People, Profits and the Planet

People, Profits and the Planet

By Donald Dunphy
June 2020

What are you doing to improve the environment?  Wise elders inspired “The Seventh Generation Principle based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations (140 years) into the future.”

Sustainability is becoming embedded into business models and smart leaders recognize that sustainable business practices can improve profits as well as the brand image among all stakeholders.  In a customer-driven marketplace, innovation and forward-thinking strategies are key to the long-term sustainability of the business as well as stewardship for the long-term health of the planet.

NAFA’s Sustainable Fleet Management Certificate can help kick start initiatives that leverage sustainable business practices to improve the performance of fleet.  The proof is in the results.

Sustainability Success Stories

Nathan Groh, Fleet Manager for the City of Spokane, WA earned his NAFA Certificate and walks the talk: “I chose to earn the sustainable certificate to be able to help fleets make more financially and environmentally sustainable choices in vehicles, infrastructure, and policies. Within the City of Spokane’s fleet, we have developed a Sustainable Fleet Action Plan, secured almost $50,000 in grant funding to install 12 EV charging stations on City property for workplace and fleet use, and created a culture of sustainability within Fleet Services.”

Another graduate, Hassan Eldaly, CAFM, Deputy Director with the City of New York Police Department adds, “NYPD’s fleet has achieved better miles-per-gallon of the totality of its fleet, thanks in part to the training the certification program offered. The program is very helpful in explaining multiple ways of saving fuel and focusing on alternative fuel options. I learned about electric vehicles and the lessons challenge assumptions about how EVs can work in an intense environment like law enforcement in a major metropolitan area.”

Fred Gallardo, CAFM, Assistant Director with the University of California at Davis explains, “Since achieving the sustainable Certificate, I was able to purchase a portable electric vehicle charging station that is capable of charging up to seven EV and Plug-In vehicles at a time. This allows us to charge the vehicles where they are located overnight instead of shuffling the cars to the chargers. This saves us time and helps us to ensure more plug-in hybrids are being charged and reducing the amount of time driven on gasoline. Previously our plug-in hybrid vehicles would not all be charged due to the amount of wall chargers and the infrastructure limitations.”

Jump Starting New Ideas

Continuing education can spark new ideas and build confidence in evidence-based case studies.  “Going through the program provided me the path to success by outlining the key steps to take,” Groh says. “It also introduced new ‘greening’ ideas that were important to include into our fleet to make it more sustainable.”
Groh says he was surprised to learn about the importance of driver training since it is often undervalued. For example, even for fleets that haven’t adopted alternative fuels, training can offer significant positive change, especially in terms of idling and speeding; both use more fuel and diminish utility. “This is one of the lowest of low-hanging fruit that many fleets can tackle when creating a more sustainable fleet, both in the short term and in the long term,” Groh adds.

In addition to the environmental benefits of outputting less carbon monoxide and particulate matter into the atmosphere, managing idling and speeding behaviors save money in fewer fuel-ups over time and can reduce strain on the vehicles, leading to less intensive preventive maintenance.

“Sustainability has also helped us achieve cost-savings through examining all purchasing decisions through a total cost of ownership analysis lens,” Groh says. “We recently purchased 15 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid vehicles after examining the TCO compared to the non-hybrid models. This will result in an estimated savings of over $5,000 per vehicle over the life of each.”

Gallardo adds that the increased understanding of sustainability as an overall economic driver to an organization is more important than ever. “This program has allowed me to explore new ideas with our Sustainable Fleet Committee and to offer suggestions on policy and procedures that were presented during the training.”
“Don’t shy away from collaborative discussions across a single department or multiple departments,” advises Groh. “A high-level of collaboration has significantly increased the amount of success the City of Spokane‘s fleet has been able to see in such a short amount of time regarding sustainability.”

Gallardo says, “​I would recommend that all fleet staff get this Certificate as it helps them understand sustainable practices. It also allows them to explain to customers why certain policies exist and even the benefits they can personally achieve through fuel savings.”

Eldaly concludes, “We owe it to ourselves and next generations to protect and better use current resources.”

Learn more about NAFA’s Sustainable Fleet Management Certificate here.

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