Three organizations pledge to drive 20% cut in fleet emissions

Environmental Defense Fund, Donlen and GreenDriver commit to five-year plan that will hinge heavily on data collection, benchmarking and education to change driver behavior.

I've written periodically about developments in fleet management and how technology can help, because the transportation industry reportedly accounts for something like one-third of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. This story I reported at the recently Cleantech Group's New York Forum provides estimates that the transportation sector uses about 70 percent of all the petroleum consumed here. Understandably, there are any number of programs that fleet managers can call upon to assess and act on the impact of their own fleet. A recent survey suggests more than half of them are looking at this issue in some way.

Now, three organizations with a stake in fleet management initiatives are getting together to address this area collaboratively as part of a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, "Commercial Fleet 20% GHG Emissions Reduction." The three organizations are fleet management and leasing company Donlen, the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) through its GreenFleet program, and driver behavior certification program GreenDriver. Their goal is to help cut U.S. fleet emissions by 20 percent over the next five years. If they are able to build industry cooperation and participation, that could be a reduction of more than 10 million metric tons of GHG emissions.

Here's how the partnership will work: Donlen will collect fleet emissions baselines and create reduction plans that can increase fuel efficiency while helping fleets incorporate more low-carbon fuels and advanced vehicle technologies. EDF will validate the data collected. Donlen will use the GreenDriver online training programs for delivering programs that help drivers adjust their behavior, with an eye to improving efficiency and safety. Hands down, the driver is the most controllable variable in fleet emissions reductions. "Time and again, we have seen that a smart performance-based structure is critical to achieving success," said Jason Mathers, EDF project manager, in a statement describing the fleet management effort.

Technology is critical in this initiative, as a delivery vehicle for the training, as well as in the form of telematics sensors -- which monitor driving habits -- and sophisticated navigation systems that help optimize routing.

For more background on fleet management, consult these stories:

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