Equipment Type

AEMP Encourages “Greening” of America’s Fleets

Austin Bridge & Road equipment director Mike Munson explains how they became the first to receive Green Fleet Certification from the AEMP.

September 01, 2011

In 1889, George Austin moved to Texas as an agent for an Iowa bridge-building company. An entrepreneur at heart and convinced that good bridges would be vital for accommodating America’s new horseless carriage, Austin, later joined by his brother, had by 1902 established his own thriving business—Austin Brothers Contracting, which fabricated and installed steel-truss bridges across Texas and Georgia.

Renamed the Austin Bridge Company in 1918, the firm grew in size and expertise through the decades, resulting in the formation of two related enterprises, Austin Road Company and Austin Paving Company. In 1992, parent company Austin Industries combined these three entities, creating Austin Bridge & Road, which provides a comprehensive range of heavy/highway/paving construction services to both public and private clients—and strives to do so in an environmentally responsible manner.

The company’s statement of corporate citizenship, in fact, makes its environmental awareness crystal clear:

“As a corporate citizen, Austin Bridge & Road is committed to good stewardship of the natural environment, our most indispensable supplier. We provide sustainable solutions for ongoing impact on the environment, including a partnership with the state of Texas to replace, retire, or renovate old equipment in an effort to reduce negative environmental impact.”

AEMP Certification Parameters

The AEMP Green Fleet Certification Initiative is 1) open to all equipment fleets; 2) has four levels of recognition; 3) applies to all equipment in the fleet with 25 horsepower or more; and 4) excludes “low-use” pieces. Certified Green Fleets are recognized in AEMP publications, press releases, and newsletters and are listed on the AEMP website. Fleets can advertise their status with vehicle decals that display the AEMP Green Fleet logo and certification status.

To learn more, contact Sara Sanderman.

Certification Levels

2011 BRONZE:

50 percent of fleet Tier 2 or a written idle policy

2011 SILVER:

50 percent of fleet Tier 2 and a written idle policy

2011 GOLD:

50 percent of fleet Tier 3 and a written idle policy

2011 PLATINUM:

50 percent of fleet Tier 3, written idle policy, and 10 percent of fleet DPF*-equipped

* Diesel Particulate Filter

 

When a company’s fleet-management strategy is such that a primary intent is to reduce the fleet’s negative impact on the environment, then subsequent recognition for that effort seems appropriate. The Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) did, in fact, recently recognize Austin Bridge & Road’s continuing work toward lowering fleet emissions by awarding the company the association’s first Green Fleet Certification.

“The certification provides recognition for our efforts to maintain a youthful fleet, and it highlights our commitment to be a good corporate citizen in the communities where we operate,” says Mike Munson, equipment director for Austin Bridge & Road. “We didn’t set out with the goal of being the first certified green fleet, but the certification process does validate the hard work of our fleet-management team.”

AEMP sets standards

The AEMP Green Fleet Certification Initiative is an industry-wide effort to increase public awareness of the construction-equipment industry’s conscientious endeavors to protect the environment. According to Stan Orr, CAE, AEMP president and CEO, the program is a means for mixed fleets across the nation to demonstrate their commitment to a cleaner environment—and to benefit from that commitment.

The program was developed, says Orr, in response to AEMP’s members voicing increasing concern about the challenge of complying with evermore stringent (and sometimes conflicting) emissions regulations—from the federal level to the municipal level—and about the challenge of countering misinformation about the environmental unfriendliness of their fleets.

To assist its members with these concerns, AEMP formed an emissions task force in early 2010. The task force’s mission was to develop an approach to emissions issues that would accomplish three goals: help the industry set the record straight about the progress fleet owners are making toward reducing emissions; measure the “greening” of equipment fleets nationwide; and provide recognition for fleet owners working to reduce equipment emissions.

According to task force member Mike Pierce,  CEM, equipment manager for RMCI, a contracting firm based in Albuquerque, N.M., the committee included a cross section of industry professionals, including representatives from fleet-owning companies, equipment manufacturers, and equipment distributors and dealers.

“We’ve been fortunate to have people on the committee who have access to the ‘latest and greatest’ information about emissions,” says Pierce. “The program that resulted from the task force study—the Green Fleet Certification Initiative—is based loosely on criteria that CARB [California Air Resources Board] had in place at the time, but the program’s requirements progressively increase every two years to keep fleets active in their update efforts.”

According to AEMP’s Orr, the public often views heavy-equipment fleets as leading producers of harmful emissions. Through the Green Fleet Certification Initiative, he says, AEMP is working to bring forward a more favorable, more accurate assessment of the situation by encouraging companies to work toward a greener fleet—and by acknowledging them for taking even the first steps toward that goal.

