Retrofitting Minnesota Fleets for Greener Air Quality: An Environmental Initiative Project

A green interview with Eric David, Senior Environmental Project Associate of Environmental-Initiative.

Minnesota knows what its like to experience unhealthy air quality among its cities.

From the increased air quality alerts reported throughout the news, to the difficulty breathing that is experienced by youth and adults due to particulate irritation from bronchial constriction, poor air quality isn’t good for people or for businesses.

Environmental Initiative created Project Green Fleet to implement solutions that would be a win-win for the city, the people, and its businesses.

In 2006, Project Green Fleet began helping local Minnesota small-businesses, school districts, government and nonprofit organizations to retrofit vehicles to begin reducing harmful emissions on a statewide level.

The program has retrofitted over 3500 vehicles to date with plans to continue growing and expanding the programs reach.

GPSTrackit had the opportunity to speak with Eric David, Senior Environmental Project Associate of Environmental-Initiative, about Project Green Fleet and its mission.

1. What is the response for participation in the Project Green Fleet program in Minnesota?

The response for participation in PGF has been phenomenal across the state. We have partnered with school districts, Minnesota Department of Transportation, many municipalities, private bus and construction companies, railroads, marine, and many other folks in every part of Minnesota.

2. How is the program being marketed?

We have a variety of channels to market PGF. Besides our presence on Facebook and Twitter, we spend a lot of time meeting face to face with potential partners. We find this is the best way to convey accurate information about how the program works and the process to obtain grant funding. We also encourage fleet partners to connect and contact each other to have a peer-to-peer conversation about the program to ensure potential partners that the program is a good deal for everyone.

3. To date, Project Green Fleet has created 3300 cleaner engines. Have you been able to determine the percentage or amount of emissions reduced by those vehicles?

We are actually working upwards of 3,500 engines now. This number includes a wide variety of technologies so there is no one percentage that fits all. For example, the DOC mufflers reduce tailpipe emissions by at least 25%. However, if we repower an engine from an unregulated to Tier 3 we see approximately an 82% reduction in NOx. There are also multiple criteria pollutants to consider with these percentages, so it is very difficult to pin down one number or percentage.

4. What has been the overall impact of retrofitting vehicles with emission reduction technologies for your city?

Our last calculation estimated that our work has the affect of removing approximately 350,000 cars from the road when looking at particulate matter pollution.

5. Have school buses, heavy-duty trucks and other vehicles using the emission reduction technologies you have available noticed any reduction in maintenance occurrences and expenses that you know of?

Again, this is all dependent upon the emission reduction technologies that were applied. For the Diesel Oxidation Catalyst, there is no maintenance required and thus keeps life easy for the mechanic responsible for the vehicle. However, if a vehicle had a Diesel Particulate Filter installed they would have some responsibility to ensure this filter stays clean and doesn’t need to be burned off. When looking at fuel-operated heaters, there is some general maintenance to be done on these as there is any diesel engine. On the other hand, when looking at repowers there should not be any increased maintenance needed but it would all depend on the specific engine installed.

6. What type of green solutions or options are available for fleet vehicles that do not quality for retrofits under your guidelines?

All of the technologies that we install through the grant funding are accessible to any fleet if they are interested.

7. What type of educational programs about air quality and the benefits of emission and idle reduction efforts has Project Green Fleet developed?

We have presented air quality information at various school board meetings, conferences and associations. PGF has also developed several educational brochures and written communications material for a variety of platforms. We are also arranging a conversation on the state level regarding potential non-attainment issues affecting Minnesota.

8. In order for an emission reduction solution to become a part of Project Green Fleets products and services offered in addition to what’s online now, do they have to be specifically approved by the EPA or CARB?

Absolutely. All of the technologies we install through grant funding are required to be certified by CARB and/or the EPA.

Project Green Fleet, through the use of a combination of private funding as well as state and federal grants, is leading the way to greener fleets for the state of Minnesota. Regardless of where a business is located, they can begin taking steps to reduce harmful emissions created by their fleets.

Companies wanting to purchase emissions reduction technology such as the Diesel Oxidation Catalyst, idle reduction technology like the Fuel Operated Heater or repowers, can contact Eric David or seek private or government grants to fund retrofitting projects. In addition, unconventional green technologies, such as GPS tracking devices, are showing businesses and organizations alike that going green can provide a higher ROI than originally planned for.

For more information on the programs offered by Project Green Fleet and Environmental-Initiatives visit them online at:

To learn how’s GPS tracking solutions can help to green your fleet, click the button below for more details.