Can fleets “Go Green” without tracking GHG emissions?

In the recent EDF fleet emissions benchmarking survey, 70% of respondents noted they have programs in place to reduce environmental impact. Yet, only 44% acknowledged that they measure greenhouse gas emissions. This begs the question, how are companies that aren’t measuring their emissions tracking the progress of their efforts?

We, of course, applaud the efforts of all companies that are actively seeking to reduce the environmental impact of their fleets, and we want them all to succeed. Good management, however, requires an objective way to measure progress. Greenhouse gas emissions provide the best metric of environmental impact. Read more

How to Choose Your Sustainability Conferences

Our colleague Victoria Mills recently said, with exasperation, “There used to be just a handful of sustainability conferences. We could make phone calls to a couple people and know who was doing what where. Now they are everywhere!” And it is true.  Triple Pundit alone lists seven events it is going to in the next two months. In many ways, this is a nice problem to have, as it reflects a burgeoning interest in the topic of business and the environment.

Our small EDF Corporate Partnerships team will attend 40 or more events in the next year (here’s our calendar).  Of course we track our carbon production and buy offsets, but conference costs exceed just their environmental impact. They cost us days of work time, stress on families, plus the financial burdens of registration, room and travel. On the other hand, we think attending face-to-face events is valuable.  Our work depends on partnering and coordinating with other organizations – our small team can’t have the impact we want all by ourselves. Meeting face-to-face is still an excellent way to understand common interests, build trust, and make things happen.

So what is a frugal non-profit to do?  A few of us sat down this week to talk “conference strategy.”  Some of our conclusions were: Read more

Greenhouse Gas Savings from Fuel Efficiency

In an earlier post, I introduced this graphic (from a McKinsey report that shows the estimated cost for CO2 abatement using various technologies).*  In another post, I looked at emissions reductions in the commercial building sector.  Now we look at another big opportunity for “low hanging” emissions reductions – fuel efficiency. Read more

Giving a Green Light to Greenhouse Gas Savings

The hullabaloo in Washington is great fun to watch, but the fact is that many, many companies will not be directly regulated under any new climate bill that gets passed.  So why should companies care?  Well, from 30,000 feet, here’s one reason:

McKinsey Graphic 1

It’s from a McKinsey report that shows the estimated cost for CO2 abatement using various technologies.  The vertical axis shows cost per ton of emission reductions.  And all the blocks hanging below the horizon represent things we can do now that have “negative cost” – in other words, we save more money than we spend.  Notice that virtually every one of them involves energy and fuel efficiency.  We can get four or five gigatons of emissions savings – that’s four or five billion tons of emissions reductions – while saving money!  So the opportunity is huge. Read more

Austin, Texas: Ready to drive green business innovation

For me, one of the memorable lines at last week's Green Innovation for Business Unconference (aka "GIBU") in Austin was from 3M's Phyllis Cheatum, who announced in her opening remarks, "I'm uncomfortable.  At 3M we don't show up to meetings without agendas (like this one).  But discomfort drives innovation."

The nearly 100 green business innovators who filled 3M's Innovation Center on that warm September morning also embraced discomfort in the name of innovation.  Not only did they collectively fill in the blank agenda wall and volunteer to lead sessions on the fly, but they spent the next eight, high-energy hours tackling some of the toughest, most uncomfortable business-sustainability issues we face today:

  • How do we shift attitudes and, most importantly, behavior of consumers, employees and executives?
  • How should we engage employees, and support and sustain the champions within our companies?
  • In a tough economic climate, what are the creative ways we can build the business case for sustainability initiatives?
  • What does it take to drive green technology adoption?
  • How do we set standards and select metrics?  How should we define what it means to be "green"?
  • How can we market "green" so that we are sure we aren't "green-washing"?

The two big "ah-ahs" for this blogger, after participating in all the GIBU events this year (in DC, Boston and Silicon Valley, in addition to Austin), were these:

First, the right people – with the necessary talent, passion and connections – are behind this movement, both in Austin and the other regions.  In Austin, the participants were sustainability managers, engineers, product developers and operations gurus from nearly all the local heavy-hitting companies (3M, AMD, Austin Energy, Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, IBM, National Instruments, etc.).  They were joined by entrepreneurs, government representatives, consultants of all stripes, nonprofits and the leadership of key local networks—such the Austin EcoNetwork and Net Impact Austin.

Second, though the GIBU series was designed to be regional, the big, uncomfortable challenges participants tackled in Austin were very much the same as those debated by their counterparts in DC, Boston and Silicon Valley.  Link up these networks, and we've got some real fire power with which to overcome obstacles and drive green business innovation, nationally and internationally.

For the complete agenda and session notes, visit the Green Innovators wiki.  Or search #GIBU09 in Twitter to get a taste of the immediate reactions and other "ah-ha" moments.

And stay tuned for news on the next iteration of the GIBU series for 2010.  Subscribe to this blog if you'd like to get or stay involved.

Fleet Emissions Benchmarking: How Does Your Company Stack Up?

Benchmarking performance with peers is important for all areas of business, and fleet emissions are no exception. To help corporate fleets with this important task, EDF recently surveyed the largest 300 fleets in the U.S. and members of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA). The results of the survey were released today and are available at on the EDF website [PDF].

