Benefit Corporations and Green Transportation

Sustainability is a common trait among benefit corporations. Keeping automobile emissions down is one of the highest priorities in the fight against climate change. A two benefit corporations and a certified B Corp are taking this challenge head on.

B-Line offers sustainable delivery services to the urban core of Portland. The company uses “trike trucks” that can carry 600-pounds of cargo. Since they are operated by human pedaling power, the trucks don’t need fossil fuels or electricity to run. In December, UPS followed suit, offering a similar service on pedal powered trucks. According to the BBC, this is the same “technology relied on by postal carriers in Victorian England, or by Good Humor ice cream vendors in postwar America.” In the age of the automobile, going backwards can mean going forward. This is also popular around the globe for purely practical reasons. Cramped, European city streets and crowded, dense corridors in Asian countries all see cargo bikes pedaling in their streets. It’s certainly positive that sustainability is baked into convenience, but B-Line adds a big picture type of thinking that hopes to accelerate positive change. They partner with the community, for labor, clients, manufacturing and for non-commercial reasons. Making these connections can help to spread the benefit of their business, but it also helps to solidify their place in the community.

In Los Angeles, Green Commuter runs an all electric fleet to serve people who want to reduce traffic and emissions. In January, New Resource Bank approved a $1.5 million line of credit “to facilitate Green Commuter’s fleet expansion to 30 all-electric, long range, 7-passenger vehicles. With this financing, Green Commuter will launch its vanpool, car share and fleet replacement program geared to disrupt traditional commuting in Los Angeles.” In the perpetually gridlocked Los Angeles, many residents carpool to save money, time and the environment. The concept behind Green Commuter increases both of these benefits through rentals and using electric vehicles, adds an app and mid-luxury cars to the equation and makes it convenient to find a carpool.

The company’s business model business model is to rent zero emission vehicles for vanpool and car share. Green Commuter uses its app to coordinate rides and then rents out its cars to companies looking to replace their fleet. According to the company, “currently, there are more than 3,000 organized vanpools in the Southern California area consisting mainly of blue collar workers living in disadvantaged communities who commute on average 94 miles roundtrip.” There is a market for this service, and if Green Commuter can make it easy to find a ride that saves money, there is a lot of potential.

If more companies like these pop up, we’ll all be breathing cleaner air on less congested streets.