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Beginner’s Guide To Lowering CO2 Emissions Across Your Fleet

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We all know that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have a catastrophic effect on our planet’s climate. However, advancements are slowly being made in renewable energy to combat the issue. But rather than wait for energy trends to take effect, fleet managers can take matters into their own hands now. In addition to following sustainability best practices, here’s a step-by-step guide to lower CO2 emissions across your fleet:

  1. Measure current carbon emissions
  2. Keep fleet vehicles well-maintained
  3. Optimize driving routes
  4. Minimize idling times
  5. Encourage defensive driving habits
  6. Use fleet management software

1. Measure Your Current Carbon Footprint

There’s a starting point for everything, including lowering your CO2 emissions. Before you can lower your carbon emissions, you’ll need to know what they are. So the first step is to measure your fleet’s current CO2 emissions, so you have a benchmark. You can get an idea of your carbon footprint using these steps.


  1. Work out how many gallons of fuel you use each month. This is easy to figure out if you know how many gallons of fuel you buy and use monthly. If you don’t know, you can compare your fleet’s average MPG (miles per gallon) to the number of miles your vehicles have completed for a rough estimate.
  2. Calculate how many pounds of CO2 this creates. You can calculate this by multiplying the number of gallons of fuel you use by how many pounds of CO2 is created by each gallon of fuel.

    • 1 gallon of diesel creates about 22.38lbs of CO2
    • 1 gallon of gasoline creates about 20lbs of CO2

Keep in mind these figures are a rough estimate at best since carbon emissions can vary depending on each vehicle’s age, level of maintenance, and driving habits of your fleet staff.

You can also measure your carbon footprint by using this carbon estimator from the EPA.

2. Keep Fleet Vehicles Well-Maintained

Since CO2 is the end product of burning gasoline and diesel, the more fuel a vehicle burns, the more CO2 it puts into the atmosphere. Poorly-maintained vehicles tend to burn more fuel per mile on the road. So making sure all of the vehicles in your fleet are properly maintained can go a long way to lowering CO2 emissions. Here are a few ways to keep the engines in your vehicles in top shape:


  • Replace air filters. Clogged air filters can lead to a fuel-rich mixture, which doesn’t burn as efficiently. A clean air filter ensures the engine has the right ratio of fuel to air.
  • Use the recommended grade of motor oil for the vehicle. Using the wrong motor oil grade could lower your vehicle’s fuel economy by up to 2 percent. That may not seem like much for one vehicle. But for an entire fleet, it adds up quickly.
  • Proper tire inflation and alignment. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, properly inflated and aligned tires can improve a vehicle’s fuel consumption by more than three percent.
  • Regular engine tune-ups. There are a number of engine issues that can cause a vehicle to burn fuel less efficiently, creating more CO2 per mile driven. Regular tune-ups and vehicle maintenance checks can help avoid many problems that could lead to more CO2 emissions.

[Related Article: What To Look For When Evaluating Your Fleet Vehicles]

3 Optimize Driving Routes

Fuel efficiency isn’t the only area where CO2 emissions can be lowered. Optimizing your driving routes can reduce empty miles, limiting the fuel your fleet burns and decreasing emissions. For example, freight transportation company J.B. Hunt recently used optimization software to adjust their driving routes as part of their overall sustainability strategy. This allowed them to reduce their out-of-route driving by 4.3 million miles and cut their CO2 emissions by more than 6,000 metric tons.

4. Minimize Idling

Vehicle idling may not seem like a big problem. That might be true if it’s just one vehicle. But with an entire fleet of vehicles, it becomes a serious issue. The US Department of Energy found that every gallon of gasoline burned releases 20 pounds of CO2 into the air, and idling wastes up to half a gallon of fuel per hour. Idling at stop signs and traffic lights, and waiting in traffic jams may be unavoidable, but there are still a few ways you can minimize idling to lower your carbon emissions.


  • Train your drivers to turn off the engine at every stop, no matter how brief.
  • Use fleet software with an idle reduction feature to lower idle engine speeds.

5. Encourage Defensive Driving Habits

It should come as no surprise that aggressive accelerating and braking burns more fuel and generates more CO2 emissions. Encouraging your drivers to go easier on the gas pedal can go a long way toward lowering your carbon footprint.


In a perfect world, simply telling your drivers to avoid aggressive driving maneuvers would be all that you need to do. But often, it’s better to take that responsibility off their shoulders through the use of fleet management software that smooths out shifting patterns and limits the top speed of the vehicle.

6. Use Fleet Management Software

Less aggressive driving practices and reducing idling times, when combined with well-maintained vehicles and optimized driving routes, can go a long way toward reducing your CO2 emissions. You can make it easier on your fleet by combining these with eco-friendly fleet management software. One option is the Derive Platform, which can be installed in a vehicle in less than 30 minutes. With Derive, you can lower CO2 emissions with these three features:


  • Idle Reduction lowers a fleet vehicle’s engine idle speeds to reduce emissions while idling.
  • Eco Adjustment relieves the driver of the responsibility of managing fuel economy by smoothing out shifting patterns to maximize fuel economy.
  • A Speed Governor sets the top speed of the vehicle to match fleet policy, reducing carbon emissions from running engines at higher RPMs.

Reducing CO2 emissions across your fleet doesn’t just help protect the planet. It also reduces your fuel costs and boosts your brand equity. Derive can give you the tools you need to build a more sustainable fleet. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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