Green Truck Summit 2011 – Are we too late?

green-truck-summit-indianapolisIn March of this year, the Green Truck Summit was held at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Held in conjunction with the annual Work Truck Show, North America’s largest truck show, the Green Truck Summit looks at ways to minimize a fleet’s negative impact on the environment. It’s all about the growing movement towards green fleet, and this year’s summit highlighted that it is no longer just early adopters pioneering eco-friendly technology but rather we are seeing a more mainstream acceptance of the need to shift to clean transportation.

But some critics contend that maybe the swing towards green fleets is too little too late. When it comes to climate change are we past the point of no return? Is the environment too damaged to salvage? Back in 2007, well-known environment blog Grist published an interesting article that seemed to think so. But even the writer of that article expressed that not all is lost – we just need to significantly alter our dependence on oil and switch to carbon-free technologies.

The Green Truck Summit is helping fleets to do just that.

Not just about technology

Some fleet managers might protest that they just don’t have the budget to install new technology to reduce CO2 output and cut back on harmful emissions. But the Green Truck Summit is more than just using new technology to convert fleets to green.

The summit is sponsored by CALSTART, an organization dedicated to helping fleets become more environmentally-friendly, and increase adoption of clean transportation technology. It boasts an impressive membership list of over 100 big-name fleets supporting the cause and keen to switch to green fleet methods of fleet management.

There’s a lot of focus on educating fleet owners about changes they can make to systems and processes to run more efficiently and economically.

Areas covered at the summit included:

•                    Technology deployment

•                    Fuel utilization

•                    Fleet and vehicle integration

•                    Cost justification

A topic list like this highlights that it is as much about raising awareness of how we run our fleets as it is switching to new technology, such as hybrid engines or carbon-free energy.

In 2011, topics discussed at the educational seminars included:

•                    Green vehicle funding and partnership opportunities

•                    Implementation of a green fleet program

•                    Carbon footprint reduction techniques

•                    Hybrid-chassis integration

Seminars were fronted by work truck professionals who had a lot of experience in the industry, passing on insights learned over the years, particularly from many of the “early adopter” fleets that have pioneered green fleet technology, doing their bit to lessen the impact on climate change.

Green fleet means changing the way you manage

If there’s one thing the summit emphasized is that the onus is on fleet managers to adopt new methods of managing resources – vehicles, mobile workers and other assets.

But fleet managers can’t do it on their own; they need the support of VPs, leadership teams and top management. There needs to be a wholesale shift to managing what matters and then changing what can be changed.

Fleet management software is helping fleets make the shift because it increases visibility and means managers can start measuring everything from out-of-route miles to wasted trips or poor asset utilization. Only when we start measuring can we truly start managing.