Green Operations

Six Steps to Spec for Green

March 2008, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Kara Ohngren and Chris Brown

You’ve heard all the reasons for jumping on the “green” bandwagon: to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, the obligation of corporate stewardship, pressure from employees and vendors and a genuine concern for the environment.

However, an increasingly important factor driving green initiatives is the most compelling one for fleets—skyrocketing fuel prices.

“We’re actually showing that some fleets’ fuel costs have eclipsed depreciation as their number one expense,” says Herb Wamboldt, account manager and practice leader for fleet leasing company Wheels’ EcoWheels environmental fleet program. “We expect this to continue over the next several years if the price of fuel continues to trend upwards.”

It’s all about fuel economy: one gallon of gasoline equals 19.4 pounds of CO2.

Therefore, spec’ing your fleet to maximize miles per gallon is also a practical solution to help the environment. There are sensible steps you can take now that will make a difference without breaking your budget.

Step 1: Set Your Goal

Determine your company’s goals for a greener fleet. An important—and easily identifiable—measuring stick is your fleet’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Set a realistic goal. Consider that if you turn your fleet every four years, you can only impact 25 percent of your fleet per year. A 10-percent reduction in carbon emissions in your first year is overly ambitious; that same reduction over four years is realistic.

Hold yourself and others accountable. Put this goal in writing and make it available to your company. Eventually, add environmentally friendly driving expectations to your fleet policy.

Step 2: Calculate Your Emissions

Evaluate the environmental performance of your present fleet vehicles. If your fleet is growing or your miles per vehicle are increasing out of necessity, a fair analysis would be to calculate your fleet’s average carbon output per vehicle rather than an aggregate output.

First, identify the makes/models in your fleet and calculate annual miles driven for each vehicle. For this article we’ll concentrate on passenger cars and SUVs.

Next, identify your fleet vehicles’ carbon emissions using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Vehicle Guide at http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Index.do, or the Department of Energy’s fuel portal, www.fueleconomy.gov.

The Green Vehicle Guide scores all greenhouse gases emitted from vehicles. The value shown gives tons of greenhouse gases emitted by the vehicle if it were driven 15,000 miles per year. Fueleconomy.gov offers emissions outputs with a personalized mileage scale.

Carbon offset organizations also offer carbon emissions calculators. Try www.TerraPass.com or www.driveneutral.com.

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