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The Port of San Diego goes green for employee commutes 

Alternative transportation incentives for employees drive down greenhouse gas emissions

As part of the Port of San Diego’s environmental initiative, they have dedicated efforts to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), including incentivizing alternative transportation choices.

Support for alternative commute choices

The Port encourages a cleaner commute by offering its more than 520 employees:

  • 100% reimbursement for public transportation and vanpooling
  • Education and resources for carpool/vanpool programs
  • Bike lockers in the employee parking lot
  • Reserved/VIP parking for hybrid/electric vehicles
  • A compressed workweek schedule, which gives employees every other Friday off, reduces commute-related emissions, and eases rush-hour traffic congestion
  • Hybrid vehicles for Port employees to use when conducting Port business off-site
  • On-site café and gym to reduce employees’ needs to go off-site

In addition to their Commuter Assistance Program, the Port encourages alternative commute choices through events. These include:

  • Organizing bike tune-up events for employees, where participants may bring in their bikes for a quick safety check
  • Participating in Bike to Work Day and hosting a pit stop in 2015 and 2017
  • Educating employees about programs to reduce emissions and increase health by coordinating an annual Health and Sustainability Fair

Business motivators

In 2007, the Port’s Board of Commissioners adopted the Green Port Policy to promote and integrate sustainable practices through the Port’s daily business decisions, and established the Green Port Program. To support the Green Port Policy and attract and retain employees, the Port increased the alternative commute reimbursement rate available through its Commuter Assistance Program from 75% to 100%.

The Board adopted a Climate Action Plan in 2013, placing the Port at the forefront of climate planning efforts in the San Diego region. The plan supports the goals of the Green Port Program with a long-term vision to help the Port grow and thrive sustainably.

The Climate Action Plan contains a variety of potential GHG emissions reduction initiatives to help meet the Board’s goal of reducing 2006 emissions levels by 10% before 2020. Encouraging alternative transportation choices supports the Port’s Climate Action Plan by helping to reduce GHG emissions associated with employee commutes.

Through these policies, the Port continues to become more sustainable by significantly reducing energy use and water consumption, making buildings more energy efficient, and using innovate technologies to reduce GHG emissions.

Awards and recognition

The Port was named one of the “2017 Best Workplace for Commuters” by the Center for Urban Transportation Research. To be eligible for this award, a company must provide one primary commuter benefit, and at least three secondary benefits. The Port surpassed the requirements by providing a primary benefit of 100% commuter reimbursement, along with five secondary benefits described above.

In addition to this prestigious recognition, the Port has also received the following honors:

  • 2016 SANDAG iCommute Diamond Award – Platinum Tier
  • 2016 Best Workplace for Commuters, Center for Urban Transportation Research
  • 2015 SANDAG iCommute Diamond Award– Gold Tier
  • 2014 SANDAG iCommute Diamond award – Agency Leadership Category
  • 2014 SANDAG iCommute Rideshare Corporate Challenge Award- Large Company Size Category Winner
  • 2013 Organizational Climate Leadership Award, Environmental Protection Agency

Dedicated staff

It takes a committed team to cultivate such a prolific program. Jason Giffen, Assistant Vice President of Planning & Green Port, credits his team, department heads, and fellow employees for getting involved and working together to continuously build momentum in support of the Port’s sustainability initiatives.

“It really is a group effort,” said Giffen. “Departments work together to promote alternative commuting. Human Resources tells all new hires about the Commuter Assistance Program, and the Energy team heads up outreach to departments on alternative commuting with assistance from the Port’s Green Team, which is made up of one representative from each department. We also have departments compete against each other in the iCommute Corporate Challenge every year, which encourages more employees to try alternative commuting.”

The results

The Port’s hard work is paying off. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of Port employees who used the Commuter Assistance Program for public transportation nearly doubled.

The Port’s Vice Chairman Castellanos stated: “The Port has a mandate to protect and preserve the environment for future generations, and our collective actions matter. Our Commuter Assistance Program is an important piece of our overall Climate Action Plan, and is a fine example of how public agencies can contribute to climate change solutions.” 

Port of San Diego