Canada, U.S. governments get ‘smart’ about emissions

by Katy de Vries

DETROIT, Mich. – Natural Resources Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Sept. 14 that gives the official blessing to marry their respective clean air initiatives and encourage more “green” business operations on both sides of the border.

Canada’s FleetSmart program and the U.S. SmartWay Transport Partnership are voluntary programs sharing similar objectives that aim to reduce environmental emissions and limit fuel consumption within the transport sector.

“By harmonizing efforts and capitalizing on our complimentary strengths like FleetSmart’s driver education programs and SmartWay’s technology research and measurement techniques we can reach a wider audience,” explained Lynda Harvey, senior manager for FleetSmart.

As agreed upon in the MOU, SmartWay’s Fleet Model spreadsheet program will be shared with its Canadian counterpart, and in turn FleetSmart’s SmartDriver training curriculum will be available to EPA-approved fleets in the U.S.

“We will kick off the relationship by sharing these ideas first and then we’ll start talking about how we can collaborate on idling reduction,” said Suzanne Rudzinski, EPA director of transportation, Regional Programs Division.

To get the wheels in motion, the Mid-West transportation corridor in the U.S. will participate in FleetSmart’s fourth annual Truck Stop Idle-Free Zone campaign this fall with the idea of bringing the rest of the U.S. into the campaign next year.

Since the trucking industry runs on very tight profit margins, said Rudzinski, many of SmartWay’s partners say they joined the program as a way of telling them how they can save money. Some would like to be recognized for their environmental ethics while others joined because they believe it’s a way to stay informed.

“In this case, we’re not asking people to choose between their business bottom line and the environment because they can have both,” said Rudzinski.

Part of the partnership mandate is to educate those not aware of the impact their fleet may have on the environment and recognize those who are.

“We like to believe that people are on top of this, but it’s amazing how many operations don’t know how much fuel they are wasting,” said Harvey.

In fact, to create an even more seamless operation, SmartWay encourages green shippers to contract green carriers.

“Just like a SmartWay carrier has to make a commitment to improve environmental performance over three years, a SmartWay shipper must commit to shipping at least 50 per cent of its goods with a SmartWay carrier as well as commit to improving its own logistics footprint,” explained Rudzinski.

But the program isn’t just for shippers and carriers. Michelin North America has been a SmartWay partner since the program’s inception in February, 2004.

“Many fleets don’t understand the role that tires have to play in fuel consumption. For a truck travelling at 100 km/h on the highway, nearly one third of the fuel consumed is directly attributable to the rolling resistance of the tires but many fleets are not aware of that,” said Ralph Beaveridge, marketing manager, truck tires, for Michelin Canada.

Working with FleetSmart and SmartWay matches Michelin’s educational and environmental objectives and provides a medium to deliver its message.

Tires, along with aerodynamic fairings, low viscosity oils, truck stop electrification and auxiliary power units, are technologies found to have the greatest impact on fuel economy by SmartWay researchers.

“We have been trying to find technologies that save fuel therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions and this is the basis for our Fleet Model spreadsheet as well,” said Rudzinski.

The Fleet Model spreadsheet is an invaluable tool for carriers of all sizes.

“It allows us to take our individual situation and do a very accurate analysis of which technology is a worthwhile investment and which isn’t without actually having to make the investment to test it out,” said Pam Mullin who runs KBD Transportation in Iroquois, Ont. with her husband Bruce. “Fuel savings was our motivator for learning more about the program and after only a year we have already seen financial payoffs because of it.”

As part of KBD’s commitment to SmartWay, Mullin had to submit a company action plan.

“We bought some new, more fuel efficient equipment, we decided to govern all of our trucks which really impacted fuel consumption and we have installed cab heaters in almost all of our units (for which they took advantage of FleetSmart’s rebate program) and we now have a membership for truck stop electrification services in the U.S.,” said Mullin.

Canada clears the air

The EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership began last year with only 15 charter partners but today 200 carriers, 33 shipper and logistics companies and eight rail companies make up the partnership. These participants along with over 3,000 registered FleetSmart fleets will help achieve the EPA goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 33 to 66 million metric tonnes and up to 200,000 tonnes of NOx emissions by 2012.

The resulting fuel savings are the equivalent to taking 12 million cars off the road and saving up to 150 million barrels of fuel. Reducing that much fuel could potentially save transportation companies $10 billion annually.

The following Canadian carriers are SmartWay partners and are contributing to cleaning the air in Canada and in the U.S.:

Ace-Way Freight Systems 2003 Inc., Niagara Falls, Ont.

American Cartage Inc., Langley, B.C.

Bell City Transport Systems, Bradford, Ont.

Bison Transport Inc., Winnipeg, Man.

Camionnage C.P. Inc., Baie D’Urfe, Que.

Can-AM West Truck Carriers Inc., Abbotsford, B.C.

Double NN Transport Ltd., Winnipeg, Man.

Hudson’s Bay Company, Toronto, Ont.

JK Trucking, Lethbridge, Alta.

KBD Transportation, Iroquois, Ont.

Lavigne Truck Lines Inc., Ottawa, Ont.

Muir’s International, Concord, Ont.

Paramount Truck Lines Ltd., Winnipeg, Man.

Signature Truck Lines Inc., Calgary, Alta.

Transport Robert Ltee., Rougemont, Que.

Vitran Logistics, Concord, Ont.

VTL Group, Lachine, Que.

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