5 (more) ways to reduce a fleet’s carbon footprint

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Truck fleets continue to make environmentally friendly investments, particularly when it comes to adopting fuel-efficient vehicles. But there are other steps the businesses can take to reduce carbon footprints – protecting the planet, reducing costs, and enhancing reputations among customers and employees.

Here are six actions that some operations may overlook:

green truck
(Illustration: istock)

1. Refine transportation plans

Use software solutions to automate route planning. Canadian Tire, for example, relies on a route optimizing engine to minimize the distances drivers need to cover, marrying outbound and inbound loads as closely as possible. A new system promises to do even better. Certain components of the work are dynamic, and the system will be able to pull that in.

In its Practices to Improve the Efficiency of On-Road Freight report, the Pembina Institute also suggests strategies like scheduling deliveries during off-peak daytime hours or switching to night-time deliveries.

Ontario’s Peel Region recently completed an off-peak delivery pilot project with Loblaws, Walmart and the LCBO, among other shippers. Preliminary results suggest that travel times were approximately 15% lower during off-peak hours, Pembina Institute says in its report. And shorter travel times save fuel.

2. Program thermostats effectively

Program the thermostats so your building is only heating or cooling when people are inside.

The change in energy output and resulting savings are significant when you’re not overheating or cooling the space in hours when no one is there, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) notes in an online document.

3. Adopt smarter lighting options

Energy consumption typically accounts for about half of a company’s carbon footprint, notes Elytus, an environmental management firm. Installing energy-efficient lighting and using Energy Star-certified appliances can make a difference.

Purolator, for example, operates a network of more than 180 buildings, including hubs, terminals, retail locations and corporate offices. In 2020, it decreased emissions associated with the buildings’ heating and refrigerants by 8% compared to 2019.

That was achieved through changes like upgrading facilities to LED fixtures and motion sensors. The retrofits in seven terminals saved more than one million kWh of electricity.

4. Reduce, reuse, recycle

The most environmentally friendly purchase is the one you don’t make. In the office and in the shop, think of ways to repair or reuse before throwing away and buying. When possible, install remanufactured parts, and purchase supplies in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging and shipping materials.

Tire retread strategies make a difference, too.  According to Bandag, retreading requires 90 to 100 pounds less raw material than a new tire, and the production process consumes 68% less energy. If one tractor-trailer were to use retreads on 18 wheel ends, the resulting savings would equate to the energy needed to power 482 homes for an entire day.

Meanwhile, encourage employees in fleet offices to use reusable mugs and plates instead of disposable containers. Using high-efficiency hand dryers rather than paper towels can also make a difference, BDC says.

5. Use digital technology wisely

We don’t think about it, but data centers emit huge volumes of carbon dioxide. According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund, the daily ecological footprint of an employee at work in front of a computer is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 80 lit light bulbs. Try to use digital technology responsibly, for example, by limiting the number of emails, the number of attachments, and the number of people copied.

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Steve Bouchard started writing about trucks over 20 years ago, making him by far the most experienced trucking journalist in Quebec. Steve is the editor of Quebec’s leading French-language trucking magazine, Transport Routier, published by Newcom Média Québec since its creation in 2000. He is also editor of the associated website transportroutier.ca, and a contributor to Today’s Trucking and Trucknews.com.

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