Is Green The New Gold?

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Release date: 7/19/2018

Investing in a new technology or initiative for the sustainability benefits alone can be a noble idea with long-term benefits – but not necessarily one that upper management will gravitate toward. These days, with fleet budgets being crunched to squeeze out every last dime, your sustainability efforts might also require cost savings.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever, f leet professionals say, to find vendors who will offer solutions that support sustainability. Increased competition, naturally, means better solutions – and better results. So yes, “green” can add up to “gold,” but it will require a strategy.

“A Vision You Believe In”

At Clark Public Utilities in Clark County, Washington, for example, off-the-road sustainability efforts have included the use of biodegradable chemicals and consumable products as much as possible, recycling in the truck wash water system, and LED efficient lighting in the shop. At the fleet level, idle management technology has been implemented in more than 34 percent of the utility’s over-the-road vehicles, they’ve been purchasing hybrid vehicles for more than 15 years, the integration of electric vehicles into the motor pool began in 2011, and plug-in hybrids recently have been added. In addition, back in 2015, the utility began installing EV car charging stations for use by the public and employees.

“Greening your fleet has to be a vision you believe in,” said NAFA Regular Member Paul L. Chamberlain, Fleet
Services Manager. “It takes time and lots of discussion and communication with employees, senior management, and end users. There is no one technology that will fit all your fleet vehicles, but you can and should use a variety of alternative solutions that are available.”

At the City of Los Angeles, meanwhile, an increased emphasis on green came to the forefront with the release of the
mayor’s Sustainability City pLAn in 2015. NAFA Associate Member Richard Coulson, Director of Fleet Services,
said the plan includes “a number of ambitious and achievable visions over a number of topic areas, with the goal
of transforming Los Angeles by 2035.”

Notable cost benefits have not yet been immediately evident or captured, but the efforts continue. One target area is the transition of the fleet’s light-duty vehicles/sedans to full battery electric.

“As with others in the industry, we have seen some decrease in the overall cost of maintenance for these vehicles,” Coulson said. He finds the enhancements to battery technology and the related effect on range compelling. Also of interest is the Cummins Near Zero engine, “which will be used in some of our heavy-duty fleets.” Overall, the organization maintains about 10,700 vehicle and equipment assets, including aircraft.

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