Minimizing Emissions from Business Travel and Employee Commuting
Leading organizations recognize that the largest emission sources, such as business travel and employee commuting, often lie beyond the walls of our buildings. At ICF, we recognize our responsibility for these emissions and we’re committed to reducing them by implementing the following measures.
Minimizing Emissions from Employee Commuting
Understanding our commuting emissions. We conduct a detailed survey of our employees’ commuting practices and preferences and gather feedback on our commuter benefits. The survey results inform our greenhouse gas inventory and mitigation activities. For example, when employees responded they would more likely use public transportation if we improved the transit benefit we offer employees, we increased the maximum benefit.
Subsidizing mass transit. To reduce the emissions of our employee commuting, we invest in a subsidy for U.S. employees who take mass transit. In 2016, in response to employee feedback that they would use mass transit if the subsidy were increased, we effectively doubled the transit allowance for those who use the benefit to encourage greater use of mass transit.
Supporting telecommuting. We have a progressive telecommuting policy, and about 30 percent of our employees regularly telecommute. We provide comprehensive tools and training, including classes on employing virtual communication strategies, conducting effective meetings, and cultivating successful team dynamics with team members not co-located.
Providing resources for remote work. We use technology to educate staff on ways to maximize productivity while teleworking. We have a single communications platform for online web conferencing, instant messaging, and desktop video conferencing—which also offers the ability to share screens, programs, and whiteboards. This lets employees connect and collaborate from anywhere, at any time. In addition, we support a powerful, engaging intranet that is a hub for business resources, workplace services, career information, companywide news and capabilities, and employee profiles.
Subsidizing cycling. For employees who commute by bicycle, we offer a monthly subsidy to help with bicycle maintenance, and we contribute to a bicycle purchase every two years.
Sponsoring Bike to Work events. Each year, we promote Bike to Work Day companywide and unify the cycling enthusiasts across ICF. The Bike to Work events draw hundreds of employee cyclists from more than 40 offices.
Supporting ride sharing. We participate in a ride-sharing program organized in several U.S. cities where ICF has offices, so individuals need not commute alone. We also have pre-negotiated discounts for car-sharing programs for those who need a car only occasionally.
Providing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. In response to employee requests for EV charging stations at our headquarters office, we worked with the landlord to install charging stations. We also have EV charging stations at three other ICF offices.
Reducing Emissions from Business Travel
Meeting face-to-face with clients is fundamental to a consulting business. But we work to reduce our impact while maintaining critical client interactions. We encourage virtual meetings whenever feasible, using technology to simulate the in-person experience.
Maximizing the use of virtual tools. We make the same technology that we leverage for internal meetings also available for client meetings. The communication platform is compatible with our clients’ firewalls and enables video connection at multiple locations. Meeting participants can share documents, post ideas on a shared whiteboard, submit questions to presenters, and provide feedback via polls—all virtually. For meetings that require a higher quality of presentation, we installed sophisticated video equipment in 14 of our locations, providing crisp imagery and enabling interaction that simulates in-person meetings.
Reminding staff of alternatives to travel. ICF’s travel policy leads with a reminder to consider alternatives: Always ask if a virtual meeting could satisfy the objectives of a planned offsite meeting. We identify tools that ICF provides to support virtual meetings.
Tracking the details for a better understanding. When booking each trip, we require employees to identify the purpose of their trip and select a charge code. During 2016 on a quarterly basis, we will begin to report internally regarding travel that supports ICF’s overhead activities versus travel related to client service. These data will inform future revisions to our travel policy.
Considering options to reduce trips. In 2016 we will add a clause to our travel policy: Consider whether multiple business trips could be consolidated and still satisfy the objectives of planned meetings. Collaborate with colleagues and partners to reduce business trips. Consider merging trips or sharing travel responsibilities.
Raising awareness of low-carbon driving options. In 2016 we will raise employees’ awareness of low-carbon driving options with our preferred vendors for car rental—promoting hybrid, electric, and high-MPG vehicles. We will track our usage of low-carbon vehicles to inform future travel guidance.