Skip Top Navigation

Sustainable Transportation

Sustainability in Motion

Ferries, paver and excavators running on biodiesel
Biodiesel fuels WSF’s fleet of ferries and many of WSDOT's large trucks, excavators and other construction equipment.

1 million gallons of biodiesel fuels WSDOT on road to greener, more sustainable transportation

WSDOT’s fleet of trucks and ferries recently realized a seven-digit milestone on the road to sustainability. For the first time, the agency’s fuel purchases in 2013 included more than 1 million gallons of biodiesel for ferries and mid-to-large-size trucks and equipment.

That means a net savings of more than 1 million gallons of regular diesel, including 687,741 gallons used for ferries and 318,775 purchased by the land fleet to fuel work trucks and other heavy equipment. It’s big news for Washington, where transportation ranks the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s the latest green thumbs up for WSDOT’s award-winning fleet.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, substituting biodiesel, which is derived from vegetable oils and animal fat-based oils, for petroleum-based diesel can reduce smog-forming emissions from particulate matter by 10 percent, hydrocarbons by 21 percent and carbon monoxide by 11 percent for highway vehicles. Hydrocarbons are greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Increasing the use of biofuels, such as biodiesel, is a widely accepted strategy for slowing climate change.

Since biodiesel is derived from plant matter, it is not a fossil fuel, so it’s renewable. Biofuels come from plants and trees, which need CO2 to grow. Using biofuels doesn’t add as much CO2 to the atmosphere; it recycles it.

Considering these factors and other, a 2006 study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that biodiesel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 41 percent.

The benefits of biodiesel are clear, and WSDOT plans to continue growing its use as an alternative fuel, said WSDOT energy policy manager Tim Sexton. Washington State Ferries uses biodiesel made primarily from recycled canola oils. WSF is preparing for a pilot project to evaluate increasing the percentage of biodiesel it uses to fuel vessels.

Into the green fleet first
Since 2009, use of biodiesel and other alternative fuels, such as propane and electricity, has helped WSDOT’s fleet cut greenhouse gas emissions by 263 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Since 2008 WSDOT also:
  • Reduced employee travel by 2.2 million miles
  • Cut fuel consumption by 10% or about 400,000 gallons
  • Purchased plug-in hybrids, all-electric vehicles and charging stations

Sustainable transportation is WSDOT's approach for an adaptable, integrated, multmodal statewide transportation system that supports Washington's economy, preserves the environment and enhances our communities. It's a strategically managed and operated system that meets present needs without compromising the future.

What's new?

It's in everything we do
Emissions from transportation-related activities account for nearly half of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Washington. This is one reason why we consider sustainability in all that we do. Our practices make good environmental sense and good economic sense for Washington. Our agency uses a strategic and balanced approach to conserve energy and fuels while reducing greenhouse gas emission from the transportation sector.

Making transportation sustainable
WSDOT is making transportation more sustainable in a multitude of ways - from long-range plans to our day-to-day operations. This includes designing highways that work best for communities, integrating transit, bicycling and walking into projects and employing techniques that reducestorm water pollutants. Our maintenance crews use precision snow and ice removal techniques that keep drivers safe while using the minimum amount of salt necessary.

New technology and innovative methods at WSDOT provide a more reliable, responsible and sustainable transportation system. We are taking steps to conserve fuel and energy, reduce carbon emissions, and protect our natural environment while keeping people and goods moving.

WSDOT is making highways more efficient by smoothing traffic flow through our busiest choke points. We're using fewer building materials by recycling and extending the lifespan of roads, bridges and other structures.

Reducing the carbon footprint
This approach helps citizens and businesses reduce their carbon footprint in new ways, from expanding transit services and ridesharing opportunities to partnering to build support infrastructure along I-5 for electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles.

For more information
Seth Stark - WSDOT Sustainable Transportation Manager