How to reduce costs and carbon emissions from business related transport

The mobility of people and goods is a key element of successful business, but transport can also offer opportunities for reducing carbon emissions and costs.

The Department for Transport (DfT) funds a number of free programmes and services to help organisations identify where costs and emissions can be reduced from transport operations. You can find a full guide on reducing the environmental impact of business transport on the Business Link website.

Managing your commuter and business travel

Transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, and commuter and business travel constitute nearly 40% of all miles driven by car. Measures to reduce vehicle use can be important for any business seeking to make its operations more sustainable.

A workplace travel plan can help. By managing work related travel and promoting sustainable alternatives through a travel plan a company can demonstrate corporate responsibility, cut costs, improve staff retention and can reduce commuter car travel by 10 – 30%.

A work place travel plan is a package of measures produced by employers to encourage staff to use alternatives to single-occupancy cars. This could include promoting flexible-working practices and video conferencing and encouraging more efficient journeys through the introduction of car sharing schemes, cycling facilities, bus services or restricted car parking.

The Department for Transport has produced an "Essential Guide to Travel Planning" which draws together the tried and tested experience of those already in operation. The guidance is there to help organisations develop and implement successful travel plans.

The DfT has also established the ACT ON CO2 National Business Travel Network (NBTN) to allow organisations from the public and private sector to share best practice in travel planning. Further information can be found on the NBTN website.

Where a journey is necessary, information sources, such as the Transport Direct website, can help make journey planning easier. This is a free to use website that compares door to door journey by public transport and car to any destination in Great Britain. This includes details on times, route plans, costs and relative CO2 emissions depending on the time of day, mode of transport and number of car passengers. Transport Direct also has live travel information for both the road and rail networks and can provide useful journey planning tools for your website which enable both staff and customers to plan their journey to you.

Managing your fleet

There are a number of practical solutions to help organisations reduce costs and carbon emissions from their vehicle use - a fleet of 100 vehicles could save up to £90,000 each year by implementing green fleet practices.

The DfT provides funding to the Energy Savings Trust (EST) to deliver free, independent advice to organisations to minimise carbon emissions associated with business travel. The programme identifies where savings are possible for individual organisations and provides practical advice on the changes that can be implemented. Savings can be made from the purchase of lower carbon vehicles; changing driver behaviour to improve fuel consumption (smarter driving); and encouraging reduced vehicle usage.

Organisations with more than 50 vehicles are eligible for a free on site Green Fleet Review by a fleet management expert. For smaller organisations (under 50 vehicles) EST can provide tailored advice through their website and telephone consultancy. Further details can be found on the EST website or tel. 0845 602 1425.

Greening your fleet does not necessarily mean changing the class of vehicle, you could reduce CO2 emissions and fuel bills by up to 25 per cent simply from choosing the most efficient vehicle in each class. The ACT ON CO2 website lists the ten lowest CO2 emitting cars in each class and provides tips that businesses and employees can adopt to drive vehicles in a more fuel efficient way.

Managing your logistics

Moving freight by rail or water instead of road can help to reduce the environmental impact of logistics, but this may also require capital expenditure on new facilities. This can be a barrier, and funding is available through Freight Facilities Grants (FFG) to help organisations make the change. You can find further information about FFGs in England, including conditions for eligibility, on the DfT website.

But this does not just need to be about making the big changes to your logistics. The Freight Best Practice programme has developed a number of free products to help freight operators improve efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

Guides, case studies, software and seminars are freely available from the Freight Best Practice website on topics such as saving fuel, developing skills, equipment and systems, operational efficiency and performance management. Hard copies of the guidance are also freely available in England and Wales from Freight Best Practice on tel. 0845 877 0877.

Your business and employees may also benefit from training for van and HGV drivers. The Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving (SAFED) training is a one-day course offering high quality driver development with significant fuel saving and safety benefits. On average, van drivers have experienced a 16% reduction in fuel consumption and 56% reduction in faults on the training day. You can find further details about SAFED, and government funded training on the SAFED website.