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Why Indirect Emissions Matter and How Your Company Can Reduce Them

Indirect emissions, also known as Scope 3 emissions in the framework of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, are an often-overlooked aspect of a business’s carbon footprint. They are defined as emissions from non-direct sources engaged in peripheral activities such as:

  • Shipping and product distribution
  • Goods and services procurement from outside parties
  • Waste disposal
  • Franchise management
  • Investments and leased asset management
  • …and, of course, commuting

While the exact percentage of business-related greenhouse gas emissions that come from commuting has been a notoriously gray area in terms of analysis, current estimates show that transportation is responsible for a staggering 20 to 27 percent of all GHG emissions in the United States. Obviously, businesses have a key role to play when it comes to reducing these emission levels, and one of the most direct ways to address the issue is to encourage smarter, more ecologically responsible modes of commuting.

To that end, here are some popular commuter management strategies that reduce employee reliance on single-occupancy vehicles:

  • Building a company-wide or cooperative, community-based rideshare program
  • Offering free or subsidized transit passes
  • Creating vanpool shuttle services linking company facilities with local public transportation hubs
  • Supporting bike-to-work initiatives by adding secure bike parking areas, lockers, and on-site showers
  • Participating in local and national challenge programs
  • Launching commuter gamification programs that reward participants for logging trips using alternative modes of transportation
  • Implementing earn-a-bike and/or parking cash-out programs

The transportation demand management professionals at RideAmigos can help you set up and run these and many other commuter programs as part of a concerted effort to help reduce the emissions generated by employee commutes. The RideAmigos software platform is also the ideal tool for tracking the impact of your commuter programs, and features a comprehensive suite of next-generation management and reporting tools.

Get started today and help your company build toward a cleaner, greener tomorrow.

Why Are We Here?

Why ARE we here? Why does the field of commuter management matter? Why is RideAmigos so excited about transforming commuter behavior?

In just one minute, CEO Jeffrey Chernick tackles this all-important question at the recent Association for Commuter Transportation conference in Portland:

The reason why we’re doing this, the reason why I’m doing this, is because we’re shifting commuter behavior to create a better planet.

We’re all in this for the same reason, and by shifting commuter behavior we’re actually clearing the roads!

We’re getting people to take healthier routes to work, whether it be a bike, or a walk, or a Zipcar, or a Lyft line, or an uberPOOL. There are so many new ways to get around.

If people are motivated to do and try something new, we’re actually going to make a major difference in the world. And that’s a big deal! That means cleaner air for our children, that means lower energy consumption for our culture and our land use, and it just goes into so many facets of our lives.

If we decide to commute smarter the world is an actual better place and we’ll live here longer.

It’s almost necessary. We don’t have a choice in it anymore. We have to do it!

The transportation industry today – including ACT and RideAmiogs – we’re here to do this, and it’s pretty profound to be here for it.

Interested in finding out how your organization can make a difference? Take our 2-question survey and receive a free commuter program analysis:

Free Program Analysis

How Commuting Impacts the Environment

Every commute made in a single-occupancy vehicle puts more pressure on the environment

Even though alternatives like telecommuting continue to gather momentum, a large majority of the world’s workforce still travels to and from a physical workplace, day in and day out. While governments are increasingly focused on improving transit infrastructure to reduce the number of trips made in single-occupancy vehicles, commuting by car remains entrenched as a preferred mode of travel in many cities. This creates a huge amount of stress on the environment, our natural resources, and on commuters themselves.

Individuals may think they can’t make a difference, but the numbers tell a different story. Here’s a run-down of the carbon dioxide emissions produced by commuting 10 miles (one way), five days per week for one year:

  • Small car (35 MPG fuel economy): 1.4 tons
  • Midsize car (20 MPG fuel economy): 2.6 tons
  • Full-size car/SUV (14 MPG fuel economy): 3.8 tons

According to statistics from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, 93% of commuters drive alone with an average commute trip length of 12 miles.  

Getting even a small percentage of those vehicles off the road by having commuters choose cleaner, smarter modes of transportation would have an immediate and highly beneficial effect on the environment.

Small-scale but widespread changes lead to major positive impacts

To quantify the positive impact that alternative commuting can make, here’s a look at the statistical flip-side of the coin:

  • If 5 percent of the New York City residents who solo commute by car or taxi switched to riding bikes, they would save 75,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. That’s roughly equivalent to planting 30 square miles of forest.
  • In the United States, about 50% of all elementary students are taken to school by car. If just 20% of those students walked or biked instead, the environment would be spared of about 356,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
  • A recent survey found that 89% of Americans believe that reducing energy consumption should be a primary focus of transportation development strategies.

Clearly, the support for a cleaner future is already part of the public consciousness. The power to make meaningful changes just needs to be brought to a wider base of commuters. That’s one of our primary goals here at RideAmigos. We want to help people enjoy their commutes and contribute to creating a better world. Join us in our mission to transform transportation, one commute at a time!

Transportation demand management strategies can make a difference

Implementing commuter programs at an organizational level can be a big help. Businesses, schools, government agencies, and universities all have a role to play in striving to reduce the number of inefficient solo driving trips to and from their facilities each day.

