WOOD DALE, Ill., Sept. 10, 2015 – Fleets in the Chicago area are saving money, reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, and helping to improve air quality by using alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane to power their vehicles.
Today, in an effort to educate businesses and municipalities about the benefits of alternative fuels, the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition hosted a fleet education seminar focusing on the use of propane and CNG to power vehicles. Two Chicago-based companies, GO Airport Express and Testa Produce, Inc., shared their stories with CACC members about successes they have had using alternative fuels to ‘green’ their fleets.
“There are scores of businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago area that use alternative fuels, such as propone, natural gas, as well as electric vehicles in their fleets,” said John Walton, vice chairman, Chicago Area Clean Cities. “We like to help get these stories told, so that other organizations can learn from these examples and explore green, money-saving solutions for operating their own fleets.”
“Chicago Area Clean Cities is proud to shine the spotlight on companies that have ‘gone green’ like GO Airport Express and Testa Produce,” Walton added.
GO Airport Express’ Success with Efficient Propane
GO Airport Express, a major shuttle service that operates out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport, has nearly 60 shuttle vans fueled by propane, which accounts for 80 percent of its vehicle fleet.
GO Airport Express began exploring alternative fuel options for its vehicles that travel between Chicago’s airports and downtown hotels when gasoline prices skyrocketed throughout the nation in 2011.
“We needed an alternative fuel that would not only save us money, but decrease our carbon footprint without sacrificing performance and having zero effect on our passengers’ comfort,” said Robert Hann, vice president of marketing, GO Airport Express. “After analyzing the return on investment, we selected propane autogas as our preferred fuel.”
GO Airport Express’ propane autogas vans account for half of the company’s total fleet servicing downtown hotels. Since switching to autogas, Hann has been pleased with customer and employee reaction to “greening” their fleet. He even believes the switch has helped the company secure new business.
“We survey our customers, and being green is very important to them,” Hann said. “Chicago is a big convention town, so when we’re marketing to conventions, that’s another feather we can tout — that we have a green fleet. I think the conventions appreciate that, as they’re looking for ways to go green.”
Also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), propane is a domestically produced, well-established, clean-burning fuel. Using propane as a vehicle fuel increases energy security, provides convenience and performance benefits, and improves public health and the environment. Compared with vehicles fueled by diesel and gasoline, propane vehicles can produce lower amounts of some harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Testa Produce Trucks Run on Clean CNG
Testa Produce, which provides foodservice to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, country clubs, sports venues and catering services, has 14 delivery trucks and one Class 8 tractor that are powered by clean-burning, low-cost domestic CNG. Testa Produce is adding five additional CNG trucks to its fleet in November.
“Our 24-foot refrigerated CNG trucks have replaced existing biodiesel trucks, helping us to lower our carbon footprint even more and bringing us closer to our goal of zero dependence on foreign oil within five years,” said Barbara Daly, facilities and quality assurance manager, Testa Produce, Inc.
Testa Produce’s CNG trucks are quieter, have lower emissions, and require less maintenance than diesel/biodiesel trucks with no loss of power or mileage, Daly said. In addition to being more eco-friendly, the new trucks deliver substantial cost savings over diesel and biodiesel fuels, she added.
“Having a fleet of CNG delivery vehicles is in line with our commitment to raising the bar on sustainability in the foodservice distribution industry,” Daly said. “We are always looking for innovative, cost-effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Testa Produce is a family owned and operated business that began in 1912. Testa operates out of a 91,300 square foot, LEED® Platinum Certified facility on Chicago’s south side featuring state-of-the-art green technologies. Prior to piloting electric and CNG trucks, Testa Produce was one of the first companies in the Chicago area to convert its entire delivery fleet to biodiesel, as well as all of its company cars to hybrids, Daly said.
CNG is the cleanest burning of the commonly used alternative fuels, burning up to 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline. The advantages of natural gas as a transportation fuel include its domestic availability, widespread distribution infrastructure, low cost, and inherently clean-burning qualities. An abundance of natural gas exists in the U.S., and it is what most people use to heat their homes.
About Chicago Area Clean Cities
Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit coalition focused on promoting cleaner energy for transportation and automotive fleets in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. CACC is one of nearly 100 coalitions across the country that are affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuel and advanced-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel economy and air quality. CACC concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago area, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.
In 2014, the coalition’s member fleets saved more than 25 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs) of petroleum and nearly 240,000 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions through the deployment of alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, idle reduction, and fuel economy improvements. These savings equate to removing 53,000 passenger cars from the road.
To become involved or learn more about the coalition visit www.ChicagoCleanCities.org.