James O'Neill's Blog

May 8, 2006

Save the Planet with a little at a time [part 2]

Filed under: About me,General musings,Mobility — jamesone111 @ 9:53 am

One of the nice things about the new job is I get to walk round and bump into people I haven’t spoken to for ages. Sharon left Microsoft a few months ago, and was sitting in the coffee bar when I walked by on Thursday. Her web-site is called “joining dots” because she brings ideas together to “make sense of emerging trends and understand their potential.“. She has an interesting blog too – this piece on instant messaging is a must read – partly because of the way it brings ideas together. I like to weave themes together as well, this post is an example of that.

My daughter’s school is trying to encourage people NOT to drive right up to the gates, and instead park in a pub car park 400 yards away “to be kind to the environment”. If I driving 3/4 mile to the pub, drop my daughter at school and then drive 40 miles to the office, it makes very little difference if we walking 400 yards or not. It’s walk the full mile from home to school or park at the gates. So on Friday we did the walk, and enjoyed it.

Microsoft is about to build another building here in the UK – part of the information that has been circulated internally  was an energy assessment done on the existing buildings by the Carbon Trust. Although the details of the report are confidential, what amazed me was the heating bill per unit area for these modern buildings is much higher than my house – which was built about 150 years earlier.
I forgot all about it until I read something on Sharon’s site which said 50% of carbon emissions come from the work place, 23% from travel (20% from cars and 3% flights) and the rest from homes.

Wouldn’t it be better to use less office space by working from home more ? It’s good to see the people you work with, but seeing them on 5 days of a week is NOT 25% better than seeing them on 4, or 66% better than seeing them on 3. Having only a proportion of people in the office – and sharing the space among them with compact “Hot desks” is environmentally good, even though I’ve said hot-desking is the only thing I dislike about the working environment at Microsoft. Still, I’m sure that it’s postponed the need for a new building. 
I can save a lot of travel too: my car is 50% more efficient than the one I had 6 years ago but even so, saving one trip per week to the office will save roughly a ton of C02 over a year (and about 2 working weeks worth of time spent in the car).

So I’m, going to try to have a car free day per week – Mondays preferred. I’ll walk my daughter to school, and work from home, and today is the first of these days.
I’ll try to collect ideas together about how technology helps (or hinders), and post them here. Things like the use of Outlook or Communicator without VPNs, Groove and so on. It doesn’t matter where we are if we have good collaboration software. And collaboration software was Sharon’s interest when she worked here. That’s joined a few dots of my own.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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