The use of fossil fuels in vehicles and equipment has numerous environmental impacts, including emissions of greenhouse gases, particulates and other contaminants, as well as a contribution to ground-level ozone levels. Globally, fossil fuel use is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change, and the transportation sector is the second-largest contributor behind only electricity. Therefore, any conservation measures to reduce fossil fuel usage will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and associated impacts on climate change and the environment.
What CA is Doing
Vehicle and equipment usage are a necessary part of daily operations for Columbia Association in order to maintain the many buildings, nearly 3,600 acres of open space, and programs under its responsibility. Columbia Association operates a fleet of 125 vehicles, 12 of which are either electric or hybrids. Hybrid vehicles have become more prevalent in Columbia Association’s vehicular fleet to reduce fossil fuel consumption.
Actions CA has already taken to reduce fossil fuel usage in vehicles and equipment include:
- Installing GPS systems in all vehicles to monitor and reduce idle time, which limits fossil fuel usage.
- Adjusted (right-sized) the composition of the vehicle and equipment fleet to use lighter vehicles when appropriate. For example, CA’s Open Space Management Division has switched from Ford F-350s to Ford Rangers (a smaller pick-up vehicle), which has decreased total fuel consumption.
- Cycling older, inefficient vehicles and equipment out of the inventory for more efficient models.
- Selecting vehicle and equipment models of the highest fuel efficiency possible — including hybrid and electric vehicles/equipment — while still meeting functional needs.
To support green transportation in the community, CA currently operates six electric vehicles (EV) charging stations that are available to the public.
What Columbia Residents Can Do
There are many things Columbia residents can do to help reduce the environmental impact of vehicle usage in our community. Below are several tips provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that can help you reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and save money.
EPA tips for smart driving:
Buy smart: Purchase a fuel-efficient, low-greenhouse gas vehicle
When shopping for a new or used vehicle (or even renting a vehicle), choose the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs. With a wide range of clean, fuel-efficient vehicles available today, it’s easier than ever to go green — for the environment and for your wallet. Check out EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide or fueleconomy.gov to find the best, most comprehensive information on vehicle emissions and fuel economy.
You can also learn more about the fuel economy and environment label that you’ll see on all new vehicles. The label has been redesigned and updated for even easier comparison shopping. These new window stickers provide fuel economy and environmental ratings for all new vehicles, including advanced technology vehicles like electric cars and plug-in hybrids. And while at the showroom, you can scan the QR Code® on each vehicle’s label to be connected to additional information online, including personalized cost and energy-use estimates.
To improve your fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce your time spent idling (no more than 30 seconds), and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack and you are not using it, take it off to improve your fuel economy. Use cruise control if you have it, and for vehicles with selectable four-wheel drive, consider operating in two-wheel drive mode when road conditions allow.
Get regular tune-ups, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule (which can be found in your owner’s manual), and use the recommended grade of motor oil. A well-maintained car is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is more reliable, and is safer!
… and don’t forget your tires!
Check your tire pressure regularly. Under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy, and leads to higher greenhouse gas and other air pollutant emissions. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, you can find it listed on the door to your vehicle’s glove compartment, or on the driver’s side door.
And when it’s time for new tires, consider purchasing tires with “low rolling resistance,” an energy-saving feature.
Give your car a break
Use public transportation, carpool , or walk or bike whenever possible to avoid using your car. Leaving your car at home just two days a week can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by an average of two tons per year.
Also, consider telecommuting (working from home via phone or the Internet), which can reduce the stress of commuting, reduce harmful emissions, and save you money. And when driving, try combining your errands and activities into one trip.
Use renewable fuels
Give E85 and biodiesel a try. Both are renewable fuels (made from renewable sources such as corn) that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from your vehicle. E85 is a fuel blend containing 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline that can be used in certain vehicles called Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). FFVs are designed to be fueled with either E85 or traditional gasoline. There are millions of FFVs on the road today—to find out if you own one, check the inside of your car’s fuel door for an identification sticker, or consult your owner’s manual.
If you own a diesel vehicle, consider filling up with a biodiesel blend such as B5, which is a diesel fuel blend containing 5% biodiesel.