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News Item: Homepage

Renewable Diesel for VUSD Fleet Makes Healthier Communities


Imagine an alternative diesel fuel that reduces carbon emission levels, improves air quality, and performs as well as and costs less than current fuel. If you’re thinking this sounds too good to be true, you’d be wrong. Renewable diesel not only exists, but it can now be found in Vista Unified School District buses and other fleet vehicles! Keep reading, we haven’t even listed all the benefits yet.


But first, what is renewable diesel? 

Renewable diesel is diesel fuel produced from 100% renewable raw materials. Chemically, it acts just like traditional fossil fuels, meaning there are no necessary changes or upgrades to fuel tanks and it can be mixed directly with traditional diesel, biodiesel, or used by itself. Renewable diesel is a type of biodiesel, but it’s different from most other forms of biodiesel. Biodiesel is often an additive mixed with standard carbon diesel, allowing it to be classified as “biodiesel”.


Renewable diesel is much better for the environment. In fact, renewable diesel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%, reduce carbon monoxide by 24%, and reduce fine particulates by 33% (or as much as 60%!). 


The specific product used in Vista Unified’s fleet is called Neste MY Renewable Diesel. Neste is the world’s leader in renewable diesel. In 2016, this product cut global carbon emissions by 6.7 million tons. Now available in California, Neste MY Renewable Diesel can help the most populous state reduce its carbon footprint.


Renewable fuel samples
Samples of diesel taken from the VUSD fefueling island showing a progressively higher percentage of renewable diesel as the older diesel is used up. The completely clear bottle is 100% renewable diesel.

How will renewable diesel help Vista Unified students and community?

The switch to renewable diesel for Vista Unified Department of Transportation officially happened on March 16, 2018. Bill Weisberg, Director of Transportation at Vista Unified, is excited about the switch. One of the most obvious reasons he’s excited is the reduced cost.


“We have been tracking the price per gallon of this renewable diesel over the past 45 days and comparing it to the standard Type 2 CARB biodiesel that we were previously using,” he says. “We have seen very comparable prices, sometimes even a price reduction.”


On top of this, Weisberg expects the anticipated expenses of maintaining the 53 diesel buses will be reduced. He explains, “We should see less residue in our fuel filters and emission particulate filters. These filters constantly need attention when using standard CARB diesel. This will save our mechanics time and keep our buses on the road.”


These filters are able to be cleaned less frequently because renewable diesel produces less emissions and fine particulates. These are the fuel attributes that contribute to low air quality and the negative health impacts that come with it. This means healthier students and healthier communities on top of the financial benefits.


Renewable diesel for healthy communities

“When considering our students' health and safety, the local air quality, and the reduction in preventative maintenance costs, this was clearly a win win solution for our district,” says Weisberg. 


Better fuel for all Vista Unified vehicles

The switch to renewable diesel hasn’t been the only fuel change to the Vista Unified Transportation Department. About six months ago, the department switched to re-refined motor oil in all non-bus vehicles. With this final push to renewable diesel for the buses, all Vista Unified vehicles are running on some form of clean fuel. “In essence,” Weisberg notes, “we have moved away from our dependency on virgin petroleum products.”


Renewable diesel
Renewable diesel burns cleaner than typical biodiesel.


This was made possible by Safety Kleen’s process of recycling and reusing oil. Re-refining motor oil takes 85% less energy than to produce it from crude. It also results in over 99% reduction in heavy metal emissions and 85% less greenhouse gases. Re-refined oil meets the specifications set by the three American auto manufacturers which make Vista Unified vehicles.


Together, these changes to fuel helps Vista Unified School District create a better environment, a better school community, support the local economy, and save money. 


By Lindsay Mineo

Posted by: Lisa Contreras, District Admin, Vista Unified School District Published:4/19/18
Audience: Homepage and Homepage