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Key Objective: 3.1 Fleet Replacement Plans

The iCAP 2020, objective 3.1 is: “Establish written replacement plans for at least 80% of campus fleets by FY24 to improve university-owned vehicle fuel efficiency.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is Fleet Managers with the support of F&S. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for the Fleet Replacement Plans.

Associated Metric

No metric specified for this objective

Explanation

 

In recent years, the university has made great strides in improving the sustainability of our campus-owned fleet. F&S previously implemented a sustainable fleet plan[1] and achieved green certification with the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA). Moving forward, we plan to not only continually pursue the most effective certification programs, but also expand efforts to “green” campus fleets beyond F&S.

Establish written replacement plans

While the responsibility to implement this objective rests with all campus fleet managers, the majority of units do not possess a comprehensive strategy for fleet optimization. Development of such plans would provide the structure for a campuswide approach to sustainable vehicle management.

One of the best ways to improve fleet efficiency is implementing vehicle upgrades: transitioning from older to newer models that are optimized for fuel consumption. However, even after upgrading to fuel-efficient or electric vehicles (EV), fleets with more machines than necessary can still expend excess energy, fuel, and funding. A strategy called “right-sizing” incorporates an inventory check to determine the extent to which university vehicles are being used 1) to complete necessary tasks 2) by designated personnel 3) in a fuel- and cost-efficient manner. Once the inventory is completed, changes can be implemented to optimize each fleet for individual departmental needs.

Sustainable fuels

In the past, F&S has explored options for acquiring service vehicles that use alternative fuel sources. These include two E-ride electric service vehicles, eight zero-emission Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) purchased in 2004, and eight gas-powered low-speed vehicles (LSV). None of these vehicles are currently in service at the university due to a combination of reliability concerns, insufficient part supply, vendor availability, and personnel fluctuation. As the alternative fuel industry continues to progress, however, new technologies may emerge and existing technologies may become more viable for campus use.

A current example of an alternative fuel technology that has previously been integrated with the F&S fleet is a product of the Illini Biodiesel Initiative. Using a new facility at the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL), this student-led program converts used vegetable oil from dining halls into 100% biodiesel. Students are working to certify the resulting biodiesel so it can be mixed with the 5% biodiesel mixture that F&S purchases for the fleet; when ready, this product can be implemented to increase the fleet’s sustainability.

A promising future technology for the campus is an anaerobic digester that could accompany the construction of a new Dairy Facility. The proposed digester would use organic waste to produce biofertilizer and biogas, which could be upgraded to renewable natural gas (RNG) and processed into renewable compressed natural gas (CNG). The renewable CNG could then be used as fuel for the campus fleet. Another potential source of renewable CNG is a collaboration with the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District (UCSD), which has an operational anaerobic digester already in use. UCSD has investigated the possibility of biogas upgradation, and the university could contribute toward the Upgradation Unit and pipeline injection and install a CNG conversion station on campus for the university fleet.

[1] https://bit.ly/33bgGwQ

Associated Project