Green fleet — What is it and how do I “go green”?

So, you think it’s time your fleet changed colors and became “green”. But what exactly does it mean to operate a green fleet, and how can you make the change?

The phrase “green fleet” is used to describe vehicle fleets that are actively managed to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Becoming a more environmentally friendly fleet operation involves changes to an organization’s policies, planning, purchasing habits, worker education, behavior and management, as well as recycling initiatives.

What specific measures are involved in becoming a green fleet?

Minimizing the use of fossil fuels

It is impossible in many cases to completely avoid using fossil fuels. Even electric cars use fossil fuels indirectly because many power stations run on fossil fuels. However, much can be done to reduce a fleet’s dependence on this finite resource.

AT&T and UPS are just two corporations that have minimized fossil fuel use by switching their vehicles to run on alternative fuels such as propane, electricity, hydrogen and CNG. UPS, with 1,600 of these types of vehicles, claims to have the largest private green fleet in the industry.

Route optimization

Route optimization involves determining the shortest, most economical route for a vehicle to travel between two points. Effective route planning can maximize fleet vehicle usage, which improves productivity and negates the need to add more vehicles to meet increasing demand.

Optimization also ensures that the nearest worker with the required skills and equipment for the job is dispatched the first time.

Minimizing fuel usage

To minimize fuel usage you first need to be able to effectively monitor it. Unnecessary miles and excessive idling should be eliminated since every gallon of diesel burned pumps over two pounds of GHG into the atmosphere, and idling uses a gallon every hour. There may be better options than having a truck idling for eight hours just to keep a sleeper warm.

Reducing fuel usage also has obvious benefits to your fleet profitability, as well.

Fleet upgrades

Upgrading a fleet with newer, more economical and cleaner burning vehicles makes a big difference how much GHG a vehicle emits. In a recent case, the Port of Long Beach, in association with the San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan, actively encouraged all trucking companies to upgrade their vehicles by banning all trucks manufactured before 1990. They reduced polluting diesel emissions by 80% in just two years.

Scheduled fleet maintenance

Performing regular, scheduled maintenance can ensure that your vehicles are as efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible. Keeping vehicles properly serviced allows you to monitor and minimize harmful vehicle emissions.

Even basic services such as maintaining proper tire pressure can improve fuel economy. A 25% deflation in tire pressure increases fuel consumption by 2%. It might not sound like much but can quickly add up. If your monthly fuel bill is $250,000, then simply making sure your vehicles’ tires are properly inflated could represent a $5,000 savings. Regular maintenance can help you to easily monitor this and other factors that can inflate your fuel bill and create unnecessary GHG emissions.

Promoting efficient driving

Drivers play an important part in minimizing fuel usage and contributing to an economical fleet. Aggressive driving, hard braking, speeding tickets and unauthorized or after-hours use all mean additional carbon emissions and bigger fuel and maintenance bills, not to mention increased insurance premiums. But how can you fairly monitor and measure your drivers?

It’s important that your staff know good driving is important to you, and to back that position up with company policies, driver education and reward schemes. Many businesses are using Telogis® Fleet™ to accurately record and manage their drivers. This can provide a substantial incentive for drivers to follow through on company policy, reducing their carbon footprint in the process.

Visit our Green Fleet information page to learn more about how easy it is to go green and reduce fleet expenses.