Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Planning for Employee Commuting

Employee commuting is the single largest source of Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions accounted for by Federal agencies. The establishment of Federal telework and transportation coordination programs over the past decade creates a strong foundation for commute behavior change. However few agencies have achieved substantial commuting emissions reductions from their fiscal year 2008 baseline inventories.

Effective planning for aggressive commute reductions starts with the location of agency facilities. Facility siting and design decisions should be made with public transportation access in mind to make it easier for employees to choose lower-impact commute options. In many cases, however, Federal employees cannot be relocated for purposes of improving access to commute alternatives.

Getting the greatest commute reductions out of existing facilities requires an understanding of employee travel habits and attitudes, as well as the characteristics of the agency's major work locations. Employee transportation coordinators and telework coordinators can utilize the information to identify the most impactful commute alternatives and supporting programs given the unique attributes of those worksites and the employee populations at those sites.

The goal of commute management planning is to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) trips taken by employees in a typical week. Alternatives to commuting that can directly reduce commuting as SOVs include:

  • Alternative work arrangements (telework and compressed work weeks)
  • Biking or walking
  • Public transportation
  • Carpooling and rideshares.

Alternative work arrangements have the greatest potential to reduce commute emissions because they eliminate trips entirely and have broad applicability to the workforce regardless of where employees live. As zero-emitting travel options, biking and walking can also have an important impact on the agency's emissions. However, these commute methods are primarily limited to employees living near their work location.

Public transportation-such as bus and transit rail-is the next best option in terms of emissions produced per passenger mile travelled. It can also be a financially attractive alternative to commuters in urban locations where parking is expensive. An employee's ability to access public transit depends on his or her home and work locations. Finally, while carpooling may be more emissions-intensive than public transit, it has the benefit of being more broadly applicable to employees.

This guidance to reduce employee commuting GHG emissions is designed to help employee transportation coordinators at the agency and facility-levels determine which commuting alternatives are most appropriate, as well as identify specific strategies to incentivize adoption. The key steps in this process include:

Helpful Data and Tools

See the GHG planning data and tools for employee commuting.


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