When I was the Public Works Director in the City of Kirkland, Washington, city leadership wanted the City to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and overall fuel consumption within the City fleet. Kirkland had already emphasized active Transportation (bicycling, walking and transit); and thus sought to have the City fleet mirror that same commitment.


As a result, the City employed several Green Fleet techniques, including

  • Purchasing hybrid sedans for the pool fleet when vehicles were up for replacement
  • An in-house retrofit of a power lawn mower using an electric engine produced in Germany  for other purposes
  • Purchased three gas-powered one-seat Honda Metropolitan scooters for short in-town trips; this was in-lieu of additional sedans to accommodate increased staff.  The Metropolitan traveled 99 miles on 1 gallon of gas vs. the approximate 18 mpg the sedans had been getting. These were used regularly by staff at City Hall, the Corporation Yard, and the Parks and Recreation office.

As Fleet Managers are aware, there are several opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption. Specifically, by integrating hybrid, all-electric, clean diesel, biodiesel, CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), or LNG (liquefied natural gas) vehicles; enforcing no-idling guidelines;  and implementing active transportation modes where feasible.


There are many motivations agencies and municipalities have for addressing this issue. For some, Climate Change Action Plans, state or local GHG emission reduction targets, and other factors are the primary motivator. For others, a desire to limit usage of non-renewable resources, promote more active modes of transportation and other goals are behind the interest to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.


No matter the motivation, it is important that Fleet Managers and Public Works Directors are fully engaged in the goals and means to create a Green Fleet.  The four primary factors that Fleet Managers consider when implementing a Green Fleet are:

  1. The initial purchase cost as compared to other alternatives
  2. The ongoing maintenance costs; and the compatibility of the proposed vehicle with the parts and materials commonly utilized by maintenance staff
  3. The cost and availability of the fuel source
  4. The ability of the proposed vehicle to meet the operational needs required by the user


These four criteria must be fully analyzed and reviewed by those responsible for insuring the fleet meets the operational needs of the City. In addition, Fleet Managers and Public Works Directors, consistent with all their decision-making, must always have a) a long-range plan for how the Green Fleet is to be purchased and maintained over time; and b) a way to measure the benefits and costs to insure the fleet is meeting public service goals at the appropriate short- and long-term costs.

Finally, proponents of Green Fleets should also utilize the insights and lessons learned from other municipalities. As a result of resources, political leadership, citizen engagement, and other factors, some cities have the means to be at the forefront of innovation. Fortunately, we all can benefit from their investments and lessons learned.


Noted below are some additional resources in the C4S Sustainability Toolkit that could be useful as you pursue the ‘greening’ of your fleet.





Daryl Grigsby

City of San Luis Obispo

Public Works Director


The three P's (people, planet, profit) are often referred to as the "Triple Bottom Line" when describing sustainability. It is important to utilize these principles when determining sustainable practices.


At the City of Tempe our facilities division is constantly looking for ways to promote sustainability by reducing both electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions.


We identified several large structures that were using metal halide lights.  The first area identified was the Kiwanis Wave Pool.  We replaced fifty-four 400 watt metal halide lights with fifty-four 188 watt LED lights. Annually, we will use 75,114 less kilowatt-hours (kWh's) and save $15,321 in electricity costs.


Another area identified was the City Hall Parking Garage. We replaced 240 metal halide lights with LED's. Annually our kWh savings will be 178,688 while our electricity savings will be $17,868.

Here are some other facts about LED's verses metal halide lights you may not know. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED lights use approximately 54% less electricity. A typical 400 watt metal halide light produces 20,000 Lumens when newly installed and greatly dissipates after they are initiated. In fact, metal halide lights lose 50% of their Lumens after a mere 10,000 hours and have a 16,000-20,000 life expectancy.  However, they continue to use 456 kWh's. By contrast, LED light fixtures produce 18,000 Lumens while only using 213 kWh's. LED's maintain 92% of their Lumens for 60,000 hours and have a life expectancy of 100,000 hours.


This reduction in kilowatt-hours and electricity usage results in reduced costs and power plant emissions.


LED's promote the "Triple Bottom Line' by producing better lighting longer; therefore increasing our ability to see (people), use less kilowatts, contain no known disposal hazards and reduce greenhouse gases (planet) and use much less electricity (profit).


The U.S. Department of Energy (http://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/lighting-energy-conservation-measures) is an excellent resource for investigating the advantages of LED's. Here’s a link to a great video that highlights the LED streetlight program that the City of Los Angeles completed http://bsl.lacity.org/led.html.


