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Ottawa weighs in

Canada's commercial highway freight sector is responsible for almost 10% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, a number the federal government aims to reduce under its recently announced ecoENERGY for...

Canada’s commercial highway freight sector is responsible for almost 10% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, a number the federal government aims to reduce under its recently announced ecoENERGY for fleets initiative.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) will manage the $22 million program, which will run for four years and which will promote the sharing of best practices, anti-idling campaigns, technical analysis and evaluations to identify opportunities for improvements for fleets and fleet managers.

At this time, though, there are no rebates or incentives for commercial fleets with participation in the program.

“FleetSmart continues as a program but has been rebranded under ecoENERGY for fleets,” said Bob Smith, chief of the ecoENERGY for Fleets program at Natural Resources Canada.

The FleetSmart component offers free practical advice and workshops to fleets on how energy-efficient vehicles and business practices can reduce their operating costs, improve productivity and increase competitiveness.

On the education side of the initiative, more than 200,000 professional drivers – of heavy trucks, buses, construction and city fleets – will receive training in energy efficient vehicle operating techniques under the SmartDriver component of the program.

“With the help of industry trainers, we can show commercial drivers, trucking companies and other parties how to reduce their fuel consumption,” said Smith.

In addition to covering specifications, SmartDriver teaches participants how to maximize their energy efficiency by making simple changes to the way they maintain, operate and drive their vehicles, for example the practice of idling.

In fact, in the case of unnecessary idling, Smith said this habit is so common that by eliminating it alone commercial truck drivers can save an average of $5,000 on fuel per year.

NRCan will also offer specialized programs online and in class to address the unique needs of different types of on-road commercial vehicles, such as highway and forestry trucks, motor coaches, public transit and school buses, and construction vehicles.

One of the major components of the training relates to a vehicle’s particular specifications.

“In this industry, a truck is ordered from the factory with a specific duty-cycle in mind, and the available options of engine, transmission, gear ratios and other key component combinations are too long to list,” said Smith. “By teaching drivers and fleet managers which truck spec’s are best suited to their shipping needs, we can help them save a lot of money.”

EcoENERGY for Fleets, which specifically targets the trucking industry, is part of the federal government’s larger environmental strategy called ecoTRANSPORT.

Under the ecoTRANSPORT umbrella – and also targeting trucking – is the $6 million National Harmonization Initiative. It’s designed to identify solutions to provincial or federal barriers for the trucking industry to adopt currently available technologies to reduce emissions. This work will be done in partnership with the provinces and territories.

Other initiatives within the ecoTRANSPORT strategy address all four modes of transportation (air, rail, road and marine), as well as users of the freight system.

These include a Freight Technology Demonstration Fund of up to $10 million that will provide cost-shared funding to companies in the air, rail, road and marine modes in order to test and measure the environmental and operational performance of new and underutilized freight transportation technologies.

Freight Technology Incentives will use up to $10 million to mitigate financial barriers to the adoption of new and under-utilized technologies.

Partnerships on Freight has $7 million on offer towards an initiative that would bring together a range of partners within the freight transportation sector to reduce emissions from freight transportation (road, rail, aviation and marine).

Features editor Julia Kuzeljevich has been writing about supply chain issues for five years. Her meticulously researched articles have garnered several Canadian Business Press Award nominations.

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