FLUSHING MEADOWS PARK, NY. The City of New York is investing half a billion dollars in its municipal fleet this year, much of it focused on continuing efforts to create “the greenest fleet in the country,” according to Keith Kerman, deputy commissioner and chief fleet management officer.

Representing a major renewal of the city’s Fire, Police and Sanitation Department fleets, the 2013 buy will include 1,000 hybrid and electric vehicles, Kerman told Fleet Owner.  “For example, we will have replaced every gasoline [powered] sedan in the Dept. of Sanitation with a hybrid or EV within the next two months,” he said.  “They have 500 sedans.”

The new equipment will also include 20 CNG-powered heavy-duty trucks for refuse collection and other sanitation applications, and CNG-powered cargo vans from GMC for park maintenance and other chores, as well as 60 plug-in EVs from Ford and Nissan.

Other green-fleet initiatives already undertaken by New York’s municipal fleet operations include a citywide mandate that all diesel-powered trucks – including emergency equipment such as fire trucks – run on B5 biodiesel, with non-emergency vehicles switching to B20 from April to November.   The city has also embarked on a retrofit program for diesel particulate filters (DPFs) for older trucks and completed work on three natural gas fueling facilities, one solely dedicated to heavy trucks run by the Sanitation department.

Kerman was speaking at the 25th annual fleet show hosted by the N.Y.C. Parks Dept. in the old World’s Fair Grounds.  The Parks’ fleet operations, which were once headed by Kerman, holds the show every spring to introduce other city agencies and nearby municipal fleets to new truck technology, much of it focused on clean diesel and alternative fuels.

New this year at the show was a ceremony announcing the first “certified” fleets under a new Empire Green Fleets program sponsored by the area’s local Clean Cities organization, Empire Clean Cities.  The group analyzes equipment and fuel-use data from fleets seeking the certification, focusing on reductions in petroleum use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to Christina Ficicchia, executive dir.

The first three fleets to receive the Empire Green Fleet certification were the NYC Parks Dept., the municipal fleet for the City of White Plains in neighboring Westchester County, and Down East Seafood, a small distribution operation.

White Plains earned its certification by reducing petroleum use by 23% and GHG emissions by 12% with a fleet of over 320 vehicles using biodiesel, compressed natural gas and ethanol, according to the organization.  “We have 150 heavy- and medium-duty trucks that have been running on B20 for almost five years without any problems,” said Josepho Nicoletti Jr., the city’s commissioner of public works.  “No matter what the fuel, the important thing for us is that there is no compromise in operations,” he told Fleet Owner.

With 16 refrigerated medium-duty trucks delivering fresh seafood to restaurants and other commercial customers in the New York area, Down East has reduced their GHG emissions 17% and overall vehicle emissions by 48%, according to Empire Clean Cities.

 “We have two Smith plug-in electric trucks that have been operation 8 hrs. a day, 6 days a week without any problems for the last four years, “ said Ed Taylor, founder and CEO of Down East. “Our other trucks all run on biodiesel.”

The green fleet certification not only fits the company’s desire to be environmentally proactive, “but it also fits our business,” Taylor said. “Our customers are happy to do business with someone who cares about sustainability.”