Choosing the greenest, most sustainable fleets in the country is a lot more complicated than simply adding up the number of alternative fueled vehicles. Twenty companies illustrate how trucking can take the lead in sustainability in HDT's annual Top Green Fleet awards, honoring strategies such as electric vehicle and alternative fuel adoption, fuel-saving techniques, and green facilities.
Although alternative fuels and drivetrains is one of the factors we considered, this year’s honorees, 20 of them (presented in alphabetical order) have varying sustainability strategies.
There’s a growing focus on electric trucks and renewable fuels, for instance, but no single “green” roadmap is right for every operation. For instance, companies operating in California are far more likely to have zero- or near-zero-emission trucks due to regulatory pressures and grant opportunities. Local and regional operations where trucks run predictable routes are better suited to deal with the infrastructure challenges of alternatives such as natural gas or electric charging.
Other fleets, in areas of the country without regulatory pressure or financial incentives, or whose operations feature less-predictable long-haul routes, may find that focusing on fuel efficiency is a better strategy.
For some companies, building facilities to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, developing extensive recycling programs, or other strategies may be a better fit.
We consider all of these in making our choices. Recent initiatives are counted more heavily. We also look for companies that clearly lay out their sustainability goals for customers and the industry, whether that’s via a section on their website, press releases touting green milestones, or participating in conferences and webinars to share their expertise.
And we try to feature a mixture of types and sizes of fleets. Long-haul, regional-haul, truckload, less-than-truckload, refuse, local delivery, drayage, dedicated, for-hire, private, and government fleets are all represented here. Fleet size ranges from fewer than 100 to some of the country’s largest trucking companies, showing you don’t have to be a giant to be a leader in being green.
We get most of the leads for the Top Green Fleets from an annual call for entries, but some are sparked by news releases, interviews, or public and industry presentations. If you feel your company deserves to be on next year’s list, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A. Duie Pyle — West Chester, Pennsylvania
This regional LTL, which has nearly 1,300 heavy-duty trucks and more than 100 medium-duty, says its ECO (Environmentally Conscious Operation) program has successfully led to numerous green and sustainable practices. It piloted two of the first 20 electric Fuso eCanter medium-duty trucks in the country at its Bronx service center, which also runs 10 hybrid-electric medium-duty trucks delivering in the New York area. Forty-five percent of Pyle’s trucks were built within the last 3.5 years, meaning they’re cleaner-burning and more fuel-efficient. Trailers have automatic tire inflation systems. The company uses tube lights in shops and break rooms that reflect sunlight into the building, and it has a warehouse running on solar power. Electric forklifts save approximately 24,000 pounds of carbon each.
Anheuser Busch (AB InBev) — St. Louis, Missouri
AB, which runs more than 1,500 Class 7-8 trucks and more than 1,100 light-duty, has preordered up to 800 Nikola hydrogen-electric trucks and 40 Tesla battery-electric long haul trucks. The beverage distributor is also expanding its short-haul fleet with BYD electric trucks in several states over the next few years. Its 181 natural-gas trucks will all be running on renewable natural gas by the end of the year. AB’s continuous improvement programs all have green/sustainability-focused pillars that encourage green ideas and projects to optimize fuel mileage, CO2 emissions, water and electricity usage, etc, including the use of solar power at facilities.
City of Long Beach — Long Beach, California
The City of Long Beach Fleet continues to strengthen its aggressive Green Fleet Program, currently focused primarily on electric vehicles. Its fleet, with more than 300 heavy-duty, 170 medium-duty and more than 300 light-duty, is currently 45% alternative fuel, and the 2021 replacement plan is 87% alternative fuel. A two-year-old interdepartmental Battery Electric Vehicle Task Force has expanded to coordinate and share lessons learned with Long Beach Water and the Port of Long Beach. The city is developing a Sustainable Fleet Policy, with a planned goal of reducing emissions by 1% per year while increasing alternative fuel vehicle count by 2% per year. Six percent of its motorized vehicles run on electricity, double the number from 2019. The city has successfully piloted six plug-in hybrid-electric XL pickup trucks, six hybrid vans, and five CNG hybrid aerial trucks. A time-fill CNG station fuels up to 100 heavy-duty vehicles. The fleet uses renewable natural gas and renewable diesel fuels. It attends several events each year that showcase green vehicle technology.
