CoreNet Panel: For Complete Green Strategy, Firms Must Go Mobile

A panel at the CoreNet Global Summit in San Diego concluded on Tuesday that U.S. corporations must institute worker mobility programs to substantially reduce their carbon footprints. Approximately 73 million square feet of office space was delivered in the United States in 2007, according to Gervais Tompkin, principal at the architecture firm Gensler. He noted that studies have found have that 55 percent of office space is underutilized. “Think of the squandering of space that represents,” Tompkin said. Chris Hood, program manager of the HP Workplace at Hewlett Packard, said a walk through the average corporation raises a question among many: “Where is everyone?” Instituting a mobility program as a key component of its real estate strategy allowed Hewlett Packard to consolidate 2,846 workers in 451,000 square feet of office space down to 165,000 square feet of office space in the United Kingdom. Four out of five employees at Hewlett Packard expressed satisfaction with the mobility program, and fears that mobile workers would become “disconnected” from the company have not come to pass, Hood said. Also, Hewlett Packard has enjoyed 49 percent energy savings at the site since the consolidation But cutting worker commutes, and the fossil fuel that saves, is a benefit that corporations should focus more on, the panel concluded. State and local governments may also get more into the act, and make corporations more accountable for worker’s commuter habits. Approximately 350 U.S. corporations now have mobility programs of some kind, and another 267 are developing one. Thompkin noted that a LEED Platinum-certified building means a 40 percent reduction in carbon footprint, and Hood and Tompkin said their studies have found that a mobility program could mean a further 26 percent reduction.