Responsible Purchasing Network

Fleets: Overview

Welcome to the Responsible Purchasing Guide for Light-Duty Fleet Vehicles. This guide covers vehicles and fuels that operate efficiently, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and increase energy security.

Below we provide an overview of each section of the Guide: Social & Environmental Issues; Best Practices; Cost, Quality & Supply; Policies; Specifications; StandardsProducts; Handy Facts; Definitions; and Credits & Endnotes.

Social & Environmental Issues

The social & environmental issues section discusses how motor vehicles are a significant source of air pollutants that cause smog and unhealthy air conditions. This air pollution causes asthma, cancer, heart disease, birth defects, and brain damage. In addition, these vehicles emit close to one-third of the country’s total annual carbon dioxide emissions. By consuming vast amounts of petroleum fuel, motor vehicles reduce U.S. energy security.

Best Practices

In the best practices section, we discuss how fleet managers can reduce the negative human and environmental impacts of vehicles through trip planning and reduction, improved maintenance and operation of conventional vehicles, use of fuel-efficient vehicles, and replacement of gasoline and diesel with clean, low-carbon alternatives. Practices such as maintaining proper tire pressure and changing oil and filters are standard and should occur on a regular basis. Other practices, such as purchasing vehicles painted in light rather than dark colors to reduce air conditioning needs in summertime, are one-time decisions that require forward planning.

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Cost, Quality & Supply

After implementing trip planning and vehicle efficiency measures, fleet purchasers can look for new vehicles and fuels to add to the fleet. The cost, quality & supply section discusses issues that should be considered when making vehicle and fuel procurement decisions. The vehicle market is dominated by traditional gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles and there is usually substantial variation in environmental performance even between the best and worst conventional vehicles in a class. In addition, a range of technologies (e.g., hybrid-electric vehicles) and fuels (e.g., ethanol, biodiesel, and compressed natural gas) are becoming increasingly available and price competitive.


The policies section highlights various government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses that have already implemented responsible fleet policies. These policies typically require the use of particular fuels, such as CNG, E85 and biodiesel; vehicles, such as hybrids and flex-fuel; and maintenance and management practices such as maintaining proper tire pressure, limiting vehicle idling time, and trip-planning to reduce mileage.


The specifications section provides examples of bid contracts and RFPs for responsible vehicles and fuels. Flex-fuel cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans are now being specified in large quantities, especially by federal and state government agencies required to do so by EPAct 2005. Similarly, over 200 fleets now have contracts with specifications for hybrid vehicles. In recognition of the fuel economy and emissions benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG), many centrally-fueled fleets are also specifying for CNG vehicles in their purchase contracts.


The standards section discusses certifications that can be used to improve the social and environmental profile of a vehicle fleet. Emissions from most vehicles are determined by federal government standards. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) emission standard designates gasoline vehicles that have fewer emissions than most vehicles sold with the federal government’s standard. Other standards relate to the quality of alternative fuels (e.g., ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas) that a fleet may purchase directly from a fuel producer for dispensing at a central fleet-owned pump.


Our online products database allows users to compare purchase price, engine type, and fuel economy for 2007 model year light duty vehicles. Vehicles in this database include:

  1. All hybrid vehicles available in 2007
  2. All flex-fuel vehicles available in 2007
  3. Conventional gasoline versions of hybrid and flex-fuel models
  4. Most efficient gasoline vehicle in each vehicle class

Handy Facts 

The handy facts section provides a referenced set of facts and findings pertaining to office electronics.


The definitions section provides a glossary of terms used throughout the Guide.

Credits & Endnotes

The credits & endnotes section lists the people responsible for writing, reviewing, and editing this Guide along with a listing of sources referenced.

Creative Commons License This work by the Responsible Purchasing Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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Powerpoint Presentations -

Climate Neutral Fleet

August 21, 2007
Download in PDF format

RPN  - Resources and Tools for Reducing GHGs

ICLEI - Reducing GHG Emissions in the Transportation Sector

Environmental Defense - Carbon Neutral Fleet Management

Ann Arbor, MI - Green Fleets Case Study


Green Fleet 

March 29, 2007
Download in Powerpoint format:

RPN, Responsible Purchasing Guide, Matt Kittell

Illinois EPA, Ethanol and Biodiesel, Darwin Burkhart

King County Fleets, Hybrid Vehicles, Windell Mitchell