Electric Refrigeration Reduces Fuel Consumption and Noise

Electric Refrigeration at Meals on Wheels People

When parked, it’s a common practice for operators of refrigerated trucks and trailers, also known as reefers, to maintain proper temperatures by idling the auxiliary diesel generator in their transport refrigeration units (TRUs). But just because it’s commonplace, doesn’t make it cost-effective—or healthy for the surrounding area.

That’s why Portland, Oregon-based Meals on Wheels People—which provides meals for seniors in the Portland metropolitan area—now powers the TRUs in its fleet with electricity. Thanks to guidance Meals on Wheels People received from the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition (CWCCC), the nonprofit’s trucks now leave the loading dock early each morning to deliver food to regional outlets, then rely on electrified parking spaces when they return in the middle of the day to restock for afternoon deliveries. Meals on Wheels People’s fleet has seen substantially reduced operating costs and emissions since it made the switch—all while ensuring their cargo stays at the desired temperature.

As an added bonus, employees who work in the dock area and adjacent offices, as well as nearby businesses and residences, say they have noticed less exhaust fumes and enjoy a quieter operation overall.

“More than 20 refrigerated fleets are participating in our technical assistance project, which received support from an Environmental Protection Agency Pollution Prevention Program grant,” said Brian Trice, CWCCC coordinator. “Once fleets learn about idle-reduction technologies and best practices, it’s usually an easy decision for them to make a change in their operations.”

CWCCC is working in partnership with a variety of its coalition members—such as CleanFuture, Shorepower Technologies, Portland State University, Transportation Research Education Center, and Forth (previously called Drive Oregon)—to promote electrified idle reduction in refrigerated fleets. With support from the coalition’s joint technical assistance project, four other fleets in the region have implemented TRU idle-reduction projects, and many more fleets are in the process of evaluating their options.

The choice to install electrified parking was clear for Meals on Wheels People after its Green Team reviewed an idling analysis, which laid out the financial and environmental benefits of moving to electricity. The analysis was conducted by CleanFuture as part of CWCCC’s technical assistance project.

“Few fleet operators realize how much fuel is wasted in parked reefers that could be saved with shore power electricity,” said John Thornton, president of CleanFuture.

CleanFuture has found that it’s common to find a delivery fleet’s TRU idling about 40%-50% of the time while parked at distribution centers.

“Operating refrigerated trucks and trailers while they are parked is unfortunately an accepted status quo,” Thornton said. “We’re working to share information and identify cost savings in each fleets’ operation. Electric TRUs, combined with electrified parking spaces, are a win-win because they provide a cost-effective and healthier solution overall.”

Technology and Strategic Solutions to Reduce Pollution at Moving Forward Network Conference

Join us at the Moving Forward Network Conference on October 13-14 in Carson, California.

Moving Forward Network

The Moving Forward Network builds the capacity of network participants working to improve the freight transportation system in the areas of environmental justice, public health, quality of life, the environment and labor.

John Thornton of CleanFuture will join a panel on the use of technologies and efficiencies to reduce pollution at ports and throughout the freight system. Hear about innovative approaches to meet the triple bottom line from the ship to the terminal and throughout the supply chain.

This FREE two-day conference will feature discussions and strategy sessions, including best practices and zero emission technology, as well as capacity building workshops in organizing, research, communications, social media, policy, and planning.

Register today!

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CleanFuture’s John Thornton to speak on “The Case for Freight Sustainability in Communities”

CleanFuture founder, John Thornton, will speak on “The Case for Freight Sustainability in Communities” at the Green Transportation Summit & Expo on April 11, 2017:


The Case for Freight Sustainability in Communities

Efficient goods movement is essential to establishing and sustaining economically viable communities. Yet local and regional planners must balance economic goals with livability and environmental concerns related to freight transportation in residential communities. This session will present innovative strategies for creating accessible freight networks that meet the needs of the communities of the future. Panelists will discuss solutions and best practices for addressing freight impacts at the local, state and regional levels.



Tracie Jackson-Hall – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, SmartWay



Robert Hillier- Freight Planning Coordinator, City of Portland

Jason Brown – North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)

John Thornton – Principal, CleanFuture, Inc.

Driving Down Refrigerated Transport Cost with Shore Power Electric Standby

Register here for a workshop on January 9 at Northwest Food & Beverage World 2017.

