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Support us on Climate Ride Midwest
March 27, 2014

How can you enjoy an incredible 4-day bicycle ride in the Midwest while supporting Clean Energy Coalition? Climate Ride – the nation’s largest cycling event dedicated to active transportation and sustainability – is holding its first-ever Midwest ride this September 6-9, 2014 from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Chicago!

The exciting part for Clean Energy Coalition is that anyone who signs up for the ride gets to choose which organization they will be raising money for – and you can choose Clean Energy Coalition. Find our logo as a designated beneficiary!

First you must register, reach the fundraising minimum and train for the ride, then come along and discover why Climate Ride is the premiere green event in the country. Amazing riding, epic scenery, and great speakers all combine to make this a remarkable experience. Climate Ride Midwest is a 4-day, fully-supported cycling adventure that begins in Grand Rapids, heads south through the back roads of Lake Michigan and ends with a triumphant arrival in Chicago.

Not in the Midwest area? Climate Ride also features a number of other rides and hikes you can take part in and help fundraise for Clean Energy Coalition, including:

  • California Wine Country – San Francisco to Sacramento CA: May 17-20, 2014
  • Climate Hike Glacier – Glacier National Park, MT: August 24-28, 2014
  • NYC-DC – New York, NY to Washington, DC: September 20th-24th, 2014

Each Climate Ride also features nightly speakers who focus on bicycle advocacy, sustainability, and renewable energy. Find out more and register at www.climateride.org.

Clean Cities Q of the month
March 26, 2014

Question of the Month: What are the key terms to know when discussing biodiesel fuel, vehicles, and infrastructure?

Answer: It is important to know how to “talk the talk” when it comes to biodiesel and the associated vehicles and infrastructure. Becoming familiar with the terms below will help you better understand the fuel so you can ask the right questions and make informed decisions.

Biodiesel is a domestically produced renewable fuel that can be manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease. Biodiesel is considered an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/RFS) and is the only such fuel that is commercially available nationwide.

Neat biodiesel, also known as B100, is biodiesel in its pure, unblended form. B100 is considered an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992. B100 fuel is often blended with petroleum diesel. Blends are represented in shorthand as BX, where the “X” is the percentage of biodiesel in the fuel. For example, B2 is 2% biodiesel and 98% petroleum diesel. All blends of biodiesel result in emissions reductions and petroleum displacement, as compared to conventional petroleum diesel. Popular blends include:

  •  B20 is the most common biodiesel blend in the United States because it offers a good balance of cost, emissions reductions, cold-weather performance, materials compatibility, and ability to act as a solvent. While B20 is not considered an alternative fuel under EPAct 1992, covered fleets (fleets subject to EPAct and related regulations) may earn EPAct credits for the use of blends of B20 or above.
  • B5 is another common blend that can be used in most diesel passenger vehicles and trucks without violating the vehicle warranty.

Vehicles Types
Biodiesel and conventional diesel vehicles are one in the same. Biodiesel blends can be used in most compression-ignition diesel vehicles without any engine modifications. However, operators should check their warranty to best understand what blend is optimized for their vehicle. The National Biodiesel Board maintains a list of automakers and engine manufacturers’ positions on biodiesel blends in their vehicles, specifically the biodiesel blends supported and encouraged by vehicle manufacturers (http://www.biodiesel.org/using-biodiesel/oem-information/oem-statement-summary-chart).

Fuel Production
Biodiesel is produced by converting oils and fats into chemicals called long-chain mono alkyl esters, also referred to as fatty acid methyl esters, through a process called transesterification. The feedstock reacts with a short-chain alcohol (e.g., methanol) in the presence of a catalyst (e.g., sodium hydroxide) to produce biodiesel and glycerin, a co-product. Raw oils, such as straight vegetable oil or waste vegetable oil, that have not been converted to biodiesel through this process should not be used in vehicles, as they can cause engine damage and void warranties.

Specifications and Standards
ASTM International sets specifications for fuels, including biodiesel. Biodiesel used as engine fuel should meet the following standards:

The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program, BQ9000 (http://www.bq-9000.org/), is a voluntary accreditation program for fuel producers and marketers that combines the ASTM standards with a quality systems program.

Fueling Infrastructure Components
A biodiesel station includes many of the same components as a diesel station, including the fuel storage tank(s), dispenser(s), and hanging hardware (e.g., hoses, nozzles).

