The aim of the project was to review the effectiveness of policies and measures set out in Scottish Government's emissions reduction plans, in particular to determine whether mobile and flexible working arrangements by larger organisations create significant carbon reduction compared with a 'business as usual' approach and to understand the factors which influence the 'carbon-effectiveness' of such measures.
This report presents case studies from each of the organisations involved, and details their experiences of mobile and flexible working.
Overall the following conclusions may be drawn:
Flexible working, particularly home working, reduces travel emissions and when considered in combination with travel rebound effects and increased energy usage in the alternative work place can deliver net carbon savings.
There is a range in the available quantified estimates of the travel emissions reductions which are typically achieved from flexible working and the range appears to be in the order of hundreds of kilograms CO2 per annum per flexible worker.
The significance of these savings is likely to reduce for smaller commute distances (e.g. less than 15km distance home to work) as the contribution of travel emissions savings starts to be outweighed by the effects of travel rebound and particularly increased home energy use; albeit that over time emissions from building energy use should decline with improved energy efficiency measures and a lower carbon intensity energy mix. Similarly home working by staff who previously used public transport or active travel to commute to the main place of work is unlikely to result in a carbon positive outcome for those workers.
Travel rebound effects appear to erode between 10% and 20% of the primary benefits from the reduction in commuting-related emissions.
All the emissions reductions benefits calculated for travel emissions, home energy emissions changes and travel rebound effects under-estimate the overall carbon savings.
Whilst data on carbon savings from changes in property management are complex to allocate to the implementation of flexible working, the results from the survey indicated the scope for wider corporate emissions reductions and clearly supports the positive view on this aspect identified in the wider literature.