Back in the earliest days of SmartWay, there were more than a few skeptics in truck land concerned with the idea of voluntarily working in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (a regulatory agency, for Pete’s sake) to help reduce vehicle emissions, save fuel and lower costs by adopting advanced technologies and practices. Today, however, the proof of this public-private partnership’s success is everywhere you look.

Thanks in no small part to the business-based model that has guided the program forward by keeping a clear focus on the benefits for member carriers, SmartWay has grown from its 15 “Charter Partners” to about 3,000 partners in the U.S. and Canada. Together, EPA and its partners have saved $16.8 billion in fuel costs and reduced emissions by an amount equal to taking 10 million cars off the road for one year.

SmartWay’s unique approach to driving change is also finding new expressions around the globe. The “SmartWay Timeline—A History of SmartWay Milestones from 2004-2014” highlights some of these international successes, such as the 2005 launch of a joint project between EPA and Natural Resources Canada to “reduce idling, deploy clean technologies, and increase driver training and awareness.”

The timeline also includes the first SmartWay International Summit held in 2008 to discuss the program’s model and how it might apply to the global supply chain, and the support SmartWay provided to China in 2009 for the development of a green truck program there.

In 2012, Natural Resources Canada and EPA signed an agreement establishing SmartWay in Canada. Green Freight EU and China Green Freight also developed initiatives based on the SmartWay model. By 2013, the United Nations was in as well. The United Nations Environment Programme’s Climate and Clean Air Initiative adopted SmartWay as a model partnership to be used around the world.

This spring, the results of a special workgroup formed in 2011 under the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, were summarized in a report of “Recommendations and Findings” for the future of SmartWay. Sub-workgroups offered lists of recommendations in three categories: 1) how to accelerate and sustain continued efficiency improvements in trucking and rail; 2) opportunities for additional fuel savings and emissions reductions from other modes of freight transportation, such as marine and air freight; and 3) opportunities in the non-road sector.

LOOKING AHEAD

These recommendations are now in the hands of the EPA for consideration. Next to the recent publication of proposed greenhouse gas/fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks, this report provides the best glimpse of the potential role of SmartWay going forward. Recommendations in the report that could have the most impact on truck fleets include to:

  • Improve and streamline the technology verification process, incorporate emerging technologies, and raise performance thresholds for SmartWay designation for truck models.
  • Limit SmartWay’s focus on vocational trucks to large fleets and operators.
  • Keep the drayage focus on fleets of 50+ and use port metrics to measure idling and queuing.
  • Enhance the role of third-party logistics partners and identify credit opportunities that foster transportation mode shift and operational improvements.
  • Ease and simplify SmartWay participation for small carriers and owner-operators.
  • Incorporate SmartWay into driver training programs.
  • Require shippers to report carbon targets and include operational strategies across all transportation modes.
  • Enhance financing programs as funding is available to reach out to under-served populations.