Cousins Properties is pleased to have been named a Platinum Partner. To be one of only 130 metro Atlanta employers and property managers recognized for results achieved through its sustainable commute program is quite an honor. There are a few people that helped us achieve this accomplishment.
Downtown TMA has been an instrumental partner in helping Cousins educate its customers on the alternative commuting options available downtown. Joint program initiatives have included quarterly transportation fairs; Commuter Rewards programs, and also a spot on the Downtown TMA information kiosk rotation.
In addition, in 2009, Cousins introduced a Bike Share Program at its downtown properties - American Cancer Society Center and One Ninety One Peachtree Tower. The Downtown TMA was integral in assisting with the rollout and communicating the value proposition to our customers. Cousins Properties remains committed and focused on its partnership with the Downtown TMA and is appreciative of the value that they bring to all downtown constituencies. We look forward to collaboratively sharing new and innovative programs in the future.
Jessica McNamara is an administrative manager at Cousins Properties Incorporated
It's a fresh start and a new year, filled with high hopes for "Code Green" air quality days, sizable savings on commute costs and laughter from the passenger seat. Feel the optimism of 2012 with this latest "glass is half full" installment of Merging Lanes. It's gonna be a great year.
2012 Calendar Dates to Anticipate
While this year's calendar is shaping up to include a number of important dates to circle - Leap Year bonus day and Mayan prognostications notwithstanding - here are a few that should catch your attention:
- April 30 kicks off the start of Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia. With half of all smog-forming emissions coming from tailpipes, never has it been more important to be air aware.
- July 31 is the day we'll know whether Georgia voters approved a penny sales tax to fund transportation improvements all over the state. There's a lot riding on the outcome of this vote in terms of attracting new enterprise and breaking out of commuter gridlock.
- August 20 marks the beginning of the third-annual Georgia Telework Week, an event to celebrate the successes of employers and commuters who know the best commute is the one from the bedroom to the home office.
And slated for early-November is the 12th installment of The Clean Air Campaign's PACE Awards event, recognizing the best commute options programs in Georgia. Stay tuned for more details.
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In Good Company for Less Traffic, Cleaner Air
More than 1,600 Georgia employers and property managers are working with The Clean Air Campaign and its partners on outstanding programs that support greater use of commute options. Recently, 130 organizations received recognition as Platinum Partners for achieving a specific threshold of "clean commute trips" during 2011. To qualify as a Platinum Partner, at least 20 percent of all employee or tenant trips to an employer’s worksite must involve alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle trips and companies must actively educate employees about commute options. Congrats to these workplaces for raising the bar and proving that meaningful, lasting change in the way employees choose to travel is attainable.
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"Let's Get Physical, Physical ..."
Hitting the wall with your New Year's resolution to exercise more? When your conference call at work is placed on hold, there's only one thing better than listening to the Muzak version of Olivia Newton-John's "totally 80s" hit song: doing an actual workout routine at your desk. When you can't make it to the gym, The Washington Post offered these ideas to integrate into your daily routine, resulting from a study on employee health. No spandex required.
Click here for a printable PDF poster to tack up in your cubicle. And remember, if you don't feel comfortable with some of these moves in the presence of your co-workers, you can always fall back on a human-powered commute for better health.
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China unveiled what is believed to be the world's largest bus, clocking in at more than 82 feet in length and capable of transporting up to 300 commuters. Check it out!
Could you imagine this thing rolling down Atlanta's Downtown Connector? Could you imagine riding on it ... and logging your commute mode as "Giant Bus?"
Today The Clean Air Campaign released its inaugural list of Platinum Partners, recognizing employers and property managers whose employees and tenants use alternatives to driving alone for at least 20 percent of their commute trips. The initial list consists of 130 metro Atlanta and Georgia employers and property managers, including Georgia Tech. The Clean Air Campaign salutes Tech and all of the Platinum Partners achieving success in reducing traffic congestion and improving the quality of the air we breathe. When it comes to less traffic and cleaner air, these organizations are “In Good Company”. To view the complete list, click here.