Prior to introducing biodiesel, station managers should thoroughly clean existing components. This is because of the “cleaning effect” of biodiesel, which can dissolve accumulated sediments, cause contamination, and plug filters.

When building or converting existing infrastructure to handle biodiesel, it is important to check for compatibility with biodiesel or biodiesel blends. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) continues to test fueling equipment, including dispensers, aboveground storage tanks, underground storage tanks (USTs), piping, coatings, sumps, and heating equipment for use with biodiesel and biodiesel blends. UL-listed B20 equipment is available from Husky, OPW Fueling Components, Veyance Technologies, Franklin Fueling, and Gilabarco Veeder-Root—in fact, all new dispensers sold by Gilbarco Veeder-Root as of 2014 are UL listed for B20. Equipment vendors can also provide information about the compatibility of their products. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published Guidance on Compatibility of UST Systems with Ethanol Blends Greater than 10 Percent and Biodiesel Blends Greater than 20 Percent (http://www.epa.gov/oust/compend/biofuels-compat-guidance.pdf), which outlines how UST owners and operators can demonstrate compliance with EPA requirements.

Additional information on biodiesel fuel, vehicles, and infrastructure can be found on the Alternative Fuels Data Center Biodiesel page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/biodiesel.html) and on the National Biodiesel Board website (http://www.biodiesel.org/).

For more information on Clean Cities contact:

Mark Rabinsky
Project Manager / Clean Cities Coordinator
734.585.5720 x24

Fleet Profile: Lynn McLean
March 26, 2014

Lynn McLean is the Director of Maintenance/Fixed-Route Operations for the Flint Mass Transportation Authority (MTA). Covering an area 640 square miles and a population of 425,790, McLean is responsible for the maintenance of 270 vehicles and daily operation of 130 transit buses. He started with MTA back in 1992 as a maintenance supervisor, then quickly promoted to operations supervisor and was operations director by 1997. In 1998, McLean ventured out on his own, as owner and managing director of a transit consultancy business. He returned in 2008 as director of maintenance and took on fixed route operations in November of 2013.

As with most transit agencies, fare revenues make up only 20% of annual operating funds, with the rest covered by local, state and federal funds. McLean is regularly under pressure to meet increased demand for services while operating with less funding each year. To help tackle his budget, McLean began deploying alternative fuels, which have helped him significantly reduce operating expenses. After running a series of test vehicle pilots — two vehicles in 2011 and 10 in 2012 —  he took a bold step in June 2013, ordering 60 dedicated propane vehicles.

Early in 2012, the Flint MTA opened up a new alternative fueling facility in nearby Grand Blanc Township, building capacity to fuel its rolling stock with either propane autogas, hydrogen, or compressed natural gas (CNG). While the alternative fueling station was under construction, McLean was busy researching alternative fuel options for the fleet’s complicated duty cycle. The transit authority inventories a wide range of service vehicles that include smaller cutaway, light duty vehicles and full-size coach buses for regional service. McLean’s first project involved replacing diesel engines in cutaway vehicles with Roush CleanTech powertrains that operate solely on Propane Autogas. After a year in operation, some of the vehicles have as many as 70,000 miles. “Roush has been a great partner on this effort,” says McLean of  his supplier, the Livonia-based subsidiary of Roush Enterprises, an automotive powerhouse with nearly 3,000 employees and 40 years of automotive heritage in Southeast Michigan. Other partners in the effort include Grand Rapids-based, Hoekstra Transportation and Avon Lake, Ohio based National Fleet Services. By June 2014, McLean expects to have 88 Ford cutaways operating on propane and plans to move the propane program into a new vehicle segment, releasing an RFP last week for 15 medium-duty, dedicated propane buses.

According to McLean, the Flint MTA expects to burn approximately one million gallons of propane in 2014. And at $1.15 per gallon (yes, $1.15 per gallon), total annual fuel savings are expected to be north of $700,000 or $10,000 per vehicle. Thanks to a long-term contract with Webster & Gardner, McLean says he doesn’t worry about propane price fluctuations common during abnormally cold Michigan winters.

