6 tips to reduce fleet's carbon footprint in state and local government

carbon footprint

Carbon emissions from fossil fuels have increased by 90% since 1970. In the U.S., about 28% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from transportation.

In an effort to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, the U.S. government has pledged to reduce GHG emissions by half from 2005 levels by 2030. Meeting these goals will require significant changes to fleet operations, and citizens expect government agencies to lead the way.

Tips for reducing your carbon footprint

There are several ways that state and local government entities can do their part to reduce fleet emissions.

1. Electric and hybrid vehicles

Replacing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles with electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids where possible can make a big difference because EVs produce no direct emissions. Even factoring in carbon emissions for electricity production and use, EVs produce about half the emissions of ICE vehicles.

State and local agencies will need their own EV charging infrastructure to support their fleets and efforts to expand the public charging infrastructure. There are significant federal and state incentives for EVs that can help defray the costs of charging stations.

2. Right-size vehicles

Ensuring that you are using the right vehicles for the job can optimize efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. You can accelerate your transition by retiring or replacing older vehicles that have poor gas mileage and right-sizing your fleet. For example, a mix of compact sedans for localized use, midsize SUVs for inspection crews, and light-duty trucks for maintenance crews can reduce fuel consumption. There are multiple options for EVs in all three classes.

3. Telematics

Installing telematics systems in vehicles allows for real-time tracking of engine diagnostics, driving patterns, and location. This data can optimize maintenance schedules to keep vehicles operating efficiently. Telematics can also detect issues like low tire pressure or excess idling time that impact MPG and emissions.

EPA tracking shows that public fleet vehicles often idle as much as 25% of the time that they are in operation. Some of that time may be unavoidable, such as waiting at lights or being in congested traffic, but even a small reduction can have a significant impact. Reducing idling can:

  • Decrease fuel consumption
  • Decrease GHG emissions
  • Extend engine life
  • Reduce maintenance costs

The EPA also recommends the deployment of idling reduction technologies for trucks, buses, and other vehicles, along with:

  • Auxiliary power units and generator sets
  • Fuel-operated heaters
  • Battery air-conditioning systems
  • Thermal storage systems
  • Electrified parking spaces

4. Route optimization and ride sharing

Another way to reduce carbon emissions is to pay close attention to route optimization and vehicle scheduling. Rotating vehicles to even out mileage can extend the life of fleets and reduce maintenance costs, and planning routes to avoid excess miles can help reduce GHG emissions. Techniques like trip chaining to combine multiple stops into a single trip can also make a difference.

Ridesharing is a way to reduce the miles driven. Carpooling to site visits or meetings can save wear and tear on multiple vehicles in your fleet.

5. Use policies, training, and maintenance

Government entities should have formal policies for vehicle use and provide training to educate drivers about the importance of reducing their carbon footprint.

When you transition to EVs, training will be especially important to ensure efficient use and proper operation, as many employees may not have experience with EVs. Focus on eco-driving habits, such as avoiding aggressive driving, sudden acceleration, or harsh braking and monitoring vehicle health.

Fleet managers may also need to provide additional training and education for maintenance teams for the proper care of EVs and hybrid vehicles. EVs have unique requirements, such as monitoring battery degradation, and differ from ICE vehicles when it comes to fluids, hoses, and drive train maintenance.

Maintenance teams should follow OEM-recommendation schedules for all vehicles and implement eco-friendly practices, such as:

  • Regular tire pressure checks
  • Eco-friendly fluids
  • Remanufactured parts
  • Tracking telematics data and fuel economy

6. Measuring and monitoring

Government agencies should establish baseline reporting for their fleet, tracking emissions data, fuel consumption, and mileage. Efforts to reduce GHG emissions should include setting specific target goals and then measuring performance against these goals. Establishing regular reporting periods for comparing current data against baselines can show progress over time and help identify areas where improvement is needed.

Public concern about environmental efforts is growing, so being transparent about your sustainability efforts and what you are doing to meet your goals is crucial. Ongoing measurements foster accountability.

How Sourcewell can help

Sourcewell can help you reduce your carbon footprint by making it easy to procure the resources that you need. It offers no-cost, competitively sourced cooperative contracts for EVs and their accessories, charging infrastructure, telematics, and software. These ready-to-use contracts meet state and local guidelines for procurement and enable you to leverage the bulk buying power of 50,000 government units and educational institutions to save money.

See how easy it is to smoothly adhere to any greening initiatives using Sourcewell’s cooperative purchasing program. Streamline the process by choosing from hundreds of suppliers already on contract. Sourcewell’s procurement experts competitively solicit and award contracts on behalf of 50,000 participating agencies in North America. Check out our contracts here.