Novex Courier - Canada's First Carbon Neutral Fleet
Novex Courier - one of E3 Fleet's Charter Members - operates a fleet that includes many ultralow- emissions vehicles (ULEV) such as hybrid-electric cars, as well as bio-diesel and natural gas-powered trucks and vans. As a courier company, they recognized early on that a significant part of their footprint was related to their fleet.
On Earth Day 2007, Novex became Canada's first carbon neutral fleet, when 2,700 trees were planted in Bear Creek Park in Surrey to offset the Novex fleet's greenhouse gas emissions, in a program managed by Trees Canada and cleanairpass.
In addition to offsetting emissions, Novex has made a strong commitment to reduce emissions through technology, clean fuels and best practices.
"About 30% of our vehicles are ULEVs," says Novex President Ken Johnston. "We have a corporate goal of getting to 100% by 2012. We've also set a goal of using biodiesel in our freight division 85% of the time by the end of 2007."
Almost all of the fleet is made of owner / operators, which provided some unique challenges for fleet greening.
The process began in 2003 under the leadership of Rob Safrata, CEO of Novex educated Novex's key investors on the environmental impact the company was having, and the of taking action on sustainability.
One of their initial steps was to arrange the purchase of 20 Honda Civic hybrid vehicles. At the time, there was an incremental cost of approximately $7,000, which was a barrier for owner / operators. Novex was able provide incentives for drivers to reduce this costs by working with Vancity Credit Union and Honda to purchase advertising on the vehicles. This purchase reduced greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 60 tonnes per year.
Since then, Novex have explored other solutions to reduce their emissions. They have approximately 3 natural gas powered vans in their fleet, which also reduce greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions. More recently, they have switched their ten freight trucks -- one to five-tonne trucks -- to a B5 biodiesel blend. They have also made a special arrangement with Volkswagen to facilitate the purchase of diesel Jetta vehicles, which can also be fueled with a biodiesel blend.
Does this all make business sense? Ken Johnston indicates that customers have an increasing interest in the environmental performance of their courier service. "Service and price are still the key drivers for customers", he stated, "however, our sustainability and environmental commitments mean that we get to have the conversation with many more potential new customers."
Johnston has also seen a difference in how courier services are procured. "In 2003, perhaps 5% of the points in an RFP for courier services may have related to environment. Now, up to 25% of the points in a RFP relate to demonstrating environmental performance."
In addition to green fleet practices, Novex has made significant progress in reducing its environmental footprint, by reducing paper use through measures such as electronic billing. Through office retrofits, they have also reduced electricity and natural gas use significantly.
Novex supports broader social and community goals. They have a diversity program to include hiring and advancement of marginalized demographics. They are active in supporting community organizations such as Big Brother of Vancouver, Juvenile Diabetes, the United Way, Breast Cancer Research, the Boys and Girls Club of Vancouver and the Canadian Cancer Society.
Novex is beginning a driver training program to professionalize their fleet, a component of which will include fuel efficient driving. As part of their 2012 goal of 100% low-emissions vehicles, they are keeping a close eye on new technology developments. Novex has benefited from real world experience with a number of fuels and technologies, and is using that experience to make future vehicle choices.
"Our ideal vehicle in 2012 might be a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid vehicle, which allows us to combine alternative fuels such as biodiesel with improved fuel economy provided by a plug-in hybrid system", says Johnston. "We're watching the development of the plug-in hybrid version of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. The vehicle provides the space we need for cargo as well as ideal advertising space."
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