Here are some examples of organizational transportation demand management strategies you can use to encourage transportation sustainability:

  • Commuter programs for businesses and large government employers: Software-powered rideshare networks help commuters forge closer collegial ties, reduce stress, improve their work-life balance, boost their job satisfaction, and improve their productivity. Implementing them alongside support for active commuters, like secure bike parking areas and on-site shower facilities, can drive sustained behavior change.
  • The power of schoolpools: Elementary and secondary school communities can form schoolpools that work like employer-based rideshare networks. Parents can take turns driving kids and their friends, reducing the number of solo car trips to and from schools. A major side benefit: schoolpools improve safety by reducing the number of vehicles converging around schools at peak times of day.
  • Get smart about university transportation: University rideshare networks offer similar safety improvements and go a long way toward reducing parking demand on campus. Another idea we like: bundle public transportation passes into each semester or school year’s optional fee schedule. Students will make better use of transit options if they don’t have to pay out of pocket to access your local network.

The cities of tomorrow are already being engineered to support more sustainable transportation alternatives. You can make the smart city commuter program model part of your organizational philosophy by becoming an early adopter, and RideAmigos can help.

Benefit from the TDM industry’s leading software platform

Our powerful commuter management software platform was designed to make alternative modes of transportation more accessible to a larger number of people. One of the best ways to find the right solutions for your organization is to take advantage of software-based survey and data analysis tools. The RideAmigos platform offers a long list of ways to generate meaningful, actionable insights that help you design intelligent and effective commuter programs.

A long and growing list of businesses and organizations have used RideAmigos to great success. Help reduce the commuting impact of your community by discovering the transformative capabilities of RideAmigos. 

Contact us today to learn more!

Reduce Your Parking Footprint for LEED Credit

Earn credit toward LEED certification by reducing your building’s parking footprint

Parking spaces are expensive and are a major source of soil and water pollution. Forward-thinking companies seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for their buildings can earn credit by minimizing the environmental impact of their parking facilities. If you’re planning or building a new location for your company and you want to enjoy the ecological and marketing benefits that come with LEED certification, it’s easy to take action to start reducing your parking footprint now.

LEED is the world’s most recognized green building certification. Available to buildings that meet elevated standards for energy efficiency and green design, LEED certification is more than just a way to help reduce pollution and minimize ecological impact. It also supports marketing and branding efforts by reinforcing your company’s ecologically friendly values, and it can also add to the resale price of the finished property.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced a new program that allows builders to earn credit towards LEED certification by reducing their parking footprint. Here are the specifics:

  • To qualify, buildings must not have more than the minimum parking capacity, as defined by local code requirements.
  • Buildings can also qualify by having less parking capacity than the recommended base ratios suggested by the Parking Consultants Council (PCC), which are available in the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Transportation Planning Handbook, 3rd Edition, Tables 18-2, 18-3 and 18-4.
  • Projects are also able to earn points by meeting LT Credit Surrounding Density and Diverse Areas, or LT Credit Access to Quality Transit requirements.
  • Projects without these LT credits must have at least 20 percent less parking capacity than the PCC base ratios.
  • Projects with LT credits must have at least 40 percent less parking capacity than the PCC base ratios.

Full program details can be viewed on the USGBC website.

Empower commuters to use alternative means of transportation to reduce your parking needs

If you’re looking to reduce your parking capacity, it’s essential that you offer alternatives to commuters and employees. Encouraging people to use environmentally responsible transportation such as ridesharing, carpooling, public transit, or biking is the best way to keep your parking requirements as low as possible. Transportation demand management software, like RideAmigos, provides powerful tools for reducing your parking needs by empowering and incentivizing people to change the way they commute. 

Our revolutionary transportation management platform offers an easy-to-use commuter trip planner, extensive ridesharing features, motivational incentive options, powerful data analysis tools, and more. We make it easy for users to skip the solo drive and affordable for organizations to reduce their environmental footprint. To learn more, check out our demo video or contact us today.

Photo Credit: Tilt Shift Parking Lot by Nic Redhead

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What are Scope 3 Indirect Emissions?

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol defines three classes of emissions

Learn more about Scope 3 indirect emissions …

The GHG Protocol is a widely used international standard for classifying greenhouse gas emissions. It defines emissions in three categories, known as Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3.

Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions come from owned or purchased assets that are directly involved in an organization’s operations. Scope 1 emissions cover direct greenhouse gas emissions emerging from owned sources such as company vehicles, combustion appliances or equipment, and fugitive emissions, which are emissions caused by leaks, malfunctions, and other irregular or accidental circumstances.

Scope 2 emissions differ from the Scope 1 classification in that they are indirect rather than direct, but still come from owned, purchased, or rented assets. Utilities such as electricity and heat are common examples of Scope 2 pollutants.

Scope 3 indirect emissions cover all non-direct sources that come from peripheral activities related to the organization. These include emissions resulting from goods and services delivered through an outside provider, as well as waste disposal, investments, product distribution, franchises, and leased assets. However, one of the most prominent sources of Scope 3 indirect emissions is commuting and employee travel.

