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CUTTING CO2: Five easy ways to 'green' your fleet (without swapping your cars - continued)

Date: 20 August 2008

Rather than wait for your current lease deal to expire, Tom Webster highlights alternative methods of reducing your fleet's carbon footprint

3. Video conference

Even video conferencing companies are not suggesting face-to-face meetings will be completely replaced by technology.

Instead, Russell King of Netviewer suggests video meetings are "ideal for remote support of clients and for where you have an established relationship".

The cost of the technology may be intimidating, and cameras, projectors and connections can be expensive. However, it is possible to hold video meetings without shelling out thousands because technology now exists that allows a multi-connection conference to take place over the internet using ordinary PCs and webcams.

"Research has indicated the market was looking for ease of use and something that was fast and unobtrusive," says King.

"It isn't television quality, but it is designed to be functional. It is not as good quality as the internet phone system Skype can be, but Skype can't do multiple videos."

Video conferencing really benefits when taking the cost of employee time into account. The time needed for an hour-long meeting can more than triple if there is a significant journey involved.


. Replacing unnecessary journeys

. Holding short meetings that would otherwise require large amounts of miles

4. Driver training

You can monitor fuel, provide satellite navigation and buy carbon credits (see '5') but it means very little if your cars' tyres are under-inflated and your drivers are wheel-spinning away from the lights at every opportunity.

"The big thing is eco-driving," says ACFO chairman Julie Jenner, while Steve Johnson of driver training firm DriveTech says: "Economy driving has become more important to drivers over the last 18 months.

"Training can show how techniques can save fuel and impact on journey times - there is no need to drive at a snail's pace to save fuel.

"It's about getting people to think about their driving and look further ahead so cutting down on gear changes and braking. Our Eco real-world combination course shows drivers how to reduce variation in their pace."

As well as monitoring fuel use with cards, Damian James has also put 20 of his drivers through the Safed (Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving) training programme.

On the second assessment run, drivers used an average of 14% less fuel and made almost 50% fewer faults.

James doubts he will see the full payback of those results, though, as he says: "You're never going to get drivers to put all their training into practice unless they have an instructor sat next to them."

However, even if a driver only puts some of his training into practice, then this will pay dividends.


. Educating drivers about driving to save fuel as well as vehicle wear and tear

. Long-term investment in drivers

5. Carbon offsetting

Carbon offsetting - donating cash to CO2-reducing projects to compensate for the amount of carbon dioxide a company pumps into the air - is by no means a stand-alone answer, and purchasing credits for emissions should always be in conjunction with efforts to cut CO2 output. Paying for carbon production does not mean more can be produced.

The Government-backed Carbon Trust believes an organisation looking to address climate change should: "Firstly, focus on its direct emissions, reducing their carbon footprint and creating bottom-line savings by implementing all cost-effective energy efficiency."

Land Rover shows how offsetting and lowering emissions can go hand-in-hand. The first three years or 45,000 miles of emissions on new cars are offset as part of the sale price - costing from £85 to £165 depending on the model.

"We also cover the cost of offsetting all the CO2 produced during the manufacturing process," says the company.

But alongside that, the 4x4 manufacturer has invested £700m into a project to reduce emissions - with a stop-start system for the diesel Freelander in the pipeline.

While Land Rover claims it has the world's biggest offset program, its administrator, Climate Care, offers credits for small organisations as well as large. Sometimes these smaller companies run fleets that make unavoidable journeys - engineer call outs for example.

"We reduce emissions for most companies using our general portfolio of projects," says Climate Care.

"We have a specific business section of our website and we can give support to dealers or fleet managers to work out emissions."

There are a couple of options for companies working out how much to offset. Manufacturers give an emissions rate for all new cars, or measuring a fleet's fuel usage can give a more real world figure.


. Fleets that make unavoidable journeys

. Going hand-in-hand with other efforts