ESB is Ireland’s leading energy utility. We generate, distribute and sell (through our retail company ESB Electric Ireland) electricity to customers throughout Ireland.
ESB’s sustainability strategy has a target of a 30% reduction in our internal carbon footprint by 2012, and to become a net carbon-neutral company by 2035. Part of our action plan is to work with staff (in locations throughout the country) to identify ways in which we can reduce the carbon footprint of our commuting behaviour.
While there are a myriad of resources available for people who wish to change their commuting behaviour, they are dispersed and can be difficult to access. By developing location specific work based travel plans we have been able to provide people with all the information they need to make informed commuting choices. In our Head Office in Dublin, we have focused on educating staff around the various transport options available to them. In addition, we upgraded our head office facilities for cyclists/walkers/runners and this has been positively received.
This behavioural change is having a significant impact on our carbon footprint (previously estimated to include 6,000 tonnes of CO2 from commuting). According to Kristin Quinn of ESB’s Sustainability Team, “We are greatly encouraged by the results. Our ambition has been two fold – in addition to reducing our carbon footprint we want to support people to develop healthy and less stressful ways to get to and from work. The progress we are making points to long term behavioural change.”
A recent survey of Head office staff has revealed a significant positive shift since the previous comparable survey was undertaken in 2009 with cycling up 8%, bus use up 5%, LUAS up 3% and single occupant driving dropping by 13%. What is very encouraging is that the predominant reason for travelling by a particular mode was that it was “quickest” (37%). The fact that this journey type also facilitated flexibility also featured strongly (18%). Only 9% indicated that their choice was based on the fact that this was the cheapest commuting option, so this transition from car use does not seem to be recession driven but rather the result of a positive cultural change in commuting behaviour.
There are cost-free ways of encouraging cycling e.g. getting a local bike shop to run an on-site repair service, or getting experienced cyclists to buddy-up with colleagues for their first few journeys but in the end the provision of changing facilities is the key to success.
Check out the National Transport Authority’s online national journey planner – www.transportforIreland.ie – it’s a great resource for people who want to explore sustainable commuting options.
ESB Sustainability Programme.