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Today's public fleets are facing mandates to go “green” and operate more efficiently than ever, for both economic and environmental reasons. Managers can benefit from adopting policies and practices that reduce fuel consumption, improve fleet efficiency, and lessen the overall environmental impact of fleet operations.

Developing a green fleet plan is the place to start. Here's how:

Step 1: Define a green fleet policy statement or objective.

Ask yourself why a green fleet is important to your agency. What do you hope to accomplish? Use your answers to articulate a goal, and have it endorsed at the highest level possible within your organization. Whether it's a policy statement, a resolution, or a simple memo, influential buy-in will be important to your success.

Step 2: Analyze your operating budget.

What is your annual budget, including vehicle purchases, fuel, maintenance, and labor? What are your fixed vs. variable costs? You should know what funds are available to finance your green fleet plan.

Step 3: Establish a fleet baseline and set goals.

Take stock of your fleet: Evaluate the number, type, age, and purpose of all vehicles and equipment. This baseline information will identify opportunities for improvement. For example, are all vehicles being used to their fullest potential? Would route planning improve efficiency?

Set objectives. If your goals are to conserve fuel and reduce air pollution, what tactics could you employ?

Step 4: Research and evaluate options.

Look into practical options for achieving your fleet's goals. What is the cost of implementing each option, and how quickly will you see a return on investment? What are the potential environmental benefits?

Also consider potential risks, and ways you could mitigate them. Lastly, prioritize your options. Which are most important, and why?

The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center offers many helpful evaluation tools at www.afdc.energy.gov.

Step 5: Set an implementation plan for each goal.

Once you've mapped out options for fulfilling your goals, document how you're going to make it all happen. Include a time-line, describe key responsibilities (and the person/department accountable), and list measurable outcomes.

Step 6: Revisit your plan periodically, especially your goals.

Things change — technology, political environment, the economy — and your green fleet plan should adapt to the changing world in which you operate.

— Printed with permission from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

WEB EXTRA

For examples of public agencies' green fleet plans, click here.


Find more tips and strategies at www.evergreenfleets.org. Evergreen Fleets is a voluntary, progressive certification program aimed at decreasing air emissions while reducing petroleum consumption. This program of the Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition offers tools and information to help fleet managers make smart, environmentally responsible choices.