Great organizations are improving employee productivity, increasing retention of key people, and often saving millions of dollars annually. We admire corporations that contribute to the triple bottom line: people, profits, and planet. Flexible work and flexible transportation programs are enabling great employers to achieve all three.
In the Oil and Coal Age, everyone drove solo during gridlock hours to their one work location to toil over their designated machine. Now people are most effective working some days at one location, other times at home, others at a customer or supplier location. We are becoming increasingly flexible and mobile. We can take advantage of the new flexible workplace solutions to annually save hundreds of wasted hours, thousands of gallons of wasted gas, and pocket thousands of dollars.
Currently, over 2,500 Applied Materials employees participate in Applied Anywhere, a comprehensive flexible work location program.
The semiconductor chips in your computers, electronic games, solar panels, and mobile devices are likely to be made with equipment from Applied Materials. Their flexible work location program, Applied Anywhere, addresses their global business environment and provides agility to be closer to the customer as well as supporting the needs of many employees who perform some or their entire job outside the traditional office place. Applied Anywhere supports eligible employees that at different times may need to work from one of several corporate offices, at home, at an airport, or at a customer site.
Ann Zis, a Senior Program Manager for Applied, explained that the program has made global teams more effective, reduced commute hours, increased productivity, and saved gas miles.
The new workforce is mobile; at times working at their office, other times at home, other times at a customer site. Effective mobile working often requires wireless services, Internet services, IP telephony, security, laptops, and a variety of mobile devices. Hundreds of technology companies are benefiting from mobile work include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, Nokia, Google, Yahoo, and Symantec.
Flexible work allows millions to travel less. Flexible transportation can enable most employees to save money and fuel when they do travel. 93% of all U.S. car trips are with only one person in the vehicle. The picture is better with work related travel. 12% share rides and 5% use public transit.
Your employer may pay you $1,380 per year, tax free, to use flexible transportation. The IRS allows ridesharing, public transit, and other creative commute options to be reimbursed up to $115 per month tax free in 2008, increased from $110 in 2007. Check-out the commute programs offered by your employer. Investigate regional transit and ridesharing programs. You could save a bundle.
37% of Yahoo! headquarters employees get to work without driving solo, reported Danielle Bricker with Yahoo during my interview with her. Yahoo’s Commute Alternatives Program is comprehensive, popular, and getting results.
As one of two dedicated Commute Coordinators at Yahoo, Danielle practices what she preaches. For four years, she has commuted 90-miles daily without owning a car. She commutes by train, walking to the station at one end, and boarding a Yahoo shuttle for the last mile to work. Living in San Francisco, Daniel will occasionally use CityCarShare to travel a distance at night, or when shopping at multiple locations requires carrying heavier loads.
Yahoo provides employees with free Eco-Passes for bus and light rail on VTA, the area’s rapid transit provider. Employees may also order online discounted passes for other public transit providers. Yahoo has achieved high ridership on public buses, light rail and trains by providing shuttle buses to take its employees to and from major transit stops such as Caltrain and Amtrak. Several full-size contracted buses transport employees to and from their homes in San Francisco.
These buses run on B20 biodiesel. Yahoo further reduces its carbon foot print by using locally grown food for 40% of its cafeteria meals. Cafeteria waste is used for biodiesel production.
Yahoo makes it easy for people to ride together. Yahoo has an intranet site where people can locate other employees near their homes for carpooling. There are special events, education, lunch-and-learns, and weekly education to encourage the growing use of Yahoo’s Commute Alternatives Program. These people use Yahoo!Groups to communicate and stay informed. Some car pools, such as those in Santa Cruz, merged into van pools with one van carrying 15 people. The Santa Cruz van provided by Enterprise includes wi-fi, allowing people to email, Yahoo Message, and create when crawling in stop-and-go traffic.
A number of highways used by ride sharers have high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, allowing car and van poolers to fly by solo drivers stuck in traffic.
Yahoo encourages the use of a zero-emission vehicle owned by one billion people on this planet – the bicycle. Yahoo provides bicyclers with secure storage of their bikes. Free lockers and showers are available. To help people quickly navigate Yahoo’s campus of buildings, loaner bikes are also available.
Many of the Yahoo commuters are able to get extra work done using laptops and other mobile devices while commuting on transit.
Yahoo’s results are impressive, considering that Silicon Valley workers live widely dispersed; many are forced to live miles from Silicon Valley so that they can live in affordable housing. Technologists work long and irregular hours, which makes ridesharing more challenging. Many Silicon Valley locations provide a long and uncomfortable walk in the dark to public transit.
