Smarter Business: Greening Advisor


Clean and fuel-efficient transportation

Buying or arranging for the use of clean, fuel-efficient (and, where appropriate, alternative-fuel) vehicles can save money and reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, sulfur, carbon monoxide, and particulates. (Where possible, of course, avoiding private vehicle use altogether cuts the most pollution and saves the most money). When purchasing company vehicles, consider the cleanest and most fuel-efficient models that fit your business needs. Hybrid options are also available for many vehicle types. Additionally, when arranging for car services, contract buses, and rentals, request the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicle that can accommodate your needs.

Also consider promoting environmentally preferable transportation practices among employees and event attendees. Incentives could include offering public transit vouchers or “commuter checks,” company shuttles to and from bus or train stations, bicycle parking, and preferential parking for hybrid cars. Diesel buses, trucks, and equipment should use cleaner, “ultra-low sulfur” diesel fuel and be equipped with the best pollution-cutting filters available.

Visit the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide and for more information on environmentally preferable vehicles, and visit the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Hybrid Center for a list of state and federal hybrid incentives. To locate fueling stations for alternative vehicles, visit the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. For more information about EPA’s programs to reduce diesel pollution (including tax and other incentives), visit the SmartWay Transport Partnership and the National Clean Diesel Campaign.

For a list of energy efficiency incentives in your state, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Fuel Efficiency Saves Money

Higher fuel efficiency means that your company will use less gas for every mile traveled, and less gas use means financial savings. A car with a fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon, driven for 10,000 miles, costs at least $600 more per year to drive than a car with a fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon.

Product Specifications

The rule of thumb when purchasing a vehicle is to choose the cleanest and most fuel-efficient model that fits your company’s needs. Buy the best fuel economy car in the class you are seeking, which in some cases might be a hybrid. You may also wish to consider an alternative-fuel car, such as one that runs on ethanol or biodiesel. Done right, biofuels could lead to reductions in global warming pollution; at the same time, they could save consumers money at the pump and spur the growth of new jobs and industries. On the other hand, it’s also possible to make biofuels in a way that increases global warming pollution and increases the price of basic agricultural products. Unfortunately, there are no labels on biofuels informing customers about their origin or the environmental impact of their manufacture.  So for now, the bottom line is this: If you have a vehicle that can run on either E85 (85 percent ethanol) or gasoline, choose E85 when you can. However, when it’s time to buy a new vehicle, fuel efficiency should always be the top priority.

When buying or renting diesel trucks, buses and equipment, specify that ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel will be used, and that the vehicle or equipment will be equipped with the best soot-cutting filters available for the engine. Filters are now available for most post-1994 engines that can eliminate more than 90 percent of the soot pollution, when combined with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

Additional Resources

Greening Advisor

The Business Plan

The Opportunities

Quick Fact

A car with a fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon, driven for 10,000 miles, costs at least $600 more per year to drive than a car with a fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon

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Buying or arranging for the use of fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles (or avoiding private vehicle use where possible) can save money and reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases and air pollution.

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