A clean-air seal of approval may become the key to securing new freight and cutting operating costs at the same time if an Environmental Protection Agency plan catches on. Called the Ground Freight Transportation Initiative, the voluntary program will offer a “brand label” to shippers and carriers that meet reduction goals for carbon dioxide (CO2), particulates (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).
Like the Energy Star program for electric appliances that conserve power, the clean-air label would publicly identify companies and products as environmental leaders. The program would also help fleets save money by developing cost analysis benefits for a variety of specific technologies and management initiatives that cut truck emissions. Better still from the fleet perspective, shippers looking for the green transportation label would reserve some percentage of their freight for carriers that have earned the right to use the label.
Here’s how it will work for carriers, according to Jennifer Dolin, the program’s director at EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. A carrier will input general information about its operations into software now under development. The program will return a 0 to 100 score on emissions for a hypothetical “clean” fleet matching those operations. Then the fleet will calculate its own score by adding information about its use of emissions lowering techniques such as aerodynamic devices or idling controls. If the fleet’s score is equal to or higher than the hypothetical fleet, it would be eligible for the EPA label.
“The software would also suggest various options the fleet might want to consider to improve its score further, offering both a cost-benefits and environmental-benefits analysis for each option,” says Dolin.
EPA also plans to develop test procedures that would allow it to offer the green label to new technologies able to prove energy savings potential. “We’ll start in three areas—aerodynamic, idling control and tire inflation—and probably expand to others in the future,” says Dolin.
EPA expects to release preliminary details on its Ground Freight Transportation Initiative in January, and to launch the project in the spring. If you’d like more information or would like to offer some input during the development stage, send email to Jennifer Dolin.