When President Barack Obama announced a “National Clean Fleets Partnership,” he challenged the nation’s businesses to find ways to help reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil, and to “replace your old fleet with a clean energy fleet….” The President called on businesses to cut petroleum use by 2.5 billion gallons by 2020, and he pledged technical assistance to help companies adopt vehicles that use alternative fuels such as electricity, natural gas, hydrogen or propane.
Several of the nation’s largest fleet operators were quick to sign on to the President’s challenge. AT&T, Verizon, PepsiCo, UPS and FedEx — companies that account for five of the nation’s ten largest commercial fleets – all committed to working to improve their energy sustainability.
This U.S. initiative is similar to efforts underway in Canada, where Purolator has been widely recognized as a trailblazer in changing its energy practices. Purolator first introduced its “greening the fleet” initiative in 2002 which, among other things, introduced a “no-idling” policy, requiring vehicles to be turned off completely during stops. The company also reconfigured all distribution routes as a way to eliminate redundancy and eliminate wasted miles.
Purolator’s fleet has undergone a major transformation, with hybrid technology now accounting for more than 10 percent of its fleet. In fact, Purolator has the largest HEV fleet of any logistics company in North America. In addition, Purolator is actively exploring other types of alternative-fuel vehicles, including a battery-operated “Quicksider,” which made its debut throughout the Olympic Village during the winter games in Vancouver.
As one of Canada’s largest fleet operators, Purolator’s initiatives – which have received many accolades from leading industry and government organizations – serves as a model for other businesses. And now with the U.S. focused on greening its own fleet, we can hopefully expect a cross border transfer of good green ideas and resources.