The Ecco Equipment Corporation may not be the biggest equipment rental business out there, but they can claim a distinction that is perhaps even better. The company recently earned the right to call itself the largest equipment rental company to be certified green by the Association of Equipment Management Professionals. It’s the second time Ecco has achieved the status, but this time they moved up a level, earning silver over the previous bronze.
It’s exactly what AEMP hoped might happen.
“By aiming for higher, clearly defined levels, the AEMP green fleet can give a company a solid goal to attain,” said Sara Sanderman, AEMP vice president of education and certification. “They’ll say, ’Ok, we’re bronze. Here’s what our fleet looks like. Let’s see if we can get silver in two years.’ Ecco is a great example of that.”
Ecco President David Schmid agreed the program was a great motivation.
“When we first qualified, we were at the bronze level and we had set a goal to reach the silver level in two years,” he said. “The program worked as intended where it did motivate us to reach certain milestones in terms of our fleet composition. We had to turn over more of our older fleet and replace it with newer machines so we could reach that goal.”
The certification program is used to recognize green fleets and the fleet managers who actively pursue a greener fleet, and to highlight the fact that they have gone above and beyond current regulations to reduce emissions, Sanderman said.
The AEMP requirements for the 4 Green Levels for Off Road 2014 Certification the four green levels are:
• 2014 Bronze Status: 50 percent of Fleet Tier II and a Written Idle Policy
• 2014 Silver Status: 50 percent Tier II and 25 percent Tier III and a Written Idle Policy
• 2014 Gold Status: 75 percent Tier II and 50 percent Tier III and a Written Idle Policy
2014 Platinum Status: 75 percent Tier II and 50 percent Tier III and 25 percent Tier IV OR Equivalent After Treatment Devices or Hybrid and a Written Idle Policy
AEMP began the program in 2010 and has certified 15 different entities as green. “We have everything from waste management companies, city fleets, large construction companies and even some military fleets,” Sanderman said.
Not only does a green fleet lead to a cleaner environment, it is something of a public relations boon to the whole industry.
“The construction industry and heavy equipment industries are often perceived as unclean and major contributors to emissions,” she said. “We’re trying to create a more accurate impression of how fleets really are.”
Ecco never made a sudden decision to go green, Schmid said. “It was just an evolution. We could do this and reduce our footprint and promote ourselves as being a little more responsible. Where we saw opportunities to do that we did.”
When they first learned of the certification program, they already had the written anti-idle policy in place. “We thought, well we’re already half way there. It was not quite that easy. It’s quite a chore to submit your fleet and documentation to determine if you qualify. Now every time we make a change in our fleet, we update on line.”
It can also be costly.
“We’ve got older machines that are at a tier one level and we are trying to sell those for $140,000. The replacement machine which would be tier four, that’s going to run you $700,000, but they push the same amount of dirt. We have to do a certain amount of this to stay competitive. People don’t want to rent old tired equipment. Even without the green aspect, we would have a certain amount of upgrade we would need to do. To do it at the pace we do it definitely adds a lot of expense.”
But despite the extra work and cost, Schmid believes it is well worth it. He promotes his green certification in advertisements and when people don’t know what it is, his staff takes the time to engage them in a conversation about it.
“If you are outside of the construction industry and you are looking at all these big machines, it’s pretty easy to think these guys are raping the environment,” he said. “If you are an environmentalist, you might have a natural animosity for people in our industry. By being as environmentally conscious as we can, it might help soften that animosity and help people to see we are responsible members of the community.
“It’s something we’re proud of, that we’ve gone to the trouble to do it and nobody else does, so we stand out in that way. We are certainly not the largest rental fleet around, but we are the largest that’s bothered to get ourselves certified this way.”