In the U.S. State of Oklahoma, Schwarz Ready-Mix has continued its tradition of innovation in both product and delivery solutions by embracing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a vehicle fuel. Fuel supplier Clean Energy Fuels explains why the adoption of CNG has been so successful for the company, enabling it to land more LEED certified construction projects.
By the middle of 2013, Phillip Schwarz (President and co-owner)’s outdated fleet was in need of replacement and upgrades to ensure his operations continued to run smoothly. With strong natural gas advocates already in the State and tax incentives for alternative fuels on offer, the choice to switch fuels was an easy one.
Since Schwarz’s first purchase of 16 Peterbilt 12-liter trucks the company the CNG fleet to 32 vehicles out of the 115 total. Half of those CNG trucks are mixers with ten more CNG vehicles on order. While many companies test one or two trucks at first, Schwarz jumped right in. “We knew they’d work,” he says.
Dhybrid Power Systems installed the CNG tanks onto the trucks and trained the Schwarz team on fueling and maintenance. Phillip’s drivers were resistant to the change at first, having spent their whole careers with diesel. He simply told them: “give it a chance and come back in a month.” After only a couple of weeks, the drivers reported the CNG trucks “were like driving an RV,” simple and more powerful than the diesel. The Schwarz team also appreciates the noise reduction that comes with the CNG switch. “It’s unbelievable how quiet the trucks are,” says Phillip.
The Schwarz fleet currently uses around 550,000 – 650,000 gallons of fuel per year, depending on the workload at any given time. By switching to CNG, their emission improvement with the low-end estimate includes a reduction in greenhouse gases of approximately 1,640 metric tons every single year. That’s the environmental equivalent to annually planting over 41,992 trees, removing over 340 cars from the road or recycling 580 tons of waste that would have been landfilled. All these numbers increase over 30% when their gallon consumption approaches the high-end estimate of 650,000.
Recently, the company has invested in private filling stations located at two separate facilities. One of these stations is a compact, self-contained GE CNG-in-a-Box unit installed by Clean Energy Fuels. This station also receives maintenance support from Clean Energy Fuels.
Gaining a Competitive Edge with CNG
Embracing CNG as a vehicle fuel is great for company PR, and it has helped Schwarz land more LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified construction projects. The most widely used green building rating system in the world, LEED is transforming global thinking about how buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained and operated. Alternative-fueled vendors gain selection advantage for this type of work.
Being able to compete for these projects propels Schwarz to the forefront of their industry and opens doors for them all year long. The benefits of a CNG-fueled fleet are both real and measurable, and that’s something business owner Phillip Schwarz can get behind. “There are a lot of advantages to going [the CNG] route,” says Phillip. “I’m surprised more people aren’t doing it.”
(Source: Clean Energy Fuels – an NGV Global Sponsor member)