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Early last year our transportation planning staff realized it was difficult to gauge how effective we were being in providing commute alternatives for employees around the Georgia Tech campus. We had great commute programs established, but we didn’t have the exact data needed to determine just how effective we were in encouraging campus members to use clean commutes. The result was the University’s first annual commute mode survey in which staff and students that commute to campus were surveyed on their transportation patterns (campus residents were excluded). The results were validating for our programs, and we found that over 41 percent of the Georgia Tech community was arriving to campus via alternatives to driving alone. Here’s the breakdown:
Using this baseline that 59% of the Georgia Tech community was driving to campus alone, we also wanted to see how we could decrease single-occupancy trips and increase the number of clean commute trips. Finding out what catalysts would change a person’s commute to Georgia Tech’s campus was just as important to us:
These survey results really sparked some substantial improvements in our commute programs, and we wanted to share some of our progress.
While the request for more car sharing vehicles like Zipcar was fairly small (5%), it was an easy, inexpensive win for us. Today’s 18-34 year-olds are embracing the idea of collaborative consumption, and car-sharing use has been a great success story at Georgia Tech. Because of increased demand, Zipcar-Atlanta was able to increase our fleet by 40% to 12 vehicles.
For carpooling we were a bit surprised at the number who deemed it difficult to find carpool matches (12%), as there are already many great resources to find rides in Atlanta. What we found was that safety was a major concern in seeking a carpool partner, and so we established an exclusive carpool ride-matching service for Georgia Tech. The feedback has been tremendous, with 1,600 new users in six months and over 450 ride posts. With the new system we are now able to promote commuting to campus every day, as well as ride-sharing to away football games, spring break trips and weekend grocery store visits.
The biggest takeaway from the survey was the desire for more bicycle infrastructure on campus. Increases in bicycle commuting have been well documented in Atlanta, and Georgia Tech is seeing a similar trend. Georgia Tech wants to continue to promote this commuting option, and the Institute and Student Government have invested over $200,000 in new bicycle infrastructure, including bicycle racks, bike lanes, bike “sharrow” markings and an innovative bike-share system that is destined for mass-appeal. Georgia Tech has also partnered with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Midtown Alliance and the City of Atlanta to install the city’s first cycle track at the West Peachtree and 5th Street intersection in Technology Square.
We are proud of the progress we’ve made this past year in promoting commute options in Atlanta, and we look forward to seeing how the next commuter survey reflects these improvements. This goes without saying, but Georgia Tech could not have accomplished these projects alone. A big thanks to our community partners: Midtown Transportation Solutions @ Midtown Alliance, Lanier Parking Solutions, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, the City of Atlanta, Zipcar-Atlanta, viaCycle and The Clean Air Campaign.
Aaron Fowler is a Campus Transportation Planner at Georgia Tech.
The calendar says this is the time of year when many of us will look inward and reflect on life as we know it. It’s the ideal time to look back on the year that was, take inventory of the pluses and minuses and chart a course for the year ahead. The net result for many of us is that we find something we want to change about ourselves or our surroundings.
Polls indicate we seldom stray from the big four resolutions: exercise more, save more money, spend more time with family, enjoy life more. But everyone knows it’s hard to do “more.” According to a research project out of the UK, only 12% of us make good on our resolutions. What if we have it all wrong? Maybe some of our resolutions should actually be framed around doing less.
When it comes to sustainability, addition by subtraction sometimes yields better results. The Clean Air Campaign suggests these ideas to make less mean more in 2012:
Every mile you’re not driving alone keeps a pound of pollution out of the air we breathe, puts 47 cents back in your pocket and gives you the opportunity to use your travel time to do the things you enjoy.
Make fewer excuses about why you can’t do it.
