How Greenwashing Your Fleet Will Negatively Impact Real Sustainability Efforts Jack Johnson, Forbes Councils Member Sustainability & LEED

Jack Johnson, CTO & Cofounder, Volta Power Systems.


The pressure to maximize and demonstrate sustainability efforts is the highest it’s ever been. Companies and government organizations are setting aggressive CO2 reduction targets as part of their ESG goals. The U.S. government has set a zero-emissions benchmark for 2035. Corporate shareholders are demanding a reduction in emissions, and communities are no longer tolerating the fumes and noise generated by idling vehicles. In response to these pressures, companies and municipalities need to take a holistic approach to evaluate the action steps that make a real impact, not just those that look good in the public eye.

For many fleets, transitioning toward a full-EV standard is the latest megatrend for mitigating emissions and complying with federal and state regulations. Going fully electric is a recognizable solution with high visibility. Community members and governing bodies alike look at electrification and see an eco-friendly solution. However, the conversation about sustainability doesn’t center solely on emissions; it’s also about financial feasibility and the relative cost per pound of CO2 emissions eliminated.

Realistically, the right solution is industry dependent. What might be good for a fleet of locally operating Amazon delivery trucks probably won’t work the same for a fleet of utility vehicles. Looking at the numbers, many industries using specialty vehicles—utility trucks, fire apparatuses, ambulances, etc.—generate a lot of their emissions, idling at a standstill.

When considering a greener alternative to a fossil fuel fleet, it is best to determine the primary cause of emissions first. Likely, the primary cause will fall into one of two categories.

Fixed Route Fleets

For fleets where the primary job is transit along a predetermined route with predictable stops, full electrification is often a great solution when considering cost and emissions reduction. These vehicles either idle very little or can be turned off when not driving, and battery range limitations aren’t a problem because their daily routes are predictable.

When all your emissions come from propulsion, then the premium cost for an all-electric drivetrain is worth it. These vehicles can pay for themselves …


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