Britain’s determination to develop a ‘green’ transport system is usually typified by the purchase of new vehicles that incorporate the latest eco-friendly technology, and that’s certainly an important factor. However, one issue that has been overlooked in most cases is driving habits; the way we drive makes a significant difference in the amount of fuel the vehicle consumes, regardless of the type of fuel.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) has been addressing that issue and the results have won them the Leadership Award from the Energy Saving Trust Fleet Hero Awards 2011. The awards ceremony took place last month in London, attended by the Under-Secretary of State, Norman Baker.
Transport Minister Baker said that greener fleets are a major part of the drive to reduce carbon emissions, and that he is “. . . delighted to see such excellent progress in this area.” YAS is the first ambulance service to participate in the competition organized by the Energy Saving Trust, and has won previous awards for Sustainability Team of the Year and Fleet Manager of the Year.
Alexis Keech, environmental and sustainability manager for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, is the main force behind YAS’s win in the leadership category. She believes that ongoing training in greener driving skills, combined with an incentive programme and good communication between staff and management is the way to encourage a permanent change in every driver’s habits.
The Fleet Hero Awards are judged by the Trust for public and private organisations that have been successful in reducing their carbon emissions and fuel consumption through company policies. YAS was noted as being the first ambulance service in the UK to instigate a Carbon Management programme and for its highly effective driver training courses.
The success of that driver training is all the more impressive since, unlike other businesses that may offer cash incentives to their staff members, YAS can’t legally do that. The reward is simply a certificate of excellence and a pat on the back, so the programme and its participants are a shining example of cooperation and dedication to the ultimate goal of a greener environment.
YAS is a trail-blazer in the carbon management area; its original plan was based on the identified potential to reduce fleet carbon emissions by at least 30%, well above the legal requirement. That reduction could equate to over 2,000 tonnes of carbon per year, and a significant savings to taxpayers of as much as £1.5million.
With a territory of approximately 6,000 square miles and 270 rapid response vehicles, there are other factors to consider in implementing a greener operating scenario. In collaboration with Leeds University, YAS has also designed a more aerodynamic body for the ambulance with an aerofoil on the roof that could add miles to the gallon by up to 10%. Keech says the new design is also lighter, costs less to purchase and is still capable of safely transporting an obese patient.