The car rental market is one market that is constantly getting greener, offering a growing number of green services from the newest electric cars to car sharing programs. Yet surprisingly, none of the major car rental companies, until now, have published a sustainability report. Well, that was true until last week when Enterprise Holdings (which owns and operates Alamo, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car brands) took the lead and announced the release of its first ever sustainability report.
If you have followed TriplePundit for a while this news shouldn’t come as a surprise to you – reports on Enterprise’s commitment to sustainability and green initiatives date back to 2008 and 2009. This year you could also read here how Enterprise is the first to offer Chevy Volts for rent and is rolling out the largest EV rental fleet in service. It also makes sense that as the leading rental car company in the world (measured by revenue, employees and fleet,) Enterprise also leads this market when it comes to sustainability reporting.
Here are some of the report’s highlights:
- 20/20 Vision Program: Hit the 4 percent target for energy usage reduction as part of the company’s five-year program, designed to reduce overall energy consumption by 20 percent in its network of branches.
- Enterprise Sustainable Construction Protocol (ESCP): Launched a new industry-leading effort to make all newly constructed and retrofitted rental locations sustainable during the next five years. Enterprise began investing more than $150 million in sustainable construction through the use of these new guidelines.
- Electric Vehicles: Took delivery of more than 150 full EVs, including more Nissan Leafs than any other rental operator. In addition, Enterprise was the first company to rent the plug-in hybrid electric Chevy Volt.
- 50 Million Tree Pledge: Funded the addition of one million trees to national forests in countries where Enterprise operates as part of its private/public/nonprofit partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service.
- Electrification Coalition: Joined this nonpartisan, not-for-profit group of business leaders representing the entire value chain of the growing electric-vehicle industry.
- National Clean Fleets Partnership: Became a corporate member of this public-private partnership, which was established to help large companies reduce diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures into their daily operations.
Besides the 20/20 vision’s goal mentioned above, Enterprise includes in this report couple of interesting goals: reducing its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 10 percent by 2015, converting all airport shuttle buses in its fleet to B20 biodiesel by 2015 and increasing participation in its annual Enterprise Holdings health assessment to 10,000 employees companywide by 2015.
Looking at the company’s carbon footprint reduction goal, it seems reasonable at first given these are the company’s first steps in calculating and managing its carbon emissions. Yet, it’s important to note that this goal relates only to Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, which represent only 3 percent of the company’s overall impact. The rest, 97 percent, are Scope 3 emissions generated mainly from the cars as Enterprise’s customers drive them. If you do the math, you find that the company’s goal equals a 0.3 percent reduction, which doesn’t seem to be too challenging, to say the least.
Enterprise is not the first company that has made big commitments for small sections of their footprint. We also see this pattern in other companies’ reports, like Timberland and Vodafone. I have to say I’m not a big fan of these sorts of goals, as they might lead to a misrepresentation of the company’s efforts to reduce its overall impact. Yet, I do have to commend Enterprise for being fully transparent, giving clear and detailed explanations about their decision not to include Scope 3 in their goal for now (it’s seems they just don’t have the information now), and committing in their goals for the next report to “establish a baseline for Scope 3 emissions within our supply chain. Other indirect emissions such as fuels, transport-related activities – and, in our specific case, the GHG emissions of our cars as our customers drive them.”
It was also encouraging to read in the report on their chairman’s task force – a cross-functional group of 15 department heads and subject-matter experts that is at the core of Enterprise’s sustainability effort. Founded last year, the task force identified priorities for Enterprise’s sustainability program and it transcends individual departments to bring a full-scope approach to important issues and makes addressing them a responsibility of the entire company. Creating such a senior governing body not only helps to integrate sustainability in the company in a strategic way, but also ensures the company’s commitment to this process on all levels and throughout all of its operations.
With a fleet of more than 1.2 million cars and trucks, Enterprise has the power to push the transportation space forward and make it more sustainable. It is becoming more important as we see a growing demand for SUVs and light trucks. This trend means that without a gas tax or similar economic incentives, we need the help of companies like Enterprise to make the market greener. Therefore, this report is very important, providing a clear indication that sustainability has become an essential part of Enterprise’s DNA.
Raz Godelnik is the co-founder of Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry in the digital age. He is also an adjunct professor in the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.