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A Prophetic Approach to Energy Efficiency

by Eric de Place

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Taking a three-day weekend for the planet.

From 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:

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.

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.

This article originally appeared on Sightline's blog, The Daily Score

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Comments

At first look, the MANDATORY part at this point in time might require some painful adapting by employees with, say, children in daycare.


Posted by: Andy on 16 Jul 08

I used to work 4, 10 hour shifts and loved it!


Posted by: Cristine DeRose on 16 Jul 08

Prophetic?


Posted by: JoshS on 16 Jul 08

That is so smart. I know he's a Republican but way to go Huntsman. Not only a great way to reduce emissions, but also a fabulous way to extend the weekend, rest, relax and enjoy personal time. --Cheryl Janis, writer of Planet Pink n' Green - http://www.planetpinkngreen.com


Posted by: Planet Pink n' Green on 16 Jul 08

On the face of this it seems like a great idea, but has any research been done as to what these employees will be doing when not at work? If they're staying at home reaxing and using less electricity than they would at work - then awesome. But it is possible that this might increase the amount of longer drive trips because everyone has a three day weekend? I think I'm for the move, but I was just thinking thats all...


Posted by: bnickel on 17 Jul 08

Why bring politics into it? Why worry about what they do on their time off - maybe they'll sit at home and fatten themselves for the eventual slaughter while fattening your stock portfolio in saturted fat & high fructose corn syrup.


Posted by: David on 17 Jul 08



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