Strategies For A Sustainable Shop

Resource conservation in a maintenance facility isn’t just a “green” initiative, it’s a matter of cost savings, safety, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, advanced lighting in the work space and continuous improvement. When a business implements and commits to an energy management program, it drives efficiencies and costs savings, enhances customer service and increases productivity and worker safety.

The transportation industry, and maintenance operations in particular, have numerous opportunities to recover and recycle waste streams and improve energy conservation, all of which improve the bottom line. When it comes to resource conservation, we suggest a broad-based approach, including energy management, water conservation, waste stream management and recycling.


The first step to any successful program is measuring existing performance. It’s important to establish a baseline before establishing energy conservation goals.

Ryder monitors and reports electricity, natural gas, water and sewer consumption for all operations in the U.S. and Canada through a dedicated software program. We also track electricity at all United Kingdom facilities.

This allows us to calculate our Scope I (direct GHG emissions) and Scope II (indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam) greenhouse gas emissions. To track and compute Scope II stationary emissions, we use a tracking model that includes a weather-compensated platform.

The energy management platform models energy demand at each facility and calculates various metrics, including usage per square foot. It then ranks similar sized locations and determines which facilities are the most, and least, energy efficient. The detailed analysis allows us to identify which conservation practices work the best and also helps us decide how to incorporate recommended upgrades to provide the best payback and return on investment.


The next step is to outline a plan for reducing energy consumption and waste. Many people are surprised when they learn how simple improvements can deliver significant returns and environmental benefits. According to utility and energy experts, even simple electricity conservation management practices at each location can easily achieve 3 to 5 percent savings, and that’s without expensive capital investments.

We’ve used a variety of tools to drive energy savings, including an Energy Challenge targeting our top 25 largest users and a company-wide employee Energy Blog to share best practices and resources. In addition, we have standard tools like an Energy Management and Control Checklist for all of our facilities. This tool offers how-to low-cost tips for saving energy.

The checklist identifies opportunities to improve lighting controls, lighting efficiency and heating/cooling efficiency. With lighting controls, there are different ways to manage external and interior lighting. For example, installing timers, motion sensors or photocells on all non-security lighting at fuel islands, wash bays, conference rooms, storage areas and occasional use areas is a simple way to reduce electricity usage.


It’s also very important to look at the efficiency of the actual lighting in a facility. Replacing light fixtures with energy-efficient bulbs is another great way to reduce energy consumption. In fact, Ryder implemented a program that evaluates existing lighting in our shops and where practical, lighting is replaced with energy-efficient fixtures.

One of the most frequently overlooked opportunities in shops today is establishing a routine, systematic inspection and maintenance program for heating and cooling equipment. Inspecting air filters monthly, changing out filters and cleaning drain pans, condensers and coils every six months can reduce kWh use by 5 percent.

Other opportunities in this area include replacing manual thermostats with locking, programmable thermostats, routinely inspecting and replacing weatherstripping on doors and caulking around windows every three years to prevent heating and cooling loss.

It’s also important to consider energy performance in any environmental due diligence process when purchasing or leasing a new facility or when purchasing large equipment that requires significant power consumption, such as air compressors, heavy shop equipment, fuel dispensing equipment and vehicle wash equipment. Replacing office equipment and appliances with more efficient models can substantially reduce energy use as well.

One of the most useful no-cost improvements include training employees to turn off lights and equipment that is not in use or needed including outdoor lights, personal computer monitors, lights in occasionally occupied rooms, to name a few.


For those businesses that don’t have the in-house expertise, there are a number of great resources available to help. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program is a voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. Its website,, has many recommendations for products and plans that a business can use to implement an energy management program.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program provides third-party verification and accreditation of green buildings. Building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system and businesses can choose the best fit for their projects.


Sustainability in the shop doesn’t have to end with electricity reduction. Maintenance facilities have another great conservation opportunity when it comes to water, and increasingly in many parts of the country, this is becoming even more important. At many shops, most of the water consumption comes from vehicle washing.

At Ryder we collect more than two million gallons of vehicle wash water from our facilities annually. We handle all wastewater in compliance with regulations, including pretreatment prior to disposal, and we encourage recycling and reuse when practical.

Recycling and reuse programs for automotive waste streams at shops should be a key part of any maintenance facility conservation program. At Ryder, we recycle virtually all automotive waste streams (used oil, oily water, oil filters, solvents and refrigerants).

Examples of recycling best practices include:

  • Crushing used oil filters before recycling which allows for fewer collections.
  • Using retread tires.
  • Recycling automotive batteries.
  • Recycling cleaning solvents, automotive fluids, oil and refrigerants.
  • Donating or recycling used electronic equipment.


Last but not least, once you establish your energy management plan and set goals, it is critical to make sure there are policies in place, incentives to drive behavior change and audits to ensure compliance. We perform environmental audits on more than 600 locations annually.

At Ryder, accountability for environmental compliance rests at the local operations level. We place high importance on training and educating our operators about our policies and best practices.

Nanci Tellam is the group director for environmental services and sustainability for Ryder System (, a Fortune 500 global transportation and supply chain management solutions company. In this position, Tellam is responsible for advancing environmental awareness and sustainability throughout the organization and ensuring that Ryder has the appropriate environmental practices and controls necessary to manage environmental risks and customer needs effectively.