The Reasons and Challenges of Sustainability in Local Government
Municipalities in North America are increasingly focusing on green initiatives and sustainability for a variety of reasons. While many cities in Europe and Asia have led the way for electrified municipal fleets, low-emission cities and mass implementation of green technologies, these matters are now gaining importance and urgency on the western hemisphere.
Sustainability is happening at every different level today. From its crucial role in the strategies of major corporations to varying importance at an individual household level. The difference at a local government level are the reasons for a push toward sustainability, and of course, the challenges.
Why is sustainability important to municipalities?
There are a few reasons why municipal fleets are being pushed toward greener operations. The first being general environmental concerns. Both the US and Canada have committed to reaching net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 due to increased urgency in the climate crisis. While these pledges have been made at federal levels, municipalities are pivotal to the countries’ greater goals and set up the foundations within our communities for a greener future.
Another major reason is the promise of cost savings and future proofing. More people are realizing that sustainability is not just a fleeting social trend, but a long-term global shift. What’s more, it’s an opportunity to save on costs. Municipal fleets have several options for implementing sustainability that will also reduce yearly costs, such as transitioning to alternative fuels, implementing more efficient technologies, municipal fleets can reduce their fuel and maintenance costs over the long term. This not only helps to save money, but ensures that fleets remain competitive and sustainable in the years to come.
READ MORE: Cost-Saving Features of our GHG Analytics
For government fleets specifically, regulatory compliance is another driving factor for fleets going green. While sustainability regulations on municipal fleets can vary by location, in many cases, they are similar to those imposed on commercial fleets. California, for example, has some of the strictest emissions standards. Due to this, fleets are opting to implement greener options such as alternative fuels or EVs, in order to ensure compliance and avoid penalties. The state is also requiring municipal fleets to meet certain quotas for the use of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2030.
Despite the many reasons for pushing toward sustainability, however, there are also obstacles blocking the way.
In addition to the challenges that any fleet manager faces when transitioning toward greener operations, such as procurement costs, availability, education and training, government fleets face some additional obstacles.
Budget constraints and limited funding sources are two of the top challenges for government fleets. Government fleets are often subject to tight budgets and may not have the resources to invest in costly sustainable technologies or fuels. This can make it difficult to secure the necessary funding to install new infrastructure and vehicles. Getting budget approved for these investments can also be a very time-intensive process and depend heavily on budgeting priorities within your community. To combat this, some municipal fleets are able to used grant programs and incentives to offset high upfront costs.
Another obstacle for government fleets can be the painstaking procurement process. Often times, the processes for replacing traditional and established practices can be lengthy and bureaucratic. To overcome these challenges, government fleets may need to educate procurement officials about the benefits of sustainable strategies.
The bottom line
Despite the challenges, sustainable technologies and fuels can offer significant benefits for government fleets that make them worth the long-term investment. Communities can benefit from reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality and saved tax dollars over time. Government fleets planning for a sustainable future can look forward to operating more efficiently and responsibly, while also enhancing public perception as conscientious caretakers of public resources.