Fuel Management

The Greening of Madison

May 2008, Government Fleet - Feature

by Staff

Bill Vanden Brook, CEM, keeps Madison, Wis., moving. Whether the job requires clearing the streets, greening his fleet, or getting the best return on used equipment, Vanden Brook uses cutting-edge technology to meet the city’s fiscal and environmental goals. As fleet service superintendent, he has faced plenty of challenges in the 2007-2008 season.

"By mid-January, we already received about 50 percent more snow than our annual average," said Vanden Brook. "This means a lot of vehicles are out, many drivers are working 12- to 15-hour days, and crews in the maintenance shops are pulling longer shifts. Plus, an entirely different crew will work overtime in the spring filling a bumper crop of potholes."


Bill Vanden Brook has auctioned off equipment online to private individuals, large and small contractors, dealers, and smaller municipalities.

Managing the Streets

The City of Madison typically receives 48.8 inches of snow each year. However, heavy snowfall is just part of the challenge. Built on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, Madison has 90 miles of shoreline and more than 200 parks. This means the snow removal equipment must stay "on a low-sodium diet," according to Vanden Brook. "Our salt and sand spreaders are designed to adjust the amount dispersed based on the speed of the truck. If the truck is going slower, the sand and salt will spread more slowly. These types of spreaders dispense more efficiently than those that dispense at a steady, faster pace." Vanden Brook uses this type of spreader to meet city environmental policies and save money.

Environmental consciousness matters in a city that has received several accolades as one of the nation’s greenest cities. Vanden Brook’s primary job — managing the budget and overseeing the replacement, repair, and disposal of the 1,100 pieces of equipment in the city’s fleet — must be done to meet ecologically friendly standards. However, he doesn’t always buy the smallest, lightest, or most fuel-efficient vehicles. "The equipment has to be suitable for the job first," said Vanden Brook. "Smaller, lighter trucks may not always be the most fuel-efficient if the driver spends more time on the road to get the job done. There’s also dead time coming back to the shop to reload, and that can really cut into the overall fuel efficiency of a smaller truck."

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