By Paul Hemsley
The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) car fleet might have been one of the state’s biggest carbon emitters, but that hasn’t stopped the agency walking away with the top environmental award from the Australian Fleet Management Association (AfMA) for its work in cutting greenhouse gas emissions through better procurement and management of its fleet vehicles.
Having seen off contenders from across Australia, the island’s health and welfare agency took out the Fleet Environment Award at the 2013 Australian Fleet Management Association annual awards late last week for its work in identifying challenges within its overall practice and applying solutions that create significant environmental benefits, namely a sharp drop in carbon dioxide emissions.
The DHHS is car pool is the largest vehicle fleet in the state, with more than 1000 cars. That size in turn resulted in the Department becoming the state’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, at 41 per cent.
The high level of greenhouse gas emissions became a major cause of concern for the state government which had previously legislated to deliver a 60 per cent reduction on 1990 level greenhouse gas emission levels by 2050.
A big challenge for of DHHS environmental fleet initiative was how to get results given the organisation is the state government’s largest employer with over 12,000 staff who must provide 24 /7 hour services.
But the legislative commitment required DHHS to embark on a plan to quickly review and identify fleet inefficiencies from early 2009 through its Emission Reduction Plan.
The internal review highlighted substantial inefficiencies across the fleet including “excessive” business unit administration surrounding vehicle use, which showed a limited ability in the department’s ability to measure, monitor or manage vehicle use and no ability to detect vehicles that had either been under-utilised or over-utilised.
The knowledge gap also meant that the DHHS was not equipped to know whether individual DHHS staff members were using fleet vehicles at an excessive level.
To fix the problem, the DHHS initiated a request for quotation for an online pool vehicle booking solution to be supplied by Smartfleet Management, a fleet optimisation company which supplies software that allows organisations to book, track and monitor their fleet vehicles online.
The company worked with the DHHS to understand the existing systems and cultural adjustments to switch over to a “disciplined” booking system for employees to share vehicles.
The DHHS then implemented the Smartfleet pool vehicle booking system and in 2011 revised the DHHS Vehicle Policy and DHHS Vehicle Procedure documents to reflect the new way of booking cars for sharing.
These new policies prompted a reduction in DHHS fleet size by 9.49 per cent while the distances travelled fell by 10.41 per cent. Fuel consumption also dropped 16.01 per cent from June 2011 to June 2013.
The combined reductions produced fall of 708,504 kg of carbon dioxide emissions, a 15 per cent cut.
Much of the carbon reductions flowed directly from a procurement decision in 2009 to replace all light vehicles with six cylinders or more with four cylinder cars unless a solid business case was made that supported the requirement for a larger vehicle.
The Department also reduced its use of non-essential vehicles and rental vehicles, to generate a carbon emission reduction of 38.93 per cent from June 2011 to June 2013.
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