Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Juniper's Commuters Go Public

In the San Francisco Bay Area, transportation contributes 50% of the GhG (greenhouse gas) and nearly 30% for U.S. Consequently commuting is an important component for any company's sustainability program. Juniper was recognized in 2008 for its improvement of commuting by Acterra. The strategies deployed by Juniper are simple and available to any business.

Each day, more than 250,000 cars travel the Highway 101 and 237 interchange at Moffett Park, Sunnyvale California where Juniper Networks is headquartered. With its multi-pronged approach on commuting, Juniper has dramatically reduced those Juniper commuters driving solo from 77 percent to 65 percent; more than 15 percent improvement.

In late August, I spoke with Brad Minnis, Director of Environmental, Health, Safety and Security at Juniper Networks. Brad Minnis reviewed that “The first step in Juniper’s strategy was to complete an annual accounting by each employee on commute patterns.” Juniper was already doing this as part of its participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). For those that find that an overwhelming prospect, a random survey (Note 1) is easier to implement yet provides excellent results. Juniper also completes an annual zip code analysis to understand where employees are located. This sort of data should be readily available from a company’s HR system. From metrics and employee distribution, Juniper can then determine how to enhance its programs to get more cars off the road.

Each of the standard commuting methods (Notes 2,3, and 4) is reviewed. Although the specific strategies and results are for Juniper’s Sunnyvale location, it deploys similar programs for all of its facilities. The Santa Clara county statistics that are referenced are comparable to California and national averages for commuting.

Public Transportation
As part of its real estate criteria, Brad Minnis explained that “Juniper evaluates sites based on the proximity to public transport (walking distance) and its employee base”. Its current location is on a Santa Clara light rail and bus stop.

The old real estate adage on "Location, Location, Location" holds true for encouraging employees to use public transport; specifically for employer's location to be within walking distance of public transportation. A bit of green in the form of financial incentives is major factor as well.

Juniper then provides financial incentives to employees to use public transport by providing a pass for Santa Clara county or up to $45 each month for other public transportation options. A pre-tax commute spending account is also available to employees. All of these tactics are easy to implement by other businesses.

Public Transportation Metrics:
Average 4% of commuters
in Santa Clara Valley
Juniper 14% or 350% better

Car Pool
Juniper uses outside services to help employees connect with others. One program was established with where employees can find others in the general area while the second program with another organization is focused on just Juniper employees. Juniper also provides special preferred parking for car poolers. This is a good start, but some companies have gone further with company sponsored van pools, for example.

Car Pool Metrics:
Average 12% of commuters in Santa Clara Valley
Juniper 13% or average

Not surprising for a network company, Juniper encourages employees to telecommute. Over 90% of Juniper’s employees telecommute at some time during the year. As Brad stated. “we drink our own champagne”. With the pervasiveness of networking equipment, most companies have the technology to do the same.

Tele-work metrcis:
Average 3% of commuters in Santa Clara Valley
Juniper 6% or 200% better

Walk / bike
The Moffett Park location was advantageous for public transportation, but was detrimental for walking and biking. Brad Minnis shared that “Moffett Park is at the intersection of two busy freeways and when we first opened the facility had no safe access for walkers or bikers.” Juniper made bicycle (and pedestrian) access possible working with other employers in area to encourage construction of bike lanes and bridges. Specifically, the Moffett Park Business and Transportation Authority advocated with local and state agencies. Prior to construction, biking was negligible, and since then it has jumped to two percent. This initiative also made biking available to the broader community

A good first step is to recruit biking enthusiast employees to test various routes to ensure that biking is viable. If work is required on the bike access, it is likely that other local businesses have the same needs.

Walk / bike Metrics
Average 3% of commuters in Santa Clara Valley
Juniper 2% or average.


 Method   Average Juniper Strategy
 Solo 77% 65% Complete annual detailed survey and review of strategies.
 Public 4% 14% Locate next to transit stop; Provide financial incentives.
 Car Pool 12% 13% Provide service to match employees for convenient car pooling
 Tele-work 3% 6% Define policy that encourages tele-work                
 Walk/bike 3% 2% Work with other businesses to advocate for building of bike / pedestrian lanes

  1. Random Sample – Remember to keep the sample truly random, otherwise results will be skewed. A small sample size of less than 1% is sufficient when a large population.
  2. Commute Method – Established by US Census
  3. Average – Based on Santa Clara County 2000 Census
  4. Juniper – Based on 2008 Survey completed for Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

2008 Commute Award – Juniper news release
Moffett Park Business and Transportation Authority – Business organization in Sunnyvale California - Services to help plan a better commute in San Francisco Bay Area

1 comment:

  1. We should encourage people to commute by bike more often! It’s healthy and good for the environment!