White House steps up resources for businesses greening fleets

Transportation accounts for two-thirds of the oil use in the United States. By supporting corporate alternatives through public-private partnership, President Obama seeks to put the brakes on that.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

I have a special affinity for certain corporate sustainability topics, because they make sense from a business standpoint as well as from an environmental standpoint. That's one reason that corporate fleet initiatives  often get my attention, and this week is no exception -- especially since the White House is putting this issue front and center as part of its push to reduce U.S. petroleum consumption.

As part of what it is calling the National Clean Fleets Partnership, President Obama is out working with the likes of AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS and Verizon -- all of which have been very active in pushing fuel efficiency and the use of alternative vehicles as part of their delivery or service fleets. (A list of related links is at the bottom of this post.) These companies also happen to own five of the 10 biggest fleets in the United States. Collectively, they are planning to deploy more than 20,000 of what the White House is calling "advanced technology vehicles." That should displace the consumption of more than 7 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel.

In addition, the President has called for measures that will require ALL new vehicles purchased by the federal government after 2015 to be electric, gas-electric hybrid or alternatively fueled. Personally, I think that goal is going to be flagged and attacked by the Republicans, but it's a nice gesture. The Department of Transportation is studying hydrogen fuel-cell and biofuel transporation technologies in addition to the debate over hybrid-electric and electric vehicles.

The fleet partnership, which is part of the Department of Energy's (DOE) "Clean Cities" program, is focused on both reduction and replacement strategies. The DOE is using the program to help companies collaborate (so smaller businesses might get the benefit of best practices developed by the likes of the five companies I have already mentioned). The DOE has also developed a number of resources that could help companies make strategic decisions more quickly, such as cost calculators, interactive maps and database information.

In a blog about the program, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said:

"The transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of the United States' oil use and contributes one-third of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. After housing, transportation is the second biggest monthly expense for most American families. Reducing the gas consumed by our federal fleet will help relieve some of the upward pressure on gas prices."

Related SmartPlanet posts:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards