Green tips for fleet maintenance shops
By becoming more environmentally conscious, fleet maintenance operations can obtain operational savings and benefits. Many fleets are already making money by recycling and reusing various products and materials. Others are finding that investing in green initiatives, along with changing from pollution-generating to pollution-preventing behaviors, produces incremental environmental improvement and significant cost savings.
This is all being achieved through implementation of a variety of measures, including the following:
- Establishing green policies to change to the behavior and attitudes of workers.
- Ensuring that hazardous materials are properly used, stored and disposed.
- Using biodegradable cleaners.
- Keeping parking lots and service bays clean to prevent toxic waste from getting into storm drains.
- Recycling fluids and wastes.
- Taking extra precautions to prevent storage receptacles from leaking hazardous materials.
- Making changes to save water and use energy more wisely.
- Upgrading or building new facilities using green construction methods to create structures using processes that are more resource-efficient throughout a building’s lifecycle.
Much can be learned about how to “green” a fleet shop from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). About five years ago, the department hired environmental engineer Robert Trapani to incorporate environmentally friendly best management green shop measures into the agency’s fleet vehicle service and repair shops.
At the core of ADOT’s green effort is the Equipment Services Best Management Practice (BMP) Manual. It was created to reduce pollution and improve and enhance operational capabilities in an environmentally sensitive manner. The manual is readily accessible to all technicians on the shop floor and on desktop computers.
“Most regulations tell you what you have to do to be in compliance, but they don’t explain how to do it,” Trapani says. “ADOT’s best management practices are proven shop floor guidelines and methods that have helped us not only get into compliance and stay there, but moved our shops to the next level by changing from pollution-generating behaviors to pollution-prevention behaviors.”
The numerous matters addressed in ADOT’s BMP Manual include the following:
- Prescribed methods for handling, disposing and recycling of waste materials such as used oil, oil filters, coolant, tires, scrap metal and batteries.
- Using water-based part cleaners and brake washers in place of spray solvents.
- Having a fully enclosed waste transfer system for waste liquids.
- Providing secondary containment for hazardous materials storage indoors and outdoors and away from storm and sanitary sewer drains.
- Making emergency spill kits available in service bays and chemical storage areas.
- Using drip pans in outside areas to control fluid leakage under vehicles.
- Having no open drains or sealed floor drains that lead to storm drains and sanitary sewers.
- Prohibiting vehicle washing, or sending vehicles to a commercial washing facility with a closed loop water recycling system.
- Posting warning signs advising of the dangers of disposal of chemicals down shop sinks and drains.
- Implementing a dry shop spill cleanup method that recycles spilled wastes.
- Performing environmental awareness and pollution prevention training.
- Recycling office paper.
- Adjusting shop design, procedures and management practices.
- Selecting less hazardous and toxic products.
- Using refillable spray bottles instead of disposable aerosol cans.
- Making no discharges to sanitary sewer systems.
- Using an industrial launderer for shop towels.
Trapani also developed the Self-Audit Environmental Compliance Checklist that is used as a guide to find opportunities through incremental environmental improvements as a basis for continuing environmentally friendly progress at ADOT shops.
Each shop completes this comprehensive checklist twice a year. It is reviewed by Trapani who then meets individually with each shop supervisor to discuss the results, assist with emerging issues and review a list of improvement areas and recommendations to reduce any environmental impacts associated with shop operations.
Another of Trapani’s initiatives was the creation of an annual Environmental Green Shop Award, designed to improve and encourage better environmental performance in all ADOT shops.
Another exemplary green shop operation is Ryder System, which bases all of its environmental efforts on driving bottom line savings, improving efficiencies and enhancing customer service.
Ryder’s energy conservation program, specifically, is showing measurable economic results. Upgrading facilities with energy efficient lighting, HVAC equipment and building materials can pay dividends for years when done correctly, according to Nanci Tellam, group director of environmental services and sustainability.
Ryder has developed several Energy Conservation Checklists for its facilities that include best practices for facility management, lighting and atmospheric controls. Some examples of actions on the checklist, which can produce a 5 to 10 percent energy savings, include the following:
- Replace manual thermostats with programmable, lockable thermostats that are set thermostats at 68 degrees in the winter and 76 degrees in the summer.
- Install timers or sensing controls on all non-security lighting at the fuel island, wash bay and storage areas.
- Routinely inspect and replace weather stripping on doors and caulking around windows every three years to prevent heating and cooling loss.
“One of the most frequently overlooked opportunities in shops today is establishing a routine, systematic maintenance program for heating and cooling equipment,” Tellam says. “Simple things like inspecting air filters monthly and changing out filters when needed so that air flows freely, and cleaning drain pans, condensers and coils every six months or as needed to keep systems operating at peak performance can reduce kilowatt hour use by 5 percent.” BI