Green Operations

Green Fleet: The Impact of Infinity Insurance Climate Neutral Program Two Years Later

July 2009, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

Technology has yet to offer a zero-emission fleet vehicle to completely eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However,  by analyzing annual GHG output and purchasing carbon offsets equivalent to these emissions, corporate fleets can neutralize their pollution.

When a company purchases 10 tons of carbon offsets, the seller of those offsets guarantees elimination of 10 tons of global-warming pollution. Companies can help "neutralize" their pollution  by investing in offset sellers who reduce pollution in the company's name.

Two years ago, Birmingham, Ala.-based Infinity Insurance Company made such an investment. The company takes measures to reduce GHG emissions, but also purchased GHG offsets from a dairy farm in Chino, Calif., to reduce methane emissions, compensating for the remaining output, thus making its entire 400-plus vehicle fleet climate neutral.
"As a company, we recognize and acknowledge our part in global warming and have taken the initiative and responsibility to do something about it by offsetting our fleet's GHG emissions ton for ton," said Chuck Kukal, supervisor of Infinity's fleet administration.

Going Climate Neutral

Infinity began its climate-neutral effort by involving individuals at all organizational levels, from top executives down. By determining its annual projected metric tons of fleet GHG emissions, the company purchased equal offsets. With the help of the Environmental Defense Fund and Carbonfund.org, Infinity researched and selected an offset investment in California and Alabama.

"We looked for a project with a verifiable, positive impact on our environment by actually taking GHG emissions and converting it into usable energy," Kukal said. After two years of purchasing offsets, Infinity continues this practice.

Infinity also reduced its own emissions to reach the targeted climate-neutral goal. The company purchased more fuel-efficient fleet vehicles and implemented driving practices to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy.

Switching from the six-cylinder Jeep Liberty to the four-cylinder Jeep Compass, Infinity's fleet mpg went from 16 in the Liberty to a fleet average of 22.9 with the Compass. Infinity further increased its average mpg and reduced GHG emissions by implementing a driver training program focusing on changing drivers' habits and attitudes concerning speeding, idling, fast starts, and hard breaking.

Infinity provides vehicles to its adjusters, business development/marketing employees, and special investigative units, a move that has helped the company accomplish its goals and further spread the message of operating a carbon-neutral fleet.

"Our drivers are aware of our corporate green initiative and green fleet objectives as stated in our Fleet Operations Handbook. They reflect and accomplish these goals as they drive in an alert, safe, and courteous manner, and implement good driving habits that reflect our green objectives," Kukal said.

To further promote Infinity's carbon-neutral message, company Jeep Compass vehicles display a "Climate Neutral" sticker on the rear hatch door.

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