"We are having our annual debate about whether it is a good practice to allow our vehicles to idle. Our Fleet Manager thinks we could cut down on our gas usage and reduce wear and tear on the vehicles if we discouraged constant idling. Any thoughts?"

You're right, this is an age-old discussion that takes place in many agencies every few years. Frequent reasons given for leaving vehicles idling when not in use include the belief that starting and stopping the engine frequently uses more gas or causes additional wear and tear on the vehicle. Statistics show this is old-school thinking. Today's fuel injection systems have greatly improved starting systems and they are more efficient and reliable and don't require the amount of fuel previously required to start an engine.

Polk County, FL has piloted a GPS tracking system program for three years and determined that the county's vehicle idling rates were less than ideal. They developed a non-threatening, informative program that encourages drivers to turn off their engines when not in use. Of course, some idling of emergency vehicles, such as an ambulance on an accident scene or a transit bus with passengers aboard, is justifiable. For those agencies where excessive heat is an issue, "hot spots" were set up where county vehicles could pull into air conditioned county buildings, shut off the vehicles, and staff could go inside to complete paperwork. For more information, contact Bob Stanton, Fleet Manager, Polk County, FL at

"We have been using QBS as a method for selecting design professionals for city construction projects but some of our elected officials are suggesting we could save money if we dropped it. Is QBS still effectively being used by cities and counties?"

Absolutely. QBS (Qualifications-Based Selection) continues to function well and to provide access to the best qualified design professionals for each individual project rather than taking the "lowest bidder" for design services. The latest major agency to adopt QBS is New York City. City officials indicate the change came about following development of a series of procurement demonstration projects to test QBS and related techniques. The projects led to an improvement in design quality and an increase in the number of design firms bidding for city projects. The Engineering and Technology Technical Committee, in consultation with the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), has revised the popular publication entitled APWA Red Book on Qualifications-Based Selection Guidelines for Public Agencies and it is available through the APWA bookstore.

"We are thinking about going through the APWA accreditation process but don't really know how to begin. Where can we find more information? Is there training provided?"

You better believe there are both training opportunities and lots of information available about our accreditation program. Begin by checking out the website at and check out the many items of information, all the way from "What is Accreditation" to "How to" become accredited. In addition, you will find a listing of all the accredited agencies, as well as those who have signed contracts of intent to become accredited, along with the contact information for both the Public Works Director and the Accreditation Manager in each agency. Contact them for the "true skinny" on how the program worked for them and what benefits they feel they derived. I could tell you but you'll believe them! There are two training opportunities coming up—a Self Assessment Workshop in Clark County, NV on Friday, February 2, 2007 and another one in Monterey, CA on Tuesday, March 13. Check out the website for registration details. For more information contact me at Join the 10th Anniversary Celebration by getting involved!

"I recently read where some businesses are actually looking for ground to develop their new plants near existing landfills. Blew my mind. Nobody wants to build anything near ours. What's the deal?"

The deal is that some businesses are extremely concerned about the uncertainty surrounding natural gas prices and they are looking towards landfills as a more affordable and reliable source of gas to operate their plants. One industry, in particular, has sought out vacant land adjacent to operating landfills for just this reason. The Jenkins Brick Co., Montgomery, Alabama, chose to locate their new brick manufacturing plant near the Veolia Environmental Services landfill. A six-mile-long, 11-inch diameter pipe connects the landfill with the brick company. Landfill gas initially will provide about 30 percent of the plant's needs but that number will increase as the landfill produces and collects more gas, eventually providing between 60 to 80 percent of the company's needs. For more information visit their website at

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd., Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625

Fax questions to: (816) 472-1610