Two new utility vans that run on clean-burning compressed natural gas officially were unveiled Wednesday by Lehigh Valley Health Network.

 It took the wraps off the vans at Lehigh Gas Corporation’s Exxon station on Route 309 and Pope Road in South Whitehall Township.

LVHN purchased the vans earlier this year as part of the organization’s “green” initiative and to cut the network’s fleet vehicle operational costs.

The estimated cost savings of fueling with compressed natural gas are expected to be approximately $1,200 per year per van.

Based on the price over standard gasoline, it will cost 35 percent less to fill the vans with natural gas, according to a LVHN spokesman. And the amount of carbon monoxide produced by the two vehicles is 75 percent less than a standard gasoline engine. Other harmful greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be cut by 90 percent.

The compressed natural gas pump at the Exxon station is the first and only one of its kind in the Lehigh Valley region. LVHN credited Lehigh Gas Corporation for making that possible.

“LVHN is an influential organization in this region, and we are confident their example will lead other area companies to realize the many benefits of using natural gas vehicles,” said Sil Lutkewitte, alternative fuel manager with Lehigh Gas, in a news release.

The health network’s initiative is currently a pilot program and may expand to include more vehicles based on its  success. The vans will be used primarily by LVHN’s engineering department to provide support to off-site facilities.

“LVHN’s tagline is ‘a passion for better medicine,’” said Craig Onori, vice president of support services, in the release. “We can also call this a passion for a better environment.

"It is well documented that climate change can negatively impact community health. However, by lessening our carbon footprint at LVHN, we are hoping to lessen these community health issues from occurring by keeping our environment clean and green.”