The Keating Report: Government Spending Getting Greener
In Houston, for example, the city government is working to make its vehicle operations easier on both the environment and city budgets.
“We are making our fleet more efficient,” said Victor Ayres, fleet manager in the city’s Building Services Department. “We currently own about 350 hybrids, including both Ford Escapes as well as Toyota Priuses, and our goal, by the end of 2010, is to have about 1,500 hybrids in the fleet.”
Likewise, federal government agencies are augmenting their fleets with hybrids. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recently acquired 55 Saturn Aura Green Line hybrid sedans to bolster its inventory of fuel-efficient vehicles.
GSA will lease 43 of the 2007 model-year hybrids to 10 military and civilian federal agencies. The other 12 will remain in the GSA fleet, for agency use and to use as demonstration models during presentations to federal customers.
In addition to purchasing the Saturns, GSA also has bought approximately 24,000 alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) for federal agencies so far this year. In total, GSA said that it has purchased more than 140,000 AFVs and hybrids since 1991.
Some Agencies Are on a Fast Track
Mass-transit districts in the United States also are on a fast track to green operations. Of the 35,052 special-district governments in the United States, there are 444 mass-transit districts like the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in San Francisco and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, the Metro) in and around Washington, D.C.
According to Joan LeLacheur, WMATA’s environmental manager, WMATA currently is testing a variety of products that have met Green Seal’s GS-37 standard for cleaning products, including Hydroxi Pro in various concentrations. Plans call for testing to be completed sometime in 2008.
Product characteristics that WMATA’s custodial group is evaluating include efficacy, cost, levels of toxicity and ease of use. The goal, LeLacheur explained, is to come up with a qualified product list (QPL) or some type of specification for vendor bidding.
“Grease is a big issue in the WMATA’s garages, and some of the green products are hydrogen peroxide-based, and that will break down the grease, but it tends to leave a film, so our custodial teams are looking at those products carefully,” LeLacheur said. Another goal in the product evaluation is to find substitutes for the ammonia and bleach products that currently are used.
WMATA custodians are challenged with maintaining the agency’s 28 buildings, one of which is more than 100 years old. The newest building is 10 years old. Deteriorating grout and tile is one of the infrastructure challenges that WMATA is facing in its older bus garages.
LeLacheur keeps on the lookout for sanitary supply products that are registered or certified as green products by organizations such as Green Seal. “If the products are registered or certified by a good organization, that helps our staffers to find them,” LeLacheur said.
LeLacheur noted that her custodial teams rely on the Green Seal Web site to locate green products.
Expect a Green Second Half
According to BidNet’s Dan Ansell, the high level of interest in environmentally friendly products exhibited in Houston, at GSA and at WMATA will be seen in governments throughout the United States in the second half of 2007.
“Some of the newer areas that are seeing special interest [in governments] are technology-related, including green power generation such as wind power and geothermal energy, as well as an overall emphasis on green products and services, including engineering and consulting,” Ansell said.
This is the second in a three-part series on government spending trends. In Part 3, Keating profiles the government market. To read Part 1, click here.
About the Author
Michael Keating is research manager for Government Product News and Government Procurement magazines as well as a project manager for Penton Research. Keating has written articles on the government market for nearly 100 publications, including USA Today, Sanitary Maintenance, Industry Week and the Costco Connection. He can be reached at [email protected] His Web site is at http://www.mikekeat.net.