The Flint MTA doesn’t see propane as a complete replacement fuel for all its duty cycles. Starting this year, McLean says the transit authority will begin the process of purchasing 13 over the road coaches for its regional service. “CNG makes a lot of sense for this application” explains McLean, “we drive 800 miles a day on these over-the-road coaches.” He says the transit authority will soon release an RFP for 13 new CNG transit coaches and expects them to hit the ground in 12-18 months. While waiting for the buses to arrive, MTA will be busy making facility improvements and ensuring drivers and technicians have appropriate training to operate and maintain the vehicles. Some of the improvements include a new maintenance facility (completed) and a new indoor vehicle storage facility at the grand blanc alternative fuels center, to be completed in early 2015.

Hydrogen is another fueling option for the Transit Authority. MTA has been involved in a high-profile deployment of an experimental hydrogen fuel-cell bus program. McLean says hydrogen might just be the fuel of the future and is excited MTA is able to demo a vehicle in the fleet. “We just need to see the price come down on this technology” says McLean.

Last on the list of alternative fuels at the transit authority are hybrids. MTA currently operates 16 New Flyer diesel hybrid electric transit buses in the fleet, a “good product for the full-size, traditional bus,” according to McLean. MTA also 13 has Ford C-Max hybrid vehicles that it uses in curb-to-curb paratransit service. These vehicles average more than 35 mpg.

Bike Share and the local economy
March 26, 2014

Bike share programs are trendy, hip, cool and a great way to get around a congested city. But what does a bike share program mean to the local economy? Public agencies are asked for money, Universities and Colleges help with sponsorships and private businesses are asked for sponsorship funds to get the program launched and moving. What does it mean to have a bike share program integrated into the transit network of a community.

It’s easy to see that biking is good for your health, but did you know that there are economic benefits that come along with two-wheeled transportation as well? When streets support bicycle traffic, increased commerce follows. Studies show that bike riders save money on gasoline and reinvest it into local businesses.

Portland Oregon is arguably America’s most bike friendly large city. Compared to other metropolitian areas, Portlanders drive 20% fewer miles daily due to the city’s extensive bicycle network. Joe Cortwright’s study examined this “green dividend” and found that the reduced level of driving saved Portland residents $1.1 billion annually and made them more satisfied with their commute.

The investments needed to make a vibrant, bikeable street are reasonable. Magnolia street in Fort Worth Texas is a great example of a bike-friendly urban corridor. In 2006, the city built a $5.3 million parking deck for 320 automobiles (that’s $16,665 per spot). Two years later, the city put the street on a road diet, added bike lanes, and installed 80 bike staples; the total price tag was $36,480 – a tiny sliver of the price of the automotive infrastructure!

Streets with bike lanes and good pedestrian infrastructure simply support local businesses better than wide, fast roads. Retailers on New York City’s 9th avenue experienced a 49% jump in sales after the installation of a protected bike lane (compared to just 3% for the rest of the city). A survey of merchants along San Francisco’s Valencia street found that nearly two-thirds viewed increased bike ridership as a positive impact on their business.

For more information on ArborBike the new Ann Arbor bike share program or how to start a new bike share program in your city or campus contact:

Nick Helmholdt
734.585.5720 x13

Three Steps to Energy Efficiency Retrofits for Municipalities
March 26, 2014

How can municipalities help taxpayers save billions of dollars each year and put people back to work? The answer is one of growing recognition and necessity: energy efficiency (EE) retrofits in city-owned buildings.

Around 19,492 cities and public entities in the U.S. control billions of square feet of building space and spend billions of dollars per year on energy. Retrofitting these municipal buildings for increased EE and financing the retrofits with the energy cost savings is a clear answer to the nation’s growing budget constraints.

The case is not only of national importance; local entities will experience a more secure and sustainable economic environment as a result of investing in municipal EE, including:

  • Reduction in maintenance and operating costs of city buildings and vehicle fleets
  • Decrease (or prevent increases) in local taxes or utility rates
  • Increased investment in the local economy
  • Creation of local jobs
  • Improvement in local energy security
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants

Challenges & Solution
Despite the significant need for municipal EE retrofits, the barriers to financing their implementation is often perceived as too high. The upfront capital costs of comprehensive whole-building retrofits coupled with the need for quick payback periods creates a clear tension for local elected officials.

It’s clear no silver bullet exists as a solution for all cities; however successful EE retrofit projects tend to follow the following three steps before the actual construction begins:

Step 1: Baseline Inventory & Audit
The first step in an EE retrofit is to understand the impacts that improvements in energy efficiency would have on a particular building. This step requires establishing a baseline for energy consumption and periodically reviewing energy performance post-improvement.

