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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Energy and environmental benefits of alternative work arrangements Hasan, Ajaz

Abstract

The present rate of fossil fuel burning, the main source of commercial energy, is adversely impacting global climate. Present social and economic practices need to be examined to question their level of energy use and related greenhouse gas emission. Energy used to operate buildings and to transport people is a significant portion of the total energy consumption and reductions in these uses will be crucial to addressing the global issues. This thesis examines the potential for energy use reduction in the performance of office work through the use of Alternative Work Arrangements ("AWAs"). The analysis considers the operating energy of an office building, operating energy of alternative work locations and the transportation energy spent by employees in commuting from home to work. A brief synopsis of the present atmospheric, energy use and workplace trend is presented. The synthesis of these trends is used as a framework to evaluate the impact of AWAs. The work arrangements in the Burnaby Fraser Tax Services Office ('BFTSO'), Surrey, BC are used as a case study to analyze the operating and commuting energy spent by the employees working by different arrangements. Telework is found to be the most energy efficient work arrangement implemented at the BFTSO. Under optimum operating conditions, net energy saving per teleworker can be 34.06 GJ per annum. Net savings in greenhouse gas emission per teleworker can be 1950 kg per annum. For hoteling work arrangement, net energy savings per hoteling employee under optimum conditions can be 32 GJ per annum. Related savings in greenhouse gas emissions can be 1532 kg per annum. The proportion of total operating and total commuting energy for the BFTSO is almost equal. However, the greenhouse gas emission from total commuting energy is three times that from operating energy due to differences in carbon intensity of the fuel mix. Under optimum conditions the implementation of AWAs at the BFTSO can result in 36 percent saving in total operating energy and 43 percent saving in total commuting energy. The magnitude of the savings is location dependent due to differences in climate, fuel mix and transportation patterns. Alternative Work Arrangements have mixed social impact. It can improve the ability of employees to balance their personal and professional life. It can also lead to isolation that can adversely impact morale and work output. The participation rate in AWAs within organizations is currently low, less than 2 percent. However, the implementation of AWA is widespread with most organizations using some form of AWA. To increase the participation rate in AWAs, a comprehensive approach needs to be adopted, considering the professional, personal, economic and social impact of AWAs. Government intervention through supporting regulations and incentives can be a strong catalyst for increasing participation rates in AWAs.

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