Fleet Carbon Footprint

Governments and businesses are putting and increasing effort onto reducing their impact on the environment and reducing the fleet carbon footprint can be a major contributor to this objective.  Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is high on executive’s agendas not just from a public relations perspective but also to make their organisation attractive from a commercial perspective. Employees from generation Y are looking for ethical businesses to work for so positive action on environmental credentials can help attracting better talent.

Legislation is impacting both at a European and Global level to ensure countries reduce the impact of their activities on the environment.  Strict emissions limits have been set for the manufacturing of new vehicles with heavy penalties for those manufacturers failing to meet their targets.  Many manufacturers are looking to introduce new environmentally friendly products to market.

Tesla led the way on electric vehicles but their mass market adoption is not far away with mainstream manufacturers and established players all following suit.  Hydrogen is being introduced by some as another cleaner alternative fuel but is still a few years away from mass market adoption.

Transport is seen as a very important component towards a more sustainable future.  In the UK, many cities are being forced to introduce clean air zones to address local concerns regarding air quality.

Organisations looking to reduce fleet carbon footprint can use our strategic framework focusing on the vehicle, driver and journey.

The Vehicle

Environmental policies should be fundamentally based on the vehicles which are used for travel.  This includes any company operated vehicles but also those private vehicles which employees use for business travel, commonly known as the grey fleet.

A typical vehicle emits 10% of its lifetime CO2 emissions during the production process and 5% during the recycling of parts at the end of its life.  This leaves the remaining 85% of CO2 emissions which take place as the vehicle is “in-life”.

The selection of vehicles with a highly efficient operating cycle is key to managing emissions down.  There are a number of considerations to ensure the correct vehicles are utilised. They include:

Policy Capping

Introduce a maximum CO2 cap.  This is a relatively blunt instrument but is easy to understand and implement.  Whilst this will not be an issue for “job need” drivers it could pose some issues for drivers who receive a company car as a result of their status.  Whilst a lot more low emissions models are available drivers still like the high driving position of SUV’s.  That said, there are are an increasing number of hybrid and electric models which fit into this category.

Whole Life Cost or Total Cost of Ownership

Use whole life cost as the basis for vehicle selection.  As taxation increases with CO2 this encourages employees into more environmentally friendly vehicles. Setting vehicle policy according to whole life cost principals naturally migrates drivers to selecting efficient vehicles without it feeling like this is being mandated by the business.  This avoids the need for a specific cap on emissions which can be seen as negative by some drivers.

Alternative Fuels

Use alternative fuels where it is appropriate and effective to do so.  Electric or hybrid vehicles operate best in urban environments. For more on electric vehicles see our separate blog here.

However, for regular motorway travel and for commercial vehicle then clean diesel can still be the right choice for many.  Clean air zones will also impact vehicle selection in cities where it is in operation.  For more information go to: https://www.bvrla.co.uk/industry-campaigns/air-quality/clean-air-zones.html.

Vehicle Rightsizing

Select vehicles which are fit for the intended use, not over sizing, over specifying or overloading.  This is especially relevant for commercial vehicles where over sized vehicles will lead to increased emissions and adds additional running cost.  Similarly, under sized vehicles could face overloading issues or put additional strain on the engine.

Operational Cycles

Consider the operating conditions the vehicles will be used in.  Hybrid or electric vehicle technology is most effective in urban environments.  Diesel fuelled vehicles are more efficient on motorways and A-roads. Fuelling or charging also needs to be considered as it needs to be able to service the operational needs of the fleet..

The public electric charging network is still in its infancy with no universal standard for both charge points and payment.  Where internal charging is to be utilised, you need to make sure there is there enough downtime for the vehicle to be charged between uses.

Service and Maintenance

Routine maintenance should be carried out regularly to ensure the vehicle operates to its optimum capability.  Under-inflated tyres, for example, can significantly increase fuel consumption as well as inflict damage on the tyres.

The Driver

Driver engagement in environmental efficiency is crucial to sustained reductions in emissions.  Vehicles need to be driven and maintained incorrectly to maximise efficiency.  Drivers should be incentivised to drive vehicles in an environmentally efficient way.  Practical steps organisations can use to encourage the culture of environmental responsibility include:

Financial

High emission vehicles will impact on employees in terms of tax, fuel and depreciation.  This should be highlighted when selecting a vehicle as part of company car policy documentation and on any ordering system deployed by your fleet management provider.  Fuel re-imbursement methods and rates should also be set at a breakeven cost so employees don’t complete unnecessary trips.

Training

Employees should be have the skills to use their vehicles effectively.  This is especially important for commercial vehicles or where new technologies are deployed where drivers potentially require different skills to driving a traditional car.

Eco-driving is also commonly available and has been proven to reduce driver’s fuel consumption covering any cost involved.  However, training should not be seen as a one off exercise and drivers should be re-trained on a periodic basis when bad habits return.

Measurement

“What gets measured gets done”. Create specific environmental performance targets for the fleet.

Targets should be regularly reported and reviewed to senior managers and line management. Driver targets could include measurements around number of trips, fuel economy, reductions in mileage or avoiding driving at certain times of day in heavily congested areas.

Communications

Environmental performance should be shared with drivers. Issue newsletters and driver league tables for environmental performance.  This helps embed the culture of environmental management within the organisation.

A board member should be assigned accountability for the organisations drive to reduce emissions.  Many large businesses now need to report anyway as part of their ESOS obligations.

The Journey

Environment impact only occurs when the vehicle is driven.  Measures to reduce mileage and improve the journey can make a big impact.  The best solution is not to make the journey in the first place but there are practical measures which can be introduced to minimise environmental impact:

Travel Alternatives

Can a meeting be done using a conference call or video conference instead of the need to travel? Technologies such as net meetings, Skype or web chat can negate the need for additional travel. These technologies have become more broadly accepted as a communications channel especially when set against the environmental context.

The Covid19 pandemic has challenged some organisations to look at their infrastructure.  Homeworking has been proven to work for a large number of businesses and is a trend we could see embedded in corporate culture once we return to the new “normal”.

Public Transport

The increased use of public transport such as trains, trams and buses can reduce carbon emissions and allow employees to be more productive. A range of Apps have been deployed to make this easier for employees to plan and execute.  As these services develop the mobility as a service (MaaS) offerings will become more widely adopted and multi-mode transport will become more of a viable option as part of a new ecosystem.

Businesses should start planning how they will integrate this into their overall travel planning and payment arrangements.  This may include providing people with a mobility budget and allow them more freedom to choose transport modes.

Meeting Planning

Where meetings are necessary, planning meetings away from busy rush hour periods can significantly increase fuel economy on journeys.  If multiple meetings can be planned in a similar geographical location this can reduce the overall business mileage.  Consider sharing vehicles for meeting attendance or putting on a bus or similar transport as an alternative solution to everyone driving.

Commuting

Many employees will commute to their office on a daily basis which is an often-overlooked travel category. Remote working where practical is the obvious solution for some companies but is not always possible for all.  Where commuting is necessary new services have emerged to tackle the issue.  Zeelo, Liftshare and ViaVan are some organisations with practical solutions to help manage this population of drivers.  With the expansion of workplace parking levies these transport alternatives will continue to gain traction as the market evolves.

More useful information can also be found on the Energy Savings Trust website.

EVP Solutions have extensive experience advising our clients on how to practically reduce the impact of their fleet operations on the environment.

If you would like to know more about how you can practically reduce your fleet carbon footprint then please

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