The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Fleets Set Out to Cut GHG Emissions

September 2010, by Grace L. Suizo & Thi Dao

Reducing the company's carbon footprint through fleet operations has become a growing trend, with nearly half of private and public sector fleets measuring emissions, up from 28 percent in 2008, according to the results of a recent industry survey. Several corporate fleets cutting down on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are highlighted, with strategies ranging from idling reduction to improving driver behavior to maximize fuel efficiency.

AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah

In an effort to green its fleet, AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah transitioned about 300 of its 425-vehicle fleet into gasoline hybrids in 2006. According to Peter Peirce, manager, fleet services, the auto club was able to complete the transition to Toyota Priuses for front-wheel drive vehicles and Ford Escapes for four-wheel drive vehicles in just one year, following its replacement policy.

It also has about a dozen minivans that use E-85.

This switch doubled corporate fuel economy, leading to a savings of 120,112 gallons of fuel in 2008 and 93,607 gallons in 2009 (due to a fleet size decrease). As a result, the branch reduced GHG emissions by 1,068 metric tons in 2008 and 832 metric tons in 2009.

In addition, by annually purchasing carbon offsets for its emissions, the club is able to call its passenger car fleet carbon neutral. In 2009, Peirce said the branch offset 954 metric tons of CO2.

"For us, the savings in dollars due to fuel economy far outweigh the additional expense of purchasing the hybrids and carbon offsets," he said.

The club recently partnered with Automotive Resources International (ARI).

ADT Security Services

With 95 percent of its 6,800-vehicle fleet comprised of large commercial vans costing $30 million in fuel annually, ADT Security Services replaced nearly half of its fleet with the Ford Transit Connect as part of a company-wide program to save expenses, increase fuel efficiency, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

ADT purchased 1,500 Transit Connects earlier this year and should have 3,000 units total by the end of 2010 - saving some $5.3 million in fuel costs annually, while reducing carbon emissions.

Although technicians were initially reluctant to switch vehicles, the 35 technicians who participated in a five-week pilot program changed their perception dramatically by the time the pilot was completed, based on the vehicle's functionality and convenience, according to David Wade, ADT supply chain and fleet group director. Wade said GE Capital Fleet Services played a huge role in the success of the project.

Achieving 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, the Transit Connects provide ADT significant fuel economy savings over the vehicles being replaced.

Older Ford Econoline vans averaged about 13 city/18 highway mpg, demonstrating a 40-percent improvement in fuel economy in city driving and 28-percent highway mpg improvement.

Wade said fleet is currently working on a project to align installation and service requirements to include tools and parts for a more appropriate vehicle, and right-sizing the supply chain to source commonly used parts for technicians with systematic replenishment cycles.


In less than three months, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca's fleet reduced CO2 emissions by 367 metric tons by pushing drivers to operate in a more fuel-efficient manner. Annually, this would amount to reducing emissions by more than 1,900 metric tons. Headquartered in Wilmington, Del., AstraZeneca was one of 40 companies that participated in the EcoWheels Green Driver Challenge, a ten-week program run by Wheels Inc., which enlisted 2,970 corporate fleet vehicle drivers to pledge to incorporate sustainable driving habits (i.e., reducing idling time, regularly checking tire pressure, and reducing cargo load) into their daily routines.

Employees who signed up online and pledged to incorporate these habits into their daily driving routine were informed of the impact of each pledge in total CO2 emissions saved.

With a fleet of more than 5,200 vehicles, AstraZeneca enrolled 503 drivers in the challenge - the most participants of all companies represented.

"We were very excited to have such a positive response," said Steve Macom, fleet general analyst for AstraZeneca. "One person in sales championed the cause and enlisted many people."

Carrier Corporation

Denise Cross, Carrier Corporation's fleet manager, began looking into emissions reduction as part of parent company United Technologies Corporation's (UTC) promise to reduce global GHG emissions by 12 percent by 2010 from a 2006 baseline.

Carrier manufactures air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration systems, and Cross is responsible for more than 3,000 vehicles in North America. The company worked with its fleet management partner, PHH Arval, to deploy GHG reduction strategies. They first focused on right-sizing the service truck fleet, switching out Ford E-350 trucks, which were standard equipment, to Ford F-150s and Rangers for service personnel who carried less equipment.

