21 Mar 23

Why the role of fleet manager is changing to sustainability manager

As major companies pursue ambitious environmental agendas and report their greenhouse gas emissions, fleet managers are seizing the opportunity to broaden their roles to become corporate sustainability managers.

For many businesses, tailpipe emissions represent a significant percentage of their overall carbon emissions, putting fleets in the spotlight of green programmes.

“For the biggest fleets, we are already seeing and will continue to see the sustainability manager as a dedicated and specific role because of the importance surrounding the issues,” said Tom Rowlands, Managing Director Global EV Solutions at Allstar, part of FLEETCOR (pictured below).

He sees the role of sustainability manager rapidly evolving, as it encompasses ESG, procurement and carbon reporting duties to help organisations with their decarbonisation programmes.

“A lot of the role is bringing together disparate parts of organisations that have not had much need to speak to each other in the past,” said Rowlands. “Historically, a fleet manager and a property manager probably haven’t had that much to do with one another, but now they have to work incredibly closely together to plan the installation of workplace chargers and assess the energy required for depot charging.”

Successful sustainability management requires more than data collection and planning, with Rowlands highlighting the ambassadorial elements of the job as companies look to shrink their carbon footprints.

“This is a big hearts and minds role to win people over within an organisation to help it get where it needs to get to,” he said. “Part of the role of a sustainability manager potentially involves pitching less cost effective or less commercially viable solutions, which are nonetheless required to achieve the results that organisations want to achieve.”

Return on investment

Where traditional procurement has focused on feature functionality and quality, as well as price, environmental measures may incur higher costs or longer payback periods, but there is a return-on-investment from pursuing sustainability, with the majority of tenders now including a section on the environmental performance and goals of competing suppliers.

“The importance of ESG has moved from a tick box exercise to a value add because investors and customers all are looking for companies that are doing the right things. The commercial upside is now clear,” said Rowlands.

The ability to monitor, measure and report greenhouse gas emissions will also become obligatory once the European Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive comes into force in financial year 2024, for reports published in 2025. The directive will require about 50,000 large companies, as well as listed SMEs, to report on sustainability.

As a business payments and fuel card specialist, Allstar is now seeing customers want the same forensic level of carbon reporting from their EV charging.

“In conjunction with Mina, we are now carbon reporting on home charging, wherever we have an integration with the National Grid [in the UK] to access that data and include it in our dashboards,” said Rowlands. “Fleets would like to see actual grammes of CO2 per kWh from home charging.”

Fleet sustainability will be central to the Global Fleet Conference in May - click here for details.

Fleet sustainability training

This year the Association of Fleet Professionals has increased its range of courses designed to help fleet managers enhance both their core skills and meet new challenges.

Paul Hollick, chair of the AFP, said interest in training had been rising since the pandemic.

“There’s been a definite increase in fleet managers looking to upskill to meet current and future fleet challenges such as electrification, so we are offering more training courses in 2023 with 85% more training spaces.”

The association is running courses dedicated to making the switch to electric vehicles, and to transitioning van fleets to battery power. For details, see theafp.co.uk.

Authored by: Jonathan Manning