5 Practical Ways to Reduce Fleet Emissions

In the face of new regulations, pressure is mounting to reduce fleet emissions.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting requirements have placed a renewed focus on emission management strategies for fleet owners looking for ways to lessen their vehicles’ impact on the environment. While transitioning to electric vehicles (EV) may be a desirable long-term goal, it’s not always practical or realistic for fleets operating in the current market.

However, fleet owners can take steps to reduce emissions on Class 8 vehicles, improve Scope 3 carbon emissions for its customers, and build a competitive advantage.

Fleet Emissions and the STEER Act

New legislation has emerged to help equip fleets with technology that will help reduce emissions.

The Supporting Trucking Efficiency and Emission Reductions (STEER) Act, introduced in the U.S. House in July 2021, is designed to reduce emissions by incentivizing truck companies to buy and install fuel-efficient technologies on Class 8 trucks.

Under the STEER Act, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would provide $500 million over five years for vouchers to cover the expense. A draft of the legislation states that the voucher amounts for each technology included in the bill will cover the lesser of:

  • $4,000 or 75% of costs per unit for fleets operating 10 trucks or fewer.
  • $3,500 or 72.5% of costs per unit for fleets operating 50 trucks or fewer.
  • $3,000 or 70% of costs per unit for fleets operating 100 trucks or fewer.
  • $2,500 or 67.5% of costs per unit for fleets operating more than 100 trucks.

5 Ways to Reduce Fleet Emissions

Going electric is one way to reduce emissions.

But the truth is that transitioning to EVs is not realistic for most fleets in the near term.

Adding EVs to a fleet requires a substantial investment. Electric Class 8s cost $400,000 to $600,000, compared to about $150,000 for conventional diesel trucks.

About $220,000 of that expense is for the electric powertrain alone. Another added expense is the need for electric vehicle infrastructure, such as charging stations, which cost about $20,000 each.

There are also concerns that if drivers have to stop every 150 to 250 miles to charge their trucks, driver shortages will increase. This is why it’s important to consider using technologies that improve fuel efficiency and lower emissions in existing vehicles.

Fortunately, there are five other ways to reduce emissions that are more practical and realistic for most fleets in the short term.

  1. Improve Truck Aerodynamics

Improving aerodynamics is one of the most effective ways to reduce fuel consumption and emissions both today and into the future with EVs.

Aerodynamic drag accounts for over half of a truck’s fuel consumption at highway speeds. The good news is that using multiple aerodynamic devices to reduce drag can save the trucking industry about $10 billion in diesel fuel expenses.

These devices include:

  • Roof fairings to minimize the turbulence created by the cab.
  • Wheel covers that allow air to flow past the tires.
  • Active aerodynamics devices that automatically adjust to the changing aerodynamic needs.

One example of an active aerodynamic device for Class 8 tractors is TruckWings, a device that automatically closes the gap between the cab and trailer. TruckWings automatically deploy when speed exceeds 52 mph and retracts when speed is below 50 mph.

This means drivers don’t need to take their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel.

Here are some of TruckWings’ proven benefits:

  • Improves driver experience: Fully-automated TruckWings improve stability, especially in crosswinds, and don’t require driver interaction.
  • Helps fleet owners meet ESG goals: Each TruckWing reduces 20,000 lbs/yr in carbon emissions.
  • Offers durability with minimal maintenance: Aerospace-grade aluminum has proven durability of almost half a billion miles driven and outperforms side extenders.
  • Provides real-time data: A cloud-connected telematics device features customer dashboards for 100% transparency.
  • Reduces fuel costs: TruckWings has shown proven savings of 3-6% mpg, resulting in millions of dollars saved per fleet.

Ryder System, Inc. and TruckLabs worked together to test the fuel efficiency of TruckWings. Get the results here.

  1. Invest in Telematics

The technology of communicating, collecting, and storing information via telecommunication devices is known as telematics.

In trucking, telematics monitors engine diagnostics and the hours a vehicle runs. This helps fleet managers keep track of all vehicle updates and required maintenance.

  1. Optimize Trucking Routes

An efficient routing plan can help reduce fuel consumption, emissions, and costs.

GPS technology has advanced, allowing for quicker travel and fewer stops, resulting in a 30% reduction in carbon emissions during each trip.

  1. Monitor and Improve Driver Habits

The most common cause of fuel waste is driver behavior.

Teaching and encouraging proper driving habits can result in a significant reduction in fuel consumption. Aggressive drivers who accelerate and brake rapidly use up to 30% more fuel.

