If you manage a public sector fleet, you know your job is to be a good steward of your community’s tax dollars. Today, government fleets are also charged with being good stewards of the environment.
As fleets adopt cleaner-burning fuels or purchase zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) to green their operations, data is essential to get the biggest sustainability gains. Even if you are just starting out, operate a small fleet, or have a small budget, these steps can help you measure and manage emissions and see your carbon footprint shrink.
Where to Start
To track progress on emission reduction goals, it’s critical to start by tracking current emissions.
“Smaller-sized fleets may not be focusing on collecting data and tracking their emissions ,given other day-to-day business needs. However, beginning to measure your current emissions is a great start,” said Chase LeCroy, Lead Technical Program Manager, CALSTART. “The very first step would be to ensure you are tracking mileage and fuel consumption across all vehicles, and then using that data to calculate your baseline. This metric allows you to measure your progress as you phase-in ZEVs so you can be confident you are moving in the right direction.”
Tim Venghaus, Sustainability Solutions Engineer for PDI Technologies, says establishing a baseline for the existing fleet can be as simple as tracking a single metric.
“For traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, tracking their fuel consumption would be the most reliable way to calculate emissions. This information should be readily available if drivers use a fleet payment card or if they have a tank on-site for refueling (or a combination of both),” he says. “Carbon can be calculated using total gallons and the type of fuel (gasoline, diesel, E-85, biodiesel blends, etc.) and the corresponding carbon coefficient available from sources like the EPA and EIA.”
If tracking fuel consumption isn’t feasible, another approach is available: tracking mileage.
“There are reputable sources that one can use to calculate emissions as a function of vehicle miles traveled and specific vehicle type. CARB and EPA produce emissions inventories modeling what the emissions profile is likely to be coming from your vehicles; you can then multiply their values by the miles your fleet travels,” says LeCroy. “Many different factors can alter the exact emissions generated by any one vehicle, but barring the time and funding needed to do emissions testing, using these standardized metrics is a great approach.”
The next step is to develop a plan with achievable emissions-reductions goals based on your baseline. If you’re not sure where to start, Jean Pilon-Bignell, Public Sector Vice President for Geotab, suggests consulting fleet peers. “Compare your fleet against other similar fleets to benchmark and discover areas of improvement,” he advised.
Once goals are established, the next step is to put a data collection process in place.
“Any plan should establish processes to ensure data continues to be collected and progress is assessed at regular intervals as you transition your fleet,” LeCroy says. “Continuing to update your progress toward your goals over time is key so that you can see, share, and celebrate your achievements.”