One in four vehicle trips covers less than a mile in distance. There’s a whole network of options out there if you look around. Push outside your comfort zone. Walk or bicycle, and prove to yourself that you can get there. Take the bus, and prove to yourself that you can read the route map. Leave your car at home and prove to yourself that you don’t need it as a crutch while you’re at your workplace. If you need a ride home, we’ve got your back.
Pay less attention to the conventional wisdom of transportation policy.
The model for transportation funding, which relies heavily on the motor fuel tax, could use some updating. Georgians will go to the polls in 2012 to vote on a different funding model (referred to as a T-SPLOST) that could yield tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements over the next decade – money we would not otherwise get from the motor fuel tax – by leveraging an additional penny sales tax. Worth reading about so you can form your opinion and make you voice heard.
We want to hear from you.
What is your clean commute resolution? Leave a comment on this blog for the chance to win a $20 Simon Mall gift card.
What do you get when you cross a bicycle and a record player? Check out the answer here.
For the record, clean commuting ROCKS! And whether it's by bicycle, carpool, vanpool, bus, train or any other commute alternative, your commitment to helping the environment is music to our ears ;)
Brace yourselves. The most anticipated shopping day of the year is almost upon us. And while the Black Friday experience makes for some good bargains on holiday gifts, it can quickly become a bad deal for traffic and air quality at malls and stores all over Georgia. That’s because half of the smog-forming emissions in the state come from tailpipes.
While not a traditionally onerous day for commuters on the major roadways, Black Friday can cause pandemonium in the parking lots and painfully slow traffic heading into and out of shopping centers. According to the National Retail Federation, up to 152 million people nationwide plan to shop during the 2011 Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). This makes Black Friday a terrific time to use commute alternatives so you can focus on the doorbusters and discounts.
After you make your list and check it twice, take advantage of carpooling, riding transit, special mall shuttle service and other options to save you money and time. For ideas on how you can help The Clean Air Campaign turn Black Friday blue, click here.
Truly there is never a dull moment on the roads. And now commuters in the Woodstock area can add another crazy challenge to the traffic congestion that befalls area roads: a wild turkey disrupting commute trips.
Doesn't this bird know what happens next week?
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, The Clean Air Campaign offers this money savings tip: carpooling just a few times can free up enough money on gas and car expenses to help the typical Georgia commuter buy a delicious turkey.
We're looking at you, Tom.
As we head deeper into autumn, the landscape is treating us to a spectacular parade of orange, yellow and red hues. Yes, turn signals and brake lights at rush hour are indeed a sight to behold. But it’s more fun to wax poetic about the fall leaves. So, frolic in the foliage and rake in this latest edition of Merging Lanes.
In the future green economy of America, the streets won’t be paved with gold. They’ll be paved with titanium dioxide. Demonstrating that innovation knows no boundaries in the shared space between transportation and air quality, engineers in Missouri recently laid down a 1,500-foot strip of asphalt that can break down ground-level ozone pollution. Mixed into this special blend of concrete is a titanium dioxide additive that creates a photo-catalytic reaction, absorbing smog, using sunlight to break it down, and releasing it as nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Neat.
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The Morning Ritual That’s Ruining Your Car’s Engine
With the chill of autumn comes those frosty mornings that all commuters must endure. But there’s one driveway ritual that Georgia commuters should stop practicing because it can ruin a car’s performance. Warming up the engine in the mornings by allowing it to idle can actually wear down engine parts and create more air pollution. The practice of unnecessary idling on cold mornings can produce up to six grams of carbon monoxide per minute. That’s equal to the carbon monoxide content from three packs of cigarettes. Turns out, it’s also an easy way to get your car stolen. Simply put, the best way to warm up your engine and create less air pollution on your morning commute is to drive your vehicle instead of idling.
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Where the Germs Are
If you need extra motivation to drive less, look no further. From the Yuck Department, a new study found that gas pump handles may be among the dirtiest surfaces that we touch. A team of hygienists conducted tests in six cities – including Atlanta – and determined that gas pump and mailbox handles, escalator rails and ATM buttons were more likely to harbor high concentrations of germs that can lead to illness. In all, 71% of gas pump handles tested had high contamination levels. Gross!
