Green Your Fleet: Reduced Fuel Consumption Controls Costs and Carbon Emissions

Are you trying to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint? If so, you probably started with your facility power use—electricity and fossil fuels burned to light, heat, and cool buildings account for the lion’s share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), electricity and fossil fuel consumption for commercial, residential, and industrial use accounted for 62% of GHG emissions in the United States in 2015.

What about the rest? About 9% is generated by agriculture. Land and use and forestry, in contrast, act as a carbon sink, offsetting not quite 12% of U.S. GHG emissions in 2015. That leaves transportation—so, if you have a fleet, it may be making a substantial contribution to your carbon footprint. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 29% of U.S. energy consumption in 2016 was transportation-related, and petroleum products generated 92% of the total energy used in the transportation sector. Gasoline—the primary fuel source for cars, trucks, landscaping and construction equipment, and small aircraft—accounted for 55% of total transportation energy use; diesel fuel and jet fuel accounted for another 21% and 12%, respectively. Clearly, it’s an area where there’s plenty of work yet to do. Where can you even begin?

Strategy #1: Reduce Consumption

As with building energy demands, one of the first things you should look at when you’re thinking of reducing your carbon emissions is your total consumption—and what’s driving it. Fortunately, the same kinds of business decisions that will improve overall fleet efficiency and reduce your fuel costs will also have a positive impact on your GHG emissions and carbon footprint.

  • Transition to more fuel efficient vehicles. This may mean replacing larger vehicles with smaller ones—but that’s not the only way to get better gas mileage. You can also increase fleet fuel efficiency by replacing gasoline vehicles with hybrids or by purchasing new vehicles with turbocharged four-cylinder engines rather than six-cylinder engines. The EPA rates vehicle fuel efficiency, so it should be easy to compare.
  • Reduce idling. Some states and municipalities already have idling restrictions in place that apply to large commercial vehicles. Some even have restrictions on passenger vehicles: most states will cite drivers who let their vehicles idle—for example, to warm them up in cold weather—for just a few minutes. But new technology may soon make idling even at stoplights a thing of the past. Stop-start technology shuts down a vehicle’s engine when the driver comes to a full stop, and restarts it when drivers move their foot from the brake to the accelerator.
  • Encourage rerouting. Okay, it’s annoying when your GPS can’t figure out the difference between an overpass and a surface road, but not all re-routing is bad. Fleet telematics can tell you where and when your drivers are spending unproductive time traveling between stops or, worse, sitting in traffic. Use that information to re-route your drivers to minimize their fuel usage.

Tune in tomorrow for a look at how carbon offsets can help you green your fleet.