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Environmentally Conscious and “Green” Fleets

by Audrey Beim - Published: 5/03/2017
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As Kermit the frog said, “it’s not easy being green."

The general public often views the trucking industry as a major contributor to pollution and a destroyer of the air and environment. Gas guzzling diesel engines are not viewed favorably in this world of environmental consciousness. Some consumers cringe at the vision of older model trucks hauling down the highway, belching black smoke.

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The trend of going green has been proliferate in many industries across the board, as the ideals of environmentalism are seen as more valuable to consumers and providers alike. Within trucking, there have been a growing number of fleets that place emphasis on a “green initiative” and often extol the virtues of going green.

Problems With Going Green?

Despite their perceived popularity, an environmentally friendly trucking fleet can present a number of challenges. Although fleet managers may have the desire to make decisions that are best for the planet, a green fleet may require making decisions that are costly.

Some companies may have trouble convincing the older guard of trucking that sustainability is a worthwhile issue for a trucking company to pursue. It may not sit well with older drivers to feel as though they are representing a company that promotes a “youthful” ideal, potentially making it hard to court the right drivers for a trucker job. When attempting to fill your trucks in a large state such as Texas, it’s important to cast as wide as net as possible without upsetting your audience, so to speak.

However, going green can also bring with it some benefits for companies, drivers, and the world, all at the same time.

Diesel emissions of nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, which produces watery eyes, irritates the respiratory system causing coughing, choking, and reduced lung capacity. Diesel exhaust has been classified a potential human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Many believe going green is good step for the Earth and all its’ people. Here are some of the clear benefits to adopting environmentally sound procedures and making trucking jobs friendlier to the earth.

Staying Ahead of Regulations

In recent years, state and federal emissions and fuel consumption requirements have become more and more stringent. Some states like California with its Optional Low NOx Standards have extremely strict guidelines when hauling goods throughout the state in order to avoid fines and citations.

Other states such as New York, Connecticut and Oregon are adopting these same tough requirements.

In areas such as Florida, simply have adopted a standard across-the-board provision for trucks to comply with federal standards.

By becoming proactive, trucking company fleets can take the plunge and get in front of these types of regulations by investing in equipment prior to the implementation of these measures. This allows the opportunity to stay a step ahead of the requirements and spread out the capital costs out over a longer period of time.

Customer Preference

Data reveals that “Diesel-powered vehicles and equipment account for nearly half of all nitrogen oxides (NOx) and more than two-thirds of all particulate matter (PM) emissions from US transportation sources.”

This mounting evidence that this exhaust poses major health hazards has focused attention on the reduction of diesel pollution and made it a public priority.

Going green is becoming increasingly attractive as a business strategy. In fact, according to a survey by the Nielsen Company, “55 percent of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.” That means

more than half of global consumers prefer to purchase products and services from a company with a strong environmental reputation.

Green industry practices enjoy a favorable public sentiment. As environmental consciousness grows, business partners and their consumers are demanding more green products and services.

It only makes sense that customers will favor a carrier that also makes green processes for their trucking jobs a priority in transporting their products.

Reduced Costs

Anything that reduces fuel costs in welcomed by the trucking industry, no matter how big or small. The concept of reducing fuel consumption within a truck driving job also has the benefit of making companies less vulnerable when diesel prices soar.

Substantial fuel savings can be accomplished by fleets in a number of ways:


Technology

Electronic devices play a role in the ability of planning optimal routes and saving costs. Technology can now monitor idling, acceleration, braking, speeding to find the best possible driver behavior for maximum cost savings

Vehicles equipped with GPS capability can now uncover opportunities to improve efficiency and reduce fuel expenses.

Technology also allows for the consolidation and shipping full truckloads when possible, saving time, money and unnecessary vehicles on the highways.

Driver Attitude

Change doesn’t come easy to all drivers. The average age of a commercial driver in the U.S. is 55, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some older, seasoned drivers are skeptical that these and other changes could improve fuel economy and reduce emissions from tractor-trailers. A younger generation, raised with recycling and global warming, is more easily accepting to the changes in equipment and regulations.

Education and knowledge is the key to acceptance to the benefits of a green focused company that puts value in supporting the planet as well as commerce.

The Road Ahead

Manufacturers are always searching for new and innovative solutions to find a balance between efficiency on the road, environmental considerations and cost.Alternative fuels are always at the top of creating a better truck for the environment.For example, BMW was the first to develop an electric 40-ton truck, but it can only go 60 miles on a charge.

Natural gas-powered trucks are slowly making headway, but there are hurdles to get over. Acceptance by drivers, the mechanics and especially the cost, which some industry experts cite as $25,000 to $50,000 more for a natural gas-powered sleeper tractor are all barriers.

A Win-Win Situation

Companies that focus on reducing energy consumption not only help the environment, but also reduce their costs and gain new and loyal customers as well. There is clearly a direct relationship between environmental sustainability and financial rewards.

Protecting the environment and reducing energy consumption is no longer a fringe movement, but rather a mainstream concern. And while fleet executives know that going green does provide societal and environmental benefits, the biggest benefit to carriers are those that save money in fuel and other costs.


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