County of Sacramento — Sacramento, California
This county fleet has more than 200 heavy-duty trucks, more than 300 medium-duty and more than 500 light-duty vehicles. Its collection and transfer fleet is fueled 100% by renewable natural gas. RNG is also used in nine Class 8 dump trucks and five medium-duty service trucks. All remaining diesel-powered equipment is running on renewable diesel, except for the off-road equipment stationed at one landfill. It has electric chargers for fleet and public use at or near fleet offices and is running a number of light-duty electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as testing Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicles. It also participated in a long-term pilot of two electric refuse trucks. Fleet management are active in fleet and community organizations, including the Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition.
Estes Express Line — Richmond, Virginia
This LTL recently announced that it’s partnering with Clean Energy to acquire 50 new trucks fueled with renewable natural gas for its California fleet. This is in addition to the 21 RNG trucks it already has running in Texas. It was one of the first trucking companies to join the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership. Estes has installed solar-power systems in four terminals. It uses route-planning technology to minimize fuel consumption, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and improve efficiency. At the end of 2018, 70% of its tractors were four years old or newer.
J.B. Hunt Transport — Lowell, Arkansas
J.B. Hunt recently published a report disclosing key metrics on sustainability topics that align with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) framework. The report, a first of its kind for the company, also highlights long- and short-term strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is based on standards set by SASB, an independent, nonprofit standard-setting organization. J.B. Hunt is one of the first companies to provide sustainability disclosures applying SASB’s Road Transportation industry sector standards. Its short-term goal is to reduce metric tons of CO2-e per million company-operated ton-miles by 3% by 2025. The long-term goal is to convert at least 25% of its day cab and straight truck fleet to an alternative power fuel source by 2035. The company recently kicked off a three-month test of a Freightliner battery-electric eCascadia in its drayage operations in Los Angeles. It also continues to test natural gas-powered equipment with select customers. Other strategies include route optimization, speed governors, aerodynamics, and idle reduction. A Remedial Truck MPG Program uses detailed truck and driver data to target vehicles and/or drivers that may not be performing as well as expected in fuel mileage.
Knight-Swift Holdings — Phoenix, Arizona
The 19,000-truck fleet is testing two compressed natural gas and one electric truck in its Knight operations, and says it plans to invest in more alternative-fueled vehicles in the next year and five years. All tractors for both companies use biodiesel blends. A charter member of the EPA SmartWay program, the company recently set a goal to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2035. In addition to exploring electric and alt-fuel trucks, the company said it will meet his goal with next-generation tractor and trailer aerodynamic solutions; continuing deployment of advanced idle reduction technologies; and next-generation clean diesel engines. To formally kick off this initiative, Knight-Swift is deploying a pre-production Freightliner battery-electric eCascadia day cab tractor as part of the Freightliner Customer Experience Fleet.
Knoxville Utilities Board — Knoxville, Tennessee
This utility fleet services Knoxville and parts of seven surrounding counties. Out of its 123 heavy-duty, 161 medium-duty and 288 light-duty vehicles, it’s operating three heavy-duty natural gas, 11 hybrid-electric, 57 light-duty natural gas, one light-duty electric and 12 light-duty hybrids. It plans to invest further in alternative-fueled vehicles in the next year and the next five years. KUB opened a new CNG fueling station in 2017 to serve KUB, national, regional, and local fleets, as well as the public. Its facilities feature solar power, LEED-certified buildings, recycling programs, more efficient and sensor-based lighting, and electric forklifts. KUB’s fleet has maintained Tennessee Green Fleet certification from the Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition and serves on the TCFC board.
