Biodiesel Driving Business to National Fleet

The sustainability trend has swept across the transportation and fuel industries in recent years. Biodiesel has helped G&D Integrated, a for-hire carrier, meet its own environmental goals and win business. 

Helping the Environment and Profits

G&D Integrated has found that sustainability is not only about its own goals, but also what it can do to meet its customers’ goals to be environmentally friendly.

“We’ve noticed that there are more and more customers asking us to participate in their sustainability efforts,” says Vince Buonassi, group manager of transportation programs at the for-hire carrier. “We’ve actually been awarded freight based on our biodiesel usage.”

Those customers are found worldwide and do business in heavy equipment manufacturing and parts fulfillment, agricultural machinery, automotive parts and components, food containers and food packaging.

Located in central Illinois, G&D Integrated’s services include transportation, warehousing, and distribution and logistics. On the transportation side, it offers point-to-point hauling, dedicated contract carriage, ocean container drayage and freight brokerage.

Its fleet of 430 vehicles travels up to 26 million miles annually. The diesel-powered units run year-round on a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel, which is known as B20.

Biodiesel has been key not only in the company’s sustainability efforts but also in growing its business. For instance, biodiesel usage is showing up in some RFPs and, Buonassi says, has been “directly related” to the company winning bids. It also has helped G&D Integrated strengthen its relationship with East Coast ports that want to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Many of our customers analyze their entire supply chain for environmental impact, and some have even gone as far as incorporating sustainability into their purchasing departments,” he says.

Significant carbon reduction

The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from G&D’s use of biodiesel is equal to nearly 230,000 fewer gallons of gasoline consumed each year. Particulate matter is reduced by 2,854 pounds annually. The numbers come from the B20 Club, a program from the Illinois Soybean Association and the American Lung Association.

“We’re talking a material difference here,” Buonassi says.

G&D Integrated started using biodiesel several years ago after its fuel supplier, Ag-Land FS Inc., introduced the company to the fuel.

“They were claiming that this product would not only cost us less money but also would not result in any efficiency losses,” Buonassi says.

He has found that to be true and says biodiesel has not caused G&D Integrated to increase its rates.

Fuel that performs

G&D Integrated started with a B11 blend before quickly moving up to B20. Each time, it rigorously tested the fuel.

“What we observed was there was absolutely zero degradation in performance,” Buonassi says.

In fact, biodiesel added lubricity. It has also performed well in cold weather. Buonassi credits partnering with a quality vendor like Ag-Land FS to getting a good product. The fuel comes from REG.

“A company like REG has production facilities that make top-of-the-line, quality-controlled biodiesel,” he says. “And they’re sourcing different forms of feedstock that go through testing before being converted to the end product.”

It’s an end product that Buonassi credits with helping G&D Integrated stay ahead of the curve.

“There’s really no sense in fighting the tide of sustainability,” he says. “A lot of other truck carriers will. At G&D, we feel it's our duty to be good environmental custodians, and it makes business sense for us.”

The Bottom Line

Environment

G&D Integrated's biodiesel use reduces:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 230,000 gallons of gasoline annually
  • More than 2,800 pounds of particulate matter

Performance

No drop in fleet performance compared with petroleum diesel.
Uses up to a B20 blend in cold weather.

Business

G&D Integrated has been awarded business because of biodiesel use.

Watch: G&D Integrated Explains Biodiesel Benefits

Before G&D Integrated fully embraced biodiesel, it extensively tested how it's fleet performed. See the results.

Biodiesel Helps Harvard Ace Its Sustainability Tests

Ivy League school’s fleet sees emissions go down and performance stay strong with biodiesel blends.

When Harvard University adopted a comprehensive and aggressive five-year sustainability plan in 2014, David Harris Jr.

 felt like his department was ahead of the curve.

“I like to say we already had our homework completed, that we were well on our way,” says Harris, the director of transit and fleet management at the famed university. “We’ve been using biodiesel since 2004.”

Sustainability has become a major initiative for many organizations across the public and private sectors. It can have broad applications — Harvard’s plan, for example, includes everything from food to building construction to water usage to procurement — but transportation and fuel usage are a component of just about any plan.

That’s the case with Harvard, and biodiesel has proved to be a difference-maker in the commitment laid out in its sustainability plan.

Starting in spring 2016 and going back a year, Harvard’s biodiesel usage reduced hydrocarbon and sulfur dioxide by 20 percent, carbon dioxide by 15 percent, carbon monoxide by 12 percent, and particulate matter by 12 percent, according to the university.

It’s numbers like those that led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England office to recognize Harvard Fleet Management with the 2016 Environmental Merit Award for showing ingenuity and commitment to improving the environment.

Other fleet sustainability efforts include right-sizing the fleet, starting an anti-idling campaign and signing on to the NAFA Fleet Management Association’s accreditation program for sustainable fleets.

‘Ahead of the curve’

The university’s fleet department started researching alternative fuels in the early 2000s. Harris found that back then (and even now) many options required by the investment, such as natural gas, were cost prohibitive.

“When we were presented with biodiesel, it was almost the simplest sustainability solution,” he says.

Harvard started using biodiesel in 2004 in vehicles that were past their warranties. By 2005, they were fueling nearly every diesel vehicle with biodiesel blends.

“We weren’t having any issues that concerned us,” Harris says. “We were ahead of the curve. We just said, ‘Go for it.’”

In the first full year of use, Harvard used 35,000 gallons of biodiesel. In fiscal year 2016, that number topped 100,000 gallons.

Biodiesel improves quality of fleet

Harvard’s fleet of more than 90 diesel-powered vehicles fills up with a B20 blend year-round. Performance has never been an issue. In fact, when a unit needs replacement and there’s an option of gas or diesel, Harvard usually purchases the diesel model.

“Biodiesel has really helped improve the overall efficiency and quality of the diesel fleet with the added lubricity and the fact that it’s always cleaner burning,” Harris says. “We have been able to run our diesel vehicles over the 100,000-mile mark with no problem.”

That’s a message he shares with other fleet managers. He also tells them that, at a time when keeping up with evolving diesel technology is one of the biggest challenges in the fleet industry, biodiesel gives him no anxiety.

“Biodiesel has been the least of our challenges since we’ve been using the fuel,” he says. “We can just pump it and turn the other way.”

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