North American municipalities – regardless of size or type – typically own and operate fleet vehicles to deliver municipal services. Waste and recycling collection vehicles usually top this list. On average, these municipal fleets can generate up to 20 per cent of a municipality’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and consume masses of fuel each year.
As a result, municipalities are being tasked to reduce the environmental impact of their fleet operations and are increasingly seeking to “green” their fleets with the use of alternative fuels, better operational fleet standards, new vehicle types and the implementation of fleet management technologies.
Municipalities leading this trend are already seeing measurable benefits in terms of cost savings from reduced fuel consumption, more efficient vehicles and optimized routing capabilities.
Green fleet plans
Green fleet plans focus on optimizing vehicle use and efficiency, and increasing the use of alternative fuels and sustainable technologies. According to the municipal and other industry groups, a green fleet plan could include:
- An onboard fleet management computing system that provides vehicle and driver oversight, tracks assets, uses alarms to monitor and reduce idling, identifies aggressive driving patterns, identifies vehicle maintenance problems, optimizes routing and collects the ECM codes so that engines can be repaired before problems escalate.
- A preventive maintenance program that consists of tracking vehicle diagnostics via an onboard computer (OBC), and scheduled inspection and follow-up repairs to vehicles and equipment to reduce on-road breakdowns and excessive downtime.
- Training and educational programs designed to educate drivers about fuel-efficient driving practices as well as the effects that new technologies may have on them and their driving practices.
- Fleet management tools that monitor driver behavior to ensure more emissions-friendly driving approaches. New fleet mapping tools let fleet managers track drivers with precise geo-coding (GPS) of all data and events, determine how their vehicles are being handled, identify which drivers generated alarms and the location of these, monitor driver speed in relation to speed limits, and plot locations of alarm occurrences.
- The use of hybrid vehicles, such as diesel-electric or gasoline-electric.
- The use of alternative fuels, such as biodiesel, ethanol, or others.
Green fleets are not a lofty goal, but an economic and societal must. If your fleet is not managed effectively, you will use more fuel and generate unnecessary emissions and excess costs that impact your profitability and your community.