Good News: Fleets Measuring Greenhouse Gases

Five years ago, Environmental Defense Fund set out to change the way commercial fleets are managed. So, I was pleased to read in Automotive Fleet a recent summary of greenhouse gas reduction programs available from the leading fleet management companies (FMCs). The article reviews the programs of the seven largest fleet management companies. It reports that all of them offer their clients a service to measure greenhouse gas emissions and assistance in identifying ways to reduce the emissions. Several programs also help companies find greenhouse gas offsets for those emissions they haven’t yet reduced.

This focus on greenhouse gas emissions is a significant and welcome shift from when we started working with commercial fleets. Back then the fleets that had environmental initiatives mostly had limited fuel or technology specific goals. We set out to encourage fleets to adopt a comprehensive, greenhouse gas management approach defined by measuring emissions and setting and achieving ghg reduction goals.

Our partnership with PHH Arval produced the industry’s first such greenhouse gas management program, PHH GreenFleet. Together, we demonstrated that fleets can reduce emissions and costs – fleets that fully implemented the program reduced their emissions by an average of 14 percent, and reduced lifecycle operating costs by 4 percent. In keeping with our primary objective to achieve industry-wide transformation, we made sure that the other major FMCs knew how we where accomplishing these impressive results.

The recent article offers a good milestone on our road to reducing fleet emissions. We’ve gotten FMCs and their clients to start to measure ghg emissions and set ghg-based goals. We’ve also been fairly successful in getting fleets to be better at right-sizing vehicles to the job at hand. Record high fuel prices helped too, of course. There still a few miles remaining to travel, though, until we consider the industry completely transformed.

Going forward, we want to see the FMCs be more open about the successes of their programs. Data such as how much ghg’s a program is reducing for its clients is needed to help commercial fleets compare programs. We’d also like to see the FMCs present more case-studies about what their clients are doing to reduce emissions. The case-studies that we generated on Abbott and Owens Corning illustrated a path forward for other fleets to follow on right-sizing opportunities. Others are need now on effective driver training, improving routing, reducing idling, and all other strategies that are effectively helping clients reduce their emissions and operating costs.

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