Switching to EV commercial vehicles and investing in EV charging infrastructure can save money and reduce Scope 1, Scope 2, and even Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions.
The first step to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is measuring how much greenhouse gases we currently emit. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) in 2009 to do just that. Since then, it has surveyed major GHG emitters, including thousands of industrial facilities and suppliers of fossil fuels and other gases. US policymakers, environmental groups, the media, and scientists use the data to analyze and project global warming. Unless your company is a major industrial manufacturer or fossil fuel provider, you won’t have to participate in the GHGRP.
Still, you may be looking for ways to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. The GHGRP program offers guidance for doing just that. This article explores the GHGRP and the ways you can reduce your organization’s carbon footprint—including transitioning from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles.
If a facility emits more than 25,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, it must record and report those emissions to the EPA through the GHGRP. About 7,600 facilities currently report to the GHGRP. Combined, they emit 3 billion metric tons of CO2 per year, which is about 50 percent of total US GHG emissions. The EPA tracks another 1,000 fossil fuel suppliers. The EPA estimates that the GHGRP collects data on 85-90 percent of all US GHG emissions. The EPA has a list of industrial operations covered by the GHRP here. The EPA tracks total US GHG emissions in the US Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
According to the EPA, most office-based businesses, small businesses, and public institutions are relatively low GHG emitters. Most of their GHG emissions will come from electricity and vehicle usage. Small manufacturers will also have emissions related to refrigerants and other waste gases. The EPA has three categories for emissions:
Scope 1: Direct emissions from onsite combustion and mobile sources
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from purchased electricity and steam
Scope 3: Optional emissions–examples include product transport, employee business travel, and employed commuting.
The EPA offers guidance for identifying and measuring Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Again, Scope 1 emissions include emissions from directly burning fossil fuels and other things like wood, yard waste, paper, etc. Scope 1 emissions also include any natural gas that may leak from pipes or tanks. Finally, Scope 1 emissions include emissions from any vehicles owned by the organization.
You can eliminate Scope 1 vehicle emissions by switching to electric vehicles (EVs). EVs emit no CO2 and can be charged with power generated with renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal. There are many other advantages to transitioning your fleet to electric. Electric vans, trucks, and cars can have a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than their fossil fuel-powered counterparts. According to a recent study by US electric power utility PG&E, a fleet of 20 medium-duty diesel-powered delivery vans will cost approximately $4.14 million over 10 years of ownership. The TCO for an electric fleet of 20 medium-duty delivery vans over 10 years is just $2.76 million. EV fleets also give organizations the opportunity to control transportation energy/fuel costs more tightly. It’s easier to estimate the cost of electricity than it is to estimate the fluctuating price of oil and diesel fuel.
EVs are much less expensive to own and operate over time thanks to the low cost of electricity and mechanical maintenance when compared to diesel vehicles makes. There are also many tax and other government incentives for commercial EVs and EV charging infrastructure. In the US, there are significant tax breaks and funding available to businesses that want to electrify their fleet. The recently passed US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides nearly $370 billion to help combat climate change. Incentives include:
The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula program also provides $5 billion for DC fast charging sites. These funds are available now and some states have already started rolling out their NEVI programs.
Scope 2 emissions are generated by electricity production. If your organization purchases electricity generated by burning coal, Scope 2 emissions will be higher than if it purchases electricity from renewable energy sources. Many organizations don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to purchasing electricity—they usually must use electricity from whichever energy sources are available. But some utility companies offer the option to purchase all or a percentage of your electricity from renewable sources like solar or wind. Contact your local utility to determine if your organization can purchase energy from renewable sources. The EPA also offers advice for how to decrease Scope 2 emissions.
Scope 3 emissions come from any activities or assets not owned by your organization but are nonetheless the result of your organization’s activities. They include things like materials or product deliveries, business travel, and even employee commuting. Scope 3 emissions are also called value chain emissions and they often account for the majority of an organization’s GHG emissions.
The EPA has split Scope 3 emissions into 15 categories:
The EPA has more information about these categories and how to account for them here.
There are many ways that EVs can reduce Scope 3 emissions. Installing DC fast chargers at your office or facility can encourage employees to make the switch to electric, further reducing Scope 3 emissions. Organizations can also work with partners and suppliers to offer incentives to electrify delivery and other commercial vehicles. For example, a company may not own and operate the delivery vehicles for its product, but it can install DC fast chargers at distribution centers to encourage transport partners to electrify their fleets. Again, electricity prices can be more stable than diesel fuel prices, which lets organizations and their transportation partners plan more effectively.
To learn more about how EV commercial vehicles and DC fast charging infrastructure can save your organization money and cut GHG emissions, contact one of our experts today.