Justin Raymond, president and CEO of Toronto based Green Ride Global, has a long history in problem solving for companies. He spent the last 15 years creating best practices in business development, marketing, and brand-building for the transportation industry across Canada. Then, he started GRG in 2007, and has helped operators in the chauffeured transportation, motorcoach, trucking, taxicab, and courier industries go green.
During his career, Raymond noticed that several ground transportation businesses shared a need for environmental expertise. What seemed to be missing was a structured plan for achieving environmentally friendly goals, such as lowering fleet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, obtaining ISO 14001 certification, marketing their environmental efforts, and making it clear that GRG members are complying with ever-increasing corporate client green mandates.
After noticing that more business opportunities come to companies that market their green credentials, Raymond partnered with Green Ride Global COO Ian Lipton who has held senior executive roles in the environmental sustainability sector.
Raymond says the key to creating goals for environmental sustainability is making sure the practices actually work. “The ongoing measurements clearly illustrate [whether] your decision making, from an environmental standpoint, is creating a positive effect on your business,” Raymond says.
“When we create emission reduction targets for a company, we like to speak in terms of an annual goal, but also a longterm goal,” he adds. He points out that companies typically see up and down financial years depending on the market, so GRG shoots for annual GHG emissions reductions of 1.5% to 3% per year. That results in a 20% to 30% reduction in just 10 years.
Raymond stresses the advantage of a long-term relationship as the business progresses in its sustainable practices. While some businesses work with GRG over the short term, generally “it’s a long-term undertaking for most companies that are serious about it,” he says.
He describes the company’s experience with its first and current client, Rosedale Livery, based in Missisauga, Ontario: “They have taken all the efforts to evolve from an environmental standpoint.” Rosedale has been working with Green Ride Global for more than a year.
San Francisco-based Pure Luxury Transportation, a limousine charter company, began working with Green Ride Global in January 2008. Since then, they have determined their baseline GHG emissions from last year, and also have measured emissions from electricity and heating fuel consumption, waste disposal, and employee travel.
In addition to measuring emissions, Pure Luxury Transportation is following in the footsteps of the signatories to the Carbon Disclosure Project, an independent nonprofit initiative of 75% of the world’s largest corporations who are committed to showing how their operations affect climate change. Pure Luxury is setting a minimal goal of reducing its emissions by 2% each year. “We felt very strongly that Green Ride Global was the best fit for us, and where we wanted to be with our emissions within the shortest time frame,” says Jennifer Buffo, COO.
Results surpass expectations
Buffo says that when she began working with Green Ride, she expected the typical results from changed behavior (based on the Scope categories) of 1% to 2% overall year to year. Instead, the company ended up reducing its GHG emissions by 3 metric tons, or 16% per vehicle. “What surprised us was that we produced these great results while expanding the size of our fleet, which would normally have caused all our emissions to go up,” Buffo says.
Future greening goals for Pure Luxury include: continuing to change its practices while investigating how it can transform its fleet to alternative fuels such as biodiesel; equipping its vehicles with more fuel efficient technologies; researching the best new fleet vehicles to replace older ones; and converting its office operations to more energy-efficient practices and reduced consumption of products that harm the environment, Buffo adds.
After checking out a few greening companies and talking with GRG, Joe Magnano, president of Los Angeles based California Limousines, felt comfortable committing to the program. “It was kind of my vision to do something environmentally correct, to be the leader instead of the follower,” he says.
GRG is measuring components of California Limousines’ carbon footprint, ranging from fleet emissions to employee commutes. As soon as the assessments are complete, the companies will work together to determine emission reduction goals for the rest of the year. At that point, they will officially begin the process.
Looking to their future plans with GRG, Magnano says that they will focus on cutting emissions by a percentage per year, over a five- or six-year span. Any vehicles that California Limousines had bought at the beginning of 2008, will be replaced in about three or four years.
“I’m learning as the days go on,” Magnano says. “Just the environmental impact on our vehicles is a process in itself. I feel really positive about the direction we’re heading.”
What “Green” Really Means
Justin Raymond finds the biggest hurdle to greening transportation companies is educating them about green practices. “There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace about what being green really means,” he says. “From an environmental standpoint, there’s definitely [more] understanding [needed in] the work required to put a proper system into place.”
The financial investment in environmental programs at first can seem daunting for some operators. But once they realize their investment will focus on fleets, facilities, and staff education, the investment returns become obvious. “Everything comes down to dollars and cents, and that’s what they want to see. If that can be communicated effectively to them, they will buy in,” Raymond says.
He also points out that many transportation companies are starting to feel pressure from clients to become more environmentally friendly, and are not sure where to start or how to respond without formal best practices in place. Since many operators avoid promoting themselves as green for fear of being accused of “overpromising” or “greenwashing,” Green Ride Global helps them accurately market and communicate sustainable practices and goals.
On the business development side, they also help clients fill out sections of their RFPs, business tender opportunities, and will even represent them from an environmental standpoint.
“We are a third-party organization [that helps businesses that] don’t know where to turn,” Raymond says. “That’s the need that we’re filling. And we’re very happy to do so.”
Originally posted on LCT Magazine