Yahoo addresses these problems in a number of ways. One is that it provides a guaranteed ride home. Yahoo will pay for a late worker’s taxi or rental car. Commute program managers agree that a guaranteed ride home is critical to a commute program’s success. All agreed that employees rarely use the guarantee, making the cost minimal.
Yahoo rewards – employees who come to work without driving alone are rewarded with free lunches, movie tickets and massages. For her tireless work in making the program a success, Danielle Bricker was nominated by fellow employees for one of Yahoo’s most prestigious awards. Out of 14,000 employees, she was recognized with the Super Star Award.
Yahoo’s flexible transportation programs reflect the organization’s commitment to make a difference. Yahoo! is carbon neutral by offsetting its 250,000 metric ton carbon footprint (from 2006) through hydropower in rural Brazil and wind turbines in India.
Each month, a growing wealth of information and solutions to the global warming problem are available to Yahoo’s 500 million users at Yahoo Green.
By taking a carbon neutral approach, Yahoo goes beyond a simple commute program. Yahoo looks for ways to eliminate unnecessary employee trips. Yahoo’s high-tech flexible work allows people to work at home and other locations when appropriate. Employees manage their own work hours, allowing them to avoid the crawl of gridlock hours. When at Yahoo headquarters, employees can take advantage of on-site services to avoid running errands and traveling off-site for meals. Yahoo succeeds in the triple bottom line of people, profits, and planet.
Effective organizations have gone far beyond having a few employees telecommute. Flexible work is created so that all unnecessary travel is eliminated. Global teams of employees, partners, and customers use the new Internet to effectively work together without always being together in the same building. Solo gridlock commutes are replaced with more healthy and productive travel where mobile work can be done while ride sharing and using public transportation.
Flexible work and flexible travel are greatly helping people to be more productive, save money, and help us achieve energy independence.
Copyright © 2007 John Addison. This article is part of John Addison’s upcoming book, Save Gas, Save the Planet. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report
UPS delivers 15 million packages per day in over 200 countries. UPS has over 100,000 vehicles and 600 airplanes. UPS employs over 400,000 people. UPS is the ninth largest airline on the planet. They are experts at reducing the cost and fuel usage of moving millions of packages. 1,500 of those vehicles use alternative fuel, savings millions of gallons of oil and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2000, UPS alternative-fuel vehicles have logged 108 million route miles — enough to circle the Earth more than 4,300 times. These 1,500 vehicles run on natural gas, propane and hydrogen.
UPS has one of the largest private fleets of CNG vehicles in the U.S. with 808 operating in the United States, Germany, Brazil and France. UPS began extensively testing CNG in 1989 to assess its benefits and viability as an alternative fuel. The results have been impressive: particulate emissions are 95 percent lower than with diesel engines; carbon monoxide emissions are 75 percent lower; and emissions of nitrogen oxides are 49 percent lower. 11 liquefied natural gas (LNG) tractors operate in the UPS West Coast fleet, hauling more than 31,000 packages a day. Because of its density, LNG is a viable alternative fuel source for large trucks that need to go long distances before stopping to refuel.
UPS has ordered 50 hybrid delivery trucks, which will reduce fuel consumption by 44,000 gallons per year. These will be diesel hybrids due to the efficiency of diesel engines. Hybrid technology is perfect for delivery vehicles because braking energy is stored in batteries and later feed to an electric motor, thereby reducing the size and fuel needed in a diesel engine. Delivery trucks make lots of stops and capture lots of braking energy. The trucks have 60 percent to 70 percent higher fuel efficiency and emit 40 percent less carbon dioxide than normal UPS delivery trucks. UPS invests an added $7,000 per truck for these fuel efficient hybrids, and saves over $7,000 in fuel in less than three years.
UPS demonstrated its hydraulic hybrid delivery vehicle at the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Bar, Calif. The unique UPS delivery vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in hybrid electric vehicles. Fuel economy is increased in three ways: vehicle braking energy is recovered that normally is wasted; the engine is operated more efficiently; and the engine can be shut off when stopped or decelerating. The vehicle was designed with the support of the UPS, Eaton Corporation – Fluid Power, International Truck and Engine Corporation, U.S. Army – National Automotive Center, and Morgan-Olson.
“If every drayage truck and yard hostler in the ports adopted this technology, we could further reduce emissions by almost 50 percent,” said Matt Haber, air division deputy director, of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Southern California residents breathe the dirtiest air in the country and we all have to do our part to clean the air.”
