Business Brains

How to put the brakes on fleet emissions

Posting in Energy

The Environmental Defense Fund has developed a framework to help companies green their corporate fleets. Navigation and routing software will be key in next wave of savings.

Corporate types often get all uptight about the prospect of teaming up with non-governmental organizations for the very simple and valid fact that said organizations usually have some political aim associated with their social cause. It's really time to reconsider that mindset, because many of these NGOs are focused squarely on working with the business world to inspire the sorts of change that it can take years to motivate otherwise.

One great example is a program being run by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) called GreenFleet. EDF has a long history of working with businesses on sustainability issues: it actually first partnered with McDonald's about two decades ago when the whole flap over using styrofoam containers reached a head. GreenFleet, as it sounds, provides a framework to help companies with sizable corporate fleet assets get a better grip on how much energy they are wasting and carbon emissions they are producing. The aim is to help them manage that waste and, meantime, save money.

Jason Mathers, project manager in charge of GreenFleet, says there are roughly 3 million corporate fleet vehicles on the roads (that is, fleets of 15 ore more vehicles). Each of those vehicles produces an average of 15 metric tons per year in carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions.

EDF works with PHH Arval on specific greening practices; to date, it estimates that more than 100,000 corporate fleet vehicles have been addressed by the various measures that it suggests in its five-part framework for fleet greening.

Mathers says the single biggest action that a company can take to bring down its fleet emissions is to rightsize the vehicles that it uses. That is, to make sure that they aren't too big or too small. Rather, they must be just right. Owens Corning, as an example, squeezed emissions by 14 percent with this simple action, which translated into a 7 percent savings.

The next wave of savings will be inspired by better routing and navigation software, predicts Mathers.

Among the software companies that you might want to consider are:

The resources below provide examples of what's possible through fleet management techniques:

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure