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Fairfield Adds More Eco-Friendly Vans

The newest van in Fairfield’s Department of Public Works garage will most likely be a classic white to match the rest of the town’s vehicles. But as a result of Public Works Assistant Director Ed Boman’s efforts, Fairfield’s fleet will be a little bit greener when it comes aboard.

The town will expand its stock of cleaner-burning Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, vehicles in next year’s budget, cutting the carbon footprint of the Department of Public Works.

The Board of Selectmen approved Boman’s pitch to use a state grant to upgrade an old 1998 van to a new CNG model later this year. With the new addition, the town will use 30 CNG-powered vehicles, ranging from personal-use Honda Civics to full-size school buses and senior center buses.

The town has gradually upgraded its fleet to CNG vehicles since 1998. And Ed has been working with other cities to convert to the clean-burning fuel as well as the coordinator of the Southwestern Connecticut Clean Cities Coalition. In December, a new CNG station opened in Bridgeport with federal grants Ed helped obtain.

“The [Bridgeport] station is already significantly contributing to the reduction of diesel emissions and the associated growth rate of childhood respiratory disease in Connecticut,” Ed said on the Coalition’s website.

Compressed natural gas vehicles produce 30 percent to 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions that diesel-burning cars and trucks, and cut smog-forming pollution by 60 percent to 90 percent, according to the Department of Energy. But the fuel does not get as many miles per gallon as gasoline-burning engines, and CNG can be hard for the public to find. Fortunately, the Department of Public Works does not have that problem, however, because the town has its own filling station for its fleet, which the town plans to upgrade soon.

“What’s interesting about the new station is … it automatically records not only the amount of fuel they use and the miles they’ve driven, but the emissions they’ve saved,” Ed told the selectmen. “It’s a very interesting project.”

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