Additionally, a tractor-trailer uses 20% less energy to move at 55 mph than 62 mph. And an idling diesel vehicle uses half a gallon of fuel an hour.

Cutting idling can save up to 5% of fuel costs, amounting to thousands of dollars in savings per year.

  1. Upgrade to Newer Vehicles

Older vehicles are less fuel-efficient than newer models, so upgrading your fleet can reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

A recent report from Fleet Advantage shows upgrading to a 2021 model from a 2016 model would reduce CO2 by 21 metric tons, resulting in $16,856 in savings per truck.

Reduce Your Fleet Emissions

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to reducing fleet emissions, but these five steps are a good place to start.

You can make a significant impact on your fleet’s carbon footprint by making even small modifications. And as electric vehicles become more prevalent, now is the time to start planning for the future.

A Quick Guide to Improving Tractor Trailer Aerodynamics

semi truck aerodynamics

Did you know that improving trailer aerodynamics can significantly impact drag and fuel efficiency?

Aerodynamic drag is responsible for 65% of the energy used while pulling a trailer. That’s why more fleets are turning to products like trailer aerodynamic products to help reduce drag and save money on fuel costs.

But what are trailer aerodynamics, exactly?

And which product is right for your fleet?

Answering these questions requires understanding the effects of aerodynamic drag on tractor-trailers and the different types of products available to reduce it.

What Are Trailer Aerodynamics?

Trailer aerodynamics refers to the study of how air flows around and over a trailer.

When a truck moves, air resistance (or drag) slows it down and uses up fuel. Reducing drag can lower fuel consumption by up to 12%. This would save more than $10 billion in diesel fuel per year.

The Main Points of Drag on Tractor Trailers

To understand how to reduce drag, it’s essential to know where it comes from.

There are three main points of drag on tractor-trailers:

  • Back of the trailer near the doors: When air circulates around a trailer, it forms a vortex behind the rear door, causing a significant decrease in air pressure.

Addressing these areas can significantly improve trailer aerodynamics.

Airflow Simulation

Products and Devices to Reduce Tractor-Trailer Drag

Aerodynamic devices are effective at reducing drag and improving fuel efficiency.

And the faster the speed, the more efficient they become. Many products and devices on the market can help reduce drag.

  • Trailer fairings: The trailer fairings (or skirts) keep the wind from blowing under the trailer and into the bogie. They work best when they start from the landing gear and end at the front face of the front trailer axle, close to the ground.
  • Wheel covers and mud flaps: Wheel covers are devices inserted into the wheel that help direct airflow around the tires. Mudflaps are installed behind the wheels and help deflect air away from the undercarriage.

When choosing an aerodynamic device, it’s important to remember that many will complement each other. For example, using trailer tails with wheel covers further reduces drag.

Of course, fleet owners must consider the unique needs of their operation when choosing products.

Trailers Are Only Part of the Equation

While trailer aerodynamics are important, they account for only some of the drag that impacts fuel efficiency.

The front tractor section also accounts for a significant amount of drag (about 25%). To address this, some truck manufacturers are exploring a more aerodynamic design for the front of the truck.

Some solutions include adding pedestal door mirrors and sloped-front windshields.

The gap between the cab and trailer also accounts for about 25% of the overall drag. High-speed air rushing in causes a low-pressure area which then drags on the tractor and decreases fuel economy.

Closing the gap would result in a decrease in airspeed and less turbulence downstream. Increased pressure at the back of the cab would decrease overall drag, especially where crosswinds are strong.

For fleet owners, this could mean a significant decrease in fuel consumption and savings amounting to millions of dollars each year.

Learn how Ryder Systems saved 4.1% on fuel with TruckWings.

Improve Trailer Aerodynamics and Fuel Efficiency

Cutting emissions and fuel costs is a high priority for trucking fleets.

That’s why many fleet owners are investing in trailer aerodynamic devices.

There are two types of trailer aerodynamic devices:

  • Hardware-only devices that require driver interaction.
  • Smart products that are automated and require no driver interaction.

TruckWings and TrailerTails are two devices that are sometimes confused, but there are key differences between them. TrailerTail (discontinued) was a hardware-only device installed on the back of the trailer that required the driver to close it manually. TruckWings is the only fully automated, tractor-mounted device that works without interaction, allowing for the best driver experience.

By automatically closing the gap between the cab and trailer, the device:

  • Improves stability
  • Increases fuel efficiency
  • Reduces drag

TruckWings also:

  • Operates in two positions — closed when the truck travels fast on an open highway and open when going slow or making turns
  • Uses smart sensors to track carbon and fuel savings
  • Provides uptime reporting

If you want to improve fuel efficiency, contact us to learn more about TruckWings.