UPS is going green to make more green – money. Fuel costs UPS over 2 billion dollars every year. Their approach to saving fuel is not based on one big technology breakthrough. Rather, it is based upon hundreds of smart decisions. For example, USP designed delivery routes to minimize left turns because turning across traffic is not only more dangerous, it requires longer idling time, wastes fuel and creates more congestion. The right-turn only approach saved UPS 3,000,000 gallons of fuel.
UPS has two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in operation. UPS currently operates one DaimlerChrysler Sprinter fuel cell van in Ontario, California and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan The EPA provides a hydrogen refueling station at its national fuel emissions laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan In California, UPS gets its hydrogen fuel from a station in the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
The company is working to develop future generations of delivery vehicles that reduce dependence on fossil fuels, significantly reduce fuel consumption and create a vehicle platform to bridge to the hydrogen economy. Some of these efforts include:
- 21st Century Truck Partnership – In this government-industry partnership, federal agencies and the transportation/trucking industry are working together on technologies to make vehicles safer, cleaner and more efficient, while maintaining fleet safety and cost-effectiveness.
- EPA SmartWay Transport Program – This voluntary partnership with leading members of America’s truck and rail transport sectors aims to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from ground freight carriers. The goal of this initiative by 2012 is to reduce 18 million tons of carbon and 200,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) annually. These reductions will create fuel savings of up to 150 million barrels of oil annually.
- Clean Cargo & Green Freight – UPS is an active member of Business for Social Responsibility’s Green Freight working group. Together with the Clean Cargo group, Green Freight is developing voluntary environmental guidelines to enhance fleets’ performances while spurring a broader movement toward a sustainable transportation future.
Whether you prefer to live in a thriving city or a quiet town, the right job can save you hundreds of commute hours and thousands of dollars. Working near where you live is good for your health and good for the environment. Better jobs are a reason that hundreds of millions have moved to cities. Cities are the headquarters for many service industries and government.
Manufacturing, energy and agricultural jobs are often located away from cities. Top employers in these fields establish comprehensive programs for commuters. More than 1,800 U.S. employers nationwide have joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm), a program which offers telework best practices, subsidized transit, vanpool passes, and car pooling to more than 3 million employees. Recent EPA survey data show that when offered high-quality commuter benefits, employees are 20% more likely to ride together. Each year, awards are given for the 20 Best Workplaces for Commuters from the Fortune 500 Companies.
Nike has long sponsored friendly competition. TRAC is not a sponsored track meet; it is Nike sponsored competition for its employees to get to work without using gasoline or diesel. TRAC (Traveling Responsibly – Accept the Challenge) offers monthly prizes and incentives to employees at its world headquarters in the forested suburbs near Portland, Oregon. Nike encourages using public transportation by offering annual public transportation passes from TriMet for $20. Nike offers a shuttle system to public transportation and other Nike locations.
TRAC is staffed by a full-time employee transportation coordinator. The internal TRAC website offers tips and resources about public transportation, biking routes, and finding others for a carpool. Employees go to the TRAC website each week and post the alternative commutes they took for the week. 40 prizes are awarded monthly.
Since the program began in 1992, it has reduced the company’s average drive-alone rate from 98% to 84%. In fiscal year 2006, based on an average round trip of 17.8 miles, Nike employees saved approximately 719,343 vehicle miles traveled by using alternative commute modes. Employees saved 35,967 gallons of gasoline. Greenbiz Article
Another winner was my former employer Sun Microsystems. Sun is famous for creating Java and “the network is the computer.” Sun effectively uses its own networking technology with an iWork program that enables employees to work at home, at an office near their home, or be highly productive anywhere with a mobile device and wireless network connection. At home, or at a convenient Sun office, employees swipe their smart security card and their entire work environment is displayed at the temporary workstation. Employees don’t worry about carrying laptops, gigabytes of disk, or boxes of paper files.
Sun’s commute programs have eliminated more than 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions and have saved employees hundreds of thousands of hours that otherwise would have been wasted in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Sun employees also use SMART (Sun Microsystems Alternative Resources for Transportation) programs and services which give up-to-date commuter information, incentives for taking transit, biking and walking to work as well as shuttle rides to better utilize public transportation options near Sun campuses.
