Counting emissions is like counting calories

A green fleet audit entails reviewing driver behaviour, vehicle choice, fuel use and carbon footprint in a bid to cut emissions

Like going on any diet, cutting a fleet’s carbon emissions is a long process, requiring sustained effort and unwavering determination.

The first step to scaling back carbon emissions is carrying out a green fleet audit. This will entail reviewing all aspects of the fleet, including carbon footprint, vehicle choice, fuel consumption and driver behaviour.

Robert Kingdom, head of marketing at Masterlease, suggests enlisting some outside help, when undertaking a review. “It can be worthwhile considering a third party audit because it brings with it fresh eyes, new thinking and expert consultancy. It also sets independent, but achievable targets that challenge the business to put green issues at the top of the corporate agenda, where they will ultimately be measured by their performance.”

The results should throw up areas where energy consumption can be reduced and savings can be made. Conducting an audit also offers the chance to benchmark the fleet against those of similarly sized employers in the same sector.

The not-for-profit pollution reduction organisation Energy Saving Trust, established by the government in 1996, gives green fleet management advice to help managers reduce costs and emissions. It offers guides and events on cutting energy consumption and up to two days’ free consultancy from experts on reducing emissions. More information can be found at

Any green strategy is likely to include cutting fuel consumption. Nick Sutton, chairman of Provecta Car Plan, says that the best way to do this is to buy cleaner greener cars. “Company car selection lists can be limited to keep CO2 levels, and the corresponding miles per gallon, down. Not only will drivers benefit from lower company car tax, the company will benefit through lower running costs.”

Another option is driver training courses, which teach staff to drive more safely and be more economical with their fuel.

It is also worth looking at vehicles that use alternative fuels, such as biofuels, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and electricity.

The ideal solution though is to cut mileage. This not only saves on fuel bills, but also helps to reduce traffic accidents. With this in mind, many organisations use video and telephone conferencing to reduce unnecessary travel. Others promote car sharing and have set up a lift share scheme for employees who travel to the office at the same time, from the same place.

Sutton advises employers to keep a close check on mileage. “Accurate records should be kept to ensure all company journeys are essential – keeping annual mileages down to a minimum. Again, this leads to cost savings because the company’s fuel bill will be lower and the cars’ residual values will be higher.”

Cutting greenhouse gases

Employers that want to go a step further, should consider drawing up targets for cutting greenhouse gas output. Committing to reducing emissions by, say, 10% gives everyone something to work towards.

Masterlease’s Kingdom warns that if employers do not set their own targets, the government might do it for them. “The government has set national targets, post Kyoto, to be achieved by 2020. To meet these targets, all employers will be expected to do their bit either voluntarily, or through legislative compulsion if target take-up falls short of ministerial expectations. Setting ongoing targets also means that an employer does not rest on its laurels and is ahead of government [goals].”

A step-by-step guide to making a fleet greener

Step 1 – Conduct a fleet audit†

Undertake a thorough review of the fleet’s carbon emissions; this should identify any problem areas.

• Step 2 – Trim mileage†

Record all mileage and investigate how car sharing, video conferencing and homeworking could cut miles down.

• Step 3 – Scale back fuel consumption

Pick eco-friendly vehicle models which burn less energy and try to test out fuels such as LPG and even biofuels.

• Step 4 – Go for greener cars†

Consider setting a carbon ceiling on vehicles in the list or giving staff cash incentives to choose environmentally-friendly cars.

Back to ‘How to manage a green fleet