Refrigerated transport is being electrified – for operating cost reductions and in preparation for future compliance reasons. Learn how to reduce refrigerated transport operating costs by 40 to 70% by eliminating wasteful diesel fuel burn in parked units with low cost electricity. Hear from industry experts on best practices and technologies to operate refrigerated trailers on electric grid-powered temperature-control instead of using diesel fuel while parked at food manufacturing plants, loading docks, yard parking and staging areas at distribution centers, and at refrigerated warehouses.


  • Jeff Kim, President and CEO, Shorepower Technologies
  • John Thornton, Principal Consultant, CleanFuture, Inc.
  • Kevin Williams, Region Director – West, Carrier Transicold



The Time is Now: Complying with Sanitary Transportation of Food and FSMA

Register here for a workshop on January 9 at Northwest Food & Beverage World 2017.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) gives FDA broad new powers to regulate the safety of the food supply. In particular, FDA’s Sanitary Transportation of Food (STF) Rule places significant new mandates on the shippers and food processors to satisfy comprehensive new standards relating to the transportation of food products. FDA’s STF final rule will require those who transport food to use sanitary transportation practices to ensure the safety of food to include training, records keeping, conditions and practices for transporting food in sanitary condition. How will the STF Act impact your business as part of the Cold Supply Chain? Join us in a discussion on how the upcoming FSMA regulations will impact your refrigerated fleet and what you should be doing now to prepare today to ensure compliance in this new regulatory environment.


  • Don Durm, Vice President, Customer Solutions, PLM Trailer Leasing
  • Leonard (Bud) Rodowick, Manager Strategic Relations- Food Safety & OEMs at Thermo King Corporation


Electrification of Transport Refrigeration for Idle Reduction: Technical Assistance Case Study in EPA Region 10

Substantial diesel fuel is burned by idling diesel engines to cool transport refrigeration units on trucks and trailers to keep temperature-controlled cargo at proper temperature while parked at distribution centers, cold storage warehouses, freight terminals and other goods movement facilities. Technical assistance was provided to reduce costs associated with idling and diesel fuel use in parked transport refrigeration units (TRUs).


Water Flow Diagram Measures Water Efficiency at Industrial Plants

Water efficiency can be measured at industrial plants with a water flow diagram or water balance to show sources and use of water. Water is a ubiquitous resource yet one of the most important substances on earth.  All plants and animals must have water to survive. Without water there would be no life on earth.

Water is of strategic importance to the food industry; necessary in agriculture to grow crops to produce food and as an ingredient in making food products.

Water use is often overlooked as an input cost to be managed because of water’s ubiquity and relatively low cost. Read more


CleanFuture’s John Thornton to speak on “Ways to Drive Costs Out of Your Transportation Business”

CleanFuture founder, John Thornton, will speak on “Ways to Drive Costs Out of your Transportation Business” at the IFDA Distribution Solutions Conference, October 16th to 19th in Tampa, Florida.

The formula for driving out transportation costs seems simple: less hours consumed by a refrigerated trailer unit leads to less fuel burned, which in turn lowers maintenance costs and reduces a distributor’s carbon footprint. And all of this equals greater bottom-line profits. But what does it take to get there?

Led by an independent foodservice distributor who has realized great cost savings and an energy solutions provider who has a passion for electric transportation alternatives, attend this session to learn what distributors can implement in their fleets and in the warehouse to produce a positive impact on their bottom line.

At the end of this session, attendees will be able to:
• List energy improvement solutions that can be applied throughout a distributor’s operation.
• Discuss how electric standby reefer units reduce fuel consumption;
• Compare and contrast big spend versus small spend strategies.

Don Durm, Vice President, Customer Solutions, PLM Trailer Leasing

Steve Stidham, Director of Operations, Food Supply Inc
Ed Harmon, Ally Channel Manager, Georgia Power
John Thornton, President, CleanFuture, Inc.

CleanFuture Speaks on Electric Infrastructure at CARB Clean TRU Technologies Webinar

John Thornton speaks on TRU electric infrastructure in California Air Resources Board (CARB) webinar where staff and clean technology manufacturers present clean transport refrigeration unit (TRU) technology options.

See link to the handouts, a video will be posted at a later date.

See below for the agenda:

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truck stop electrification gap analysis

Gap Analysis on Electrified Parking Spaces (EPS) and Truck Stop Electrification in the Northeast

A gap analysis on electrified parking spaces (EPS) and truck stop electrification (TSE) was presented at the Northeast Clean Freight Work Group at a meeting about preparing applications for alternative fuel corridors.

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