Fleet News

Fleet News Environmental Star Award

A DETERMINATION to spread the environmental message secured Mary Blackwell, contract and costs manager for Yorkshire Building Society, the BP-sponsored Fleet News Environmental Star Award.

Goals and targets are a permanent feature of business life, for both companies and their employees.

But how often do ambitious aims lie forgotten in folders and files once the hard work of creating them has been developed?

Motivational speaker Mack R. Douglas summed up the problem when he said: ‘The achievement of your goal is assured the moment you commit yourself to it.’

Proof of this philosophy comes from Mary Blackwell, contract and costs manager at Yorkshire Building Society.

Since 2001, she has backed an environmental policy that has transformed her fleet and even committed herself to an ambitious target of 10% of her 207-vehicle fleet being powered by liquefied petroleum gas by the end of last year.

Blackwell’s commitment ensured she met and exceeded this target, with 12% of the fleet now running on the green fuel – a total of 22 cars.

What is all the more impressive is that these drivers are user-choosers, so they are not being forced to commit to green transport.

Instead, a campaign of education and explanation has ensured that drivers are making intelligent choices that benefit them financially and also help the environment.

Yorkshire Building Society offers its drivers a 15% increase in its car allowance for taking the green option, which recently led to the firm’s first order for a Toyota Prius hybrid petrol-electric car.

Blackwell said: ‘When we started with our green fleet policy, we had an 84% petrol fleet and the rest diesel. Now that has changed to 52% diesel, 12% alternative fuels and remaining 36% petrol. Diesel has clearly been the more popular choice. We have promoted low CO2 and alternative fuels, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.’

The growth in the LPG fleet was achieved despite the Government reviewing its approach last year, leading to a decision to increase fuel duty slightly over the next few years.

Despite this, there is still a healthy refuelling network, with four sites near the Bradford headquarters of the building society.

Blackwell added: ‘Drivers who have chosen LPG cars have not got a problem. Also, because we don’t pay for their private fuel, they have an incentive to make sure the cars run on LPG as much as possible.’

However, she is concerned that there seems to be a lack of choice for drivers looking at different brands for LPG cars, particularly as some key models are currently being updated.

Alternative fuel variants of new models often follow months after the core engine ranges are launched.

Blackwell isn’t just focused on vehicles. Her department of two is also involved in work on a green travel plan, which includes a discounted travel card and incentives for cyclists and car sharers.

She added: ‘Once you are committed, you have to continue with the policy. We are also making staff who do not receive a company car aware of the fuel choices available to them.’

Furthermore, the firm restricts emissions levels of vehicles on its pool car fleet to 150g/km.

She added: ‘It has made staff more aware. We have held seminars on CO2 and tax, so when someone wants a particularly high emission car, they are made aware of the impact.

‘It has helped raise general environmental awareness.’

‘Motorvated’ team was first to receive five-star status

WINNING awards is becoming a regular occurrence for the fleet team at Yorkshire Building Society.

Blackwell, who took home the Fleet News Fleet Manager of the Year 101–250 vehicles in 2002, also achieved a major industry landmark as her fleet became the first to reach a key environmental standard.

In 2003, greener fleet certification scheme Motorvate handed out the first five-star accreditation to Yorkshire Building Society’s fleet.

Motorvate sets three-year targets for organisations to reduce fleet-related carbon dioxide emissions.

They must commit to a 12% reduction in fuel use and 3% reduction in mileage during that time. Stars are awarded as organisations demonstrate progress towards their targets, with a maximum five stars for achieving the targets in full.

Yorkshire Building Society joined the scheme in January 2001 and Blackwell used her fleet management expertise to help the society reduce costs and become a greener organisation.

Motorvate used the firm’s annual fuel use and total business mileage as a milestone to set improvement targets, together with a comprehensive review of the current travel policy to determine areas of improvement.

To receive the award, the fleet achieved a 20% reduction in business mileage, down by about 400,000 miles from just over two million miles. It also significantly exceeded its Motorvate target of a 12% reduction in fuel use, by cutting fuel use 13.9% from 257,102 litres a year when it started.

Robert Anderson, senior fleet adviser for Motorvate, presented the award to Blackwell at the building society’s headquarters in Bradford.

Motorvate is run by AEA Technology on behalf of TransportEnergy, a division of the Energy Saving Trust, which works with the Government to improve the quality of the environment.

Funded mainly by the Department for Transport and the Scottish Executive, TransportEnergy works with the transport industry, corporate fleets and public sector.

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