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Greening Government Fleets Best Practices

Executive Summary

In December 2016, First Ministers endorsed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) – a plan to enable clean economic growth, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and build resilience to a changing climate. The PCF sets Canada on a path to meet its target under the Paris Agreement of reducing emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. The framework includes a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, through improved efficiency, greater electrification, fuel switching, and the development of a clean fuel standard among other actions.

The framework also acknowledges that, though governments are directly responsible for a relatively small share of Canada’s emissions (about 0.6%), they have an opportunity to lead by example.

Commitments for government leadership include:

  1. Setting ambitious targets
  2. Cutting emissions from government buildings and fleets
  3. Scaling up clean procurement

Canada’s Greening Government Strategy, released in December 2017, includes clear commitments to reduce emissions from government fleets, with clear targets for greater electrification.

Canada has echoed these domestic commitments, by also showing leadership internationally. During the North American Leaders Summit, in June 2016, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to collaborate on a variety of actions to lower emissions across the economy. Specific commitments for transportation included working together to deploy greater amounts of electric vehicles in government fleets. Similarly, in November 2016, Canada joined seven other nations (China, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America), by signing on to the Government. Fleet Declaration under the auspices of the Clean Energy Ministerial – Electric Vehicle Initiative, committing to deploy greater numbers of electric vehicles in government fleets.

With these commitments in mind, this guide is meant to provide information to help fleet managers at all levels of government implement a simple, cost-effective, step-by-step process for reducing their environmental impacts and operating costs by deploying new low carbon vehicle technologies and fuels.

The existing fleet model is provided as a baseline, followed by examples of the most successful programs and policies for sustainable, energy efficient, lower carbon practices which can be integrated into public fleets across all levels of government (i.e. provincial, territorial, and municipal). Understanding that fleet managers need assurances that any new technology will not impact the day-to-day operations of their fleet, the guide also provides an overview of the types of low carbon vehicles and refuelling infrastructure which is currently available. An overview of global efforts for electric vehicle deployment is also included, to put government efforts into perspective.

The Government of Canada is not alone in setting ambitious targets and implementing actions to lower emissions from its fleet. Many provinces and territories have also adopted greening policies and procedures for their fleets, and in some cases they are sharing this experience to assist municipal governments to implement their own suite of measures. Similarly, international governments have also established targets and supporting policies, many of which focus on greater electric vehicle deployment, and charging infrastructure to support these vehicles.

Taking all of these policies, targets, and actions into account, the guide provides a systematic, step-by-step process which can be implemented by governments and fleet managers at all levels, to transition the fleet of today, into a lower carbon fleet of tomorrow.

Assess Your Fleet

As a first step, it is essential that fleet managers know their fleets. The most immediate way to lower emissions from a vehicle fleet is through reducing reliance on on-road vehicle transportation and vehicle purchases altogether. Implementing a long-term approach that leads to a smaller, more efficient fleet begins with critically evaluating alternative options to continually replacing existing fleet vehicles. A key component to this is establishing a baseline of fleet vehicle usage, and fuel consumption. This is best done through the installation fleet telematics devices, which can track a vehicles usage pattern, in real-time.

Get Aligned

Following this, it is important to establish internal support for the transition. Changes to a fleet can be met with resistance from employees that depend on vehicles to do their job. This is why it is crucial to engage employees and senior management early in the decision-making process in order to gain support. It is important to communicate that operational suitability will not be lost during the transition to a lower-carbon fleet. Also the initial higher purchase cost of low carbon vehicles and the required charging/refuelling infrastructure may pose a barrier with senior management. This engagement will also provide an opportunity to establish ambitious deployment and emissions reductions targets, supported by users and management.

Understand Needs & Strategize

The next step is undertaking in-depth analysis, on fleet needs. This enables fleet managers to optimize the fleet to ensure that it is operating with the most efficient assets and the right amount of assets. It also assists fleet managers to identify and select the lowest carbon options which will continue to meet their operation needs.

Once the fleet needs are well understood, developing a strategic plan which identifies a clear path toward the transition to a lower carbon fleet which is sustainable over the long-term is essential to achieving greening government fleet goals. This strategy should include a concise vehicle replacement schedule as well as plans for the installation of charging and refuelling infrastructure to ensure vehicles can refuel where and when required.

Leveraging a suite of online resources also assists in the transition. Online tools such as portals with fuel consumption, emission and driving behaviour information can help to increase the efficiency of a fleet. A fleet manager can have access to real-time data to identify areas where improvements can be made. Even in cases where no lower carbon vehicle options are possible (e.g. due to operation needs) drivers can lower their fuel consumption by using fuel-efficient driving techniques. The final step is to implement the strategy, and track results.

This document outlines a roadmap for what success for greening government fleets will look like. The fleet of the future will be different than today’s. It will be optimized and composed of a variety of low carbon vehicle technologies. Its vehicles will be operated efficiently. It will be cost-effective and fiscally responsible. It will have reduced emissions and energy use significantly when compared to the existing fleet. It will also be flexible and well positioned to adopt additional innovative new clean technologies as they enter the market. If followed, the advice and steps outlined in this guide will help to lay the foundation to support this transition over the next decade or more.

The full report is available in PDF format.

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