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On Sep 05 2019 / by Wyoming Paul

5 ways to reduce your business’s environmental footprint

Through greener commutes

If you’re interested in reducing your business’s carbon footprint, you’d be well-advised to scrutinise how your team gets to work. Every litre of petrol produces 2.5kg of greenhouse gases, and transport is a huge contributor to global emissions, with road-based travel alone making up 35.7% of the emissions in Auckland, and transport producing 18% of the emissions in Australia. Basically, any steps that you can take to green your staff’s commuting makes a huge difference.

While you can’t control how your employees get to and from work, you can influence their decisions by providing eco-friendly transport options. Here are five strategies that can green your employees’ commutes - and your business:

1. Promote alternative transport

The best way to reduce the environmental impact of your company’s commute is, of course, by reducing the number of people driving into work. By far the simplest way to do this is by promoting alternative transport: public transport, cycling, running, and walking. As well as the environmental benefits, these modes of transport can also reduce transport costs and increase health and fitness for your employees.

Despite the benefits, the idea of getting people out of their cars can be daunting - so here are a few steps to follow to make your alternative transport campaign a success.

  1. Send out a survey to learn how your team gets to work, what options are available, and what prevents drivers from using alternative transport. You can use SurveyMonkey to create your own survey, or click here for a free staff satisfaction and transport survey, designed by market research experts.
  2. Draw up a travel plan based on the results. The aim is to effectively engage staff, so consider fun ways to get people involved, financial incentives, and how to make alternative transport convenient and easy. Here are some ideas:
    Public transport: Use workplace comms like newsletters, noticeboards, and team meetings to promote awareness about the availability and benefits of public transport - more free time to read or relax, plus cost savings. Allowing for more flexible start and finish times can also enable more people to take public transport, so they can plan their day according to the bus or train timetable.
    Cycling: To jump-start some cycling enthusiasm, your team can join a cycling challenge like the Great Cycle Challenge or Aotearoa Bike Challenge. For long-term success, make sure to provide free, secure bike storage at work, as well as changing rooms and showers. To learn (a lot) more about promoting cycle commutes, click here.
    Walking and running: Start a 10,000-steps-a-day challenge. There are plenty of products that help businesses to manage walking challenges, including The Official 10,000 Steps Program and Walker Tracker. And, just like with cyclists, access to changing rooms and showers can make the difference between nay and yay.
  3. See how well your initiatives are going by tracking uptake and conducting follow-up surveys. Make adjustments if need be.

2. Facilitate and incentivise carpooling

Another great way to have less cars coming into work is by introducing a staff carpooling scheme. As well as reducing the number of vehicles driving into work, you’ll also allow your staff to save on petrol and parking costs, and contribute to a less congested city. Here are our tips for initiating a successful carpooling scheme:

  • Facilitate: Set up a private Facebook group or shared Google doc so that people can organise their carpooling, and you can keep tabs on who’s taking part. You can also look into ride-share apps like Kapuddle in Australia and the Smart Travel app in New Zealand.
  • Incentivise: If you have on-site parking, a great incentive for carpooling is to section off part of your car park as ‘carpool only’ bays. Just like T2 or T3 transit lanes, you’re letting people know that there’s an extra benefit to sharing their ride. Plus, there’s no harm in reminding everyone of the fuel savings they’ll get! Another awesome incentive (especially for car parks with a hefty price) is free parking for carpoolers. If you’re serious about carpooling, it’s one of the most effective things you can do.
  • Inform: The success of a carpooling scheme hinges upon informing people and getting them onboard. If you have all-staff meetings or gatherings, make sure it’s on the agenda, and give people time to discuss the topic.

3. Reduce driven commutes through transparent parking

For those who are driving into work, make the commute as quick as possible by optimising the use of your internal car park and giving your staff transparent parking availability. A whopping 30-40% of urban congestion in major cities is caused by drivers searching for a park, so if people know in advance that a parking spot is waiting for them, they can cut out a lot of circling the block.

