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Rented a car lately? Would you like carbon offsets with that?

You want Carbon Offsets with that? 

With an ailing personal vehicle going in for an extended shop visit, I needed a rental car as no one at work lives anywhere nearby, public transportation from one suburb to another is unwieldy, and telecommuting for a week is out of the question.  I was surprised to see a check-box on the rental car web reservation form:

 Optional Additional Products **
     Carbon Offset     $ 1.25 USD / Rental     Add

 The “click” led to this message:

Enterprise Rent-A-Car is pleased to offer you the opportunity to benefit the environment by offsetting carbon dioxide emissions generated by a rental vehicle. For just $1.25 you can offset emissions produced by the average rental. The money will go to TerraPass to fund certified offset projects that work to remove carbon from the atmosphere. What’s more, we will match these customer contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million dollars.

   Simple, straightforward.  And about 10% of the price difference between each vehicle class per week, or less than half the difference between an “economy” car and a “compact” car.

 More information on the Enterprise/Alamo/National programs are on the “keystogreen” web site, such as:

  One link led to an excellent explanation of the program:


The optional carbon offset you selected at the time of your car rental reservation is designed to offset the greenhouse gases emitted by a rental vehicle when it burns fuel and releases carbon dioxide.  The per-rental carbon offset charge represents the estimated amount calculated by TerraPass to offset emissions produced by the rental vehicle based on average mileage and fuel economy of vehicles in the company’s car rental fleet.  The per-rental carbon offset charge is not calculated based on the emissions of a particular vehicle.  To learn more, please go to (

Other links

Searching, I found this was announced in October 2007 and went live in January 2008.

A few hits on 

To be equitable, I looked at other car rental firms sites to see if they are using the same business model with environmental awareness.

On – I searched for search “carbon offset” and got:

No Search results found matching your question. Please try another search or use the links below.

However, autobloggreen had a hit related to programs on the other side of the pond:

SMS <3
UK cell users text the word ‘neutral’ to the number 01234, pay [UK Lbs]1.50 and their rental is made greener by the ever-popular [sic] CarbonNeutral.

On, I found no hits, but references to hybrids via google:

At Hertz, hybrids are offered at the company’s top 50 airport locations and can be reserved […] Avis, meanwhile, offers 2,500 hybrids in three classes. […] Fox Rent A Car, a Los Angeles-based discount operation, offers hybrids in Phoenix and seven locations in California.

What’s the business process expert to do?

First, does your automated expense tracking system allow for itemization of expenses?  You might review rental expenses to verify associates are not upsizing vehicles unnecessarily (thus increasing emissions as well as corporate costs).  Your data entry system should allow and encourage positive steps such as adding carbon offsets while discouraging low miles-per-gallon rentals.

We use a non-SAP system for expense reimbursement, so I’m not familiar with this SAP software module.  However, these might be good pages for someone to provide details on SDN:

Enterprise Services WIKI – Travel Management Enterprise Services

Change Arrangement based on Car Rental Arrangement Created Notification

Second, are your company employees aware of the availability of options for positive environmental impact? If not, perhaps a line or two on the company intranet or HR updates?  Or the Remarks line on the paycheck or statement?

I only know web servers like Apache, so I don’t know where this is configured in SAP Portals.  But someone with Knowledge Management skills should be able to set this up in no time. 

Third, are you encouraging alternatives to vehicle rentals such as car-pooling or public transportation to events such as sales meetings, or conferences (like the upcoming ASUG 2008 and Sapphire)?  Is there a ride-sharing site on your intranet?  Do you reward employees for saving corporate funds by scheduling virtual meetings rather than travel and conference bookings?  Do you know what your travel spend is?

The Small Print 

[Here are my prior blogs on greenhouse gases and related eco-topics:]

CSR and me
My Carbon Footprint at Home
I measured my home energy use. Now what?

SAP Research links

ASUG Webcast: Green 2.0 – Collecting Carbon Footprint Data Across the Supply Chain

Welcome to the Green 2.0 blog

[search link – it should work]

Search vogel + green 

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  • Hi Jim

    The cynic in me wonders if the amount being asked for isn’t there to cover the costs in changing their systems to handle the extra collection process.

    • Michael – I thought the explanation of why $1.25 was clear on their website, was left with the impression that 100% went to Terrapass, and that the amounts were independently verified.  And yes, my inner cynic says things like companies will posture to look green, people will drive 1000 miles per week and think $1 offsets that environmental impact, and that this is just a fad.  I hope the cynics are wrong and we can turn around our polluting ways. 
      When I picked up the car today the rep said 5 or 6 people picked the carbon offset option the first month, and 15-20 the next month.  He said when he explained this benefits the environment, people said “Good.”  He also said they tracking participation.
      Thanks for your comments!
  • Well you certainly are the man for creating a list of possible actions.  As always reading in link depth, your writing, is going to take no mean amount of time but it sounds like (without the preliminary click depth) a very good investment of it.  You sure know how to get the grassroot thing going.


    • Marilyn – I hope these aren’t too many more straws, but I went back in the blog and added links to TerraPass and CarbonNeutral.  If you or other BPXers have links to sites  that deal with CO2 reduction pragmatically let me know.  TerraPass reports on my actions certainly shocked me!  Jim