Going green

by James Menzies

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Truck fleets that take steps to reduce their environmental footprint may soon get recognition for their efforts through a new program called the E3 Fleet Rating System. The program will also allow carriers to measure just how ‘green’ they are and take steps to achieve gold-level status.

The E3 (Energy – Environment – Excellence) Fleet Rating System is based on the popular LEED Green Building Rating System, which sets standards for designers, architects and builders of commercial buildings. That program originated in the US before expanding into B.C. about four years ago. Now, the City of Vancouver requires all new buildings meet the LEED gold standard, says Dennis Rogoza, a director with E3.

The success of the LEED program for commercial buildings prompted Rogoza, and a team of like-minded people to ask the question “Why couldn’t we do the same thing for fleets?”

After about two years of development, the E3 Fleet Rating System is set to launch in early November. The idea has already proven to intrigue several fleet executives. Even before marketing the program, organizers have a list of about 20 different fleets committed to jumping on-board when the program launches. They range from municipal fleets to utilities to over-the-road private and for-hire carriers.

There are three components to the E3 program. The first involves general membership and allows access to tools developed by E3 such as calculators which outline various methods fleets can use to reduce their fuel usage.

The second component of the program is a fleet evaluation by an E3 official. The fleet review consists of a detailed evaluation aimed at identifying areas where there’s room for improvement.

“Our view is that you can’t really be green if you don’t know what your fleet is doing,” Rogoza points out. “Data is the basis for describing what your fleet is doing and we built a very comprehensive data collection form whereby we ask fleets that want to do this to provide us with a wealth of data on fleet operations. We analyze it and provide them with recommendations – areas they should look at to improve their energy use and reduce emissions.”

In recent beta testing with a 250-truck fleet, E3 identified that 20% of its vehicles were being grossly underutilized and offered solutions to improve its asset utilization.

The third component to the program is establishing a ‘rating’ which will be determined through the E3 Fleet Rating System. The most environmentally-friendly fleets will achieve Gold status while Silver and Bronze performers will also be recognized.

E3 will conduct an audit every two years following the initial rating to ensure the fleet has remained up to snuff and deserves to keep its rating.

“We address the question, ‘what does it mean to be green?'” Rogoza says. “There was no reference standard out there and we’ve said we’re going to define that. Just because you’re using biodiesel but dumping waste oil in the ground doesn’t mean you’re green. We’re trying to organize that component and we’re coming at the market with a pretty integrated green rating criteria.”

Participating fleets stand to benefit in several ways. Firstly, Rogoza claims most fleets will recoup their membership costs through improvements in vehicle utilization and reduced fuel usage.

Also, carriers will be able to promote their E3 rating to shippers, who can also sign onto the program as corporate members and favour truck fleets that have achieved an E3 rating.

“Shippers have approached us and the concern they have is they are trying to be green inside their stores, but the question they have is how green is their supply chain? Their conclusion was it’s not as green as their own operation so what can they do to work with carriers to help them green their operation?” points out Rogoza.

Savvy sales reps should be able to leverage their position as an E3-rated carrier to attract new business.

Another benefit to participation in the program is staying one step ahead of government, which sooner or later is bound to set its own requirements for environmentalism in the trucking industry. Rogoza even goes so far as to suggest participation in the program can be key to attracting and retaining drivers.

“Fleets need to be greener because many drivers are respectful of that and they’re looking for situations where they’re working for top-class companies,” he says.

Once enough companies have signed up, the program will also offer benchmarking data so fleets operating similar equipment under similar conditions can compare fuel mileage and other operational data.

The cost of reaching gold-level status under the E3 Fleet Rating system varies depending on how green the fleet is to begin with, Rogoza explains.

“If you’ve done nothing so far, it’s going to cost you something to get there,” he admits. However, he adds many fleets are already doing a good job and just lack the independent evaluation that allows them to toot their own horn.

Basic membership into the program is about $800 per year and the fleet review and green rating are priced based on volume.

“To get inside our system is relatively inexpensive for a fleet,” Rogoza says. “If we’ve done our job right, the majority of fleets, if they implement our suggestions, will save money.”

The program received some startup funding from the federal government and the Province of B.C. However, it plans on being self-sustaining once it launches. For more information, visit its Web site at www.e3fleet.com.

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