Save the Environment by Working From Home

There are many benefits to telecommuting

Protecting the environment may not be the main reason people want to work from home or that employers allow telecommuting, but telecommuting can play a key role in saving the environment: conserving energy and reducing fuel consumption and pollution.

Allowing employees to work at home helps companies fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards, while communities also benefit from enhanced air quality and traffic reduction.

Environmental Benefits of Telecommuting

Reducing commuter traffic cuts back on:

  • Air pollution from toxic gases and dust particles
  • Water pollution from chemicals spilled into our waterways, rivers, and other water sources
  • Oil consumption
Freeway traffic, Los Angeles, CA

 Harvey Schwartz / Getty Images

How Working From Home Helps the Earth

Although there's been some debate on the extent of telecommuting's environmental impact, the overwhelming body of research on telecommuting shows that working from home rather than commuting to work reduces a significant amount of pollution.

Here are just a few statistics or facts about telecommuting's environmental benefits:

  • TelCoa notes that if 32 million Americans who could work from home did so at least one day a week, 74 million gallons of gas could be saved, enough go around the globe 51,000 times.
  • The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reports that telecommuting is part of a climate change solution since using electronics to telecommute saves 9 to 14 billion kilowatt-hours of energy each year.
  • A review of the government's pilot "ecommute" program that ran from mid-2001 to early 2004 in five metropolitan areas concluded that a reduction of 25-tons per year in pollution could be achieved with only 4,500 telecommuters working at home on an average of 1.8 days per week.
  • Even just one day of telecommuting could save 423,000 tons of greenhouse gas, according to the Telework Research Network.
  • As reported in Information Week, the US Patent Office's telework program in 2007 (consisting of 3,609 home workers) helped save over 613,000 gallons of gas, prevent 9,600 tons of carbon emissions, and save over $1.8 million annually in fuel costs. Other companies such as Bell Canada and Cisco report similar environmental benefits.

Have an Impact Even With Part-Time Telecommuting

It's notable that the environmental benefits can be gained with even part-time telecommuting; if you work from home even just one day a week in lieu of commuting, you can help preserve the environment.