Diesel Fuel Introduction

This section provides specific strategies to reduce GHG emissions from the procurement, operations, alternatives, training and maintenance associated with diesel fuel and associated equipment. Specifically, it provides the following four strategies:

  1. Modernizing, retrofitting, and maintenance of trucks and equipment
  2. Anti-idling requirements and training
  3. Alternative Fuels
  4. Demand Reduction 


Why Diesel?


For more information on 'Why Diesel' check out " Opportunities to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Diesel"


  • Diesel emissions have significant climate impacts.  Diesel fuel contributes to GHG emissions in both its production and combustion.  Not only is CO2 emitted, but other climate warming constituents, like black carbon, are also found in diesel exhaust. 
  • Off-road diesel emissions are significant. Off road vehicles and equipment accounted for 42% of all diesel emissions in 2005.
  • Diesel emissions pose significant health concerns. The emissions from diesel exhaust contribute to acute and chronic health effects including premature deaths and asthma.  One study found that diesel exhaust is 100 times more toxic than gasoline exhaust. 
  • Government institutions are large purchasers of diesel fuel for both direct consumption in daily operations and through the use of fuel by contractors under service agreements. The two largest uses of fuel by government institutions are diesel-fueled vehicles used for the transport of goods and operation of diesel-fueled on-road and off-road construction, renovation, and maintenance equipment and vehicles.
  • Government institutions have the opportunities to reduce diesel emissions.  Due to the actual deleterious effects of diesel emissions, both as a climate forcing agent and public health concern, reducing diesel emissions should be pursued if an institution is responsible for activities that use significant amounts of diesel fuel.
  • Diesel emissions result in greater exposures for people of color and low income communities.
  • EPA's Report to Congress on Black Carbon

For Fiscal Year 2008, the Federal government spent far in excess of the $24.666 billion budgeted in line items for agencies’ transportation of goods. This did not include billions spent on the transportation related to purchasing services, supplies and equipment, nor did it include the emissions impacts of non-transport related diesel fueled equipment.

What types of equipment and services are covered in this effort?

  • Diesel-fueled vehicles and equipment used for construction, renovation, and maintenance services: backhoes, cranes, dozers, excavators, loaders, pavers, tractors, etc.
  • Services conducted directly by government institutions or vis-à-vis a procurement process.
  • Use of diesel engine equipment and vehicles is common in state and local government agencies and higher education institutions, directly by agency fleets or indirectly by their contractors

Primary Focus of Guidance

The primary focus of this guidance are the emissions from the purchase of goods and services by an institution, or Scope 3 emissions.  An example of this is when a university contracts with a construction company to build new dormitories.  

The purchasing emissions would include the emissions resulting from contractor choices of construction equipment as well as how the contractor uses that equipment. Scope 1 emissions occur when the construction, renovation and maintenance emissions occur from owned facilities and equipment under the direct control of the institution (e.g., county public works department uses its in-house diesel-fueled equipment to maintain the county wastewater treatment plant). For a detailed discussion of “Scopes,” click here.

Parameters of the Guidance

The primary focus of this guidance is reducing GHG emissions from the operation of diesel-fueled equipment and vehicles in construction and maintenance-related activities. It does not cover (Scope 1) impacts related to the use of diesel generators, or the diesel vehicles that are part of government fleets used for travel. It also does not cover Scope 3 impacts from the delivery of goods in diesel-fueled trucks or by rail, or Scope 3 impacts that are not purchasing related (e.g., employee commute in diesel vehicles).

  1. Opportunities for reducing diesel emissions from construction, renovation and maintenance activities purchased by government institutions (the supply chain portion of Scope 3) or conducted by government institutions (Scope 1).
  2. Off-road diesel-fueled construction, renovation, and maintenance equipment – Examples of off-road vehicles and trucks include pavers, loaders, bulldozers, back-hoes, bobcats, and dump trucks. For the purposes of this document, on-road vehicles refer to light and heavy duty trucks used to transport materials and products.

Important considerations:  Specifications are written by project managers, designers, architects, engineers and consultants for construction, renovation, and maintenance projects. While specifications need to be specific to timeframe, project goals, budget or other demands of job completion, they should also address environmental considerations.

These considerations and diesel strategies should start at the front end of the project:  For example, a design or maintenance plan  and should include all diesel emissions reduction possibilities such as requiring diesel emission control technology, and anti-idling policies.