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Once a Federal agency identifies the various strategic opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for vehicles and mobile equipment, it is necessary to evaluate the associated costs of adopting each strategy.
The costs to reduce GHG emissions can vary greatly from cost-free behavior modification to the high-cost of purchasing zero-emission battery electric vehicles and associated fueling infrastructure. This section provides an overview of the costs and savings to consider when planning for mobile source emissions reductions, including efforts to:
- Reduce vehicle miles traveled
- Increase fleet efficiency
- Utilize alternative fuel and vehicle strategies.
Taking actions that result in driving fewer miles can substantially reduce your agency's GHG emissions at little to no cost. In fact, reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has cost-saving benefits as well, including reduced vehicle operational and maintenance costs and longer vehicle life before replacement. Whenever possible, fleet managers should first minimize VMT–as a no-cost solution–and then proceed to increasing fleet efficiency and alternative fuel use.
First, consolidating and eliminating trips may cost in terms of time to plan and coordinate carpooling or transportation on demand services, but can result in notable savings over time. Trips eliminated by use of video or web conferencing tools also may cost initially for the purchase of necessary communications equipment, but can significantly reduce travel budgets. Use of agency shuttles have similar consideration and impact.
Efficient fleet operation is an integral part of fleet management that can save time and taxpayer dollars. Agencies are encouraged to explore both internal and external options to track and manage vehicle usage through scheduling and standardized routing. Numerous private companies offer software and consulting services to help government entities with route and scheduling assets. By monitoring driver schedules and vehicle activity, agencies can reduce expensive fuel costs and increase productivity.
Federal agencies should also investigate the availability, suitability, and cost of public transportation before acquiring vehicles from any other source. In many urban and suburban areas, use of mass transportation is an effective method to eliminate fleet vehicle trips as well as, in most cases, reduce cost and time associated with fleet vehicle use. Agencies can encourage employee use of public transportation by subsidizing the cost of bus or subway passes, perhaps using the savings realized through eliminated fleet vehicle trips.
After addressing vehicle and mobile equipment usage strategies, agencies that increase their fleet's overall efficiency can also reduce emissions in less time and with fewer steps than other strategies, and in some cases at similar low costs as reducing VMT. For example, keeping fleet vehicles properly maintained, driving more efficiently, and avoiding idling to improve fuel economy are all strategies with relatively significant returns on emissions savings with low initial costs.
Agencies must also employ a vehicle allocation matrix (VAM) to:
- Right-size their fleets
- Ensure vehicles are not more costly than necessary and are the right type to accomplish agency missions
- Replace outgoing vehicles with more efficient alternatives.
Hence, a VAM allows agencies to save costs and achieve emissions mitigation over the entirety of their fleet with minimal time and expense.
Some agencies may choose to emphasize the acquisition of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) as a solution to mitigate emissions. Although these vehicles can provide some relief on agency emissions in specific uses, generally HEVs are a higher cost than conventional gasoline vehicles. Thus, a low GHG-emitting vehicle with a standard engine may be a more cost effective option for replacing a less efficient vehicle that does primarily highway driving.
Front-loading efforts to reduce VMT and increase fleet efficiency maximizes the impact of the next set of strategies at Federal agency fleets' disposal: displacing petroleum consumption and GHG emissions with alternative fuel use.
Agencies should use low carbon alternative fuels whenever possible and should decide on the type of alternative fuel vehicle and infrastructure based on the fleet location characteristics. Such efforts can entail a considerable amount of planning and financial resources due to the need to prepare for and integrate new fuels, vehicles and infrastructure into fleet operations to make the most impact on emissions reductions.
Chapter 6 in the Federal Energy Management Program's Comprehensive Federal Fleet Management Handbook can help agencies determine the optimal strategies when considering fleet characteristics, site location and vehicle life-cycle cost. For example, battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be optimal solutions for smaller fleets that lack access to other alternative fuels, but their higher upfront costs can be a limiting factor. However, when coupled with lower operating costs for fuel and maintenance, as well as 100% reduction in relative Scope 1 emissions, these vehicles can be an effective solution when considering savings on life-cycle cost, especially for some medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
After estimating implementation costs, the next step in GHG mitigation planning for vehicles and mobile equipment is to prioritize the GHG emission reduction strategies.
- Step 1 Assess Agency Size Changes
- Step 2 Evaluate Emissions Profile
- Step 3 Evaluate Reduction Strategies
- Step 4 Estimate Implementation Costs
- Step 5 Prioritize Strategies
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