Encouraging employees to use public transit through "CarboPOINTs"
|Region(s)||Montréal, Québec, Canada|
|In domains||Banking and Finance, Reduction of Greenhouse Gases|
Since the fall of 2007, a certain number of Montrealers who use alternative modes of transport for their daily commutes have found themselves rewarded for their efforts. By choosing more environmentally-friendly ways of getting to work, these people are earning special points in the "CarboPOINT" program, perhaps the most distinctive element of the sustainable transport plan adopted by Montréal's Carrefour financier solidaire (CFS).
The CFS, which consists of eight social and economic development institutions (the largest of which is Fondaction, the CSN workers' fund), has found an innovative way to promote sustainable transport among its 130 employees and encourage them to leave their cars at home when coming to work.
CarboPOINTs are calculated according to the likely reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that results from the type of alternative transport chosen by an employee. Whether it be public transit, carpooling or more physically active ways of getting about (such as cycling or walking), every participant in the program gets something out of it, since CarboPOINTs can be redeemed each year in exchange for outdoor gear or gift certificates for fair trade products.
There are also several other measures aimed at encouraging employees to use alternative transport, such as 50% reimbursements on monthly transit passes, reserved indoor parking for carpool drivers, and free bicycle tune-ups each spring.
The range of measures introduced by the CFS lets participating employees "do their part" for the environment while also helping them to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
Mise en place
The CarboPOINT program was introduced in 2007 by Fondaction and Neuvaction, another organisation at the CFS. Not only is the program designed to increase the number of employees using alternative means of transport, but it also aims to raise awareness among participants regarding climate
change issues and the need to modify their lifestyles by opting for alternative transport. As well, the system collects information on the commuting habits of CFS employees and allows for greater accountability.
A "charter" detailing the CarboPOINT system and its basic principles has been carefully developed and a copy given to each participating employee. In addition to stating the program's mission and objectives, the charter explains how data is entered, how CarboPOINTs are calculated (i.e., according to mode of transport used and distance travelled between home and work), how the points are earned and redeemed, and how the system is
The CarboPOINT system is hosted on a web-based platform, which allows participants to enter information on the type of transport they use to get to work. This can be done on either a daily or weekly basis, and the information is entered in the form of percentages (e.g., "On Mondays, 80% of my commute is on the métro and 20% is on foot"). Each component of the trip is then given a "weight" and CarboPOINTs are calculated automatically. The platform also produces reports that, first, detail how an employee's CarboPOINTs can be redeemed and, second, provide information on the accountability
of the various institutions involved.
The program offers a wide range of rewards in the form of gift certificates for local products and services offered by businesses that are supported by the organisations at the CFS.
The CarboPOINT system itself was designed using relatively few resources. However, the web-based platform -- which supports the system, auomatically collects employee data and produces specific reports -- requires major investments in time and resources, particularly when first being installed.
Given that the proper functioning of the CarboPOINT program relies on the participants acting in good faith, it might be advisable to introduce a monitoring mechanism to verify that the information submitted by employees is in fact correct.
In 2008, 46 CFS employees participated, some of whom accumulated an annual CarboPOINT balance equivalent to $250, the maximum amount offered in the program.
Thanks to these efforts, we reduced our GHG emissions by more than 20 tons last year. For 2009, we hope to cut GHG emissions by 25 tons.
The CarboPOINT initiative was honoured at the third Gala de reconnaissance en environnement et développement durable de Montréal, held earlier this year in April.
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