Location: Salt Lake City, UT Fleet Type: Corporate EV Fleet, Workplace Charging
Hanko Kiessner, a health-conscious entrepreneur, faced an unexpected challenge while growing his packaging business in Salt Lake City. Experiencing post-exercise breathing difficulties, Kiessner’s exploration into the issue uncovered the culprit: the poor air quality along the Wasatch Front.” These are not natural particles,” Kiessner noted regarding particulate air pollution. “They are man-made, and we don’t have any defenses for them.” In 2012, Kiessner started to look at the viability of switching to EVs to help curb pollution. He began driving an electric car and then wanted to share with others to enjoy the experience and benefits. Hanko and his team were among the handful of first companies to demonstrate the DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge to complement the company’s sustainability mission and tagline: Smarter Packaging for a Healthy Planet®. In April 2017, the new Packsize headquarters opened with 50 level-two EV charging stations and a 200,000-watt solar PV system on the roof as part of the company’s architectural footprint. More than $110,000 in incentives from Rocky Mountain Power helped pay for the equipment. As of 2022, this count was up to 55 chargers. The chargers are free for use by employees and Packsize also allows employees of nearby businesses to use them. In line with this, Packsize also provides an EV fleet for use by their salespeople and traveling employees. Kiessner wanted to create a culture of environmental consciousness and sustainability at the headquarters. Kiessner is one of Utah’s most outspoken proponents of the state’s clean air initiative. As such, he founded the nonprofit, Leaders for Clean Air, with other clean air corporate supporters providing free EV charging stations to any Utah business or multi-family development. The nonprofit also helps plan, design, and implement larger-scale charger projects. Hanko’s “Pay it Forward” philosophy and practice of giving away free chargers to bolster the Workplace Charging Challenge proved he was on to something others didn’t have- a personal drive and inclusive philanthropic passion for EV’s- he is inspiring adoption with his own personal and professional example
Outputs and Outcomes
The primary output of Packsize’s efforts is the installation of the 200,000 watt solar array and 53 chargers at their Salt Lake City Warehouse, as well as the purchase of 100+ EVs for use by Packsize’s own employees. And they’re always free. Kiessner said the cost of the software to bill people wasn’t worth it, given the lower electricity rates charged for businesses. It’s more important to offer “abundance,” including having more chargers than needed, to induce more people to adopt electric cars.
As for outcomes, Packsize has leveraged substantial EV adoption by its staff. Non-sales employees have begun buying electric cars and charging them while at work in the plant and office, thanks to a program that offers a subsidy to employees who purchase EVs, including help with monthly payments and priority parking. As of 2017, approximately 50 percent of Packsize employees were already driving EVs. Employees save about $1,000 per year by charging for free at work, but Kiessner estimates that because of the solar panels it only costs the company about $100. The EV initiative also increases employee pride, and makes staff recruitment easier. Kiessner also sees the chargers as a tool for staff retention. If an employee gets used to workplace charging, it’s hard to give it up. He also was able to pass on the gently used EV’s from Packsize’s fleet to employees at cost.
A 2018 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that electric vehicles lead to significant cost savings, less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars. The average cost to operate an EV in the United States is $485 per year, while the average for a gasoline-powered vehicle is $1,117, a significant statistic that Packsize is taking very seriously, as it leverages significant savings for their fleet operation. Considering a fleet vehicle travels 200,000+ lifetime miles, fuel cost savings are between $50,000 and $60,000 for a total of $2 – $3 million fleetwide. As of August 2023, Leaders for Clean Air has facilitated the installation of 2,563 EV chargers in the State of Utah, resulting in an estimated carbon dioxide reduction of 4.9M pounds, and this is on top of the substantial GHG reductions from Packsize’s own on-site installation.
Best Practices & Lessons Learned
Leadership and Integration: CEO Hanko Kiessner’s commitment and alignment of initiatives with the company’s mission created a culture of sustainability. Sustainability efforts enhanced public image and attracted like-minded customers.
Financial Benefits: Cost savings from EV operation and solar panels showcased practical advantages.
Environmental Impact: Measuring CO2 reduction provided tangible evidence of success.
Community Engagement: Nonprofit partnership extended impact and promoted wider adoption.
Long-Term Focus: Continued growth in charging stations and EVs demonstrated dedication.
Employee Incentives and Engagement: Initiatives increased pride, satisfaction, and aided recruitment. Subsidies, free charging, and priority parking boosted EV adoption among employees.
Scalability and Adaptation: Success inspired expansion and innovation across the states and internationally
Measurement and Education: Data-driven transparency and employee education fostered support.