B.C. heavy equipment operators and truckers initiate program to measure reductions in fuel consumption, sell those reductions for cash to Pacific Carbon Trust; cooperative hopes to cut diesel fuel use between 10%-20%

VANCOUVER , September 28, 2011 () – A cooperative of B.C. heavy equipment operators and truckers has established a first-of-its-kind program for measuring reductions in their fuel consumption and selling those reductions for cash to the Pacific Carbon Trust.

The Carbon Offset Aggregation Co-operative of B.C. announced Tuesday that its program is now up and running after it signed a five-year deal with the trust.

"This isn't just a numbers game; this is a true reduction of carbon, a measurable, verifiable reduction of fuel used," MaryAnn Arcand, cooperative chairwoman, said.

She said the cooperative's founding companies, 23 in total, burn 50 million litres of diesel in their equipment each year. Any reduction from that 50-million-litre baseline is eligible for carbon credits.

By utilizing various measures that save fuel, she said members can cut consumption by 10 to 20 per cent, adding up to a minimum saving of five million litres of diesel a year.

That's fuel that doesn't have to be processed and oil that doesn't have to come out of the ground, she said.

Burning 1,000 litres of fuel releases three tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, giving the founding members a total carbon saving of 150,000 tonnes.

Arcand said even dirty industries are going green by applying the fuel-reduction protocol to their own fleets of vehicles and off-road heavy equipment.

Now that the agreement with the Pacific Carbon Trust is signed, she expects other companies that have expressed an interest will join, doubling the size of the diesel pool to 100 million litres by the end of the year. Fuel use is reduced through a program that uses technical and mechanical changes to equipment, called interventions, as well as operator awareness.

It includes highly sophisticated systems that require an on-board computer that can measure and record everything from a heavy-footed operator to a control system that does away with the need to keep heavy equipment operating all night long, a common practice during northern winters to prevent equipment from freezing.

A simple device, a reversible radiator fan, can blow out debris sucked into radiators at dusty work sites like a sawmill or a cement plant, improving radiator performance and increasing fuel efficiency by as much as 20 per cent, Arcand said.

The protocol has undergone third-party validation to meet B.C. emission offsets regulations and has been accepted by the provincial Environment Ministry's Climate Action Secretariat.

The signing of the deal with the Pacific Carbon Trust was the final necessary step before the program could get going, Arcand said.

Pacific Carbon Trust president Scott MacDonald described the co-op as the first of its kind.

"It's our first project in the transportation sector and in British Columbia, transportation accounts for almost 38 per cent of the emissions in the province," he said in an interview.

"This will become a model for all other projects to use in the province. They have developed the right kind of systems and protocols to make it work."

The credits have a value of $12 to $13 to the companies for every tonne of carbon that is not spewed into the atmosphere. Arcand said the program was initially conceived as a fuel-saving measure by the Central Interior Loggers Association.

"The value of fuel saved outweighs the value of the credits and it always will. But it's an incentive to save the fuel and to save the environment by going greener," she said.

"The actual cash return to the company is in the fuel savings, there is no question. But the social value of contributing to a cleaner environment is priceless."

She said pilot tests by truckers have already caught the attention of big box do-it-yourself retailers.

"They market their wood as being forest-certified. Through this, they could be green-certified in how they move the wood. That's how we see the branding going down the road."

Companies that have joined the cooperative say they are interested in both the fuel savings and the environmental benefits.

At Hampton Lumber Mills in Burns Lake, environment committee chairman Dave Turford said he anticipates significant fuel savings once the data-tracking equipment is installed on the mill's heavy machinery.

The upfront cost to equip the mill yard machinery is about $60,000, he said in an interview, but it would result in fuel savings of about $20,000 a year. Carbon credits would be a bonus on top of that.

At Surrey-based Coastal Pacific Express, a leading western Canadian trucking company with a fleet of 250 trucks and 700 trailers, senior manager Kevin Johnson said the company strongly supports the carbon offset program.

The trucks, which are owneroperated, go through "a significant amount of fuel," Johnson said in an interview.

"We would provide incentives to the owner-operators to participate. Anything we can do to really help the planet and make our owner-operators more viable is something we could get behind."

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