Department of Energy

Strategy for Reducing Travel Costs and Greenhouse Footprint

I had a thought I wanted to share about reducing travel costs and greenhouse footprint based on two recent trips that I took.


For both trips (one private, one business) a compact car had been reserved for me, but when I got to the counter all they could give me was an SUV. I got it at the same daily rate, but when I brought it back, I had to put about $60-70. of gas in the tank to return it full due to the low mpg the model gets and the cost of gas. In one case, the refueling charge was almost as much as the rental charge.


The thought occurred to me that if the Federal government announced that from now on it and its contractors would only reimburse rental charges for cars models that get a minimum of 35 miles to the gallon, or, alternatively that they would prorate what they would reimburse by the model mileage relative to a standard of 35 mpg, that would have 4 beneficial effects:


1) It would save the government money on travel costs


2) It would put pressure on rental car companies not to buy SUV’s or low mileage models


3) It would put pressure on Detroit to build cars that get better mileage and presumably create jobs in the process


4) It would reduce the greenhouse footprint for government agencies. I don’t know by how much, but the government must do a lot of travel, so one would think overall this would be significant.


It would put some additional responsibility on the rank and file to make sure at the counter they got car models that get 35 mpg, but in the rank and file we should all view we are part of a team supporting the President’s energy initiatives and that this is part of the job. It would also require some re-tooling of the software used to calculate reimbursements so it would require some modest investment in this area. One can imagine if it were announced soon, it could be in place probably by late 2012 or 2013.


It may be a relatively small thing, but it would save money and help emphasize in a visible way that the Federal service is not just talking the talk, its walking the walk on energy efficiency, greenhouse reduction, etc.



Idea No. 17985