Jennifer Adams

City of Tempe

Facilities Maintenance Manager


Given that this is National Public Works Week and National Bike to Work Week and in sticking with our May theme of climate change, I thought it would be worth taking a minute to emphasize the important role that Public Works plays in making biking to work possible and what kind of greenhouse gas reduction benefit we might actually get if more people did it.


Potential GHG Reductions

For many cities in North America, the transportation sector is often the largest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the toughest area to address. Any actions to get people out of single occupancy vehicles is a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing GHG emissions.


In November 2015, the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and the University of California, Davis released the findings from a study that sought to determine the potential for and the benefit of increasing bicycle use in cities around the world. While the specific benefits to any individual city will vary, their findings suggest that if we used bikes instead of cars for 10% of our trips, globally GHG emissions from vehicles would drop by about 11% and a savings of $24 trillion on infrastructure costs would be realized.[1] You can access the full report here: https://goo.gl/6FmjhN


Role of Public Works

From the road conditions, to signage, shared lane markings, and lighting, public works has its hands all over every mile of your ride. Like everything, these road improvements come at a cost, but it is important to consider the benefits. In addition to reducing GHG emissions, biking supports a healthy lifestyle, and reduces traffic congestion and associated impacts to air quality.

If you are not sure how to balance the costs and benefits, you can use this tool to estimate costs, the demand in terms of new cyclists, and measured economic benefits: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/bikecost/step1.cfm. See the full report behind all this data at http://goo.gl/BStIwO.


Bike Friendly Cities

In August, PWX will be held in Minneapolis, one of the top biking cities in the country. I have always been impressed that a city in such a cold climate continues to grow its number of urban cyclists. The City insures this by continuing to commit budget to constant improvements and additions to their bike facilities. Interested in checking out what Minneapolis has to offer? Sign up for the PWX Wednesday Workshop tour of their bike facilities. You can also learn more about what Minneapolis is doing at the links below.



From bike share programs to rails to trails, cities across the continent are shifting away from viewing cars as the only means of transportation. A multimodal approach is more sustainable and is frankly what more and more people want these days. People want options. Join the C4S APWA Connect Community at http://infonow.apwa.net/welcome.htm (click on InfoNow and click on C4S) or reference @APWAC4S in your tweet to tell us what your community is doing to celebrate Bike to Work Week!


Kim Lundgren

Chair, APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S)





On behalf of the APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S), I am thrilled to launch our monthly blog. This is just another way that we are reaching out to the APWA Membership to share resources and best practices as we strive towards our mission to build the skills, knowledge, and tools for APWA members to exercise sustainable leadership in their communities.


Each month we will focus on a specific theme and will provide thoughts and links to resources related to that topic. If there is a topic you want to make sure is covered, please contact Anne Jackson at ajackson@apwa.net.


As many of you know, May is the Sustainability issue of the APWA Reporter. It also happens to be the month of Public Works Week- coincidence? I think not! More and more of our members are recognizing that sustainability must be an integral part of the daily operations of Public Works Professionals. Whether it's keeping our team members safe on the job, ensuring our budgets can support the day-to-day while still maintaining an emergency fund, or striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimize our impact on a changing climate, sustainability principles can be a useful tool to guide public works operations.


There are some great articles in this month’s Reporter that will help you think about integrating sustainability into your operations whether through leadership (see Leadership by Discipline: Sustainability, page 38) or through planning (see Sustainability Plans in public works agencies, page 66).


C4S has identified climate change as the theme for May. Understanding and preparing for a changing climate is an imperative for public works agencies and for sustainable communities. They say knowledge is power and while we cannot predict exactly where and when the next extreme weather event will occur, science has shown us that more greenhouse gas emissions equal more unstable climate conditions. So there are two things we can (and should) do:

  1. Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to a changing climate through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and alternative fuels
  2. Learn about and prepare for the anticipated changes in your region

You do not have to be a climatologist to take these steps. You can use tools like https://www.climate.gov/ or http://toolkit.climate.gov/. These National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tools provide information on climate science and impacts and solutions in terms everyone can understand. You can find more resources like this in the C4S Sustainability Toolkit at http://www.apwa.net/centerforsustainability/tools-and-resources.


This is not an issue that we can wait any longer to take action on. Every day a public works professional somewhere is faced with an extreme event that they were not prepared for and the consequences of that can be significant. Let’s make sure that every public works agency is informed and prepared from here on out.


Kim Lundgren

Chair, APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S)




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