Zeeland Public Schools is a leader in earth friendly design and one of the few school districts in the State of Michigan to write and receive a grant for bio-diesel use in our bus fleet. The 2003 grant covered the extra cost of bio-diesel for a twelve calendar month period. This funding allowed us to make the proper adjustments for additives, preventative maintenance programs and document areas of concern with the bio-diesel product. Because of our commitment to reduce emissions we have continued using bio-diesel fuels in our entire fleet.
Zeeland Public Schools has shared information about bio-diesel with numerous school districts and city governments in the West Michigan area. Because of our research and sharing of information the City of Zeeland, Zeeland Board of Public Works, Zeeland Street Department, Zeeland Fire Department and all other Zeeland City Departments and numerous other local school districts have begun using bio-diesel. Zeeland Public Schools along with the City of Zeeland used close to 120,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. After 5-1/2 years of using bio-diesel the area has saved the nation 20% or 105,000 gallons of diesel fuel. This coming year the City of Holland, Holland Mass Transit and Holland Public Schools will begin using bio-diesel. Grand Rapids mass transit has gone to using bio-diesel. A number of the municipalities and the county governments and their fleet of trucks have started to use bio-diesel.
Because of our use of bio-diesel and continued research to back up our decisions, our Director of Transportation has presented to different management groups sponsored by truck dealerships, fleet management groups, clean city organizations and other organizations that were interested in reducing emissions.
The changes are causing significant reduction in diesel emissions. Through our introductory use of bio-diesel we have had the honor of working with a number of Agricultural Industries. Hudsonville Farmers Co-Op, one of our partners, is a major distributor of bio-diesel which is now used year round by trucking companies, construction companies and the farming organizations all reducing diesel emissions.
Zeeland Public Schools has placed an emphasis on projects that lead to broader efforts and sustainable larger scale projects and programs to further reduce diesel emissions. We have verified idle reduction technologies at Zeeland Public Schools which are fuel operated heaters from Wabasto and Pro-heat heaters. These heaters reduce the amount of idling time on school buses in order for them to warm up before runs in the winter. This idle reduction is used at sporting events and field trips where buses are parked and the heaters keep the buses warm so the engines do not have to idle. Zeeland Public Schools has an anti-idling policy which is in our driver’s handbook and all drivers have received training in correct usage of the heaters and how to reduce idling. This policy is based on past performance of reducing diesel emissions. Two of our buses have been retrofitted with DOC’s purchased with funds from the Clean School Bus grant that the State of Michigan received two years ago. This means we currently have two buses in our fleet that are using exhaust emission reduction technology and reducing the NOx, PM, HC, CO, and CO2 in the air around our community.
We up-graded two of our buses with new engines certified through Cummins which reduces diesel emissions and increase fuel economy. Zeeland Public Schools, with the use of a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality began using cleaner fuel in 2003. The bio-diesel was used by Zeeland Public Schools as another example of looking for ways to reduce diesel emissions in the West Michigan area.