Cross also oversaw the installation of onboard telematics devices to the entire fleet of service vehicles by the end of first quarter 2008. Local managers were able to monitor driving practices, including speeding, idling, and unauthorized vehicle use. Carrier could also compare fuel performance across regions to see where improvements were significant.

"That allows management to see who is using the data and take action on it," Cross explained.

Results of the onboard telematics systems included a 40-percent reduction in speeding across the entire fleet from March 2008 to September 2009. Not only did at-fault accidents as a result of rear-end collisions fall by 45 percent from 2008 to 2009, average mpg of the service fleet increased nearly 7 percent from April 2008 to August 2009. Greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by more than 30 percent, surpassing UTC's goals.

Joy Global

Joy Global, parent company of P&H Mining and Joy Mining Machinery, operates 750 vehicles in North America and found an effective way to combine emissions reduction with cost reduction.

In 2003, Mike Butsch, director of global fleet operations for Joy Global, developed a strategy to reduce the company's GHG output. The company chose to move  from diesel to gasoline for its Ford fleet of vehicles F-350 to F-550. In addition, it began moving away from F-150s to Escapes and Fusions for its sales vehicles in 2007.

"Once we saw the impact [of providing everyone with pick-up trucks], we had to step back and say, 'Hey, is this really appropriate for the account or sales job?'" Butsch explained.

PHH Arval was able to validate the improvements and provide guidance to the green strategy. This led to an 25-percent GHG reduction.

Butsch said all applicable vehicles, or 30 percent of the Joy Global fleet, will be switched out by MY 2012. He predicts lifecycle savings on the estimated 150 rightsized vehicles to total $1.5 million.

In addition, to solve the problem of excessive idling in cold climates, P&H Mining worked with its upfitter to utilize the welder as a power source to run an auxiliary heater in the cab, as well as power the vehicle's crane and LED floodlights. This was installed in 40 vehicles, which Butsch estimated could save 300 gallons of fuel per vehicle monthly, just from reduced idle time.

While Butsch considers himself lucky to have the support of senior staff in trying out green initiatives, he added, "I think going green with a solid return on investment is critical, because it reduces [company] resistance."

Kennecott Utah Copper

Kennecott Utah Copper, a copper mining company operating a fleet of 250 vehicles, had problems with excessive idling, leading to large releases of greenhouse gases and warranty problems.

"As our equipment idled, we lost valuable warranty coverage due to the fact that the manufacturers of our light- and heavy-duty equipment were basing warranty coverage off of hours run, not miles driven," explained Kenny Harvey, mobile maintenance planner/reliability for the Kennecott Operational Services Department.

To address this issue, the company implemented a GPS Insight fleet tracking system in 2008 on 28 vehicle assets. Finding it an effective way to monitor and police fleet idling activity, the company chose to expand the tracking system across the fleet. Currently, 242 vehicle assets are monitored with the fleet tracking system, tracking preventive maintenance intervals and alerts, ensuring proper service vehicle routing, fuel savings, idle reduction, GHG reduction, and monitoring fleet utilization and availability.

Kennecott saved more than $1 million in fuel costs in 12 months. As of July 2010, Harvey said GHG emissions were reduced by more than 9,500 metrics tons.

Kennecott Utah Copper received a 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award in Pollution Prevention from the Utah Pollution Prevention Association in September 2009.

Novo Nordisk

By offering incentives for fuel-smart choices and training drivers to operate vehicles more efficiently, Novo Nordisk reduced its fleet emissions by more than 20 percent. The company set a goal in 2007 to reduce emission by 5 percent per year annually through 2012.

Donna Bibbo, manager of fleet and travel at Novo Nordisk, has removed the majority of large SUVs from the selector lists for sales reps, manager, and directors. Larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles are now on a separate "work-life balance" list and drivers must agree to pay a higher $75/paycheck personal use charge for these vehicles versus $40/paycheck for regular vehicles.

Complementary to the "right-sizing" strategy to reduce emissions and fuel use, Novo Nordisk worked with drivers to operate vehicles more efficiently. In 2008, Bibbo launched a driver-training program for more than 2,000 sales people that resulted in an average fuel efficiency improvement of 2.6 percent - a reduction of more than 700 metric tons of CO2 emissions. Bibbo said Wheels Inc. provides reporting to help document reduction efforts.


