TORONTO — Green issues matter in Canada as much or more than they do in the U.S., which was easy to see during the "All Things Green" seminar during the LCT Canada Conference.
The speaker panel was moderated by LCT Publisher Sara McLean, and featured Lee Schnaiberg, producer of green-themed films, documentaries, and programs; Justin Raymond, president of Green Ride Global in Toronto; Wyman Pattee, an executive with Ford Motor Co.; Bryon Stremler, manager of advanced technology and powertrain for Toyota Canada Inc., and Brian Maher, manager of NGV sales for the natural gas power vehicle department of Enbridge Gas Distribution. Some of the seminar’s key points:
• CORPORATE DEMANDS: While the government hasn’t mandated using alternative-fuel vehicles, operators are getting more pressure from corporate accounts to go green. In Canada, Fairmont Hotels and Bank of Montreal have a “very robust greening of their supply chain,” Raymond said. “We’re seeing more and more corporate RFPs with requirements for, and questions about, their greenhouse gas emission reductions.” Corporate demands don’t mean conversion of fleets entirely to hybrids or alternative fuels, he said. “Some clients want Town Cars, but want to see a strict, enforced idling policy,” Raymond said. “Standard fleet vehicles will idle 25% of the time — this needs to be reduced to 10%. Nitrogen tire systems can increase fuel efficiency.”
• GROUP TRANSPORTATION: It isn’t all about converting completely over to a green fleet. McLean said that high fuel costs and environmental concerns emphasize the benefits of using chauffeured transportation: “It’s important to get clients to consider one vehicle for a group instead of several to save fuel,” she said. “An operator in Seattle is setting up clients with bus trips as they cut down on corporate plane rides. As airlines are cutting more flights, this is a chance to pick up more clients and build the niche.”
• TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENTS: Auto manufacturers are rapidly improving technology that will help accomplish green goals, Pattee said. Multi-speed engines, variable valves, tire pressure monitoring, and cruise control systems are saving fuel and controlling emissions, he said. Lightweight metals including aluminum, magnesium, and titanium also are boosting fuel performance.
• DRIVING CONDITIONS: The car model you choose for your fleet depends a lot on driving conditions in your market, Stremler said. “The Toyota Prius could be one of your options, but it doesn’t replace the Town Car,” he said. “In British Columbia, taxi drivers are using the Prius and they love them. They have constant stops and starts — the vehicle is living up to the test.”
• VANPOOLS WORK: Like many companies in the region, Enbridge Gas Distribution needed to find a way to reduce employee vehicle use. The company bought seven vans that each carries nine employees in a vanpool, which removed 54 vehicles from the company’s parking lot. “This has been hugely well received,” Maher said. “We’ve been contacted by other companies that want to know how we’re doing this.”