FAQ

How do I reduce drag on my truck trailer?

There are several ways to reduce drag on your trailer, including:

  • Adding trailer fairings (or trailer skirts) to keep the wind from blowing under the trailer and into the bogie.
  • Installing mudflaps and wheel covers to help direct airflow around the tires.
  • Adding a trailer tail to alter the airflow as it leaves the trailing edge of a truck’s side and top surfaces.

Why do truck trailers have wings?

Wings help keep the trailer more stable and improve fuel economy.

Do truck wings work?

Yes, they are an effective way to reduce drag and fuel costs. In fact, TruckWings provides potential fuel savings of 3-6% mpg with 12-18 months ROI resulting in millions of dollars saved per fleet.

Learn how Ryder Systems saved 4.1% on fuel with TruckWings.

Scope 3 Emissions: What You Need to Know in 2022

emissions

Companies are under increased pressure to monitor, control, and reduce their carbon emissions — and that pressure is set to continue. There are a number of ways to make key changes, from simple fuel emissions reductions to identifying problematic hot spots across operations. Tackling Scope 3 emissions opens an additional opportunity to uncover ways to lower overall environmental impact and adopt climate-friendly operations and policies.


What are Scope 3 Emissions?

Most global and public companies report and account for their carbon emissions, especially those generated from direct operations. But more and more operations leaders are honing in on Scope 3 emissions as a new area of demand and opportunity as regulatory pressures mount. In fact, many companies who gain a foothold in monitoring, managing, and reporting Scope 3 emissions are finding themselves at a competitive advantage.

Scope 3 emissions cover a broad range of activities and areas, including supplier activity and employee transportation, that a company can impact indirectly. Scope 3 emissions can be produced by purchased goods and services, capital goods, waste generated in operations, and even leased assets.

From favoring sustainable suppliers to curbing business travel, managing Scope 3 emissions provides an additional way to gain ground on a company’s overall sustainability goals.

U.S. companies are mandated to step up their efforts to reduce carbon footprints according to the Paris Agreement, which 189 countries signed onto. The agreement stipulates that countries and leaders worldwide must work to reduce emissions by approximately 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels.

Tracking Scope 3 emissions can offer a way to reduce overall emissions more proactively and thoroughly as more companies build emissions reductions into their net-zero and business strategies.

Scope 1, 2, and 3 Emissions: What’s the Difference?

Source: https://pba.umich.edu/scopes-of-carbon-emissions-explained/

Global Green House Gas (GHG) protocols break emissions into three “scopes” or classifications.

Scope 1 emissions
Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions generated from owned or controlled sources, including fleet fuel use and so-called fugitive emissions, or leaks and irregular releases from storage tanks, appliances, wells, or other pieces of equipment, for example.

Scope 2 emissions
Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, including from cooling systems, electricity, heating, and steam.

Scope 3 emissions
Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts. These include both upstream and downstream emissions that are linked to the company’s operations. Scope 3 emissions fall into 15 categories, though not all may be relevant. These emissions could include those produced by business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, or the emissions generated by purchased goods and services or transportation and distribution.

The Challenge with Scope 3 Emissions

While chasing down Scope 3 emissions and cutting them back presents an entire frontier of emissions-reducing tactics, companies are finding major challenges with locating the sources and determining how to reduce them.

That’s because Scope 3 emissions often are outside of a company’s direct management or ownership and are hard to assess. Adding to the mix of challenges, these emissions types might also be occurring across several different companies, sometimes making it hard to determine who is responsible for making cuts.

Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are easier to track, measure and control. Meanwhile, down the supply chain, tracking and coordinating the reduction of emissions from privately-owned businesses, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), may present challenges.

But businesses are undoubtedly running out of time to reduce carbon footprints as consumer purchasing behavior shifts in favor of sustainable practices, more suppliers embrace lowering emissions amid global policy trends, and stakeholders grow impatient for better, more complete reporting from all levels of operations.

Primary Scope 3 Emission Factors

Complications aside, Scope 3 emissions come from areas that are traceable and definable, including downstream and upstream sources.