M&M Cartage — Louisville, Kentucky
This for-hire regional fleet of 260 heavy-duty trucks and a smattering of light- and medium-duty vehicles has 105 natural-gas-powered heavy trucks using renewable natural gas, exceeding its goal this year of reaching 100 CNG trucks. Another 150 trucks run on biodiesel blends. The company is on its sixth year of calculating greenhouse gas emissions using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Its current campus, built in 2015, is twice the size and capacity of the previous location but has reduced its Scope 2 Emissions by nearly half, with features such as energy-efficient construction, LED lighting and geothermal heating and air-conditioning. M&M continues to work toward adding solar panels, with the goal of becoming a net zero energy and zero landfill facility. It’s an active participant in the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, SmartWay and other initiatives.
Mahoney Transportation — Joliet, Illinois
Mahoney Transportation is the in-house carrier for Mahoney Environmental, which collects and processes used cooking oil and grease trap material from restaurants and refines it to a base feedstock for the production of bio and renewable diesel fuel. It then purchases the bio and renewable fuels to power its fleet, using biodiesel blends in all its 155 trucks plus some of its 40 light-duty vehicles. It also uses technologies to refine routing to reduce miles, stops, and run time. Mahoney is exploring the use of electric collection vehicles to lower the carbon intensity score of its product. Mahoney this year was acquired by Neste, which has been globally recognized as one of the world’s most sustainable corporations.
NFI — Camden, New Jersey
This for-hire fleet offers regional, long-haul, port drayage and warehousing services, with a fleet of 4,500 heavy-duty trucks. Of those, 23 are powered by natural gas, 11 of those near-zero powered by renewable natural gas. Fourteen trucks are electric, plus there are 27 electric yard tractors. About 2,000 trucks run on biodiesel blends. NFI has long been a leader in fuel-efficient specs and driving techniques, including the latest electric/hybrid/solar refrigeration units. It has been a key player in piloting new electric Class 8 trucks from Daimler Trucks North America and Volvo and has invested in charging stations with plans to expand its electric fleet. NFI is also exploring Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well as hybrid CNG/battery electric vehicles. Its facilities are sustainable as well, with LEED-certified buildings, solar power, electric forklifts, etc.
Nussbaum Transportation — Hudson, Illinois
With 450 Class 7-8 trucks, this for-hire carrier, with long-haul, regional, and local operations, puts its sustainability focus on fuel efficiency, averaging about 9.2 mpg. In the past year, it has continued to update its fuel-efficient specs, researching and testing new drive configurations and technologies, and outfitting all tractors with solar panels. A new rear-of-trailer aero system going on new trailers doesn’t require the driver to engage and requires less maintenance than previous fold-out tail systems. Nussbaum uses geothermal climate control and water reclamation in its facilities. The company uses biodiesel blends and expects to test electric trucks within the next five years. It is working to develop more regional operations that would keep trucks within closer range of a set location, which would make alt fuels more feasible.
Republic Services — Phoenix, Arizona
In 2019, Republic, which operates 18,000 refuse and recycling collection trucks in the U.S., unveiled ambitious 2030 sustainability goals to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions 35% by 2030 (compared to a 2017 baseline). One way it does that is with renewable natural gas; it has 38 compressed natural gas stations, and in 2019, it initiated three expansion projects. In 2019, Republic added 158 new CNG trucks, bringing the number of vehicles running on alternative fuels to more than 3,200, some 20% of its fleet. Republic inked a deal earlier this year with Nikola Corp. to deliver 2,500 integrated electric-powered refuse chassis and bodies starting in 2023. It recently took delivery of Mack’s new LR Electric model for in-service trials. Its new RISE platform is transforming dispatch operations and creating efficiencies that help decrease fuel usage and emissions through real-time routing. New and retrofitted buildings adhere to LEED standards.
Ruan — Des Moines, Iowa
Ruan, with more than 3,800 trucks, provides dedicated contract transportation, managed transportation and warehousing and logistics services. It runs 103 natural-gas heavy trucks, has run more than 100 million total miles on natural gas, and plans to further invest in alt fuels in the next year and five years. It specs fuel-efficient trucks with APUs, idle shutdowns, electric/hybrid/solar refrigeration units, and is using electric forklifts and pallet jacks in its warehouse operations. It is putting an electric yard tractor in service at its Minnesota operation. As a brochure explains, “We view sustainability as more than good business; it’s a moral imperative.”