Hybrids are the "green" strategy of choice for PepsiCo's fleet, according to Pete Silva, director of Fleet Procurement - PepsiCo. With more than 36,000 vehicles in its fleet (1,460 of which are alt-fuel), the company has made a significant commitment to hybrid company cars and increasing the fuel efficiency of its delivery fleet.

The fleet has operated hybrid vehicles for more than three years, achieving a 30-percent reduction in GHG emissions. Donlen, a fleet management company, has helped track GHG results and presented alternatives for improvement, according to Silva. In PepsiCo's 2009 sustainability report, the committee said it is committed to an absolute reduction of GHG emissions.

"Our company has a strong sustainability culture and our people understand we can make a difference," said Silva. "PepsiCo is aligned throughout the corporation on our sustainability strategy due to good leadership direction and communication."

Silva suggested fleets exploring methods of reducing GHG emissions to consider downsizing and moving away from traditional six-cylinder and V-8 power plants.

Poland Spring

Its commitment to being a good neighbor and $5 per gallon gas prices led Poland Spring, a water bottling company, to implement new policies for reducing GHG emissions.

Poland Spring operates 75 tanker trailers and 36 tractor-trailers, which operate around the clock.

In 2007, Poland Spring started using biodiesel blend B-5 for its trucks. The blend mixes conventional diesel fuel with biodiesel made from non-food-based and non-irrigated soybean and animal fat. As a result, the company saw a 0.1 mpg improvement in fuel economy. The company also saved 5 to 12 cents per gallon by using B-5 instead of conventional biodiesel, according to Chris McKenna, fleet manager.

In early 2008, the company began using its already-installed onboard computers to track idling time. McKenna found trucks were idling for as much as 1,400 hours per month during winter months.

To decrease idling time, McKenna ranked the company's 65 drivers based on their idling times and put up the list in the break room.

"Human nature - no one wants to be at the bottom of the list," he explained. The 10 drivers with the lowest idling times were given a fuel gift card for their own cars.

As a result, idling time dropped from 1,400 hours to 1,000 hours to 380 hours by early 2009. This reduced fuel consumption by 8,000 gallons and greenhouse gas emissions by 77 tons per year.

Schwan's Home Service

Of the 5,800 home delivery trucks in the Schwan's Home Service fleet, 5,200 run on liquefied propane gas (LPG).

Mike Speer, senior director of facilities and fleet, finds propane beneficial because propane tanks can carry more fuel in a lower-cost fuel tank than compressed natural gas. In addition, the infrastructure for LPG was less costly and by purchasing the fuel in bulk to store on-site, the company could reduce the cost per gallon of fuel.

Speer noted that initially, few mechanics knew how to work with propane systems, but now there is an extensive network of service providers. Discontinuation of some vehicle models for which the company had propane conversions was another difficulty, but the fleet now has access to trucks that meet its needs. Also, he found propane to be more readily available on the road.

Green initiatives in 2009 included a reduction in the weight of the fleet's refrigerated truck bodies, allowing the company to use a lightweight chassis instead of a medium-duty chassis, further reducing weight. In total, this lightened each truck by over 6,000 lbs., according to Speer.

In 2009, Schwan's also added an idle shutdown feature on its fleet vehicles.

"When we get the entire fleet equipped with these devices, I anticipate we will save more than 3 million gallons of fuel a year," Speer said.

This year, the company is studying tire usage, including a review of tire compounds, inflation pressures, costs, and mileage.

"If we can manage our tire inflation better, we can improve our fuel economy and extend the life of the tires," Speer said. "That will reduce emissions and also reduce the number of tires that eventually go in the landfills. We will continue to look at this and other initiatives with our partner, ARI."

Speer advised fleet managers: "Initiatives that reduce greenhouse gases can also provide cost savings that will increase profits. We found you can often reduce emissions while reducing costs."  

Twitter Facebook Google+


Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:

Fleet Incentives

Determine the actual cost of owning and running a vehicle in your fleet. Compare vehicles by class and model.

Sponsored by

Car sharing is a form of car rental when where people rent cars for short periods of time, sometimes for only an hour or so at a time

Read more

Alternative Fuel Locator

Use the Alternative Fuel Locator to find stations near you.

Launch Alternative Fuel Locator

Up Next

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher