November 20, 2018

Saanich’s Fuel Efficient Municipal Fleet

Saanich Fleet Vehicle
Saanich integrates electric vehicles (EVs) into the municipal fleet (image courtesy of District of Saanich)

Saanich’s Fleet Department achieves 14% reduction in GHG emissions through participating in the E3 Fleet Program and initiating a variety of fleet management strategies.

To achieve ambitious GHG emissions reduction goals set in the Official Community Plan, the District focused on increasing fuel efficiency, reducing harmful emissions, and incorporating new technologies and fuel sources into operations.

Project Summary

In 2010, Saanich’s Official Community Plan set a corporate GHG emissions reduction goal of 50% by 2020 based on 2007 levels, including a 50% reduction in fuel related emissions. A key component of Saanich’s Climate Action Plan has been the integration of electric vehicles (EVs) into the municipal fleet. The purchase of fuel efficient vehicles has had an immediate and measurable impact on emissions reductions.

Efforts began in 2007 when the Municipality’s fleet manager signed up Saanich to participate in the E3 Fleet Program, Canada’s first green rating system for fleets, managed by the Fraser Basin Council. Saanich completed an Action Plan based on the E3 Fleet review which provided a clear set of performance indicators used to achieve fuel consumption reductions. Saanich made commitments to increase fuel efficiency, reduce harmful emissions, and incorporate new technologies and fuel sources into operations. Saanich is the first local government in North America to commit to the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) pledge to purchase at least 10% zero-emission vehicles for all new purchases.

Much of the fleet changes focused on vehicle right-sizing, which involves utilizing the most fuel efficient vehicles to complete tasks. Steps were also taken to target fleet conversions from gas to high efficiency diesel. Fleet management incorporated full life-cycle costs of new vehicle purchases and the Carbon Fund was used to help pay for new hybrid and electric vehicles. Saanich now uses four EV Nissan Leafs in its municipal operations and is scheduled to have four more EVs by the start of 2016. The police department also has a Mitsubishi EV for court liaison purposes, making it the first police department in Canada to incorporate an EV into its fleet. Behavioural changes were initiated through staff engagement on fuel efficient driving techniques and efficient route planning which helped reduce unnecessary fuel consumption.

Saanich was recognized for its success in 2014 by garnering an honourable mention at the annual Community Energy Association (CEA) awards. In 2013, Saanich was awarded top honours by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program for achieving the 5th and final milestone of PCP, a level achieved by only eight communities in Canada at that time. Saanich has committed to gradually expand its EV fleet pool and to seek opportunities for EV use in other municipal departments. Effort has continued into 2014 including continued purchase of additional EVs, utilization of new efficient waste fleet vehicles, municipal pooled fleet vehicles and a fuel data management and tracking system. It is hoped these initiatives will propel Saanich towards reducing their corporate emissions by 50% by 2020.

Energy Savings/GHG reductions

Saanich’s fleet management strategies achieved a 14% decrease in fleet GHG emissions since 2007. This amounts to a reduction of emissions by 400 tonnes annually and a cumulative reduction of 3,627 tonnes. Saanich consumes 90,000 fewer litres of fuel per year and has saved a cumulative 1,028,000 litres of fuel. The EVs in use have an anticipated life cycle savings of 98% less GHG emissions when compared to a gas vehicle of the same class.

Saanich encourages local governments to incorporate life cycle and carbon cost accounting into decision making.

Business case

Reduced fuel consumption is now saving the municipality $108,000 annually and a total of $1,230,000 since the project began. The use of an EV reduces energy costs for that vehicle by 90%. Vehicle replacement was funded using existing fleet vehicle replacement capital, the sale of old vehicles and through Saanich’s Carbon Fund. The municipal Carbon Fund, established in 2007, directs offsetting funds, about $120,000 annually, towards corporate emissions reduction projects. Energy and fuel saving projects are evaluated for their carbon reduction potential, which helps determine the amount of funding that can be accessed.


Saanich’s fuel efficiency initiatives demonstrate leadership in contributing to a community-wide shift towards low and zero emission vehicle use. Saanich has demonstrated the benefits of EV use especially with respect to life-cycle cost accounting. Fleet and behavioural changes also contribute to cleaner air in the community.

Lessons learned

Saanich encourages local governments to incorporate life cycle and carbon cost accounting of new vehicles into decision making. The program has been successful because of the broad assessment of costs and benefits associated with the full range of available fleet upgrade opportunities. The early efforts to incorporate this philosophy in fleet purchases has supported the development of new Sustainable Purchasing Guidelines at Saanich and incorporating sustainability language into the recently updated Saanich Purchasing Policy. This process is essential for building a strong business case for investment in zero-emission vehicles. A high level of support from council and management was also required for these initiatives to be successful and mainstreamed into corporate culture.

Local government contact

Mark Boysen, 
Sustainability Coordinator
T: (250) 475-5494 ext. 3466

Success Story Snapshot

14% decrease in fleet GHG emissions and 8% reduction in fuel consumption. Emissions reduction of 400 tonnes annually with a cumulative reduction of 3,235 tonnes since 2007.
Business Case
Department has cumulatively saved 1,028,000 litres of fuel and $1,230,000 over 7 years. Saanich Carbon Fund was used to purchase more efficient hybrids and electric vehicles.
The project supports cleaner air and pollution reduction in the community. Saanich leads by example on efficient vehicle use and life cycle cost accounting in purchasing decisions.
Total project cost
Total budget was not accounted for. The program was funded through regular operating expenses and topped off through Saanich’s Carbon Fund. There were also significant benefits seen from driver behaviour change that could not be quantified in dollars.