Schneider — Green Bay, Wisconsin
Schneider has more than 2,500 trucks, about 100 of them medium-duty, and it uses them in long haul, regional haul, and drayage operations. One of its key sustainability platforms is its extensive use of intermodal to improve the overall efficiency of the transportation chain. From 2008 to 2019, it improved fuel efficiency 16.9%. Schneider was recently chosen to participate in the all-electric Freightliner Customer Experience Fleet, and it has placed reservations for the new Tesla Semi electric truck. Most new tractors added to the fleet are equipped with a battery-powered auxiliary power unit, and more than two-thirds of the fleet meets 2017 emissions standards. Schneider tested natural gas but found the economics lacking, but it does use 8.5 million gallons of blended biodiesel a year. Schneider has more than 500 trucks in various testing programs to evaluate fuel efficiency technologies.
System Freight Inc. — Jamesburg, New Jersey
With more than 400 heavy-duty trucks and a smattering of light- and medium-duty, this regional-haul fleet focuses on fuel economy, with a goal of an 8-mpg fleet average by the end of 2021. SFI is expanding the use of the new Turbo compounding engine technology it deployed in 2019 with 35 new Mack trucks, which consistently deliver 8-9 mpg depending on the operation and season. This will mean almost 20% of the fleet will have these engines.
Toyota Transport — Plano, Texas
Toyota Transport is the in-house vehicle delivery operation for Toyota Motors North America, with 86 heavy-duty car haulers. It delivers new Toyota and Lexus vehicles from ports and railheads to our dealers. Probably no other fleet in the country has four hydrogen-electric trucks in its fleet, which it just started piloting. The company also deployed one of the first-ever natural-gas car haulers, running on renewable natural gas. It also uses various techniques to improve fuel efficiency, including APUs, idle reduction policies, fuel-efficiency training and bonuses for drivers, in-cab fuel efficiency coaching, and APUs, and it has LEED-certified facilities.
Total Transportation Services — Rancho Dominguez, California
Sustainability is front and center at TTSI, with its website home page emphasizing its commitment to reducing pollution and a small environmental footprint. TTSI said it was the first company to put liquified natural gas tractors in service at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and has tractors running on LNG, CNG, battery-electric, and hydrogen electric. Last fall, the company announced it was replacing its entire diesel fleet with near-zero emission natural gas trucks fueled by renewable natural gas. Its goal is to go totally zero-emissions, and the company said it’s testing every zero-emission Class 8 tractor on the market.
UPS — Atlanta, Georgia
UPS says the use of alternative and renewable fuels is critical to achieving its goal to reduce absolute GHG emissions. In 2019, alternative fuels made up 24% of its total ground fuel usage; Its goal is to reach 40% by 2025. UPS’s fleet of more than 10,300 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles includes all-electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, renewable natural gas, biodiesel, and propane vehicles. In 2019, it continued expanding this specialized fleet. This year, UPS announced a significant investment in the U.K.-based startup Arrival, which will add 10,000 all-electric delivery vehicles to the fleet. At its facilities, UPS’s goal is for 25% renewable energy by 2025, and it continues to deploy rooftop solar arrays and procure renewable electricity for additional UPS locations.
Walmart — Bentonville, Arkansas
Walmart says it wants to go beyond sustainability as it is understood today and has set itself on a path toward becoming a “regenerative” company. It recently announced an ambitious goal to achieve zero-carbon operations by 2040. The three-fold plan includes electrifying all of its vehicles, including long-haul trucks, by 2040. It also plans to use wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to 100% power its facilities by 2035, and transition to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrifying its heating equipment by 2040. Walmart powers around 29% of its operations with renewable energy and diverts approximately 80% of its waste from landfills and incineration globally. Walmart Canada recently more than tripled its reservations of electric Tesla Semi trucks to a total of 130 and has committed to having a 100% alternatively powered fleet by 2028.
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