Paris Apollon, Director of Fleet Services NYC Department of Environmental Protection, said sustainability goes beyond vehicles at Fleet Vision International – THE SHOW on April 27, 2023. It takes in practices, equipment and infrastructure, all as important as the vehicles.
Formerly with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Paris Apollon moved to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection to become Director of Fleet Services because ‘my mission is to reduce pollution and my vision as a fleet manager is to promote safety and sustainability’.
He opened his presentation by considering what can be done to help fleet operations become more sustainable above and beyond simply transitioning to more sustainable vehicles. ‘As Director of Fleet Services, I don’t just manage vehicles. I also manage a range of facilities, from garages, offices, storehouses, fuel sites and parking lots, and all these things are important for sustainability.’
However, applying a sustainable vehicle strategy to the rest of a fleet’s operations is impossible. ‘Green vehicles are not easy, but they are not complicated either. You replace an internal combustion engine vehicle with an electric alternative. But you can’t do that with facilities.’
Paris explained that greening facilities takes many more smaller actions, but add all those small things together, and you can make a real difference.
He shared some of the actions taken to improve the sustainability of the DEP’s buildings, including switching to LED lighting, installing green roofs – ‘these improve biodiversity, air quality, and create habitats’ – solar arrays on roofs, geothermal, solar and wind energy generation, HVAC and ventilation system upgrades, and building weatherisation. In parking lots, these actions include bioswales, permeable pavements, and solar canopies.
‘Our charging station infrastructure includes 10% solar chargers for EVs. This is off-grid, pure solar energy.’
In its garages, the Department for Environmental Protection uses biodiesel for heating and biodegradable fluids where possible as well as employing fluid recycling. The garages also practice off-peak charging and recycle parts and other materials, generating revenue from metal recycling – US$15,000 last year alone. ‘We also compost more than 5,000 lbs of organic material yearly.’
Paris highlighted another sustainability initiative – the use of soy tyres. ‘Tyres pollute the environment even more than emissions, so we started using soy tyres, which can decrease pollution significantly – air, soil, and water. Last year we started using soy tyres on our light-duty vehicles. This year we will start with our heavy-duty vehicles. You will have to replace your tyres at some point. Why not replace them with soy tyres?’
All these small actions have added up for the NYC DEP. Paris shared a summary of what the department has achieved: a CO2 reduction of 485,000 lbs per year; a reduction of 19% in electricity consumption and a 20.5% reduction in heating oil consumption; a significant reduction in toxicity (carcinogens); savings from the repurposing of parts of US$145,000 per year; revenue from recycling of $15,000; and a boost in staff morale, engagement, and retention.