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Business in the Community Workplace Travel Challenge

13 Oct 2014 - Case study

Working with over 160 companies in Wales, Business in the Community (BITC) is a business-led charity and membership organisation that stands for responsible business and aims to inspire, engage, support and challenge business to improve their impact on society.


Following BITC’s successful Support for Sustainable Living (SSL) pilot, the ‘Workplace Energy Challenge’, BITC decided to adapt the model to engage their members with more carbon-heavy behaviours around travel.

The Project

The Workplace Travel Challenge  engaged 13 businesses, and their employees, in South Wales to reduce Single Car Occupancy while also trying to replace car journeys with more sustainable travel options, through setting up employee-led ‘Green Teams’ - teams of varying disciplines and organisational levels who would work together on initiatives to improve their company’s environmental performance.  This would impact on direct carbon emissions, create cost savings, engage employees and potentially have a knock-on effect transferring positive behaviours to the employees’ homes.

The programme aimed to develop a team of employee environmental volunteers to engage staff to reduce business and commuter travel.  Participating companies were given training to set up Green Teams, and ongoing advice and support to help them promote and incentivise a Sustainable Travel Challenge for staff during the month of May. Utilising a bespoke online tool to measure sustainable journeys, the project can see the impact of these changes.

The Results
The challenge itself took place May 2014 and the results have been impressive. 450 employees were to be targeted, but by the end of the programme’s reach has expanded to more than 25 times this number or 11,267 employees .

Reduced carbon footprint: The target to save 13 tonnes of CO2 emissions was beaten with a final total of 20.8 tonnes of CO2 emissions saved in the challenge period.

More teams recruited: 13 Green Teams (12 in South Wales and 1 in North Wales) were set up, 3 more than originally planned.

Results showed 6,656 fewer car journeys were made during May 2014, as participants replaced single-occupancy car travel with video calling, car sharing, avoided travelling or used public or sustainable transport methods, resulting in a saving of 130,856 kms travelled.

Significant cost savings: The Online Tool measurements showed savings of £24,663.54p has been saved by the participating companies in May 2014 alone.

Volunteering: Employees volunteered to be part of the Green Team, a total of 244 volunteers were gained and sustained through the programme with a total of 1,161.8 hours of time volunteered. 

Health Benefits: By reducing single occupancy car travel, during May, the participants burned in excess of a million calories either by walking or cycling.

The most lasting benefit is the establishment of 13 Green Teams as drivers for change within each participating business. Each businesses now has the foundations for an ongoing focus on sustainable travel, as well as wider environmental issues, and have the tools and resources to continue to make a difference.

Lessons Learnt
The weekly data collection using the Online Tool was time consuming and so the Green Teams were incentivised to provide this information on time. Ensuring each training programme suited each company also took up more resources than expected. It was difficult to see unexpected factors such as restructuring or companies failing, and as a result one company dropped out.  It was also important for managers and staff to see the business case for these activities.

The design of the Workplace Travel Challenge should continue to impact behaviour in these workplaces, and produce not only carbon and cost savings, but also the important business benefits of employee morale, stakeholder engagement, sharing of best practice, profile and reputation, and enhanced shareholder value that come with being a responsible business. This is a lasting legacy of involvement with the SSL Scheme.

“BITC have helped our building establish its Green Team and move from an environment with very little sustainable accountability, to one where positive changes have been made and colleagues are getting involved in making an impact themselves through employee-led change.”

S Tucker, Green Team Leader at Barclaycard


Pathfinder Programme

A Welsh Government funded programme to support communities to take action on climate change.

Community Energy Wales

Bringing together communities acting on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Support For Sustainable Living

A scheme designed to bring about long-term changes in behaviour and lifestyle to help reduce Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions and help organisations and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.