What is Idle Reduction?

Idling vehicles can use up several billion gallons of fuel and emit large quantities of air pollution and greenhouse gases each year. The Transportation Research Board estimates that medium-duty trucks use about 2.5 billion gallons of fuel to idle each year, or 6.7% of the total fuel they consume. The TRB estimates that approximately 650,000 long-haul heavy-duty trucks idle overnight at some point for required rest stops, using more than 685 million gallons of fuel per year in the process. This costs fleets over $2 billion on fuel annually.

The term idle reduction can be used to describe the technologies and practices that reduce the amount of time vehicles idle their engines. Idle reduction technologies and practices are an important way to cut petroleum consumption and emissions. Reducing idle time saves fuel, reduces engine wear, and reduces emissions and noise. It also saves money that would normally be spent on fuel or maintenance work due to engine wear and tear.

A variety of technologies are employed to reduce fuel use. Onboard equipment such as automatic engine stop-start controls and auxiliary power units can be used wherever the vehicle might be. Truck stop electrification enables trucks to hook up to stations that provide power and other amenities. Additional strategies are available for light- and medium-duty vehicles and school buses. The presentations found below from Idle Reduction experts at Argonne National Lab and a representative of one of the leading idle reduction manufacturers can help provide basic information about idling and ways in which you can reduce it within your fleet operations.

Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center. Link: http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/idle_reduction.html

Virginia Clean Cities Idle Reduction Project

The Middle Peninsula Clean School Bus Project has an idle reduction component. Virginia Clean Cities put forward $50,000 to fund an Idle Reduction pilot program in Virginia Beach and Gloucester County, VA school systems. The installation of 24 fuel operated heaters in 24 school buses to help eliminate idling at various schools in Virginia Beach and Gloucester took place by the Fall of 2010.

Fuel Operated Heaters replace the need to idle diesel engines by using 1/16th of the amount of fuel it takes to idle, by heating the engines coolant fluid, which then heat the engines and passenger compartments inside the bus. This project included an educational program on anti-idling lead by our Outreach Coordinator, Ryan Cornett. Project Associate Jamison Walker worked with Roger Kelly and Robert Clinebell, Gloucester County and Virginia Beach school systems’ transportation directors, respectively, on data acquisition and analysis of fuel and cost savings produced by the heaters. A power point detailing the results of the program can be found at the following link: VCC Anti-Idling. The report detailing the results of the program can be found at the following link: VCC Anti-Idling Report.

Data collection and analysis will continue on the project in order to provide a database for other school systems to utilize in making similar transitions in their own fleets.

Virginia Incentives and Laws for Idle Reduction

The list below contains summaries of all Virginia incentives and laws related to Idle Reduction.

State Incentives
Idle Reduction Weight Exemption
Any motor vehicle equipped with an auxiliary power unit or other idle reduction technology may exceed the gross, single axle, tandem axle, or bridge formula weight limits by up to 400 pounds to compensate for the added weight of the idle reduction technology. (Reference Virginia Code 46.2-1129.1)

Laws and Regulations
Idle Reduction Requirement
Motor vehicles licensed for commercial or public service may not idle for more than three minutes in commercial or residential urban areas, unless the engine is providing auxiliary power for purposes other than heating or air conditioning. Tour buses and diesel vehicles are not permitted to idle for more than 10 minutes. (Reference Virginia Administrative Code 9-5-40-5670(C))

Idle Reduction Resources

Below are presentations by our Idle Reduction experts at Argonne National Lab and a representative of one of the leading idle reduction manufacturers that supplied our program’s heaters:

Idle Reduction, Related Legislation, and Funding Opportunities at the National and State Level
Terry M. Levinson
Argonne National Laboratory

Idling Reduction Overview
Terry M. Levinson
Argonne National Laboratory

How Do Idling Reduction Technologies Compare?
Dr. Linda Gaines
Argonne National Laboratory

Paul Baczewski
Webasto Products North America, Inc.

Watch the new YouTube video created by Webasto and http://www.makealeap.org/.

Visit the DOE Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center for more information on idle reduction.

The Mid-Atlantic Diesel Collaborative is a great resource for reducing emissions from diesel engines.

The National Idling Reduction Network brings together trucking and transit companies, railroads, equipment manufacturers, local, state and federal government agencies (including regulators), and national research laboratories to identify consistent, workable solutions to heavy vehicle idling for the entire United States. Email us if you would like to be added to their mailing list.