Step 2: Choosing Your Projects
In choosing which projects will be the ones to implement in an EE retrofit, it is important to consider the potential savings of the projects as well as determine the appropriate scope.

While it can be tempting to cherry pick the obvious projects with very short (1-5 year) payback periods, we recommend that cities consider the comprehensive life-cycle of the improvements being considered, as well as the anticipated future savings derived from avoiding escalating energy costs. Often, more expensive energy efficient investments (such as boilers, chillers, heat pumps, control systems, etc) have longer-term paybacks, but also substantially longer useful lives. If a building has a 50-60 year remaining useful life span, does a 2 to 3 year payback period make sense or should paybacks of 10 or more years and more substantial savings be valued equally or more heavily?” – Environmental Financial Advisory Board, Financing and Implementing Energy Efficiency Retrofits in City-Owned Facilities

Step 3: Financing Your Projects
Finding funds to retrofit an existing government building or to increase the efficiency of planned new construction can be a challenging endeavor. Several mechanisms have been developed to help cities meet the need for sustainable municipal financing of EE retrofits in public buildings. These include grants, bonds, sale-leaseback, performance contracting, sustainable energy utility, community revolving loan funds, utility funding programs, state revolving loan funds, and public-private loan funds.

If you are interested in how these funding mechanisms or others might help your community, or if you need an experienced thought leader on energy issues to assist with the process of EE retrofits, contact:

Laura Palombi
734.585.5720 x22

Is your fleet ready for Alternative Fuel incentives?
March 20, 2014

Sustainable Fleet

Every fleet is challenged with rising fuel costs. Efforts are currently underway to expand incentive programs for alternative fuel vehicles in Michigan. Should they become available, would your fleet be in a position to capitalize on this opportunity? In many cases, funds are awarded on first come first serve basis for those fleets that can demonstrate a desire and ability to move forward with purchasing alternative fuel vehicles and/or infrastructure. Fortunately, Clean Energy Coalition’s Fuel Forward service is designed to do just that. To determine whether or not Fuel Forward can help your fleet, consider the following five questions:

1.) Which Alternative Fuel Is Right?
There are numerous choices when it comes to alternative fuels, including compressed natural gas (CNG), biodiesel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), biodiesel, ethanol (E85), and electricity. While all offer users benefits in the form of reduced fuel costs and carbon emissions, each is best suited for different applications. Clean Energy Coalition specializes in matching fleets with the best mix of alternative fuels to fit their specific needs. Find out how UBCR and Metro Cars have matched alternative fuels and duty cycles to save money on fuel and maintenance.

2.) What Are My Conversion Options?
As important as selecting the right alternative fuel mix is selecting which vehicles will use alternative fuels and which conversion options to pursue. Choosing which vehicles within the fleet will use alternative fuels has significant implications on overall fuel use and emissions reductions. Clean Energy Coalition examines the duty cycle and usage characteristics of fleet assets to determine which vehicles and conversion packages will maximize fuel savings. Watch W.W. Williams, a Midwest-based industrial services company, install a dual-fuel CNG conversion here.

3.) Which Vehicles Should I Replace?
Some alternative fuels require that vehicles be replaced rather than converted. When examining fleet usage characteristics, Clean Energy Coalition will determine which vehicles are cheaper to retire and replace with petroleum-reducing alternatives. Learn about how the City of Auburn Hills is reducing fuel waste and saving money by replacing old police cruisers with alternative fuel vehicles here.

4.) What Are My Infrastructure Options?
Each alternative fuel has vastly different characteristics when it comes to infrastructure. Considerations such as cost, space, and refueling cycle are important when determining which fuels make sense for a fleet. Clean Energy Coalition examines these and other criteria to determine which alternative fuel and infrastructure options are the ideal choice for each fleet. Click here to find out how a Fuel Forward report can help determine which alternative fuel infrastructure options are ideal for your fleet.

5.) What Benefits Will I See?
One of the biggest questions when it comes to alternative fuels is the specific benefits an organization will experience from their use. As a result of Clean Energy Coalition’s Fuel Forward analysis, each fleet is presented with a report that outlines the realistic costs and benefits of adopting alternative fuels. This includes likely upfront costs, payback timeframe, fuel savings, and carbon emissions offset. Discover the benefits Sleeping Bear Dunes found in alternative fuels after receiving a Fuel Forward analysis.

