By Mahanth Joishy, Fleet Superintendent

Different fleet leaders meet next to our solar charger.Improving the environment in this era of climate change and pollution requires nothing short of a global effort. None of us can do it alone- we need all hands on deck for the planet we share. Our leaders recognize this. In 2019 Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway announced the Sustainable Leadership Collaborative (SLC) in order for the various communities throughout our county to work together closely on fleet and other initiatives that will make an impact in the areas of sustainability and resiliency by acting locally and thinking globally.

The efforts are ongoing. On Thursday, July 16th Madison and Dane County jointly hosted a sustainable vehicle showcase at our Fleet headquarters on First Street. Fleet staff from Madison, Dane County, Cottage Grove, Verona, Monona, Middleton, and Sun Prairie convened for a chance to examine and discuss a collection of brand new equipment that utilizes cutting edge green technology- all while remaining outdoors with masks and social distancing for a safe experience. Technical expertise on maintenance and fuel savings were discussed as well.

Fleet leaders meet next to a CNG truck.Dane County Highway displayed two of their latest bright orange plow trucks and a sedan powered by Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) sourced from the Dane County landfill. Dane County converts the methane generated from decades of the community’s own refuse into clean energy for their fleet. Madison is also hoping to operate our first RNG truck by 2020, utilizing the landfill as the source.

Madison staff meanwhile presented an array of electric vehicles (EVs) including Chevy Bolts and Nissan Leafs, off-road turf vehicles such as the Polaris EV Ranger and GEM cart, electric forklifts, an electric cargo bicycle demo, and an Envision solar EV charging station which is being used to power all of the above, completely off the grid. Madison’s aggressive biodiesel fueling program was discussed, which has helped reduce CO2 emissions from City trucks by 3.5 million lbs. since 2018. Also on display were new 2020 Ford Interceptor hybrid police cars, which reduce gasoline consumption and costs by about one half vs. their non-hybrid counterparts.

This type of outreach and exchange of best practices has become a regular feature of our work at Fleet. We have also shared our experiences by co-hosting the 2019 Transportation & Innovation Expo, attending the 25th Annual Wisconsin Clean Cities Stakeholder Meeting & Awards, and presenting nationally at the 2019 Government Fleet Expo in New Orleans and New York City’s Vision Zero Fleet Forum.

Other fleets in the county are already beginning to adopt EVs and hybrids at varying levels, a trend which we hope will continue along with biodiesel and RNG. We plan to continue working with our partners in Dane County, across Wisconsin, and beyond as we tackle the 21st century problems facing the planet together.

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