Blake Krapf (second from left) of George Krapf Jr. & Sons accepts the Go Yellow, Go Green Award from NSTA's Barry Stock (left) and Magda Dimmendaal and the EPA's Jim Blubaugh.
If you look over the parking lots at George Krapf Jr. & Sons Inc., you’ll see a whole lot of yellow. But the Exton, Pa.-based school bus contractor is being heralded for its commitment to a less visible “color”: green.
In July, the company became the first recipient of the National School Transportation Association’s (NSTA) Go Yellow, Go Green Award. CEO Blake Krapf accepted the award on behalf of the company at NSTA’s Annual Meeting & Convention in Calgary, Alberta.
“Our green efforts accomplish a lot of things,” Blake Krapf said in an interview. “Obviously, they’re good for the environment. They help educate other people about things they can do. Using particulate filters protects children’s health. And with biodiesel, we’re reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”
Greening the fleet
George Krapf Jr. & Sons has extended the green cause throughout its fleet as well as its facilities.
The contractor, ranked as the 14th largest in North America in SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s 2008 Top 50 Contractors list, transports 60,000 students daily with 836 school buses.
In recent years, George Krapf Jr. & Sons has secured three grants from environmental agencies to install diesel particulate filters on its buses, vastly reducing potentially harmful emissions.
The company has been running some of its buses on a biodiesel blend for a number of years. Starting last year, it began running the entire fleet on the fuel, which also cuts down on emissions with its combination of petroleum diesel and renewable, domestically-produced vegetable oils.
In another green effort, George Krapf Jr. & Sons strictly enforces an anti-idling policy, which further reduces emissions in some of the most critical places — school zones — while also cutting down on fuel consumption. There are some exceptions to the rule, though: Special-needs buses have to keep running when wheelchair lifts and air-conditioning are in use. And when the temperature drops below 15 degrees, buses can idle to keep their heaters going.
Maximizing route efficiency is another priority at George Krapf Jr. & Sons. This includes reviewing bus stops and school schedules and filling buses as close to capacity as possible. Still, Blake Krapf says that the first consideration in route planning is safety.
Beyond the buses, George Krapf Jr. & Sons has acquired four Ford Escape hybrid vehicles, which the company’s safety department uses to conduct road supervision of the bus drivers.
One of the company’s top green efforts is its multifaceted recycling program, which covers such items as motor oil, water, refrigerant, trash and electronic equipment.
A water recycling system is used in washing the fleet. Used waste oil is burned to heat the company’s buildings. Scrap metal is also recycled.
George Krapf Jr. & Sons recently remodeled two of its buildings. In the process, the buildings were equipped with energy-efficient fixtures and “smart” power strips, which help stop idle current drawn from outlets when electronics are not in use.
Company Chairman Dale Krapf has committed time to working with local environmental agencies, and he promotes green initiatives in the Pennsylvania School Bus Association as well as NSTA. He will now serve as chair of the NSTA’s new Go Yellow, Go Green campaign. The award will be given out annually.
The mission of the Go Yellow, Go Green campaign is to promote greater use of school buses as a solution in reducing air pollution and excessive fuel use. NSTA estimates that a school bus replaces as many as 50 personal vehicles on each trip to and from school.
The campaign also encourages cleaner school bus transportation through cutting idling, installing diesel particulate filters and other emissions-reducing equipment, and replacing older buses with newer, cleaner-running buses.