Running Ignorant About Emissions

Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief | September 28, 2010

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As we tell our children, ignorance is not bad. Ignorance simply means somebody doesn't know something. Being ignorant is not the same as being stupid. In fact, recognizing ignorance is the first step toward understanding and improvement.

We have uncovered a lot of ignorance in our continuing series on the environmental and emissions issues facing equipment managers, "Running Green." Many of the people responsible for managing the fleet assets of the nation's contractors, municipalities and nonconstruction companies are ignorant about the situation.

So we set out to determine what the industry does know, to benchmark, if you will, current understanding so we can mold our series to be the most useful and informative it can be. We mailed questionnaires to a cross-section of our readership and to members of the Association of Equipment Management Professionals. Nearly 20 percent responded, giving us a base of 442.

What we found didn't surprise us, and it should comfort and encourage those managers who are finding themselves playing catch-up.

A fundamental question is who governs emissions in your area, to which 31 percent said they didn't know. Given the choice between state, local or federal, this seems to indicate the level of confusion developing among fleets who operate in nonattainment areas, metropolitan areas, across regions, and those who work in rural areas. If you don't know, it's time to find out. Regardless of your operation's market range, regulation is heading your way.

Months ago, we suggested in this space that managers should consider a new function within their fleet structure: Fleet Environmental Manager. Our research shows why. Nearly half of respondents say "nobody" has official responsibility for fleet emissions/environmental compliance. More ominous: Eight out of 10 do not have a formal emissions plan or strategy.

Recognizing ignorance is the first step toward understanding. Not following up, however, is irresponsible. Your fleet needs to meet emissions and environmental standards, and you're the person responsible for the fleet. Benchmark your own understanding, learn what the standards are for your fleet today and beyond, and move on it. It's the responsible thing to do.