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How to get credit for your sustainability investment

The choice to invest in sustainable operations and product development can give you the warm and fuzzies, but business is business. If you’ve read the tea leaves, hooked your wagon to the lead horse and pumped money into becoming more sustainable in both your business operations and product offerings, then you likely have a road toward ROI in the short term.

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But let’s face it, you also want credit for it. It’s good PR and soon, it could be best business practices that are required by law (if you’re doing business in California). Determining how drastically you cut emissions and positively impact the environment is quickly becoming a component of the sustainability conversation.

Consider the commercial transportation segment, which is undergoing an electric vehicle seachange. Range anxiety is giving way to more pressing concerns of companies showing their sustainability investment work, according to Peter Mitchell, general manager, Verizon Connect. Particularly when it comes to buying and operating electric commercial vehicles.

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“We thought they’d be terrified of the range anxiety, but they had chewed that part of the challenge themselves. They want to know how much carbon they saved and they want to let their customers know,” he explained. “We’ve heard people talking about putting it on the invoice saying, ‘This was delivered today by an electric vehicle. This was the equivalent of planting five trees.’ But again, these are early adopters.”

Early adopters often push solutions in the direction they need to go, and it’s happening on multiple fronts. Tim Murray, U.S. sales director, Shell Fleet Solutions, has had similar conversations with commercial vehicle operators.

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“As you think about the energy transition and the development of new and different types of fuels for carbon reduction, fleets will feel more societal and government pressure to track that and report their efforts,” Murray said.

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To help those efforts, Shell has launched Shell Telematics, a fuel-focused telematics dashboard for commercial vehicle operators that includes a carbon reduction calculator on its dashboard.

“Let’s say you reduce your fuel consumption by 4% through efficiency gains and that represents X gallons,” Murray began. “Those gallons, if it’s gasoline or if it’s diesel, can be calculated into the amount of carbon emissions’ avoidance. [i.e. How much carbon would that 4% fuel efficiency increase save?] So that’s the starting point. Where it leads and maybe the next iteration of these types of dashboard tools is about what you could save if you used EV, if you used hydrogen, if you used renewable biodiesel. Fleets will be looking at their mix of vehicles and their mix of fuel types based on use case.”

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What does this mean to you?

You might not run a commercial transportation business, but sustainability covers all walks of professional life. The takeaway is that sustainability reporting solutions are in the works. Whether your focus is manufacturing, overall corporate sustainability initiatives or passing along the sustainability benefit explanation to consumers of your green-minded products, there are solution providers in your segments to help you identify the value, quantify it and communicate it to your business partners. It’s a crucial part of the sustainability movement.

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