What is a carbon footprint?
Everything we do requires some output of energy. Every time you switch on a light, access the Internet, or, in the case of fleets, every time you or your driver start up a car -- you are using energy. When going about our daily lives constantly using energy, greenhouse gases are released.
The sum of your greenhouse gas output over the course of a year is your carbon footprint. It varies individual to individual, but everyone has one.
Despite the fact that everyone has a carbon footprint, it's still not something that many people think about. After all, greenhouse gases are mostly invisible. You may see the smog from a car's tailpipe, and it may be a disturbingly dark color of smoke, but it's hard to comprehend how much carbon is truly in the smog.
According to the EPA, 8,887 grams of CO₂ are released for every gallon of gasoline used,¹ which is significant. But we can't all just stop driving our cars. Additionally, for many people, alternative means of transportation like buses and rideshares aren't adequate.
Cars aren't going anywhere. And battery-electric vehicles are still too expensive to replace every vehicle in a fleet. So, it becomes the responsibility of fleet managers and drivers to optimize both the cost and environmental impact of their fleets. Thankfully, the two may go hand-in-hand. By curbing greenhouse gas emissions, you can save money in the process.
To understand the envrionmental impact of a vehicle fleet, and then work to lower your carbon footprint, you should begin by benchmarking your fleet's current performance. The first step in lowering your carbon footprint is measuring it.
How do you measure CO₂?
Everything on earth is made of atoms and molecules. Scientists have a clever measurement called a “mole” to measure large, distinct quantities of each unique molecule. The most common measurement of CO₂ is in grams, pounds, and metric tons.
One mole of CO₂ = 44 grams
454 grams CO₂ = 1 pound (lb.) of CO₂
2,200 lbs. of CO₂ = 1 metric ton (MT) CO₂
Here's an example:
A 2016 Toyota Corolla, driven 10K miles/year = 6,500 lbs. CO₂ or about 3 metric tons (MT) CO₂
If you had 100 of these vehicles that each drive 10K miles/year, the carbon footprint for the fleet would be = 650K lbs. or 200 MT CO₂
After your current benchmarks are established, you are in position to develop and implement a Green Fleet Policy with the goal being to reduce your fleet's carbon emissions.
A Green Fleet Policy is a written strategy aligned with your community's core values, which states a commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of your vehicle fleet. Some core objectives of a Green Fleet Policy are to "right-size" the number of vehicles in your fleet, reduce the use of petroleum and GHG emissions using alternative fuels and adjusting driver behavior, and establishing clear-cut guidelines for replacing and purchasing vehicles.
The Good News
If you're not comfortable calculating the carbon footprint of your fleet, let us do it for you! Caritas will perform a carbon footprint report for your fleet as a courtesy service. Click below to get started!
Caritas Vehicle Services is committed to the tenets of Laudato Si'. Our complimentary carboon footprint report and e-book, A Guide to Green Fleet Policies, are aimed at assisting fleet managers in achieving the goals set out by Pope Francis in his second encyclical.
More information on Laudato Si': On Care For Our Common Home can be found here.