A Sustainability Action Plan project
Transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Minnesota’s governors have mandated that state agencies switch from petroleum to biofuels when possible. One goal of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) 2009 Sustainability Action Plan is to reduce vehicle miles traveled by 10% from 2008 levels. MPCA has taken several steps to decrease its use of petroleum for transportation:
- Increasing use of videoconferencing and Web-based meeting tools.
- Facilitating carpooling between regional offices.
- Changing types of fuel and distribution of fleet vehicles.
- Offering Eco-Driver training for staff.
Carpooling at MPCA
In June 2009, agency leaders held a Kaizen event to improve the efficiency of vehicle usage at MPCA. After brainstorming, the team focused on 3 goals: creating a carpooling culture, improving the vehicle reservation process, and establishing an agency-wide “meeting day” to facilitate carpooling from regional offices. Participants in the Kaizen process included frequent users of fleet cars, information systems staff, fleet staff, and guests from Delta Airlines.
The Kaizen event generated several recommendations for improving vehicle use at MPCA:
- Installing carpool alerts in the vehicle reservation system. This feature alerts users when another staff member will be traveling to the same location during a similar timeframe. The system also arranges the list of car choices based on fuel efficiency to encourage selection of fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Modifying the vehicle log sheet to collect additional information about each vehicle trip, and offering a small reward each quarter for the regional office with the highest carpooling rate.
- Establishing Wednesday as “carpool day from the regions” for a 6-month trial period. Staff were asked to use non-travel meeting options whenever possible, and to schedule meetings on Wednesday when travel was unavoidable. These expectations were communicated through posters and an e-mail from a division director.
- Updating staff regularly on their progress in improving vehicle use patterns.
- Communicating new expectations through messages from the commissioner and changing policies to encourage carpooling.
Improving fleet management
Baseline carpooling data was gathered from vehicle logs and staff were surveyed to identify barriers to carpooling. The following were identified as opportunities to improve fleet management:
- Discouraging the use of personal vehicles, which are more costly and limit carpool opportunities.
- Reassigning flex-fuel vehicles to offices with best access to E-85 and biodiesel.
- Re-evaluating the size of the fleet.
In partnership with DNR, MPCA invited staff members who use the agency fleet regularly to take a web-based training course and become a certified Eco-Driver. Eco-driving includes practices such as steady acceleration, keeping tires inflated properly and other habits that can reduce fuel consumption and limit pollution. Organizations that engage in Eco-driving report energy reductions ranging from five to 25 percent. Approximately 120 staff enrolled in the first offering of the course.
Successes in using biofuels
Under Executive Order, all state agencies were asked to increase the use of E85 and biodiesel in fleet vehicles to reduce petroleum fuel consumption. Whenever practical, the state’s fleet is required to use E85 when operating flex-fuel vehicles. Of the 159 vehicles in MPCA’s fleet, 100 are flex-fuel. MPCA has also made significant progress increasing E85 fuel usage.
As an added incentive, the Department of Administration currently credits state agencies ten cents per gallon of E85 fuel used. MPCA has received nearly $3,500 in credits since the start of this program in 2008.
Traveling to and from work
The MPCA waste reduction team partnered with St. Paul Smart Trips to provide employees with education and resources on a variety of commuting options. The goal is to complement the efforts of fleet management with reducing miles traveled to and from the office.
For more information about Sustainability Action Plans, visit the Interagency Pollution Prevention Advisory Team webpage.