Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
Carpooling lets employees share rides (and costs) with fellow commuters. Portland’s Office of Transportation (PDOT) can help your employees find carpooling partners and discounted parking at select locations while helping your business provide employee subsidy options.
PDOT can help your employees connect with other people interested in carpooling. PDOT is a sponsor the CarpoolMatchNW program, which allows your employees to log on to CarpoolMatchNW.org and find carpool partners in the area. Contacting potential matches by email is just a click away!
Carpool Parking Policies and Procedures
This link is designed to give you an understanding of how to sign up for a carpool parking permit and information about the rules of the Portland carpool parking program. The Program offers discounted rates for parking in the downtown and Lloyd Center for carpools and vanpools.
Motivate employees to use transit options by reserving parking spaces for carpools and vanpools near employee entrances. This has great appeal where parking is limited or lots are large. Put up a few signs, paint the parking spaces and promote yet another great benefit to your employees.
In certain locations, employees can take advantage of carpool parking discounts sponsored by the City of Portland. Employees must register with PDOT’s carpool program at 503-227-7665 to qualify.
CarpoolCheck allows companies to pay part of their employees’ carpool parking costs at selected parking locations in downtown Portland where there is a monthly parking fee. Most of the operators in the downtown area will accept CarpoolChecks. Contact TriMet to create the Carpoolchecks after you have determined a monthly subsidy amount. Then distribute the Carpoolchecks so employees can submit them (with the balance of the payment due) to their parking facility each month. The parking facility will then bill your company for each voucher received. The parking operators will need to know your employer contact information for billing.
Financial subsidies encourage employees to use commuting options. Most companies offering subsidies for carpoolers also offer cash, gift certificates or vouchers (like CarpoolCheck) that apply to the cost of regular automobile maintenance, gas or parking. Companies that offer employees carpool subsidies worth at least $10 per month are also eligible for TriMet’s Emergency Ride Home program .
Metro is now providing discounts of up to 50% on vanpools to work sites in the Portland metro area. Vanpooling is a highly efficient and cost effective ride to work. A vanpool needs five to 15 commuters including a qualified driver. Drivers may drive for free. Metro will pay up to 50% of the costs, not including gasoline, of a basic van for eligible vanpools.
Click here for vanpool information.
E-Mail Mary Ann Aschenbrenner or call her at: 503-813-7566.
Monday, February 8th, 2010
February 16, 2010, 9:23PM
Just pass it? Nike and other businesses, including Starbucks and Portland’s Gerding Edlen development firm, called on Congress to approve comprehensive climate change legislation this year and said a “clean energy economy” is the next great economic boom.
At a news conference on the Nike campus Tuesday, representatives from businesses, unions and youth groups, joined by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., announced a “Race for American Jobs” campaign that they hope will persuade the Senate to pass legislation similar to that passed in the House.
Speakers said the United States is in an economic arms race with China and must grasp the opportunity to create jobs, reduce its dependence on sometimes-hostile foreign oil suppliers and take advantage of technological innovation that will usher in a “low-carbon economy,” as Blumenauer described it.
“We are watching an opportunity that I think is unparalleled,” Blumenauer said. The alternative, he said, is for the U.S. to remain on the sidelines “and end up being China’s best customer for green products.”
He and others said a cohesive national energy policy of subsidies, regulations and incentives will result in thousands of jobs and pay for itself over time in the form of reduced energy consumption and a healthier environment.
Business representatives said their companies have a stake in climate change policies. Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact for Starbucks, said coffee beans grow in limited climate zones.
“Climate change poses a direct threat to our business; it puts our supply chain at risk,” he said.
The company’s new stores are energy efficient and water efficient, Hanna said, and Starbucks is retrofitting existing outlets. Simple steps such as replacing lighting with efficient LED devices reduce energy usage by 11 percent and will pay for themselves in a couple of years.
There are benefits beyond that: A company’s sustainability policies can attract high-quality employees, Hanna said. And Sarah Severn, Nike’s stakeholder mobilization director, said the company’s youthful customer base is concerned about environmental business practices.
Mark Edlen, a managing principal of Gerding Edlen, said a combination of extended tax credits and other incentives could produce thousands of jobs. In Portland alone, perhaps half of 75 million square feet of commercial office space needs to be retrofitted with efficient electrical, water and sewage systems, he said.
He proposed increasing the gas tax and dedicating a portion of it to energy efficiency projects, saying there is “a generation’s worth of work” for laborers, electricians, architects, engineers and those who arrange financing for such projects.
