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The influence of office location on commuting behaviour

University of Reading
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  • Ecology
  • Geography


To fully appreciate the environmental impact of an office building, the transport-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from its location should be considered in addition to the emissions that result from the operation of the building itself. Travel-related CO2 emissions are a function of three criteria, two of which are influenced by physical location and one of which is a function of business practice. The two spatial criteria are, first, the location of the office relative to the location of the workforce, the market, complementary business activities (and the agglomeration benefits this offers) and, second, the availability and cost of transport modes. The business criterion is the need for, and therefore frequency of, visits and this, in turn, depends on the requirement for a physically present workforce and face-to-face contact with clients. This paper examines the commuting-related CO2 emissions that result from city centre and out-of-town office locations. Using 2001 Census Special Workplace Statistics which record people’s residence, usual workplace and mode of transport between them, distance travelled and mode of travel were calculated for a sample of city centre and out-of-town office locations. The results reveal the extent of the difference between transport-related CO2 emitted by commuters to out-of-town and city centre locations. The implications that these findings have for monitoring the environmental performance of offices are discussed.

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