To that end, says Orr, the Green Fleet Certification Initiative is designed with four levels of certification (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum) to recognize all fleets working to implement green practices—not just fleets that can afford to take the biggest steps towards reduced emissions. The program is designed to challenge fleets, he says, yet to realistically allow all to achieve a level of Green Fleet status, regardless of size or funding.

“Among the benefits of Green Fleet Certification,” says Pierce, “is the potential to change public perception that fleets are operating polluting machines and that fleet managers are not interested in reducing emissions. Closer to home, of course, Green Fleet certification can give the fleet owner an edge in bidding—‘green’ products and services are in demand today.”

Orr makes the point, too, that voluntary “green-fleet” investment might allow fleets to capitalize on funds available though federal, state, or private agencies to defray a significant portion of costs associated with reducing emissions.

Also, he says, fleet owners should remember that working toward a greener fleet can have far-reaching effects. If you take the long view of potential benefits derived from reducing emissions, he says, you might include increased productivity and a reduction in absenteeism.

“The program’s benefits extend across the entire organization,” says Orr, “creating a more efficient, more productive company.”

Austin’s fleet management

Austin Industries is an employee-owned business with a total workforce of some 6,000, including the 750 or so employee/owners who staff Austin Bridge & Road, which is headquartered in Irving, Texas, and has satellite offices in Austin; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Baton Rouge, La.

Construction Equipment recently asked Munson about the significance of the company’s Green Fleet Certification and about Austin Bridge & Road’s overall fleet management.

CE: What’s the size and general composition of Austin Bridge & Road’s fleet?

Munson: We have a fleet of more than 500 pieces, the bulk of it off-road equipment, including crawler cranes, rough-terrain cranes, wheel loaders, motor graders, hydraulic excavators, crawler dozers and rollers. The largest segment is our boat/barge fleet, since we do open-water-structures work. We also have both concrete- and asphalt-paving equipment. And supporting our operations is a large fleet of pickup trucks.

CE: What’s your overall equipment-replacement strategy?

Munson: We use a life-cycle-analysis matrix to determine replacement by individual equipment classes. Based on OEM component life cycles, we consider rebuilding or replacement when units reach defined thresholds within those cycles. We color-code the thresholds—blue, green, yellow and red—to monitor machine status. Once units reach the yellow threshold, we consider making additions to the capital-expenditures budget to cover the cost of replacement or rebuild. The average age of vehicles in our fleet is just over five years.

CE: What changes in the fleet were required to achieve Green Fleet status?

Munson: We really didn’t make any formal decision to change the fleet. The Green Fleet certification was simply recognition of our practice of providing a reliable fleet. We have, however, participated in state-funded programs, such as the Texas Emissions Reduction Program [TERP]. The TERP program was instrumental in our replacement of a concrete placer, an excavator, and on-highway trucks used for hauling aggregate.

CE: The AEMP Green Fleet application requires a detailed inventory of equipment in the fleet. This would seem to be a daunting task for a large fleet. How did Austin Bridge & Road approach the task?

Munson: We partnered with an OEM to run an analysis of the fleet. Based on their [the OEM’s] software, we were able to determine a fleet average for NOx. This analysis gave us a baseline to determine our fleet’s performance compared with existing NOx-reduction standards. Through this process, we determined that our current fleet average should meet attainment standards through 2015.

CE: Do various state and local emissions regulations complicate your overall equipment-management approach?

Munson: Today we’re operating in four states—Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi—and will soon be in North Carolina. Our work often takes us into EPA nonattainment areas, but our fleet is able to meet all local, county, and state mandates. We do recognize, though, that this will become more and more challenging as agencies look for ways to meet EPA mandates.

CE: Austin Bridge & Road has achieved the first level of AEMP’s Green Fleet Certification Initiative. What’s ahead?

Munson: We’ve attained the Bronze certification, which mandates that at least 50 percent of our fleet be verified at a Tier 2 level or better. [Actually, 88 percent of Austin Bridge & Road’s off-road fleet meets this requirement.] We’re looking in the near future to adopt an idle policy, which would qualify us for the Silver level of certification.

CE: What do you consider as benefits of Green Fleet Certification?

Munson: The certification calls attention to our youthful fleet and to our commitment to be a good corporate citizen. From a business standpoint, certification is a chance for the company to stand out in its design-build and federal pursuits.

More like this

Comments on: "AEMP Encourages “Greening” of America’s Fleets"

Overlay Init