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Families Trapped in Vehicles
The headline of a recent article in Time magazine points out the depth of America’s car culture: “We Pay More to Drive Than We Spend on Taxes.” Citing a new study conducted by a Washington, D.C. think tank, the article describes how difficult it is for the average American family to scale back on driving costs, even in the face of higher energy prices that influence everything from the cost of a gallon of gasoline to a gallon of milk. Over the past decade, The Clean Air Campaign and its partners have helped more than 85,000 Georgia commuters get relief from the high cost of commuting through a combination of financial incentives and support programs. We’re ready to help more people make their dollars go further by using commute options.
Remember to set your clocks back an hour this Sunday, November 6. As we “fall back” and adjust to the time change, it’s also important to take into account how the evening rush hour commute changes with the earlier onset of dusk. Studies show increased risk of evening traffic accidents in the days following the end of daylight saving time, primarily due to poorer visibility during the evening drive home.
According to U.S. Census data, some 39% of Georgia commuters have one-way commute times of 30 minutes or longer, making it a sure bet that some of the ride home may be in darkness. Get a carpool partner so you have an extra set of eyes to help you negotiate through traffic. Or consider riding transit so you don’t have to do the driving. Not only can these commute options be safer than going it alone, they can also help you save big bucks on commute costs. And if you’re a bicycle commuter or a walker, be sure that you have the right gear to make yourself visible to other commuters.
Today marks the kickoff of The Clean Air Campaign’s first ever Clean Commute Week. The idea for Clean Commute Week came from a group a parents from Evansdale Elementary’s PTA Green Team, who introduced the idea last year during International Walk to School Day. The successful initiative earned the school the Marlin Gottschalk Environmental Leadership Award at The Clean Air Campaign’s recent PACE Awards ceremony in August.
As Evansdale Elementary celebrated International Walk to School day last fall, we noticed some sad faces from children who had taken the bus. Walking and biking is great and means cleaner air and healthy exercise, but for children who cannot walk or bike, riding the bus is a safe and green way to come to school.
As a magnet school, Evansdale has many children who live far away from school and can’t walk, and who cannot feasibly ride a bus. For them, the cleanest possible commute is to share a ride with other families. So last spring we decided to turn Georgia Walk to School Day into Evansdale Elementary’s Clean Commute Week, honoring all the different ways that children can come to school that are good for the environment. Our goal was to encourage and celebrate sustainable habits that are feasible and easy for families to adopt. We created a “Clean Commute Log” and asked students to document their commute to and from school each day for a week. To our delight, the students and their parents responded enthusiastically to this idea. We held mini celebrations with prizes from The Clean Air Campaign for “Take the Bus Tuesday”, “Walking Wednesday” and “Ride together Friday”. In addition, we had students add their name to a paper cut-out of a foot, bus or car to represent their type of commute. We then added the cut-outs to a large display in the foyer of the school. Luckily we had cut out enough footprints, school buses, and carpool cars to represent each clean commuting student – the challenge was fitting them all on the display space!
If good habits can be formed when young, they may become lifelong habits. And children – once their awareness has been raised – can become great advocates for environmental behaviors. So it seemed a good idea to encourage Evansdale Elementary students to clean commute – it would mean healthy exercise for those who walked or rode bikes and cleaner air for everyone if students carpooled or rode school buses instead of coming in many individual cars. And if they did it during Clean Commute Week, maybe they’d form the habit and do it often. That was our hope.
This year at Evansdale we are celebrating clean commutes every Wednesday. Each student who walks, rides a bike or bus or carpools with another family receives a stamp and is entered into a monthly drawing to receive a prize and “Clean Commuter of the Month” certificate. The students are enthusiastically participating and are proud to be a part of making our community a better place.