Summary

San Francisco is an established leader in low emission transport; it has one of the largest clean air municipal fuel fleets in the country. San Francisco’s accomplishments in the area of greening fleet vehicles include:

  • More than half of the city’s Municipal Railway (MUNI) fleet, consisting of buses and light rail, is comprised of zero-emission vehicles
  • More than 700 cleaner air vehicles (compressed natural gas, hybrid, electric)
  • More than 50 heavy duty vehicles on bio-fuel
  • 160 taxicabs are low-emission vehicles
  • Demonstration of 2 Honda FCX hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles through a lease arrangement - this vehicle technology produces no emissions other than pure water
  • 25 fire trucks and ambulances are currently running on biodiesel.

What is it?

San Francisco’s Clean Air Vehicle effort is a commitment from Municipal agencies to reduce carbon emissions in fleets by acquiring sustainable vehicles. Since 1999, the City’s Healthy Air and Smog Prevention ordinance and more recently through a 2005 Mayoral Directive, has established requirements for City fleets to purchase alternative fuel and energy efficient vehicles.

How does it work?

The San Francisco Environmental Code cements San Francisco’s commitment to clean fuel vehicles through an ordinance, the Healthy Air and Smog Prevention ordinance, adopted in 1999 by the Board of Supervisors. This is currently being updated to adapt to and reflect the increasing availability of cleaner vehicles.

The ordinance requires all new purchases or leases of passenger and light duty vehicles by municipal departments to be clean air vehicles when feasible and appropriate for the particular fleet application. In order to strengthen these efforts the Mayor issued Executive Directive 05-103 in 2005 that was aimed at expanding the City’s commitment to clean air vehicles. Municipal fleet vehicles (excluding transit vehicles – buses, light rail) generated approximately 81,045 tons of CO2 emissions in 1990.The 2005 Executive Directive on alternative fuel vehicles redoubles the effort to purchase clean fuel vehicles by requiring that: 

  • 70% of the City’s new, non-emergency light-duty vehicles be alternative fuel vehicles
  • 90% of new light-duty purchases be either alternative fuel or high efficiency vehicles.
  • The directive also calls on the Department of Administrative Services, responsible for approving the addition of vehicles to the city’s fleet, to narrow the definition of emergency vehicles that have previously been exempt from clean fuel requirement and charges them with aggressively pursuing clean air vehicles for heavier duty vehicles.

In May 2006, the Mayor furthered the City’s commitment to cleaning the air and reducing diesel pollution by issuing Executive Directive 06-02, “Biodiesel for Municipal Fleets,” which directs fleet managers to:

  1. Identify and prepare vehicles to be quickly transitioned to B20 - a biodiesel blend using 80% petroleum diesel and 20% biodiesel
  2. Begin using biodeisel as soon as is feasible with the following targets:
  • 25% use of B20 by March 2007
  • 100% B20 use by December 2007.

Clean vehicles

  • As a result of these policies, San Francisco has made major achievements in greening its fleet vehicles. Including:
  • More than half of the city’s Municipal Railway (MUNI) fleet, consisting of buses and light rail, is comprised of zero-emission vehicles. The remainder are being converted to hybrid diesel by 2020
  • More than 700 cleaner air vehicles (compressed natural gas, hybrid, electric, biofuel and propane) – one of the largest clean air municipal fleets in the country.
  • 160 taxicabs are low-emission vehicles operating more than one million CNG miles per month
  • Demonstration of 2 Honda FCX hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles through a lease arrangement - this vehicle technology produces no emissions other than pure water
  • 25 fire trucks and ambulances are currently running on biodiesel.
  • San Francisco Airport, and the San Francisco Zoo are currently using biodiesel in their fleets, which include shuttle buses, heavy-duty trucks, a Zoo Mobile, passenger cars and pick-up trucks.
  • The San Francisco Fire Department successfully completed Phase 1 of its biodiesel pilot program in the Fall of 2006 where they tested B20 - a biodiesel blend using 80% petroleum diesel and 20% biodiesel - in three fire engines , 1 ladder truck and one ambulance. They will begin Phase 2 of their pilot program during March 2007 where they plan to test B20 on 75% of their ambulance fleet (approximately 20 ambulances) and 4 more fire engines.
  • The City’s Central Shops division has transitioned all its diesel vehicles and equipment operating at Golden Gate Park to B20. Other departments currently pilot testing B20 are the Public Utilities Commission and MUNI.
  • The City is working with its waste hauling company to convert contracted long-haul garbage truck fleet to clean fuel vehicles.

Energy efficiency

24% of all San Francisco’s city vehicle purchases over the past three fiscal years have been either alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles.
San Francisco uses about 8 million gallons of diesel a year, is aim is to shift to biodiesel blend B20 (80% petroleum diesel, 20% biodiesel) by the end of 2007 – this is expected to result in significant petroleum displacement and reductions of as much as 18,000 tons of CO2 per year.
In terms of CO2 reductions, the 700 fleet vehicles reduces 1,014 CO2 tons; 160 taxicabs reduces 4,000 CO2 tons, 50 heavy duty vehicles including emergency services vehicles, reducing 331 CO2 tons. These estimates are based on assumptions about fuel and maintenance costs - Biodiesel is more expensive then regular diesel so I have adjusted for that. Emissions reductions for taxis are included because those savings are not accrued by the City.

Next steps

Based on the current trend of approximately 25% AFV purchases per year, and assuming total annual purchases of 300 vehicles per year (75 AFVs) over the next 10 years, annual CO2 savings in 2012 would be approximately 2,000 tons. The conversion of the entire diesel fleet to a 20% biodiesel blend will also result in reductions of as much as 18,000 tons of CO2 per year. Fullscale implementation of the Mayors fleet directives will lead to reductions of greater than 20,000 tons.
The City is also supporting the implementation of the State of California’s Greenhouse Vehicle Emissions law (AB 1493) to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles throughout the community sold in the state 2009, which has yet to be implemented. San Francisco is also advocating for federal action to increase national fuel efficiency standards for vehicles (known as CAFÉ standards). Together these would reduce greenhouse gas emission by more than 555,000 tons within San Francisco.

Application

San Francisco made no initial upfront investment to convert its fleet to clean air vehicles. Policy action was simply taken to ensure that new purchases and replacement vehicles were clean air vehicles. Every Municipal Government has the opportunity to follow San Francisco’s lead.
Each year, the San Francisco Department of the Environment applies for grant funding from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the regional agency tasked with enforcing air quality regulations developed by the California Air Resources Board, to help city departments offset the incremental costs associated with purchasing hybrid and compressed natural gas light-duty vehicles.
The Air Districts grant program, the Transportation Fund for Clean Air (TFCA), is funded by a $4 surcharge on motor vehicles registered in the Bay Area. This generates approximately $22 million per year in revenue. (For more information on this program, please see www.baaqmd.gov/Divisions/Strategic-Incentives.aspx .
The Department of the Environment also seeks clean air vehicle grant funding from the California Air Resources Board and from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the local congestion management agency for San Francisco County.