The Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition has awarded Testa Produce, Inc., a family owned company that has operated in Chicago’s Back of the Yards Neighborhood for more than 100 years, as its 2015 Clean Fuel Champion.
Testa Produce, which provides foodservice to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, country clubs, sports venues and catering services, has 20 delivery trucks that are powered by clean-burning, low-cost domestic compressed natural gas (CNG). Five of those trucks were added to the company’s fleet in November.
“Testa Produce is leading the way when it comes to being green, and there is lots of green at this company, and not only vegetables,” said Samantha Bingham, coordinator, Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC). “The company has a green roof, solar panels and a wind turbine – but they also use clean, green alternative fuels to power their fleet.”
The Clean Fuel Champion was awarded at the coalition’s December end of the year meeting. The award is given annually to an individual, fleet, organization, or business that promotes alternative fuel, uses domestic fuel, or reduces petroleum usage. Recent award recipients include Ozinga Bros., Inc., Trillium CNG, the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Groot Industries, and Congressman Mark Kirk.
“It’s a great honor to win this award,” said Barbara Daly, facilities and quality assurance manager, Testa Produce. “It is quite an accomplishment for us to say that we’ve displaced nearly 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel since the start of our CNG program. We live by the motto on the side of our trucks, ‘Green By Nature, Greener by Choice.’”
Testa Produce is a family owned and operated business that began in 1912. The company operates out of one of the greenest facilities you will ever see – as in, eco-friendly. The company’s $24-million three-year-old, 91,300 square-foot LEED® Platinum Certified facility features a wind turbine, solar panels and a 45,000-square-foot green roof.
Chief Executive Officer Peter Testa says the company’s environmental initiatives have saved another kind of green — lowering costs by 10 to 15 percent each year. The company expects to payback its investments in green technologies in eight to nine years.
Prior to piloting electric and CNG trucks, Testa Produce was one of the first companies in the Chicago area to convert its entire delivery fleet to biodiesel, as well as all of its company cars to hybrids. The company even has four solar-powered charging stations at its headquarters building.
“Having a fleet of CNG delivery vehicles is in line with our commitment to raising the bar on sustainability in the foodservice distribution industry,” Daly said. “Our CNG delivery trucks have replaced our biodiesel trucks, helping us to lower our carbon footprint even more and bringing us closer to our goal of zero dependence on foreign oil within five years.”
CNG is the cleanest burning of the commonly used alternative fuels, generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel. The advantages of natural gas as a transportation fuel include its domestic availability, widespread distribution infrastructure, low cost, and inherently clean-burning qualities. An abundance of natural gas exists in the U.S., and it is what most people use to heat their homes.
Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit coalition focused on promoting cleaner energy for transportation and automotive fleets in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. CACC is one of nearly 100 coalitions across the country that are affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuel and advanced-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel economy and air quality. CACC concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago area, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. To become involved or learn more about the coalition visit www.ChicagoCleanCities.org.
About the Author: Joe Koenig is the founder and president of Make Ideas Reality Communications, a public relations and marketing firm based in the Chicago area. Joe serves as the public relations manager for the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition. Follow Joe on Twitter.