Moving people and goods impacts the bottom line of every business. The U.S. government estimates that congestion created from commuting to and from work causes 3.7 billion hours of lost productivity, costing employees 92 million work weeks, and the nation $63 billion in wasted time and fuel. People stuck in traffic breathe harmful emissions such as particulates that damage lungs, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide. Health costs are potentially in the billions. Employers sometimes save millions in avoided cost for parking structures, as parking costs $600 to $2,400 per vehicle. Some employers pay more for parking structures than they pay for health care insurance programs. Part-time telework results in millions of added work hours that replace traffic gridlock hours. Rideshare gives employees a competitive edge in attracting and keeping good people.
Leaders from public transportation, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), bus and fuel cell manufacturers meet on June 21 at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to discuss plans to have 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell buses in service in California. Currently there are eight. 1,000 hydrogen buses would result in over 400,000 daily riders on hydrogen buses and a demand for over 40,000 kg/day of hydrogen.
The proposed Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) Regulation would accelerate the transition to hydrogen in California by providing large “anchor fleets” and large capacity fueling stations. Public response has been excellent for the hydrogen buses at AC Transit in Oakland, VTA in Santa Clara, and Sunline in Thousand Palms. Proposed Transit Agency ZEB required buses would be as follows:
• Long Beach Transit 29
• Golden Gate Transit 33
• San Mateo County Transit District 52
• Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority 80 (has 3 HFC buses)
• AC Transit 101 (has 3 HFC buses)
• San Francisco Municipal Railway 134 (meets requirement with electric trolleys)
• North County Transit District 23
• Santa Monica Big Blue Bus 26
• Omnitrans 26
• Sacramento Regional Transit District 38
• Foothill Transit 46
• San Diego Metropolitan Transit System 68
• Orange County Transportation Authority 92
• Los Angeles County MTA 384
1,132 is the total ZEB requirement if public transit fleets do not grow. Assuming some of these will be electric with limited range or an expensive overhead electric system, 1,000 are likely to be hydrogen.
Half the fleets are proposed to put ZEB in-service in 2009, half in 2010. These agencies will typically purchase buses annually, replacing buses that have been in service at least 12 years. The proposed 15% ZEB would not affect some of these agencies until 2011, and others until 2012. From there, it would take 12 years to reach the number of ZEB listed above.
Facilitating the meeting for CARB was Gerhard Achtelik and Analisa Bevan. Mr. Achtelik summarized the proposal and alternatives. His presentation included acknowledgement of public transit agencies concerns:
• Fuel cell service life
• Fueling infrastructure
Many of the leading California public transit agencies took part in the workshop as did the MTC which represents the bay area’s leading agencies. The proposal is controversial. Public transit leadership in ZEV and hydrogen will accelerate large capacity fueling and fleet adoption of clean vehicles, but early hydrogen buses cost over $3 million each. Public transit agencies run on tight budgets. Concerns were discussed, but no public transit agency stated that the proposed program could not be achieved.
Several factors will make hydrogen buses affordable. Jaimie Levin, Director of Marketing for AC Transit, reports than their suppliers VanHool, UTC and ISE are building a new 40-foot hydrogen fuel cell bus for about $2 million. Public transit normally receives 80% FTA funding for buying new buses. This would put the initial transit agency outlay at $400,000 per hydrogen bus vs. about $80,000 for a diesel bus.
The bigger concern about hydrogen for transit agencies is operating cost over the typical 12 year life of a bus. For most, hydrogen would be affordable if the fuel cell was replaced only once during the life of the bus and the replacing fuel cell would be a fraction of the current $1 million. Meeting both concerns appears likely.
UTC supports the CARB proposal. With manufacturing volume, UTC is confident of reducing fuel cell cost and extending fuel cell life. UTC currently provides a 4,000 hour warranty. In the future, UTC hopes to extend fuel cell life to 40,000 hours, which would match the 12-year life of most buses. The four buses currently using UTC fuel cells at AC Transit and Sunline are reaching double the equivalent miles-per gallon of standard diesel buses. The current fuel cell buses are demonstrating reliability, performance and a quiet ride. Michael Tosca, Senior Product Manager for UTC, felt that a $1 million hydrogen fuel cell bus could be produced if 100 were ordered together, lowering component and manufacturing costs.
CARB is considering several alternatives to soften requirements and timeline should technology not progress as expected: initiate purchase requirement through an Advanced Demonstration program; increase the fleet requirement from 2 to 15% as technology milestones are achieved; and the well-received Executive Officer Discretion Clause in implementing requirements as cost and warranty targets are achieved.