While there are many strategies that can cut down on the GHG emissions caused by commuting and employee travel, a majority of people still rely on single-occupancy vehicles to get to and from work. Encouraging commuters to switch to greener, smarter, and more efficient transportation modes is an excellent way for businesses and organizations to reduce their carbon footprints.

RideAmigos helps businesses and organizations achieve meaningful reductions in their Scope 3 indirect emissions

RideAmigos has developed an innovative, comprehensive transportation demand management (TDM) software platform replete with features that help businesses encourage commuters to shift their behaviors away from single occupancy vehicles. We can help your organization adopt and implement a wide range of proven strategies that improve access to smart alternatives with tools like ridematching, vanpool management, public transit integration, and both active and passive commute tracking.

The RideAmigos software platform also contains comprehensive tools for publicizing and managing incentive programs, such as commuter challenges and gamification. We’ve helped organizations around the world, in both the public and private sectors, drive positive behavior change among their commuters. We can help yours, too.

Get started with RideAmigos to arrange a consultation, discover helpful commuter tips, or get a free analysis or your existing commuter programs.

More information about the GHG Protocol Scope 3 Standard.

What is Transportation Resilience?

Defining and understanding transportation resilience

In the context of risk management, “resilience” is defined as a system’s ability to continue to function at an acceptable level of efficiency in the face of disruptive or unexpected conditions. This concept has been imported into the world of transportation demand management, giving rise to the idea of “transportation resilience.”

Transportation resilience is defined as the ability of a transportation system to move people around in the face of one or more major obstacles to normal function. These obstacles can include extreme weather events, major accidents, and equipment or infrastructure failures. More specifically, the concept of transportation resilience has even more precise implications, depending on how the term is applied:

  • For individuals, transportation resilience means being able to get around if the person’s vehicle breaks down, or if the person is injured, becomes disabled, or suffers a loss of income
  • For communities, it means that public transit is accessible, and that traffic can continue to move despite accidents, emergencies, seasonal construction projects, or special events
  • On a design level, it means that transportation systems have specific built-in features to deal with extreme levels of demand and critical, unexpected problems
  • On an economics level, it enables personal transportation to continue functioning even if an important resource, such as oil or gasoline, becomes unavailable or prohibitively expensive
  • On a strategy level, it means a transportation system is created to accommodate future growth and possible changes to future usage or access patterns

At the day-to-day level, transportation resilience is of greatest concern to individuals and communities. It is something businesses and commuters need to think about, since the availability of transportation is critical to the function of both these entities.

What types of organizations have the most pronounced need for resilient transportation strategies?

Transportation resilience is critical to organizations with high concentrations of commuters. The more dependent those commuters are on single-occupancy vehicles, the more important it becomes.

All kinds of unexpected events can disrupt a person’s commute — car trouble, bad weather, traffic congestion, transit outages, accidents. The key to transportation resilience is to offer commuters alternatives that enable them to get around despite these issues.

Proven strategies for improving organizational transportation resilience

Some aspects of transportation resilience are beyond an organization’s control. Extreme weather events, like severe summer storms and blizzards that dump massive amounts of snow, will disrupt even the most carefully planned resilience strategies. Yet, despite this, careful planning and foresight can dramatically boost your organization’s ability to continue functioning at a high level in the face of everyday problems.

Let’s start with an essential “ridesharing for enterprises 101” type of concept: the importance of information. Encourage commuters to get in the habit of checking traffic information before they leave home in the morning. You’d be surprised how many people don’t bother to seek updates on things like road and traffic conditions until they’re already on the move. This can lead to major problems. After all, how likely is it that a commuter is going to turn around, go back home, and seek an alternative mode of transportation after driving into the thick of a traffic jam?

This easy, simple habitual shift helps commuters make smarter choices from the get-go. If traffic congestion is causing major delays along their normal driving route, commuters can simply opt for public transportation or other alternatives that allow them to bypass problem areas, get to work on time, and maintain their normal levels of productivity.

To that end, employers can make this transition even easier by building supports for alternative commuting into their transportation demand management models:

  • Offer free or subsidized monthly transit passes to commuters
  • Install secure bicycle parking along with showers and lockers to make active commuting a viable option
  • Introduce an emergency ride home program to help overcome commuter hesitation

Another excellent way to improve organizational transportation resilience is to offer flexible telework options. After all, the most efficient commute is one that’s never made.

Working from home is a great strategy for maintaining productivity no matter what local weather and traffic conditions may throw at you. Help employees stay productive by offering telework commuter services that help employees new to the world of remote working make key adjustments. Chances are you’ll find teleworking a highly beneficial solution, as it boosts employees’ work-life balance and improves job satisfaction. Ancillary benefits include superior employee retention rates and a happier, more positive workplace culture.

Power your solutions with the RideAmigos smart commuting app

The RideAmigos commuter hub is replete with features that support transportation resilience for commuters and the businesses that employ them. With easy-to-use planning features and connections to a complete range of transportation alternatives, users can take part in rideshare and carpooling programs, make better use of public transit, use carshares, and much more.

Get started with RideAmigos