Biodiesel Crops Up In Construction Fleets

Not just at mealtime, the smell of french fries pervades the Destiny USA construction site in Syracuse, N.Y. A retail and entertainment complex billed as the largest facility of its kind to be powered by renewable energy sources, Destiny USA is under construction using exclusively biodiesel-powered equipment, thus fulfilling a commitment to operate the job site and new complex without consuming fossil fuels.

Providing a model for implementation of advanced, environmentally friendly technologies and services, Destiny USA builders began using lower blends of biodiesel and now are in the process of switching all 18 excavation and work-site vehicles to B100. Over the duration of the project, nearly 100 construction vehicles are expected to run on biodiesel, consuming over 10,000 gallons of B100 per month for the next six to eight months.

Notes Destiny USA founder Robert Congel, With this project, we will stop talking about our dependence on fossil fuels and start demonstrating how we can earn our independence. Destiny USA will prove the viability of using 100 percent biofuel in all types of equipment, thereby educating and challenging other developers in New York and nationwide to adopt similar environmentally friendly approaches.

More construction companies are realizing the health, environmental and energy-saving benefits of using cleaner-burning biodiesel in construction equipment, according to the National Biodiesel Board. Moving toward Environmental Protection Agency 2010 diesel engine emission guidelines, the Jefferson City, Mo., group adds, the construction industry increasingly recognizes biodiesel as a solution whose benefits include replacement of lubricating properties lost in the sulfur removal process, clean burning, domestic production, and renewability.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently released a report that identified construction equipment as one of the largest sources of diesel pollution in California. In 2005, the report states, pollution from construction equipment in California was responsible for an estimated 1,132 premature deaths, nearly 183,000 lost work days and 1,086 hospitalizations, resulting in an annual cost of $9.1 billion. The report can be viewed at

UCS Clean Vehicles Engineer Don Anair asserts that biodiesel has an important role to play in helping to clean up construction sites. Refueling with cleaner alternatives, like biodiesel, combined with other particulate controls, he says, is an excellent solution for reducing harmful diesel exhaust particulates from construction and off-road diesel equipment.

A major consumer of biodiesel in the construction industry is Brooklyn, Iowa-based Manatt’s, Inc., a diversified company supplying ready mixed and asphalt paving, plus other services. The producer is running all its diesel construction machinery on biodiesel blends; the Des Moines Metro Division alone uses B5-B20 blends in about 100 pieces of diesel equipment. Vice President Curt Manatt reports, Since switching to biodiesel, we haven’t had any fuel-related problems with our equipment. In fact, I didn’t tell our mechanics at first that I had switched fuel, because I wanted to see if they noticed a difference. They didn’t notice at all.

Also a committed biodiesel user, Turner Construction Co. recently turned to the cleaner burning fuel to help protect workers’ health at a Quincy, Wash., job site. The company began using about 1,200 gallons a week of biodiesel in 20-25 pieces of equipment, including excavators, dump trucks, bulldozers, loaders and forklifts, required for the construction of an 80,000-sq.-ft. data center.

The welfare of our workers Û a top priority for us Û is the primary reason we made the switch to biodiesel fuel in our diesel equipment, explains Turner Construction Safety Manager Darrin Nelson. Biodiesel has helped us reduce diesel emissions and soot to provide an improved environment for our employees and all the people who enter our job site.

Other construction industry players and agencies that rank as volume biodiesel users include Earthwise Excavation of Snohomish, Wash.; Tennessee Department of Transportation; and, Petaluma, Calif.-based North Bay Construction.
National Biodiesel Board,

You can also view more about Biodiesel at