Joe Esmonde, renewable energy political liaison for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Portland, said trained workers are available to rewire buildings and hook up solar panels and wind turbines. “A lot of growth could be done if the market had the right signals” that would come with passing climate change legislation, he said.
Passage of comprehensive energy and climate legislation could produce 13,000 to 26,000 new jobs in Oregon by 2020, according to 2009 research by the University of California, University of Illinois and Yale University. Nationally, the legislation would create 918,000 to 1.9 million jobs, according to the analysis.
Organizers of Tuesday’s event are taking the campaign to Denver; Columbus, Ohio; and Manchester, N.H., gathering signatures and business support for climate change legislation. The information will be delivered to Congress and the Obama administration March 10.
— Eric Mortenson
February 8, 2010
Where the rubber meets the road
For Steve Phillips, senior vice president, operations, Werner Enterprises, a green fleet is an aerodynamic fleet. “Eighty-eight percent of our fleet is aerodynamic. by that I mean full fairings, top and bottom, and approved as ‘aerodynamic’ by SmartWay. We have been purchasing SmartWay approved aerodynamic trucks for some time, and as we continue to sell off older equipment and buy new trucks, then sometime within this year, 100 percent of our fleet will be aerodynamic.”
Phillips says the company is also looking at the benefits of aerodynamic trailers, specifically those that are outfitted with skirting. “We are currently testing three different manufacturers’ skirting, including one of our own designs.” while the actual fuel savings associated with trailer skirting is up for debate, “there’s enough proof that it does improve fuel savings,” he says.
Phillips believes that new regulations from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are largely responsible for jumpstarting the move to trailer skirting. the regulations will be phased in over 11 years—between 2010 and 2020—and are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by heavy-duty tractors pulling 53-foot or longer box-type trailers. Equipment owners are responsible for replacing or retrofitting their vehicles with SmartWay-compliant aerodynamic technologies and low rolling resistance tires for operation on California highways.
“Manufacturers are claiming their trailer skirts will cut fuel consumption anywhere from 5 to 7 plus percent,” Phillips says, and while that’s admirable, cost has been an issue for some. “You’re looking at $1500 to $2000 for a set of skirts; but that cost will likely come down as they become more prevalent.”
Tires are also where carriers can see some real results. “Right now, we’re buying all low resistance tires, and we have been for some time. the latest are super single tires that offer even lower resistance. although super single tires aren’t widespread yet, we’re seeing some very positive impacts.”
Inflation systems are another worthwhile tool, says Phillips. “Drivers do a pretty good job of checking tire pressure on their tractor, but a pretty poor job on the trailers. Tire inflation systems are a very good investment because not only do they improve miles per gallon they also reduce tire wear. An improperly inflated tire is going to have half the durability of a properly inflated tire.”
Electric auxiliary power units (APUs) are also growing in popularity, Phillips says, as are single-drive axels. but, one product that hasn’t quite been accepted is biofuel. “It may be in part because the $1 tax credit expired on January 1st of this year,” posits Phillips.
As it turns out, biofuels have been sputtering for some time, and a new study by Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy is particularly critical of its future. for starters, the study questions the economic, environmental, and logistical basis for the billions of dollars in federal subsidies and protectionist tariffs that go to domestic ethanol producers every year.
On the topic of environmental and health impacts, the study asserts that the addition of ethanol to gasoline will impede the natural attenuation of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes) in groundwater and soil, posing a great risk for human exposure to these toxic constituents if an underground storage tank leaks.
In addition, there are logistical challenges as well. while gasoline in the U.S. is distributed mainly by pipeline, the current U.S. ethanol distribution system depends upon rail, barge, and truck, which is more costly than pipeline.
Meanwhile, there are some more promising developments on the horizon. last month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it would give $187 million to nine projects to improve fuel efficiency in heavy-duty trucks and passenger vehicles.
Cummins inc. will receive $53 million for two projects: improving Class 8, or so-called “super trucks,” by developing a cleaner diesel engine; and developing new technology for powertrains for passenger vehicles.
Most of the funding, about $115 million, will be spent on projects related to fuel efficiency for the super truck. In addition to the grant to Cummins, the Department of Energy awarded grants to Indiana-based Navistar to develop technologies to cut fuel use in half for heavy-duty trucks and trailers, and Daimler Trucks North America of Portland, Oregon, which will work on shrinking the size of the engine. wt