NYC Parks & Recreation: biodiesel pioneer

By | June 15, 2010
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is leading a green revolution in the Big Apple. It was the first city agency to pilot biodiesel in 2005 and continues its commitment to greening its fleet through the use of biodiesel.

The agency maintains more than 29,000 acres in New York City, including such well-known venues as Central Park, Battery Park, Flushing Meadows, Coney Island and much more. This enormous task requires a very large fleet-more than 2,300 vehicles, 850 of which are diesel-powered. The diesel fleet alone includes more than 40 different types of vehicles and equipment, everything from landscape and parks maintenance to road construction, snow removal and waste management.

Their experience has been extremely positive. In fact, things have gone so well that the department ran a B50 pilot program in 2007 in 45 vehicles.

"Our B50 trial was very successful and we hope to move to a B50 blend in all but the very coldest months in the near future," said Keith Kerman, assistant commissioner for the parks and recreation department. "We view B20 as a stepping stone that will help move us toward New York City's goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030."

The department also uses a B5 blend in heating systems and boilers. "Because of the dense population in New York City, emissions from buildings are a bigger problem than emissions from vehicles," Kerman explained. "Using biodiesel in heating applications is a very important part of what we're trying to accomplish in lowering emissions. If all goes well, we would like to move to B20."

In addition to using biodiesel, most of the department's nondiesel fleet runs on some sort of green power, such as compressed natural gas, electric or solar. And, the agency's Urban Park Service patrol fleet is now fueled 100 percent with alternatives. The department is also buying smaller sedans to replace less fuel efficient SUVs whenever possible, and is replacing older vehicles like never before.

Each spring, the department hosts a fleet show where more than 100 vendors showcase green technologies, vehicles and equipment. The show offers other city agencies and local municipal fleets an opportunity to see first-hand the latest developments in green fleet technology. Both the city's transportation and sanitation departments have already followed the parks and recreation department's lead and are using biodiesel blends.
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