As of January 2008, Orlando Rock, a site development company that has been serving the community since 1984 on municipal, retail, commercial and industrial projects, successfully completed the conversion of their entire fleet of heavy equipment and on-road vehicles to a soy-based, bio-diesel fuel. This environmentally conscious change will save 32,000 gallons of diesel per year, complementing Orange County and the City of Orlando’s efforts to “go green”.
The bio-diesel fuel Orlando Rock is using is a blend of soy-based fuel and fossil fuel. Certain Caterpillar® machines are capable of handling a B35 blend, which contains 35% soy fuel. The majority of Orlando Rock’s fleet was only cleared for a 20% blend, so they chose to use B20, or 20% soy fuel in all of their machines. Because the mixed fuel burns cleaner and loosens buildup in the engine, all 45 pieces of equipment had to be slowly converted over to the B20 blend, but no modifications had to be made to the equipment engines.
Starting with a 5% blend in October 2007, Ring Power completed oil samples every 100 hours on a control group of machines to ensure there were no problems. The lab monitored changes in oil viscosity and soot levels to determine at what point the engines could be stepped up to the next blend percentage. Initially it was thought the conversion process would take a little over a month, but safe conversion of all the machines and on-road vehicles was completed in three months.
The biggest challenge for Orlando Rock was the cost commitment. After weighing the cost of the custom blended fuel against the knowledge that the conversion helps increase the longevity of the machines in the fleet, decrease air pollution and diminish reliance on foreign oil, Orlando Rock decided the switch was worth the cost.
“People think to switch to bio-diesel you have to modify your equipment and switch over your machines and really, you don’t. It’s a matter of changing your attitude more than changing your equipment. People who burn cooking oil have to modify their machines to run on that, but straight bio-diesel isn’t as complicated,” said Scott Altman, president of Orlando Rock.
Around the same time as Orlando Rock began their conversion process, the City of Orlando kicked off “Green Works Orlando,” an environmental program designed to raise awareness and promote ecologically friendly solutions for all city services and functions. Also, in late September 2007, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty held an “Orange to Green Climate Change Summit”, attended by Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Upon hearing about Orlando Rock’s proactive environmental efforts, Mayor Crotty met with Altman in October to congratulate him, holding a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate Orlando Rock’s green initiatives.
A key pillar of Green Works Orlando is the goal of designing all the city buildings to meet with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED Green Building Rating System provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Altman and his employees will soon complete their LEED certification, and will receive bonus points toward their goal for the use of bio-diesel fuel. Altman and Orlando Rock intend to use the knowledge gained from the conversion of their fleet and their certification to encourage other local contractors and subcontractors in the Orlando area to become LEED certified, helping his county and city to achieve the goal of going green.
“You see the GCs becoming green, but the subs aren’t and that’s where the change needs to be made,” said Altman. “We feel it’s the right thing to do.”
Contact your Ring Power PSSR or service manager regarding switching your equipment to bio-fuel. For more information about LEED certification visit the US Green Building Council at usgbc.gov. You can contact Orlando Rock at 407.859.5990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.