Our overall project objective was to better understand the range of fleet performances along two key indicators: kilograms of greenhouse gases emitted per mile traveled (kg GHG/mile) and the fleet average per vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases (in metric tons- mt GHG vehicle/year). These two metrics, along with the total fleet emissions of greenhouse gases, are an effective way to track fleet environmental performance.

Certainly, the total amount of greenhouse gas emitted is the most important data point. Fleets that seek to lessen their environmental impact need to be reducing their emissions on an absolute basis. The other two indexed metrics tell fleets how well they are improving their efficiency, given changes in fleet size and operations. Kilogram GHG/mile tracks both the efficiency of the vehicles in the fleet, and other factors such as excessive idling. Metric tons GHGs/ vehicle tracks the efficiency and use patterns, such as miles traveled.

Of the eighteen fleets that provided us with the data needed to analyze their emissions along these two metrics, we did see a range of performance. Average emissions varied from over 6 metric tons GHG/ vehicle to over 18 metric tons GHG/ vehicle. Emissions ranged from just under .3 kg GHG/ mile  to over 1 kg GHG/ mile. The function of the fleet explained most of these differences. However, we did notice a difference in performance between those who currently measure their emissions (.47 kg GHG/ mile) and those who do not (.75 kg GHG/mile). We asked participants to provide fuel consumption data in order for us to calculate emissions using the EDF-NAFA fleet emissions calculator.

The small and diverse sample of respondents cautioned us against drawing any conclusions from this survey. Still, it was a worthwhile exercise to help some fleets see how they rank on emissions compared to their peers.

To add your organization’s fleets to this effort, we’ve set-up an online form where companies can provide the necessary data. In exchange for this information (which will be kept confidential), we will send you an updated report noting how you compare to peer fleets. We look forward to your contributions.

This content is cross-posted on

Four Events for Companies Interested in Reducing Fleet GHG Emissions

With the height of summer now firmly in the rear-view mirror, the workshop/conference season is getting into high gear. There are several great upcoming opportunities to learn about the latest in reducing fleet emissions.

Among the events that EDF will be participating over the next six weeks are:

AltWheels Fleet Day

When: Monday October 5th

Where: Framingham, MA

The event bills itself as  “an event for leaders in fleet management: If you are a fleet manager or commercial vehicle operator looking for new technologies and practical tips for coping with rising fuel costs, come to Fleet Day to learn how to achieve greater efficiency while making the business case for clean technologies that fuel costs and emissions.” EDF staff will be panelists on three of the afternoon breakout sessions.

For more information:

Fleet Challenge Ontario: Green Fleet Management Breakfast Forum

When: Tuesday October 6th

Where: Toronto, ON

I will be joining Keith Kerman, from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and Recipient of National Association of Fleet Administrators 2008 "Greenest Fleet" Award, and Roger Smith, Director of Fleet Challenge Ontario, to discuss best practices for reducing emissions from fleets.

For more information:

The Green Fleet Conference

When October 19-20

Where: Chicago, IL

This event will convene corporate and government fleet managers from across the nation to discuss successful strategies for reducing emissions and keeping fleet costs in check. EDF staff will participate on the panel covering funding opportunities for greenfleet efforts and lead a discussion about engaging drivers on fuel-smart driving behavior.

For more information:

Hybrid Truck Users’ Forum

When: October 27-29

Where: Atlanta, GA

The leading event focused on the medium-to-heavy duty hybrid truck marketplace. EDF staff will attend and participate in several activities throughout this event.

For more information:

Look for us at these conferences – and let us know if you’ll be there so we can watch for you as well!

You can always see where we’re going to be – and what conferences we’re watching – on the Innovation Exchange Calendar.

Fleets Still Cutting Emissions and Costs

Jason Mathers is a Project Manager for our Corporate Partnerships Program where he works with today's leading companies to identify, develop, and implement innovative environmental practices that make business sense.

Fuel is a major cost for fleets of all types and sizes. Typically, it’s second only to vehicle depreciation in the cost ranking. However, when gas prices head north of $3/gal fuel, it quickly becomes the #1 cost for most fleets.

Fuel use is the determining factor in the environmental footprint of any given fleet, accounting for 90% of a vehicle’s carbon footprint. So it should make sense that a great way for fleets to cut costs and reduce its environmental impact is to use less fuel.

Unfortunately, the misconception is that it is expensive for fleets to reduce their environmental footprint. EDF has been working with fleets Read more

Is the Customer Always Right? Yes, When it Comes to Sustainability.

Greg Andeck leads EDF's Corporate Partnerships "Innovation Pipeline" to identify and develop groundbreaking environmental initiatives with leading U.S. companies.

The world’s leading companies all conduct extensive research to determine what their customers want and how they want it.  Whether they hire firms like Synovate or Millward Brown, or do consumer research in-house, companies know the value of crafting products that fit their customers’ needs and desires.

This is why it’s so perplexing that companies don’t do the same when developing substantive sustainability strategies.  All too often, companies launch campaigns that are later accused of greenwashing or limit their efforts to indirect efficiency improvements, when it’s their core product that really needs the greening.  It turns out that by paying more attention to their customers, companies can unlock solutions for true environmental innovation and get richly rewarded for doing so.

Taking a Page from Environmental LCAs Read more