Over the last five years, many Assiniboine Credit Union employees have shifted to greener and more active types of commuting. These changes in commuting patterns have been tracked through several annual Employee Commuting Surveys, first used in 2009.
These surveys have proven to be an incredibly informative tool that offer a very detailed snapshot of employee commuting practices. The data we collect each year is used to estimate our annual commuting-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs); to identify and address employee barriers to green and active commuting; and to see if commuting habits are changing.
One thing that is very clear from five years of surveys, tracking hundreds of thousands of kilometers of travel, Assiniboine employees are not commuting by car as much as they used to. This is good news for a number of reasons.
Decreasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
First, the GHGs from employee commuting have decreased steadily since 2009. In 2009, GHGs from employee commuting were over 620 tonnes of CO2e; this year they dropped to 421 tonnes.
When these total emissions are converted to CO2e emissions per employee, they reached a high of 1.26 tonnes of CO2e per employee in 2010 and an all-time low of 0.78 tonnes in 2013. This 38% drop is a result of a combination of factors including:
- A decrease in total number of commuting trips taken and the average distance of those trips.
- A dramatic shift in the transportation mode used when commuting – since 2009 Assiniboine has seen drive-alone commuting trips decrease from 67% in 2009 to 54% in 2013. In 2013 active and green commuting modes made up 46% of all commuting journeys.
Reducing Congestion on Our Roads
Second, many Winnipeg streets are not designed to handle the growth in traffic that many areas of the city are experiencing. City of Winnipeg traffic flow data indicates that between 50,000 to 60,000 vehicles use many of Winnipeg’s main thoroughfares each day! Shifting to green and active modes of commuting can help reduce congestion and wear and tear on our roads.
While Assiniboine employee use of active commuting modes (walking, running, cycling, etc) is comparable to the city average, Assiniboine’s “drive to work” commuting is 10% lower than the city average and our transit usage is 10% higher. If “drive to work” commuting trips are separated into “drive alone” and “as a passenger” categories, Assiniboine’s green and active commuting performance compared to City of Winnipeg averages is even better, as 14% of Assiniboine employees carpooled to work in 2013 compared to just 9% of Winnipeggers.
Increasing Daily Exercise for Better Health
Finally, as commuting trips increase in distance and duration, so do the stress levels of commuters, as well as the negative health impacts and economic costs associated with commuting. Supporting green and active commuting can be part of a broader workplace health and wellness strategy.
Commuting Distance, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Metabolic Risk , a study conducted in Texas, compared commuter health to the distanced commuted to and from work finding that as commuting distances increased, physical activity and cardiovascular fitness dropped, and blood pressure, body weight, waist circumference and other risks rose. Several studies conducted in Sweden reached similar conclusions about the negative impacts of commuting long distances.
Promoting Green and Active Commuting
Assiniboine encourages green and active commuting in a number of ways. These include locating branches and offices near major bus routes; providing a 30% subsidy for the purchase of monthly bus passes; working with employees to place them at locations close to home (when possible); and locating bike racks, showers and lockers at locations when possible.
Assiniboine has received recognition for:
- 2012 Commuter Friendly Workplace Award
- 2012 Manitoba Excellence in Sustainability Award for Action on Climate Change
- Air Quality and Energy Efficiency from the Manitoba Roundtable for Sustainable Development
- One of Canada’s Greenest Employers in 2013, in part because of the positive impacts of its green and active commuting initiatives.
Want to learn more about green and active commuting and other green living practices? Visit Green Action Centre.