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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - The City of White Plains

The City of White Plains-Department of Public Works, White Plains


The City of White Plains, the county seat of Westchester County, operates a fleet of 400 vehicles. These vehicles are maintained and, in part, constructed at the city's central Department of Public Works garage. This facility includes a machine shop and metal fabrication operation as well as full maintenance services for the fleet which provides a variety of municipal services. These units range from fire apparatus, police cars and motorcycles, to bulldozers, dump trucks, and street sweepers.

The city's unique, though easily duplicated, mobile pollution prevention program consists of a two-pronged approach to mobile source reduction of air pollution. The approach dramatically increases the overall fuel efficiency of the general fleet and requires cleaner burning alternative fuels.

Methodologies and Procedures

White Plains accomplished this reduction in vehicle fuel consumption through the use of specific energy efficient policies, components and designs. These range from such simple measures as an Anti-Idling Policy (to prevent needless engine operation) to the use of lightweight, yet durable truck body materials (aluminum, fiberglass, or graphite fiber). Additionally, special order engines and low friction axles were used for more efficient use of fuel.


Written policy for all city vehicle operators reminds them of the inefficiency of prolonged engine idling. The city is now experimenting with an electronic engine shut-off device which operates after the vehicle is motionless for a preset time.

Lightweight Body Components

Aluminum and/or fiberglass have proven a more durable material replacement for steel truck cabs, dump and utility bodies, suspensions, wheels, air and fuel tanks, etc. By reducing vehicle weight (as much as two tons), legal payload capacity and fuel economy are significantly increased. Tire and brake lining life is also enhanced. Lightweight high pressure hydraulic systems are used in lieu of larger, heavier, medium pressure units.

Energy Efficient Drive lines

Lower fuel consumption is achieved by several vehicle power train design improvements. These include modulating or electronic cooling fans, uncommon 6x2 drive axle/tag axle combinations (to replace standard 6x4 tandem truck axles), smaller high efficiency diesel engines, and the use of low-friction synthetic transmission and drive axle lubricants. Even the city's police cars have special order V-6 (taxicab style) engines instead of the standard V-8. That alone saved more than 500 gallons of gasoline per car each year.

Alternative Fuels

The use of alternative fuels has proven an effective way to reduce air pollution. Specifically, the city's three alcohol cars, two battery electric and two propane vehicles have been tested according to federal emissions testing protocol. Six more alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) are currently on order.


The alcohol cars have tested emissions levels that are nearly 80 percent lower than the equivalent gasoline vehicle and, as a further benefit, performance is enhanced by 5 to 10 percent. More widespread usage of AFV'S is helping to increase the demand for both the fuel and the vehicles that use these fuels, hence lowering costs of each.

The savings in fuel and the increase in durability and reliability from the city's energy efficient initiatives have more than offset the slightly higher initial costs of using premium materials. Similarly, a substantial return on investment is realized by the city's computerized preventive maintenance program which maintains the vehicles in a peak state of tune, lowering overall fuel consumption. The lower the poundage of fuel burned per year, the lower the level of exhaust emissions.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)

This page was last modified March 8, 1999

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