Hydrogen ICE (HICE) and CNG with hydrogen blends (HCNG) may also be allowed for the Advanced Demonstration and for being credited as 1/3 of a fuel cell bus. Such proposals would lower initial costs and simplify the transition. Many fleets are predominately CNG.
The proposed ZEB would accelerate the transition to cost-effective hydrogen transportation in California, reduce emissions, and reduce dependency on foreign oil.
Presentations on ARB Website
Good news. Methane concentration in the atmosphere has not increased during the past 8 years. Methane is estimated to be responsible for 9 to 17% of the global warming caused by human activity. During its total life in the stratosphere, methane does 23 times the heat trapping damage of CO2 over a 100 year period. (GHG) Fortunately methane released into the atmosphere largely dissipates in about 12 years. CO2 stays as part of the heat trap for about 100 years.
Back in 1860, before we became big users of fossil fuels, methane concentration was 750 ppb. By the year 1998, it was 1,750 ppb, a frightening increase. Since 1998, however, there has been no increase. This represents major progress in the battle to stop global warming. We should celebrate.
The good news was reported by Dr. Sherwood Rowland, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for co-discovering the atmospheric damage caused by another family of greenhouse gases – chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). Dr. Rowland and his team at the University of California at Irvine have been carefully monitoring greenhouse gas concentrations for many years. I had the good fortune of taking chemistry from Dr. Rowland when I was a student at UCI.
The growing atmospheric concentration of CFC was the result of using the chemicals in refrigerants, hairspray and more. A life threatening hole in the ozone was developing. The ozone layer protects us from getting zapped and fried by gamma rays, x-rays, and ultraviolet rays. This ozone shield was saved thanks to the brilliant work of Nobel Prize chemists Dr. Sherwood Rowland, Dr. Mario Molina, and Dr. Paul Crutzen.
Although the news is good about reducing emissions of methane and CFC, CO2 concentration continues to increase at a rate which threatens our future. What works? What needs to be done?
Methane concentration may have stopped growing because natural gas prices have skyrocketed, and natural gas is typically 90% methane. Natural gas is often a byproduct of oil drilling. When natural gas was cheap, oil producers let it vent into the atmosphere. As more power plants have used natural gas, its price has increased. In 1946, natural gas cost only 5 cents per thousand cubic feet. By 2000, $3.68. Now it makes money to capture it and sell it, or produce energy on the spot. (EIA Data)
Landfills are the #1 emitter of methane in the USA. The city of Burbank formerly let landfill gas go into the atmosphere. Now it pipes the gas into 11 microturbines that generate 550kW of electricity. The city estimates that it achieves a 100% return on investment annually. As committed to in the City’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, 20% of the power used by Burbank’s residents and businesses will come from renewable sources by 2017.
Major emitters of methane include the oil and gas industry, the coal industry, and landfills. All now have the technology and market incentives to capture natural gas for power and fuel. Another major source of methane is cattle ranching. If methane emissions were priced into beef, we would be less likely to say “supersize me.” Ranchers would raise more wind towers and less cattle.
CO2 emissions must be brought under control. Because CO2 has an average atmospheric lifetime of 100 years, it is accumulating at a dangerous rate. From a preindustrial concentration of 280 ppm, it now nears 400 ppm. Business as usual, in our lifetime, could take it to 600 ppm. This growth creates the risk of runaway effects. For example, should the ice melt on large land bodies now covered with ice, there could be huge methane releases. Another runaway danger is if tropical forests and oceans stop absorbing CO2.
The fastest way to reduce our CO2 emission is to reduce our use of coal and oil. With coal, it is a double bonus because reducing coal mining also reduces methane emissions. Coal is used to feed power plants. Most of the energy input from coal is lost through inefficient power plants and inefficient use of energy in homes and industry. Energy efficiency and renewable alternatives are the best ways to reduce coal usage. Oil reduction can be achieved if we spend more time riding together, riding less and riding clean.
Yes, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CFC concentrations are starting to decline because on September 16, 1987, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed into agreement by the major countries of the world (originally 24 countries, now 175). A process for all nations to phase-out production of dangerous CFCs and halons was established. Later, other dangerous chemicals were added to the list. Now, the phase-out is largely complete.
International treaties work. Market mechanisms work. International treaties that include market mechanisms for trading greenhouse gas emissions work great. A new treaty with binding targets and pricing mechanisms is needed. It is time for the world’s biggest emitters, the USA and China, to lead the process to a health future and away from a reckless joy ride towards climate chaos.