Businesses are warming up to the idea of crowdsourcing more and more to help them become more sustainable. Unilever asked for ideas about sustainable showering, Heineken looked for some help in designing a greener six pack, and now Duane Reade is asking the public to help it decide which of its stores in New York City will switch to electric trucks. It’s true that participants don’t need to contribute their creativity to the decision-making process, in this case, but this time they’re getting an opportunity to make an impact not only on the company, but also on their own neighborhood.
This initiative is a result of collaboration between Mission Electric, a partnership among non-profits and the mayor’s offices of Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City to educate and engage the public around electric vehicles and Duane Reade, which is looking to switch 25 percent of its fleet to electric trucks over the next year. The company has already selected five stores in New York City to serve with e-trucks, and now is asking the public to vote (on Mission Electric’s website) which two additional stores in the Big Apple will be going completely electric.
It all started with the vision of electric cars as part of a cleaner future, which Mission Electric works to promote among the residents of New York. “While we are fans of electric vehicles, our goal is not to sell cars, but to give the public a right to choose and participate in the future of urban transportation. If we can get this right with cars, imagine what else we as citizens can do,” Asaf Selinger, project manager at Mission Electric told me.
“In our partnership with Duane Reade we are getting New Yorkers to rethink the way their goods get transported to the store. We all complain about pollution and noise, and here we’re actually giving residents a solution that they can decide on. Every year each of these electric trucks will save 16,000 gallons of diesel, that’s 224,000 gallons,” he added.
And what about Duane Reade? To learn more about their perspective on the campaign, I got in touch with Michael Fowles, Fleet Manager at Duane Reade.
TriplePundit: What benefits do you hope to gain from purchasing 14 electric trucks?
Michael Fowels: In addition to being employees of Duane Reade/Walgreens, we are also residents of NYC. As such, we want to contribute to the livability of the New York Metropolitan area by reducing our carbon footprint, noise, congestion, and pollution that result from a traditional delivery. Our electric trucks are noise free, emission free, and allow us to deliver opportunistically to reduce congestion.
3p: What feedback do you get from your truck drivers? Do they like the shift to electric cars?
MF: Our drivers were initially skeptical about the electric trucks, but virtually all have now embraced them and many prefer to drive the electric trucks over their diesel counterparts. The drivers indicate they are more alert when driving and more relaxed at the end of the shift due to less truck vibration and virtually no noise, in comparison to the diesel vehicles in our fleet.
3p: Do you have plans to replace the rest of your fleet to electric cars in the near future?
MF: We are interested in continuing to explore expanding our fleet as we address current limitations of the electric trucks such as time required to charge, driving range between charges and cost.
3p: What about your customers – do you receive any feedback from them? Do you think they care about it?
MF: Our customers who understand or take the time to learn about our environmental initiatives are usually always impressed and complimentary. Our drivers have commented on unsolicited positive feedback they’ve received from complete strangers about the electric trucks. I really like to observe the reaction of people when they can see what the truck can do without an internal combustion engine – it’s pretty amazing!
3p: How do you promote the campaign online and in the stores?
MF: We have ongoing Mission Electric/Duane Reade “Truck Challenge” in-store signage in addition to digital support on the Duane Reade corporate website and continuous social content syndication via Duane Reade Facebook/Twitter and the Duane Reade VIP Blogger Team.
TP: Finally, is Duane Reade taking more steps to reduce its environmental impacts?
3p: Our new and renovated stores feature 95-98 percent low-heat LED lighting, translating to approximately 40 percent less power consumption each year, eliminating the high-energy output air-conditioning units that were once required to mitigate the excessive heat produced by traditional light sources. In these same stores, Duane Reade has also incorporated Polyflor flooring, which is produced by using 30 percent less water than most other commercial surfaces. It requires little maintenance and cleaning, while presenting an average life span of 20 to 25 years, thereby significantly reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
If you want to participate in the campaign, you can vote for a location until September 2nd at http://nyc.missionelectric.org/
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 an adjunct faculty at the University of Delaware’s Business School, CUNY SPS and the New School, teaching courses in green business and new product development.