E., for Stormwater Inspection & Maintenance on Dec. 13th, a discussion of standardized stormwater inspection methods and performance assessment. Learn how to use these to assess, select, and schedule effective and financially sustainable maintenance on stormwater treatment practices (e.g., stormwater ponds, bioretention facilities, infiltration basins, swales, and filter strips).