Fleets have been getting more efficient for some time now, with emissions reducing in cars and vans. But over the past few years, the need to limit their impact on the environment has become even more pertinent with the government introducing plans to move to alternative fuels, improve air quality and cut carbon emissions.
As a result, the role of the Sustainability Manager in fleet operations has become more important.
Paul Hollick, chairman of the Association of Fleet Professionals explains how the relationship between fleet and Sustainability Manager has developed.
“It certainly is now common in most businesses to have a Sustainability Manager (or Director) working alongside the fleet manager to drive the decarbonisation agenda.
“These two roles are increasingly overlapping to electrify the fleet, as well as lower the carbon output on the existing petrol and diesel vehicles by use of new technologies, alternative vehicles and newer Euro 6+ vehicle deployment. Looking at differing methods of travel, and forms of mobility, is also part of this agenda.
“These are not just the activities of big blue chip corporates either - the trend is increasingly common is fleets of all shapes and sizes.”
The need for a Sustainability Manager to be involved in fleet operations involves a number of factors. The first are some deadlines imposed by the government on the transition to electric and zero emission vehicles. It has pledged that by 2035 all new cars and LCVs sold must be either pure electric vehicles, or hydrogen fuel cell EVs. New petrol and diesel models will be banned from 2030 and new hybrids by 2035.
The transition to zero emission is not just a UK government initiative either. At the COP26 environmental summit in 2021, nearly 30 governments, and dozens of states, manufacturers and fleets signed a declaration which said: “We will work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission globally by 2040.”
They added: “As business fleet owners and operators, or shared mobility platforms, we will work towards 100% of our car and van fleets being zero emission vehicles by 2030, or earlier.”
While there are global strategic goals for the future move to zero emissions which will affect all business in the long term, already many fleets at the largest companies are having to report their carbon footprint and environmental impact, and Sustainability Managers are at the centre of running this.
The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) programme requires energy and carbon reporting by businesses that are either required to prepare a Directors report under part 15 of the Companies House Act 2006 or who meet two or more of the following criteria:
£36+ annual turnover
£18m+ balance sheet
The SECR says these firms must report their total annual energy consumption, certain greenhouse gas emissions and their emissions intensity ratio – effectively how much energy is used during the operation of the business.
Firms must also show what actions they are taking to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions, as well as illustrate their methodology for calculations.
Vehicles are included in the SECR. It states:
“The following activities should be included in your calculation of your total energy consumption:
Fuel used in company cars on business use.
Fuel used in fleet vehicles which you operate on business use.
Fuel used in personal/hire cars on business use (including fuel for which the organisation reimburses its employees following claims for business mileage).”
As a result, Sustainability Managers have a role to play in not only measuring and reporting current emissions, but looking at ways of reducing environmental impact in future through new ways of working and procurement.
But it is not just at these larger firms that a Sustainability Manager has a role to play. Increasingly firms are concentrating on their Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) reporting because of the benefits to their business.
The KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting 2022 said: “UK companies are raising the bar on ESG transparency. The survey results demonstrate that sustainability is critical to risk management, resilience and indeed value creation, with ESG and sustainability matters top of the agenda for UK Boards and executive leadership teams.
“Appointing a dedicated member of the board and/or leadership team for sustainability matters is a critical step in providing senior accountability and oversight to implement company-wide ESG commitments and targets.”
In a fleet context, there are three key areas a Sustainability Manager might typically concentrate on.
Vehicle demand and usage
Does the fleet have the right number of vehicles for the operational needs of the business, and if so, are they being used in the right way? They might look at routing and mileage to see if there are ways of reducing journeys, and therefore emissions, as well as making business mileage more efficient.
The path to zero emission
Part of the role is to identify new technologies and alternative fuels that could help the fleet move to zero emission running. As well as looking at electric, hydrogen, HVO or synthetic fuels, they will be investigating the infrastructure needed to enable this change, as well as identifying the right vehicles. This means working with the fleet team to find the strike the ideal balance between operational suitability and environmental impact.
Efficient fuel and energy consumption
A Sustainability Manager will want to see that the amount of fuel, or energy, being used is either reducing or at acceptable levels. This means analysing MPG, recording fuel purchasing and consumption, vehicle performance and maintenance.
To report and act, a Sustainability Manager needs data. At Allstar, for example, we provide fuel purchasing information so that they can see what is being bought, and understand overall consumption, as well as fleet emissions. This then can be added to the reporting and provide the basis for change, if it is needed.
For electric vehicles, data produced through charging and purchases on the public network through the Allstar One Electric card, and on home energy used for charging using Allstar Homecharge, can be utilised to make buying and operating decisions and demonstrate the road to zero emissions.
Having this information at their fingertips allows Sustainability Managers to see the historic and current state of play of the fleet, as well as set future targets or goals. It also allows them to show the business the overall impact of its fleet and raise awareness of the issue.
It’s clear that for most businesses, the Sustainability Manager is becoming increasingly important, not just because they report on the current situation, but also provide the framework, and oversee the actions, required for positive change – not only in the case of reducing a firm’s environmental impact but making it more operationally and financially efficient too.