Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Become Green-Minded

January 2014, Green Fleet Magazine - Cover Story

by Stephane Babcock

One of the 20 all-electric delivery trucks Frito-Lay introduced onto routes in 2013.
One of the 20 all-electric delivery trucks Frito-Lay introduced onto routes in 2013.

Although the green movement started gaining momentum in the 1970s, specifically with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it took most of the country a little more time to really get the ball rolling. But, with the manufacture of alternative-fuel vehicles becoming more commonplace in the last decade, companies are going green at much faster rates.

A growing number of corporations  have created sustainability action plans, in which they list the goals they seek to meet, as well as the steps to get there. In regard to sustainability, these plans can include altering the types of vehicles and the types of fuel that power them, while also measuring the effectiveness of certain parts of the game plan. For some, sustainability becomes a big picture issue, while other companies focus on the way certain vehicles fit into their fleets and bottom line.

Applying a New Philosophy

At global healthcare company Novo Nordisk, the green movement goes beyond being fuel efficient and alt-fuel savvy. The company follows what it calls a Triple Bottom Line Philosophy.

“This philosophy pledges that we will be socially, fiscally, and environmentally responsible in everything we do, so providing eco-friendly vehicles falls right in line with the Novo Nordisk Way,” said Donna Bibbo, CAFM, the company’s manager of fleet and travel.

The leaders at the company headquarters in Denmark have made a dedicated effort to reduce CO2 levels, asking Novo Nordisk sites around the world to include specific reduction targets in their annual objectives. Progress is reviewed each year and new goals are set for the following year. But, with a fleet size that has increased by 210 percent since she began with the company in August 2006, and an anticipated increase of 13 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013 through January 2014, Bibbo must vigilantly review the average CO2 per mile driven of the total fleet.

“Reducing average CO2 per mile driven shows that we are making progress in the greening of our fleet,” Bibbo added.

Fuel efficiency is another metric that Bibbo keeps a close watch on. She breaks down this aspect of fleet management first by the overall fleet and then by each model-year group of vehicles. Bibbo looks to other pharmaceutical companies’ successes to mine for new ideas. Annually, she reviews the average gallons of gasoline used by her fleet’s vehicles, as well as the average amount of mileage driven. 

“Our average miles driven have remained flat, but our fleet’s average fuel economy over our fleet has increased by 4 percent in 2013 over 2012,” Bibbo said, adding that the increase has surpassed her goal of a 3-percent improvement.

There have been some challenges along the way to a greener tomorrow, Bibbo stated. While she has been given great executive support for running an environmentally friendly fleet, some alternative-fuel choices do not completely align themselves with the job at hand.

For instance, the lack of a national infrastructure for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles has removed them from the company’s list of alt-fuel options. Also, since Novo Nordisk’s primary product is insulin, which needs to be kept cold, Bibbo has found it difficult to use smaller alternative-fuel vehicles since they do not always have enough storage space to carry around the large coolers salespeople use to keep their samples cold.

“I need to balance the needs for those vehicles with the environmental goals,” Bibbo said. “I’ve still managed to make good progress by choosing the most fuel-efficient vehicles in each class to keep them available.”

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