Food Service Fleet Uses CNG
This case study is about a Chicago-based food-service company that uses compressed natural gas to power its fleet of delivery trucks.
Testa Produce, based in Chicago’s Back of the Yards Neighborhood for more than 100 years, operates out of one of the greenest facilities you will ever see – as in, eco-friendly. The company’s $24-million three-year-old, 91,300 square-foot LEED® Platinum Certified facility features a wind turbine, solar panels and a 45,000-square-foot green roof.
Owner Peter Testa says going green always sounded like a good idea, but sounding and doing are two different things. It took a real commitment.
“As a produce company, we’re naturally a green company,” Testa says. “So, using renewable energy and environmentally friendly fuels, it all kind of fits together.”
Testa Produce provides foodservice to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, country clubs, sports venues, and catering services.
CNG Delivery Trucks
The Chicago Area Clean Cities’ member has 20 delivery trucks that are powered by clean-burning, low-cost domestic compressed natural gas (CNG). Since starting their CNG program in 2012, Testa Produce has displaced nearly 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
The company won CACC’s 2015 Clean Fuel Champion award for its green fleet. The award is given annually to an individual, fleet, organization, or business that promotes alternative fuel, uses domestic fuel, or reduces petroleum usage. Recent award recipients include Ozinga Bros., Inc., Trillium CNG, the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Groot Industries, and Congressman Mark Kirk.
“We’re always looking for innovative, cost-effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Barbara Daly, facilities and quality assurance manager, Testa Produce. “Our 24-and 26-foot refrigerated CNG trucks have replaced our 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.
“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.
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. The company even has four solar-powered charging stations at its headquarters building.
Going Green While Saving Green
Chief Executive Officer Peter Testa says the company’s environmental initiatives have saved another kind of green — lowering costs by 10 to 15 percent each year. The company expects to payback its investments in green technologies in eight to nine years.
All told, Testa believes that their green initiative has saved the company another kind of green — lowering costs by 10 percent to 15 percent each year.
CNG is the cleanest burning of the commonly used alternative fuels, generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel. 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.