Propane Pickup Power
Part 3 of 3-part ProPickup Special Feature Series
Going Green Saves Money At The Jobsite
How contractors cut emissions, and fuel costs running propane autogas pickups
by Melissa Dohmen
Demand for eco-friendly home building and purchasing has increased pressure on contractors to go green throughout their operations, including on the job site.
Cutting fuel costs and emissions with propane-autogas-fueled work trucks is one way contractors can meet these demands.
In fact, landscape contractors have been leading the way in this effort, greening their fleets with propane-fueled mowers and work trucks and creating a one-fuel environmental solution with propane.
By following their example, construction contractors can bring the same savings and sustainability to their operations.
Driving Down Emissions
Propane-autogas-fueled trucks offer contractors proven performance with an impressive emissions profile.
Propane vehicles emit 12 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent less nitrogen oxide, and up to 60 percent less carbon monoxide than gasoline-fueled vehicles.
When coupled with propane generators and other equipment, the alternative fuel can have a huge impact on a business’ carbon footprint.
Eric Hansen, owner of Competitive Lawn Service located near Chicago, is a landscape contractor that made the switch to propane mowers in 2008 and Ford F-250 work trucks in 2009.
His business saw the benefits of going green with propane early on, and has implemented a model that contractors in any industry can follow.
Competitive Lawn Service currently has seven work trucks and a fleet of 30 propane-fueled mowers.
The company’s commitment to go green with propane and use the alternative fuel across their operations has not only made the company greener, but more competitive.
“By using alternative fuels we have a differentiator besides price. When we go in and bid for a contract we can differentiate ourselves, we have that hook,” Hansen says.
“We’re able to talk about sustainability, alternative fuels we’re using, and for commercial projects that has allowed us to get a lot of additional contracts and grow our business.”
Cutting Costs Beyond the Pump
Hansen took advantage of local and federal alternative fuel programs to make the switch to propane.
He worked with Clean Cities, a national organization under the U.S. Department of Energy with nearly 100 local coalitions, to identify local resources. F
or instance, through Illinois’ Alternative Fuels Rebate Program, Hansen was able to claim a first-time $4,000 tax credit on his propane autogas truck purchase.
Additionally, Hansen took advantage of a $0.50 per gallon savings for on-road fuel through the federal Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit.
The bottom line Hansen currently pays for propane in his trucks and mowers is well below $2.00 per gallon. By working with his propane retailer to negotiate fuel contracts and installing on-site infrastructure on company property, Hansen reports saving over $50,000 a year on fuel compared to gasoline.
While Hansen was initially attracted to propane for its low price per gallon, the fuel’s clean properties and high octane rating have reduced engine deposits and particulate matter, providing extra savings in maintenance.
“The new [propane-fueled] Ford trucks last longer than my gasoline-fueled trucks—they’re running up to 300,000 miles,” Hansen says. “I save an additional $300 to $400 per month in fuel and maintenance costs.”
As demand for sustainable building spreads from the home to the job site, contractors can count on propane to meet their sustainability goals while also helping their bottom line.
By using a combination of propane-fueled power washers, generators and heaters in addition to work trucks, contractors can make a big economical and environmental impact on their business.
Lists of propane-fueled construction equipment can be found online at buildwithpropane.com. For a complete list of vehicle options, visit autogasusa.org or consult with your local propane retailer.