September 2011, TruckingInfo.com - Feature
Old Dominion Freight Line has implemented environmentally conscious programs at all 31 of its shops in the lower 48 states.
The shops employ a long list of "green" tools and programs. Most notable perhaps is ODFL's use of oil/water separators, a pressure washer system that collects and cleanses used water, allowing it to be recycled. Company buildings also use reflective roofing, or cool roofs, that reflect solar heat and reduce cooling costs. Energy-efficient HVAC units further reduce energy usage.
These are somewhat flashy, big-equipment investments, but it's important to note the bulk of the work is more mundane, and more within reach for the average fleet.
"It all starts with the low-hanging fruit," explained Tom Newby, director of field maintenance. "All shops have antifreeze and fuel; it's very easy to get involved in programs that recycle that."
Recycling programs exist in many areas, and in some cases, fleets may be able to sell some of their waste products. It's fairly common, for example, for recycling companies to pay for waste oil. In some cases, waste oil can also be used to help heat shops in the winter.
Other measures at ODFL include use of T8 and T5 low-energy light bulbs, 8-foot ceiling fans, trucks upfitted with Femco Quick disconnects so oil can be pumped from oil pan to waste oil tanks, and the use of spill containment pallets for drums.
The list goes on, but being green is about more than buying products.
"It is definitely more of a lifestyle," said Jayna Long, manager of sustainability at Old Dominion.
The backbone of the ODFL program, and green programs in general, is employee awareness and appreciation of sustainability goals. It is one thing to buy equipment and call a recycling service, but it's quite another to make sure all potentially hazardous materials are handled well. For a sustainability effort to be successful, the goals have to be lived out every single day.
The key, Newby says, is starting with small, manageable goals. According to him and Long, if a shop can manage the easy stuff, it will snowball from there.
"You start small and keep moving forward, and eventually you have a program you can be really proud of," Long said.
Times are changing
Newby admits there's nothing really new about "going green."
"In this day in age everyone is doing it," he said. "You can't go throwing a tire down a hill anymore." Nor can you pour oil or antifreeze down a sewer drain, nor contaminate ground water with leaky underground fuel tanks, nor toss a vehicle battery in the trash.
But regulations against pollution only go so far. It takes real vigilance to truly run a clean operation, and programs like the one at Old Dominion are adding momentum to the sustainability zeitgeist.
ODFL is raising the bar even higher. The company is shooting for LEED Silver certification on its newest facility in Ohio. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification through the U.S. Green Building Council provides a framework for identifying and implementing measurable green building projects. The four levels of certification, Platinum, Silver, Gold and LEED, demonstrate a company's commitment to environmental standards.
There's certainly commitment at ODFL. As Long said, the question is, "How can we improve efficiency anywhere we look?"
From the July Issue of Heavy Duty Trucking