Washington, D.C. – Three companies in metropolitan Washington – The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., B. F. Saul Company, and Clean Currents – were honored today at the National Press Club by Commuter Connections for providing outstanding commuting options and alternatives for employees. Commuter Connections, a program of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, focuses on making alternatives to drive-alone commuting practical and attractive.
Each of the companies voluntarily implemented strategies to support alternatives to driving to work alone, such as carpooling/vanpooling, teleworking, walking, bicycling and taking public transit. Such alternatives help reduce gasoline consumption, ease traffic congestion and the stress that long commutes place on employees, and provide for cleaner air through reduced auto emissions.
“We are honoring these companies and organizations today because they have made a commitment to making progress on two major issues for our region – traffic congestion and air pollution,” said Muriel Bowser, District of Columbia Council Member and TPB Chair. “They have put in place innovative and successful programs that have changed the commuting culture within their workplaces, and by doing so, have made positive contributions to the quality of life for their employees and the region’s residents as a whole.”
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), the national professional association for occupational therapy practitioners and students was awarded for offering a wide variety of commuting incentives to encourage the use of public transit, ridesharing, bicycling and teleworking.
B. F. Saul Company, a privately-owned real estate firm in Bethesda, operating in every phase of real- estate investment and development, won an award for marketing for their innovative and multifaceted approach to promoting alternatives to drive-alone commuting to their employees.
Clean Currents, which provides residential and commercial power options in the Mid-Atlantic Region, and supplies renewable energy credits to businesses nationwide, was recognized by Commuter Connections for its telework program.
More detailed explanations of the winning organizations are provided below.
Commuter Connections works closely with local businesses to educate and promote alternatives to drive alone commuting practices of employees. With free assistance from Commuter Connections, employers can offer a wide array of commuting options from transit subsidies or pre-tax benefits to telework and ridesharing programs. Commuter Connections also manages the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides peace of mind for commuters using alternatives to driving alone by providing a free ride home in the event of an emergency. In addition they offer the ‘Pool Rewards incentive program which provides up to $130 in cash to drive alone commuters who start or join new carpools.
2011 Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Award winners:
The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (Incentives Award); Contact: Jennifer Cramb, 301.652.6611
65 employees. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the national professional association for occupational therapy practitioners and students. Of their 65 employees, nearly two-thirds use alternative means of getting to and from work: 30 use transit, 4 carpool, and 7 walk or bike. AOTA assists with commuting costs by subsidizing transit expenses at the rate of $50 per month for each employee. AOTA’s office is located near the Bethesda Metrorail station which further encourages employees to use public transit for their commutes. AOTA offers all full-time staff, after six months of employment, telework opportunities as well as alternative work arrangements such as flextime and compressed work weeks. About a third of employees use flextime and telework benefits. A 2010 Montgomery County commuter survey found that nearly 60% of AOTA employees commute at off-peak times, allowing them to avoid adding to the main spike of traffic congestion. In 2010, AOTA sponsored 30 employees who participated in Bethesda’s Walk and Ride Challenge, a competition to see who can take the most steps during the month of September. American Occupational Therapy Association employees have saved or reduced 88,350 Vehicle Miles Traveled and 4,462 gallons of gasoline per year.
B. F. Saul Company (Marketing Award); Contact: Cheryl Snyder, 301.986.6195
230 employees. Founded in 1892, B. F. Saul Company is a privately-owned real estate firm in Bethesda, operating in every phase of real-estate investment and development. By educating employees about alternative commute options, B. F. Saul continues to demonstrate what employees can do to save money, and be part of the solution to the area’s traffic congestion and pollution. Marketing efforts to promote commute alternatives begins at the time of hire, with a PowerPoint presentation that outlines the organization’s commuter benefits. B. F. Saul also gets the word out through their intranet, a monthly newsletter, as well as through company emails. Commuter brochures and transit schedules are displayed on racks in the Human Resources Department and are restocked regularly. In addition, they post commuter information on employee bulletin boards. In 2010, B. F. Saul also sponsored a team in the Walk and Ride Challenge. The company credits in part, its commuter benefits program with helping to decrease employee turnover from 18 percent in 2006 to less than 4 percent in 2010. It also cites its commuter program as an important contributor to an increase in overall job satisfaction and as a tool for employee recruitment. Of its 230 employees, 96 have found alternative ways to work. The company provides a $105 per month subsidy and offers bike racks and locker room/showers for employees who walk or ride their bikes to work. The number of B. F. Saul Company employees using alternative commute options has grown tremendously; in 2005 just 17% found alternative ways to get to work, and by 2010 that number increased to 41%. Employees have saved or reduced 630,000 Vehicle Miles Traveled and 31,818 gallons of gasoline per year. In addition, the company has saved $34,320 annually through fewer parking spaces.
Clean Currents (Telework Award); Contact: Eric Vermeiren, 301.754.0430
20 employees. Clean Currents provides residential and commercial power options in the Mid-Atlantic Region, and supplies renewable energy credits to businesses nationwide. Clean Currents also provides consulting services on green and renewable energy options to governmental, commercial and institutional customers. The company has 20 employees, all of whom take advantage of Clean Currents’ telework benefit. Clean Currents implemented its formal telework program as part of the company’s efforts to grow in a green way. All employees are eligible for the program after a four-month period of employment and completion of a telework training program. Clean Currents provides all employees with company-owned laptops. In addition they have invested in Microsoft Remote Desktop which allows employees to work anywhere with internet access. Clean Currents has also installed a phone system that gives employees full access from their home, cell or office phone, and staff cell phone plans are covered at up to $50 per employee per month. Employees select their telework days with consideration for required in-person team meetings. Employees arrange their telework schedules in collaboration with team members to ensure selected days positively impact coworkers and the effectiveness of the company. Clean Currents’ telework program has reduced office space requirements, generating a savings of approximately $20,000 per year. The program helps to reduce 16,200 vehicle miles traveled per year; saves 648 gallons of gasoline; and reduces CO2 by 5.8 metric tons annually.