In fact, each person can reduce their carbon footprint by 227kg* of greenhouse gases every year simply by ending the search around the block. This is where Parkable comes in.

  • Those in your business with an allocated parking bay can easily share it with others in the team when they’re away from the office, so your parking space is fully utilised
  • Parkable shows your staff car park availability in real time
  • The app allows people to reserve a bay the day before

All of this means your staff can go straight from their front doors to their guaranteed parking spots with no (stressful, lengthy, unproductive and pollutant) searching for a park in between. In fact, if just 10% of Auckland’s 118,000 CBD employees did this, that would be a greenhouse gas saving of over 4000 tonnes each year. And if 10% of Australia’s 10.7 million employees followed suit, our atmosphere would be saved from 242,523 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.

Find out how your team gets to work

4. Install EV chargers

One of the most positive movements in the world of eco-transport is the rise of electric vehicles. EVs have substantially lower GHG emissions than standard fuel vehicles, and are becoming increasingly popular, with five million passenger EVs sold globally by March 2019. A great way for your business to get onboard and encourage uptake is by providing EV chargers in your car park.

(Since we’ve already covered the subject elsewhere, click here to learn more about installing EV chargers.)

Once EV chargers are installed, it’s important that you collect smart data so you can understand how your chargers are being used. This alerts you to any problems, like gasolene vehicles parking in EV bays, or EVs parking for longer than necessary to charge. It also allows you to make important decisions about the demands on your chargers, the needs of your fleet, and at what point more EV stations need to be rolled out.

Parkable for Business also provides a complete management service for EV chargers, including:

  • Showing EV drivers charger availability in real time
  • Allowing people to pay for charging via their phone
  • Alerting people when their car is fully charged
  • Preventing non-EVs from parking in charging bays through IoT bay barriers

5. Allow remote working

With cloud-based technology and free conferencing software like Zoom, remote work has become an efficient and easy way to cut out the commute. The benefits of working remotely are substantial: A UK study found that allowing staff to work from home could potentially save UK employers and employees £5 billion per year, and save the atmosphere 3 million tonnes of carbon emissions from commuting annually. As well as the major economic and environmental benefits, offering staff the opportunity to work from home can reduce turnover and increase productivity.

Interestingly, however, the environmental case for remote working isn’t cut and dry. So, if you want to implement a remote working policy for environmental reasons, you’ll want to consider the following UK findings:

  • The biggest environmental benefit comes when people who work from home would otherwise commute a significant distance by car.
  • Encouraging remote working for staff who get to work via walking, cycling, or taking short trips on public transport won’t have an environmental benefit - in fact, it can have the reverse effect. This is because when people work from home, they use heaters, air conditioners, and other utilities, which would otherwise be turned off.
  • For example, if someone in the UK heated their entire house for just over an hour, it would eliminate the carbon savings gained from the average commute.
  • Another complicating detail: Depending on how much of your country’s energy is from renewable sources, these factors will change. Ditto if your employees use renewable energy providers. Ditto if they drive an electric vehicle.

The takeaway? Survey your staff to see how they commute before you offer remote working as a solution.

Learn how your team gets to work

Interested in how your team gets to work and what they think of their commute and parking options? Find out through a free staff satisfaction survey. Designed by research experts, managed and analysed by us.

Resources:

If you want to calculate your company’s commuting carbon footprint, click here for a comprehensive guide.

*The congestion maths:

  • A 227kg reduction in GHG is based on 5 minutes spent searching for a parking spot each day, 260 times per year.
  • According to this academic article, in congestion the average driving speed is 35.5km per hour, and the average fuel consumption is 11.8l per 100km.
  • In five minutes of driving through congestion, that’s 2.95km driven and 0.348l of petrol used.
  • Every litre of petrol produces 2.5kg of greenhouse gases. That means that 0.348l of petrol creates 870g of GHG.
  • Over one year (260 days) of commuting, that’s 227kg of GHG produced while searching for a car park.

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