Is a 4-day workweek inevitable? Utah cuts energy use 13%
Since last August, about 17,000 of the state’s 24,000 executive branch employees have been working 10 hours a day, four days a week in an effort to reduce energy consumption and cut utility costs….
The state estimates that, collectively, employees will save between $5 million and $6 million annually by not commuting on Fridays and the initiative will cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 12,000 metric tons.
Even before we get desperate about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, even before the global Ponzi scheme collapses, gasoline prices are going to blow past $4 a gallon (see World’s top energy economist warns peak oil threatens recovery: “We have to leave oil before oil leaves us”). So it seems inevitable that much of the nation will adopt the 4-day work week sometime over the next two decades – especially if the results of Utah’s program are replicated by others.
“I can’t even name all the places that have called us,” said John Harrington, state energy manager.
Aaron Newton in an Oil Drum post, estimates that a national 4-day work week would save 5% to 10% of the more than 8 million barrels a day he calculates that U.S. commuters use. And he notes there would be other environmental and health benefits
A recent study by the California EPA says “50% of a person’s daily exposure to ultra fine particles (the particles linked to cardiovascular disease and respiratory illnesses) can occur during a commute.” A report by the Clean Air Task Force in 2007 found diesel particle levels were between 4 to 8 times higher in commute vehicles than in the surrounding air. It makes sense when you think about it. The pollution coming from the tailpipe of a vehicle is mostly likely to affect you while you’re sitting directly behind it, especially if you’re stuck in slow moving traffic where the concentrations of such particles can build up.
Scientific American quotes John Langmaid, who is organizing an upcoming symposium on the issue for the Connecticut Law Review:
“If employees are on the road 20 percent less, and office buildings are only powered four days a week,” Langmaid says, “the energy savings and congestion savings would be enormous.” Plus, the hour shift for the Monday through Thursday workers means fewer commuters during the traditional rush hours, speeding travel for all. It also means less time spent idling in traffic and therefore less spewing of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The 9-to-5 crowd also gets the benefit of extended hours at the DMV and other state agencies that adopt the four-day schedule.
And outgoing Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman explains “the cost savings will only grow if the four-day workweek is granted permanent status”:
He says that’s because the state could renegotiate its long-term leases, invest in equipment that would isolate cooling and heating to where its needed on nights and weekends and that utility costs will inevitably rise in future years, particularly if a proposed cap and trade system on carbon emissions is put in place.
And the folks in Utah seem to like it:
Employee surveys have also shown that most state workers like the new schedule – absenteeism and overtime are down and customer complaints have steadily dropped. Even wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles have decreased under extended hours Monday through Thursday….
Some employees like the four-day workweek so much that they’re using a voluntary peer pressure network to help the program meets its cost-saving, energy-cutting goals to help ensure the program – and employees’ three-day weekends – survive.
Seems inevitable, no?
And the lighter side, a comic from My25percent.com.