Sustainable Practices Lead To Green Fleet Honors In Sacramento County

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Release date: 3/22/2019

Sustainable Practices Lead To Green Fleet Honors In Sacramento County
Donald Dunphy

“Sacramento County is designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a severe air quality nonattainment zone for ground level ozone,” said Keith Leech, Sr., Chief, Fleet Division and Parking Enterprise. “Almost 70 percent of the Sacramento region’s ozone pollution problem comes from cars, trucks, locomotives, buses, motorcycles, agricultural and construction equipment.”

Because the Sacramento Valley is shaped like a bowl, ozone pollution presents a serious problem in the summer when an inversion layer traps pollutants close to the ground. “This lid prevents pollutants from escaping into the upper atmosphere causing poor air quality for our residents,” said Leech.

Even with that daunting obstacle as a backdrop, the County’s fleet was named the number one Government Green Fleet in North America by the 100 Best Fleets organization in 2018. Led by NAFA Regular Members Leech and Ron Wirth, Fleet Advance Planning, and Sustainability Manager, Sacramento County had to work especially hard to compete with other Green Fleet entrants, especially during increasingly dangerous wildfires, but have stayed true to efforts that predated their time with the fleet.

What did Leech and Wirth need to do to get past both the man-made and unexpected hazards to take the top award spot?

A History of Action - In 1999, Sacramento passed a heavy-duty, low-emissions vehicle acquisition policy to curb government contribution to the poor air quality within the region. This required hard decision-making for the fleet services division that provides motor vehicle maintenance and fueling facilities for the County.

To illustrate the complexity of the greening process, this entity provides services to law enforcement, department
owned vehicles, and a rental fleet consisting of cars, light- and heavy- duty trucks, trailers, buses, and construction and municipal equipment used by all county departments. Road graders, tractor-mounted slope mowers, asphalt applicator-pavers, rollers and grinders, crawler tractors, backhoes, forklifts, and more make up this fleet.

Without question, in an ordinary year, such vehicles use a large amount of fuel, and if that fuel was gasoline and standard diesel, the pollution output would be significant.

Leech told the Sacramento County News in 2018, “The County’s fleet vehicles consume over three million gallons of fuel each year. By converting more than 60 percent of them to run on renewable fuels (diesel and natural gas) and advanced technology, we have reduced our carbon footprint by nearly half while achieving ongoing savings in fuel costs.”

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