When you are running your own business, you may have lots of priorities and cost is likely to be one of your primary considerations.

However, having an environmentally friendly fleet is becoming increasingly important to companies, big and small, and it doesn't have to mean splashing the cash.

In fact, switching to becoming more environmentally aware could save you money in the longer term. The government has already introduced a number of incentives to provide rewards for cleaner transport users and these mechanisms are likely to get even more sophisticated to help drive cuts in carbon emissions.

Here are some easy tips to follow to help ensure your fleet is as environmentally friendly as possible, which could help you to earn some green points with your customer, as well as saving money too.

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The right vehicles
Having a fleet is hypothetically a far more environmentally option that allowing employees to use their own cars; studies have repeatedly shown that cars in fleets are likely to be newer and emit less CO2 than those owned privately.

However, the mere fact of running a fleet isn't sufficient to qualify your company as eco-friendly; lots is about the vehicles you choose.

Hybrid, electric or gas cars are the pinnacle of green transport for individuals but although they are a great idea, their relative lack of flexibility means that few businesses will base their fleet on them.

That doesn't mean you can't still improve your eco credentials by the choice of car.

Diesel may seem like a strange option but vehicles that run on this type of fuel emit lower levels of CO2 and are more environmentally friendly. This is reflected in the lower tax bands which makes them cheaper to run as well.

For businesses another advantage of diesels is that they depreciate far more slowly, making them a valuable asset for much longer.

 

Reduce travel where possible
There are times when avoiding travel isn't viable but consider whether every business trip that's made adds value.

Habits are easily formed but difficult to break and it may be that many of the trips made could be just as easily be managed via an alternative method such as video conferencing or Skype.

Where travel is essential, considering the best route and whether multiple functions can be combined can help to reduce fuel use as well as wear and tear on the vehicle.

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Introduce principles of Eco-Driving
Eco-driving, or smart-driving as it is also known, is a set of simple and sensible rules which if followed, can help to reduce carbon emissions and the impact of vehicles on the road.

Communicating these to your staff could help your fleet operate in a far greener manner, as well as saving costs and stress too.

Some of the most fundamental rules of eco-driving are:


• check tyre pressures regularly to ensure they are not under-inflated
• anticipate the flow of traffic
• maintain a steady speed at a low RPM
• shift up through the gearbox early
• don't carry unnecessary weight in your car
• keep the use of air-conditioning units to a minimum
• close windows when driving at high speeds (increases drag and uses more fuel to maintain speed)
• don't sit in the car with the engine idling
• if sat without moving for long periods (such as level crossings) switch off engine

 

These principles are easy to follow but could result in significantly reducing the amount of carbon emissions made by your fleet vehicles. Driving organisation AA estimates that using these principles could cut fuel consumption by up to 10%.

 

Introduce fuel cards
A fuel card can allow a company to benefit from cheaper fuel but it also allows far greater control over driver purchases.

A smart system provides feedback on how much fuel is being purchased, where from and the distances being travelled. This allows businesses to identify drivers who aren't following good practices, as well as vehicles which are performing the best.

This knowledge can be used to either target drivers for training programmes to improve their skills behind the wheel and their awareness, and to highlight maintenance needs as well.

 

Conclusion
Operating an environmentally friendly fleet is a co-operation between drivers and management. Picking the right vehicles, ensuring they are regularly serviced and maintained is critical but driving styles and techniques can play a very big role in the ultimate effectiveness too.