The County of Marin, California, has been committed to sustainability and environmental preservation for years and has laid out plans to make significant local improvements through the recently approved update to its Climate Action Plan. Helping drive these efforts have been changes to the county fleet vehicles and equipment, as well as recommended employee commuting practices.
What began with a single Toyota Prius purchase in 2002 led to inefficient gas-powered vehicles in the county fleet being phased out, with eco-friendly alternatives purchased whenever possible. Today, 25% of fleet is made up of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electric vehicles (EVs).
The county garage, which has used solar power since 2003, has 18 chargers for the county fleet and a portable, solar-powered charging station that can be deployed in emergency response situations. Additionally, the Department of Public Works recently installed 31 new charging stations for public use at the Civic Center, bringing the total public charging stations at the campus to 45. In all, there are 68 public charging stations at county facilities all around Marin.
Over the past 18 months, eight county-maintained fueling stations were replaced with modern fueling systems with environmental safeguards. The fueling facilities were all over 20 years old and obsolete due to unavailable maintenance parts. The new fuel systems have allowed county planners to begin assessing gasoline needs more accurately and plan future efforts to help reduce the fleet’s gasoline requirements. This includes the use of low-carbon fuel options such as renewable diesel.
The fueling stations are utilized by fleet vehicles used by various county departments, including the Marin County Fire Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and Public Works’ Road Maintenance construction vehicles and equipment. While many of the required specialty vehicles do not have hybrid or electric versions available on the market, all efforts are being taken to utilize hybrids and EV alternatives when feasible.
The shift toward zero-emissions alternatives has also influenced the equipment utilized by county staff. Departments such as Public Works and Parks & Open Space are replacing gas-powered leaf blowers, mowers, brush cutters, hedgers, saws, and other landscape equipment and small off-road engines with zero-emission options.
The County Sustainability Team, a division of the Community Development Agency, advocates for fuel-efficient vehicle purchases and promotes commute alternatives for employees. The effort helps lower the county’s carbon footprint and achieve the goals mentioned in the Climate Action Plan for 2030. While many staff members are working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, essential services personnel are still utilizing initiatives driven by the Climate Action Plan. That includes discounted electric vehicle charging, public transit use discounts and subsidies, flexible employee schedules to reduce traffic, more bicycle facilities, and ridesharing services (once they resume after the pandemic).