NEW YORK - In metropolitan areas across the country, Verizon is adding "green" to the company's traditional red and black colors. One hundred hybrid sedans are replacing gasoline-powered vehicles in Verizon's fleet, for an estimated annual reduction in carbon emissions of 2.63 metric tons per vehicle.

With engines that run on gasoline and electricity, hybrids are more fuel- efficient than vehicles equipped with traditional engines. The Toyota Prius sedans being added to Verizon's fleet can travel nearly double the miles per gallon and emit less than half of the carbon of most traditional sedans.

"The Department of Energy strongly supports private sector efforts, such as those by Verizon, to 'go green,'" said John Mizroch, U.S. Department of Energy principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. "Corporate leadership is a critical component of the department's long-term strategy to build, generate and promote renewable energy capacity that will help meet growing energy demand and have a sizable impact in the marketplace, increasing our nation's energy and economic security."

Last year, Verizon began using 13 specially designed service vans with environmentally friendly hybrid-engine systems in Maryland and Texas. No domestic motor vehicle manufacturer currently makes hybrid vehicles in the "van" category, so Verizon worked closely with a company that specializes in hybrid-power systems, and it retrofitted the new vehicles to Verizon's specifications.

"In 2006, we reduced greenhouse-gas emissions across our operations by more than 334,000 metric tons, which equates to keeping more than 72,000 cars off the roads for a year," said Dan Mead, president of Verizon Services Corp., which manages Verizon's fleet, buildings and various financial operations such as collections and printing bills. "The use of hybrid technology is one of many examples of Verizon's ongoing commitment to finding smart ways to reduce the environmental impact of our operations," said Mead, who also is co-chair of Verizon's Corporate Responsibility and Workplace Culture Council.

Verizon's commitment to green energy practices includes pursuing network equipment and building energy-reduction initiatives; using alternative energy sources in the network, buildings and vehicle fleet; and promoting the company's technology as an alternative to travel, among other efforts. In 2006 alone, Verizon processed about 70 million consumer bills online, sparing approximately 6,000 trees by reducing the amount of paper used.