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City of Medford’s Vehicle Emissions Reduction Program (VERP)

VERP graphic

Goal

The goal of the City of Medford’s Vehicle Emissions Reduction Program (VERP) is to minimize the emission of criteria air pollutants like particulate matter, ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen and sulfur dioxides, while improving the air quality within our City and the surrounding region. The VERP proposes to reduce emissions from the municipal fleet by retrofitting diesel vehicles, increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles, considering alternative fuels, supporting cleaner fuels, and enforcing strict no idling policies. By retrofitting the vehicles with pollution control devices, that travel throughout the City, Medford limits ozone and fine particulate matter released into the air, thus reducing instances of respiratory illnesses, including asthma, emphysema, and related respiratory diseases. This effort to lessen pollutants from City operated vehicles fortifies the progress Medford is already making to voluntarily reduce emissions as part of its Climate Action Plan.

Background

On August 10, 1999, the Medford City Council adopted a resolution in support of the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives’ (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign (Council File No. 99-615). Through this Campaign the City developed a local action plan that proposes policies and programs the City can implement to reduce its emissions. The City of Medford was the first city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to approve such an Action Plan in October 2001. The proposed initiatives listed in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) are programs that the City believes to be the most effective way to reduce emissions and to meet reduction targets.

Medford’s CAP addresses various pollution sources related to transportation. The CAP proposes several measures to reduce emissions from the municipal fleet, such as increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles, considering alternative fuels, supporting cleaner fuels, and enforcing strict no idling policies. The City of Medford has conducted an inventory of emissions generated through burning fossil fuels for energy within municipal buildings, in the municipal fleets, and for street and traffic lights. The emissions inventory is generated through a software program designed specifically for communities participating in the CCP Campaign. The emissions are converted into equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (eCO2). For municipal emissions in fiscal year 2002, the fleet, was responsible for 9% of the total equivalent carbon dioxide emissions for the entire City. Excluding emergency vehicles, the school buses and the DPW fleet comprised 99.7% of these emissions. The breakdown is below:

School Buses: 88.4%
DPW Fleet: 11.3%

The information provided by this emissions inventory was key in determining which fleets would be the focus of Medford’s Vehicle Emission Reduction Program (VERP). The City of Medford’s VERP seeks to improve air quality by retrofitting not just one, but all of the major fleets with routes throughout Medford. These fleets consist of the City’s municipal Department of Public Works (DPW) fleet, Waste Management’s fleet of refuse haulers and recycling trucks, and the school bus fleet. By addressing the important fleets in the City of Medford, we believe we can more effectively make a difference in the quality of the air in and around the City of Medford.

Vehicle Emission Reduction Program (VERP)

The City of Medford’s VERP is divided into two phases. Phase I will retrofit the City of Medford’s DPW fleet, which includes diesel vehicles used by various divisions of DPW including, the Highway, Parks, Water and Sewer, Forestry and Cemetery divisions, and also consists of the contracted refuse haulers and recycling trucks that provide service in the City of Medford. Phase I also includes pollution reduction measures such as increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles, considering alternative fuels, supporting cleaner fuels, and enforcing strict no idling policies. The Cemetery Division of the DPW utilizes biodiesel (B-20), and all DPW vehicles will be using ultra low sulfur diesel as mandated by federal law by the end of 2006.

Phase II of the City of Medford’s VERP focuses on the retrofitting of the school bus fleet which was funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Grant Program completed in 2005. Additionally, Phase II consisted of the creation and implementation of a no-idling policy, and an alternative fuel or clean diesel component to use ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD). Through the appropriate procurement processes, Vocell Bus Company, Inc. (Vocell) was awarded the contract. Vocell began receiving shipments of ULSD from Sprague Energy on October 4, 2004, well ahead of the 2006 federal mandate.

Like thirty percent of the school districts in the country, the City of Medford does not own their school buses, but contracts out the services to private companies. Nineteen of the seventy school buses that Vocell runs are used by the City of Medford. The remaining buses are utilized by other neighboring communities for their students. These communities include the Cities of Somerville and Chelsea, and the Town of Belmont as well as the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District. The vocational school district services twelve communities in the metropolitan Boston area including: Chelsea, Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Winthrop, and Woburn. Seventy diesel buses were retrofitted totaling $396,774.75 spent on equipment and associated installation costs. In total, Cummins Northeast, the chosen contractor, installed 31 DPFs and 39 DOCs by the end of the project.