how can we reduce carbon emissions by changing the way we work
Getting to net-zero requires changes in the way we work and move. In organizations where most travel takes place by car,
the release of travel items may result in a significant portion of GHG emissions.
This point was emphasized by the impact of the closure of COVID-19 in early 2020: by April 2020, daily gas emissions had dropped by 17%,
in part due to declining car use as many stopped going to and from work.
In the case of the Canadian government’s operations in the national capital, the departure of its 150,000 employees is
the second largest component of operational emissions, comprising 138 kt CO2e in 2016.
Most of these evictions are caused by employees driving to work.
In a Canadian Government study, SSG, Rocky Mountain Institute, and what if? Technology has explored solutions to
reduce carbon emissions from the National Capital Region (NCR) to zero by 2050. The project, a Road Map to Low Carbon
Activity in the National Capital Region, has considered how the government can reduce travel and make commute to
work much easier.
more fuel for public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and less expensive cars.
The impact can be huge. By 2050, changing the way government offices manage space and making it easier for workers to work from home could reduce gas emissions by 45 percent.
We have found that a policy that makes workers work at home two days a week can do more damage to productivity at work at
a higher cost. Applying an effective telecommunications policy requires a strong IT communication infrastructure to
connect employees remotely. But the Government of Canada, like m
any organizations, already has an ongoing program to provide this infrastructure.
When combined with modernizing the space so that employees can share desks or access their workplaces, telecommunications
can reduce the floor space needed by employees, and therefore, build gas emissions. At the same time, by giving workers the opportunity to work in co-operative environments, the government can help
reduce long-distance travel by making workers work closer to where they live.
The number of employees driving to work is influenced by the office environment. For example, compared to the once-used
campus in Kanata, the lower part of Ottawa, the state building
in the city of Ottawa has higher levels of walking, walking, and cycling.
The Roadmap recommends that the government find new developments in areas with better transportation, hiking, and
cycling access or designing more uses, a transport-based development where workers and residents live,
work, eat, and have access to resources and recreation in their immediate area.
Yes, even with all these changes, some employees will have to drive. Parking incentives, such as eliminating all free
parking except non-discounted vehicles, as well as encouraging car integration can help reduce that exclusion.
Changes in working life during violence have shown that the recommended changes to the Roadmap are effective.
As organizations look to relocate employees or redevelop or create a new office space, changing the way employees use
space and providing them with flexibility to work from home can reduce workplace eviction.
Yuill Herbert is the founder and principal of Sustainability Solutions Group, a climate planning consulting firm
that designs climate applications and community energy programs and emissions from more than 60 municipalities,
comprising more than 30% of Canadians. He has led the development of the Roadmap for Low-Carbon Operations in the
National Capital Region.
Erik Frenette has worked on energy models since 2011, focusing on providing solutions to specific energy issues and
climate change in Canada. He is a model analyst at whatIf? Technology.