We have partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SmartWay program since 2005 to reduce transportation-related emissions by creating incentives for our freight contractors to improve efficiency. Lowe’s carriers must be SmartWay certified, and we confirm their status during our prospective carrier review process. We also audit our existing partners annually to ensure they maintain their certification. Through this collaborative partnership, Lowe’s has saved more than 27 million gallons of diesel fuel and reduced CO2 emissions by approximately 280,000 metric tons in 2015.
2015 Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay Excellence Award
Lowe’s is proud to be one of only 11 companies in 2015 to receive the EPA’s SmartWay Excellence Award in the logistics and shipping category, representing the best environmental performers of SmartWay’s nearly 3,000 partners.
“EPA is pleased to honor these SmartWay Partners with a 2015 Excellence Award. Through their environmental leadership in the greener goods movement, each of these companies is demonstrating its commitment to our shared goal of a healthier, more sustainable future for the communities and families we serve.”
—Chris Grundler, director, EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality
The Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT) facilitates a practical market-based approach of reducing truck pollution and promoting clean air at America’s ports. As a founding member of this membership organization, Lowe’s continued to be involved with the CRT in 2015 and focused on improving efficiencies of truck drivers going into and out of ports. Looking forward, we’re exploring scheduling practices and coordinating loads with ports to reduce truck idling time.
Pursuing Efficient Fuels and Practices
Natural gas-powered trucks run cleaner than those powered by traditional diesel fuel. In 2015, we continued working with carrier partners to incorporate natural gas into our fleets. For example, in central Florida one of our carrier partners launched a new dedicated fleet consisting of 12 compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks to serve Lowe’s operations in the area.
Maximizing the volume of products our trucks carry also can save fuel and reduce emissions. Within our Regional Distribution Center (RDC) dedicated fleet, we attempt to use backhauling for vendor loads and consolidate loads when delivering products from the RDC to our stores. In another initiative aimed at reducing empty truck miles, we’re reaching out to export vendors and working with them to potentially coordinate loading containers at ports.
Q&A with Rick Gabrielson, Vice President, Transportation
Why is natural gas such an important part of Lowe’s transportation fleet?
Natural gas is an abundant domestic resource and switching from diesel to natural gas-powered trucks cuts fuel costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2012, Lowe’s decided to begin transitioning our dedicated transportation fleet to natural gas, and we’ve made significant progress. Today, more than 36 percent of our dedicated fleets have replaced diesel with natural gas-powered trucks, and we run distribution centers in eight states with this new technology.
What are the challenges to greater adoption of natural gas in your fleet?
Infrastructure to support natural gas expansion is still emerging across the country. As a result, the application of natural gas fleets makes the most sense for standardized routes from a fixed site. That’s why many of our natural gas fleets mainly service our RDCs. Additionally, the recent drop and subsequent price fluctuations in diesel fuel have made the economics of this transition more challenging. Greater adoption of natural gas across the trucking industry, which in turn could cause more infrastructure investments, would help accelerate our conversion.