Upstream
Upstream emissions sources include areas within the direct control of the company, and closer to systems and departments that can track, analyze data, and act. Upstream sources include:

  • Waste Generation: Waste sent to landfills and wastewater treatment facilities, for example.
  • Purchased Goods & Services: Extraction, production, and transportation of goods and services purchased or acquired by the company. Includes so-called “Cradle to Gate” emissions associated with the production of goods and services.
  • Transportation & Distribution: Emissions from transportation by land, sea, and air and related to third-party warehousing. The life cycle emissions are associated with manufacturing vehicles, facilities, or infrastructure, and can account for nearly a quarter of all Scope 3 emissions.
  • Fuel and Energy-Related Activities: Emissions of purchased fuels and emissions of purchased electricity are not included in Scope 1 or Scope 2. Generation of purchased electricity that is sold to end users
  • Capital Goods: Final products with an extended life, such as vehicles, buildings, and machinery, that are used by the company to manufacture a product

Downstream
Downstream emissions are sourced from areas where companies can insert their interests. Downstream categories include:

  • Use of Sold Products: End use of goods and services sold by the reporting company
  • Downstream Transportation and Distribution: Transportation and distribution of products sold between the reporting company’s operations and the end consumer
  • Investments: These can include equity investments, debt investments, project finance, managed investments, and client services
  • Franchises: Owners of franchises report the emissions created by their franchise operations and franchisees report emissions upstream
  • End-of-Life Treatment of Sold Products: Products sold to consumers that are “in use” are tracked for emissions related to product usage and disposal.

Why Measure Scope 3 Emissions?

Taking on Scope 3 emissions opens the door for businesses not only to improve their carbon impact but to attract investment and foster better innovation and collaboration with suppliers.

A business that goes after its indirect emissions achieves multiple benefits, including notching down risk within its own value chain, reassuring shareholders who are ratcheting up the pressure on companies in lockstep with mounting policy and consumer demand, and creating new opportunities with businesses, customers, and stakeholders.

As the importance of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) gains momentum, there is growing awareness in the investment community that companies reporting and reducing all levels of carbon emissions can make for better investments. How a company tracks and mitigates its carbon emissions can have a significant impact on its profitability, risk and resilience and that has led to increased pressure to require companies to disclose more emissions information.

Aside from the appealing global impact of increased carbon reporting, consumers are increasingly demanding products and services with sound sustainability practices and standards. That means companies stand to improve bottom lines by pursuing scope emissions reductions andScope 3 emissions are the next bucket of opportunity.

Setting a focus around Scope 3 emissions also specifically ties companies more closely to their suppliers. Companies tracking Scope 3 also pay more attention to their customer’s behaviors and tracking emissions has the added benefit of uncovering additional operational cost-savings measures.

Benefits of Measuring and Reporting on Scope 3

Companies that measure and report on Scope 3 emissions tend to evaluate their overall business performance more effectively, focus on generating value from their emissions strategies, and create demonstrable impact from their emissions reductions.

Pursuing Scope 3 emissions can help companies not only further reduce their emissions but improve overall operations and performance. Added values from tracking Scope 3 can include:

  • Exposing emissions “hotspots” within a supply chain
  • Improved transparency, customer trust, brand, and reputational enhancement
  • Locating supplies that are leading in sustainability performance
  • Finding cost reduction opportunities
  • Helping suppliers bring sustainability initiatives up to new standards
  • Improving the overall sustainability rating of their products and services
  • Positive engagement with employees and consumers

Each of those benefits not only lowers a company’s overall carbon output but presents additional ways for a company to power up overall performance and improve its financial position.

6 Steps to Reduce Scope 3 Emissions

Taking steps to cut back on Scope 3 emissions can range from simple to complex. Here are some steps to get started.

  1. Determine which Scope 3 categories are relevant by taking a look at GHG protocols
  2. Collect source data from suppliers and partners for emissions related to products and services you’ve purchased
  3. Audit the supply chain to find where the greatest levels of indirect emissions may be occurring and determine if these areas can be improved
  4. Establish a single source of truth, finding a technology solution that streamlines data
  5. Take a closer look at suppliers and uncover which are focused on their own scope 3 emissions already. Find out if they are open to collaborating.
  6. Create an easy, employee-friendly approach to reducing emissions stemming from business travel and commuting.

Finding Pathways and Partners

Finding ways to reduce carbon emissions has fast become a key component of business strategy and sustainability practice among global and public companies. Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions categories provide a roadmap for specific tactics, developments, and activities companies can engage in to significantly lower their carbon impact.

Companies can create measurable impacts from relatively simple adjustments, such as lowering fuel emissions from their fleet or asking logistics partners to track and reduce their emissions. Products like TruckWings can be used to retrofit an entire trucking fleet or applied to new builds, delivering instant results. TruckWings is a tractor-mounted aerodynamic device that automatically closes the gap between cab and trailer, reducing drag, improving stability and increasing fuel efficiency, lowering emissions, and delivering 4-6% fuel savings.