Fuel Forward answers these questions and more. The analysis is not restricted to alternative fuels, either; the process looks at a range of petroleum-reduction strategies, from idle reduction technologies to fleet right-sizing. If you want to be sure your fleet is positioned to take advantage of any incentives that might arise, contact Clean Energy Coalition today!

For more information contact:

Laura Palombi
Project Manager

Government Fleet Expo and Conference 2014
March 17, 2014

Clean Energy Coalition is proud to partner with GFX to offer preferred pricing for the event. Take advantage of this opportunity to attend the premier conference for public fleet professionals. Register by May 2 to save $100. Get an additional $50 off your Full Conference Pass (must be employed by a government agency) when you use promo code: CEC14

Click here to register

Government Fleet Expo & Conference  is the largest gathering of public sector fleet professionals in the nation. Exclusive to public sector fleet professionals, it’s the place for peer-to-peer conversations about your toughest challenges so you can bring home real solutions. GFX gives you access to the latest vehicles and technology in the exhibit hall and over 18 hours of educational sessions. When you attend GFX, you will expand your network of alliances, learn new strategies for efficiency and cut operational costs. View the agenda here

The 2014 Government Fleet Expo and Conference will be held June 2-4, 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center, Hall D in San Diego, CA.

Driver training for fleets – free webinar
March 6, 2014

Driver training for fleets webinar

When: March 25, 2014
3:00 – 4:00pm EST
Cost: Free

This Ann Arbor Clean Cities webinar will focus on driver training for fleets. Speakers will discuss the benefits of driver training, technologies for implementing driver training, and their experience using driver training technologies and techniques. Presenters: Laura Palombi (Clean Energy Coalition) and Paul Okunewitch (GreenRoad)

Click here to register


Program Contact Information

Mark Rabinsky
Project Manager
Ann Arbor Clean Cities Coordinator
734.585.5720 x24


ROUSH CleanTech hires 37-year Ford veteran
February 20, 2014

ROUSH CleanTech recently hired Rob Stevens, from Ford Motor Company, as the new vice president of strategy to spearhead future product and customer endeavors. Stevens brings 37 years of engineering and fleet customer knowledge to ROUSH CleanTech.

As an engineer at Ford, Stevens directed strategic planning and product development for commercial vehicles. Not only an engineer, Stevens proved his leadership and commitment to alternative fuels as the president and chief operating officer of Ford’s TH!NK Mobility LLC. In this position, he helped launch three alternative fuel product lines and later reintroduced alternative fuel engines in Ford commercial trucks.

“I’ve spent years collaborating with customers to find the right vehicle for the right application. In the alternative fuels space, ROUSH CleanTech offers an ideal scenario of product, customer and brand integrity,” said Stevens. “I plan to use my 37 years of engineering and fleet customer knowledge to bring about a greater change in clean vehicle usage.”

Stevens will continue his role as a board member for NTEA’s Green Truck Association, and will moderate an alternative fuels session at the upcoming NTEA Green Truck Summit on March 4.

Stevens attended Purdue University and received a Bachelor of Arts in mechanical engineering, and later an M.B.A. from the University of Detroit, Mercy. In addition to his knowledge under the hood, Stevens professionally drove racecars for 13 years.

CNG Policy Update & First Responder Training
February 20, 2014

LARA’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention recently approved a revision (2013-108 LR) to the regulations governing compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle fuel systems in Michigan. Currently, the State is using the 1992 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code. New rules would simplify several existing requirements by adopting the 2013 edition of the NFPA code, along with amendments requested by members of the CNG regulated community. undergoing an interagency review. The proposed revision is currently undergoing an interagency review, with a public comment period to follow. For the latest information, please visit the Office of Regulatory Reinvention online.

Free First Responder Safety Training will be offered in conjunction with the Michigan EMS Expo. The educational conference takes place at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids and runs April 24-27. The interactive workshop is taught by Lieutenant Carl Hein with the Ann Arbor Fire Department, and coordinated with our training partner Macomb Community College. Please consider sharing this opportunity with your respective public safety departments. For more information, contact Deborah Brunell-Ross with Macomb Community College at brunell-rossd@macomb.edu, or (586) 498-4110.


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