A simple eight-point programme for fleet decision-makers could help them monitor emissions, slash pollution levels, cut running costs and reduce drivers' tax bills. The plan, which includes advice on how to implement green transport plans, reduce travel through the use of technology and balance car use with public transport, also explains how fleet decision-makers could measure the impact of their emissions at a glance.
Advice for fleets is contained in a 300-page guide designed for companies wanting to reduce the impact of office life on the environment.
The Green Office Manual: A Guide to Responsible Best Practice covers all areas of potential waste, from the office – including simple issues such as cups from vending machines – to purchasing, building management, communications and transport.
It was written by Lesley Millett, founder of UK environmental consultancy Wastebusters, who has been awarded an MBE for her services to the environment. Wastebusters is the leading UK environmental consultancy specialising in 'greening' the office. The consultancy was established in 1991 in response to a market need for a practical approach to green office auditing and environmental programmes.
Millett says support from the most senior management is a vital first step to ensure that any cleaner vehicles policy is driven towards a successful conclusion.
She said: 'Company cars are heavily linked to remuneration. Vehicle allocation, free fuel and parking are policy areas that will require board level agreement. Senior managers are often very reluctant to lose their luxury car.
'Equally, significant expenditure on video or teleconferencing to reduce the need to travel will require board agreement.
'It is therefore important when tackling transport to make sure top level commitment is there to back initiatives. Senior management need to understand the business case.'
In the guide, fuel cards are hailed as the simple solution to monitoring fleet mileage, as research by Government in the past has estimated fleets are wasting hundreds of millions of pounds a year on fuel alone by not monitoring fleet mileage.
That would immediately allow them to carry out simple equations on total emissions, a valuable technique for monitoring the impact of the fleet on the environment.
The book states: 'Many companies will only have an overall idea of the cost of company cars and business travel. This makes improvement difficult to monitor and report on.
'To overcome this, use fuel cards to monitor the fuel consumption of individual drivers. There are major savings available from measures such as driver training, which will be clearer if you can demonstrate them.'
The best data to collect is fuel use, she added.
For example, a 20-vehicle fleet, half diesel and half petrol, with each vehicle travelling 30,000 miles a year, would use 4,600 litres of petrol and 3,632 litres of diesel.
Rather than concentrating on emissions figures per vehicle, a simple average of 2.31kg of CO2 per litre of petrol burned and 2.68kg CO2 per litre of diesel are used. For liquefied petroleum gas, the figures is 1.65kg/litre.
A simple calculation then shows 10 petrol cars used 46,000 litres of fuel which, multiplied by 2.31kg of CO2 per litre burned, equals 106,260kgs of CO2. Adding in the diesel vehicles shows the entire fleet is producing 203,598kg, or 204 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent in weight to 170 average fleet cars.
Simply switching to an all-diesel fleet would save the fleet 10,000 litres of fuel a year and cut CO2 emissions by eight tonnes, the same weight as seven upper-medium saloons.
Other recommendations included in the guide include co-ordinating meetings better, reducing the need to travel through video conferencing and even providing office bikes.
Simple driving techniques could also slash fuel costs, as being gentle with the accelerator and trying to keep momentum rather than braking and accelerating can improve fuel economy significantly.
Driver training also provides savings, while fleets need to consider their approach to offering free fuel for private use, as drivers might think more about car use if they have to pay for their own petrol and diesel.
The guide also recommends that fleets ensure they have an in-house employee who can ensure that a company policy towards environmental standards is properly enforced in the way vehicles are chosen and operated.