utahFrom the Beehive State, a gratifying way to reduce energy use (and carbon emissions): Taking Fridays off. And it’s mandatory. In part to deal with rising gas prices, Utah’s republican governor John Huntsman introduced the measure for state employees. The move, of course, instantly reduces commutes by 20 percent.

The remaining four work days get longer — state offices will now stay open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. — so that the total number of hours worked remains the same.

I’ll bet there’s a civic benefit too: The change may actually makes government offices more accessible by extending open hours beyond the tight 9-to-5 window that most citizens still work.

From the USA Today article:

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Huntsman says the change will help Utah reach its goal of reducing energy use 20% by 2015.

Beyond the energy and financial implications, the four-day work week is a quality-of-life issue for many. Huntsman says it is especially popular among younger employees and that his action will make Utah more competitive in luring talent.

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Good for energy use, good for employees, good for citizens … what’s not to like? Plus, it’s more proof that our energy habits are flexible. In lost-cost energy environments, we consume a lot. But when prices go up, it turns out that neither people nor institutions are sheeplike followers — we adapt. This is precisely the sort of thing we might expect to see under good climate policy like carbon taxes or cap-and-trade.

Many places around the country already have optional flex schedules, but it’s apparently becoming more common to make them the mandatory. In an accompanying article, USA Today points out that local governments from Alabama to Arizona and Vermont to Wisconsin are trying out the same idea on a smaller scale.