Going green isn't always voluntary. Concrete producers and contractors have been working to meet government standards for diesel trucks since the Clean Air Act passed in 1990. Since then, the EPA has enforced increasingly strict emissions standards for engines ranging from 50 to 750 hp.
On the heels of meeting Tier 3 standards in 2008, producers' off-road vehicles must now meet Interim Tier 4 regulations by 2012 and Final Tier 4 by 2015. Ultimately, these standards aim to reduce particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions by about 90%.
The National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) is helping truckbuyers make sense of these developments. For the fifth year, the association hosted the Green Truck Summit at its Work Truck Show. Held in Indianapolis in March, the Summit attracted almost 700 people eager to hear about new environmental regulations, technologies, and implementation strategies for vocational trucks.
Together with Calstart, a national organization dedicated to clean transportation technology, NTEA gathered industry experts and fleet managers on the front lines of green truck initiatives. Keynote speaker David Strickland, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator, gave attendees a glimpse into the future. He discussed a joint EPA and NHTSA proposal for the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and vocational vehicles. (For more details, see the feature story on page 43.)
Putting green to work
Doyle Sumrall, NTEA's senior director of business development, presented results of the association's annual fleet survey and offered insights about evolving truck technologies. The 2011 survey polled operators of more than 120 government, private, and utility fleets about their purchasing plans and strategies to implement cleaner vehicle technologies.
“Fleets are thinking outside the box when it comes to green,” says Sumrall. Sixty percent of respondents said they had updated their truck specifications to include low-cost green technologies and lightweight materials. The most popular solutions were idle reduction technology (72%), improved powertrain efficiency (58%), and vehicle weight reduction (57%). Fleet managers are also specifying high-efficiency vehicle components and aerodynamic design.
Combining green technologies is the norm. “Fleet managers are looking at spending between 20% and 100% more to create sustainable trucks, so they're evaluating how much each technology can save them over a vehicle's lifetime,” says Sumrall. “It's a complex balancing act.” For example, hybrid technology can add weight to a vehicle, but lightweight aluminum components can off set the load. While they may cost more upfront, these technologies save fuel and money.
Green Truck Summit attendees also had hands-on access to these technologies outside the conference rooms. The Green Truck Ride-and-Drive provided an opportunity to test drive 21 hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.
The show's Green Award went to Austin, Texas-based Energy Xtreme for its U26 Crossover mild-hybrid plug-in system. The emission-free energy system includes a power management system, electric motor, pump, and control module. It can run a truck's auxiliary electrical equipment, tools, pumps, hydraulic booms, and more without engaging the engine or using a generator.
More Green Truck Updates
Fleet managers don't have to wait for the annual Green Truck Summit for the latest information on green truck technology. The Green Truck Association (GTA) is a new affiliate division of NTEA that focuses on increasing work productivity, improving fuel utilization, and promoting sustainable technologies.
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in legislative, regulatory, and industry initiatives regarding green truck development. Members have access to news, technical information, new product updates, and research through the association's website and GTA Insider e-newsletter.