Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions from Teleworking


The largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state and in San Diego County is transportation. The California Air Resources Board notes that in 2017, transportation emissions accounted for 41% of total statewide emissions.

According to the County of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), on-road transportation emissions are responsible for about 45% of the unincorporated county’s GHG emissions. In both circumstances, single-occupant passenger vehicles and commuting to and from work are the primary drivers of emissions from this sector.  

Teleworking or telecommuting, is an arrangement in which an employee performs work at a remote worksite (such as home, a library, or another location) for a specified portion of the workweek. Many considerations must be evaluated to determine if teleworking is appropriate. These include the following, at a minimum: Can duties be performed offsite? Is the appropriate technology setup to facilitate productivity? Can the organization still achieve their primary objectives with less face-to-face interaction among employees? These, and others, must be carefully managed between the employee and employer.

When the conditions are appropriate and teleworking is implemented, significant reductions in GHG emissions and increased air quality can occur. For an employee working a standard five-day workweek, working from home for one day can reduce commute related GHG emissions by 20% for that week. If implemented on a regional basis, teleworking policies could result in significant emissions reductions over the county.

County of San Diego Efforts to Promote Teleworking

The County adopted telework policies in 2011, and has continued to advance efforts to reduce commute trips, both in the community and throughout the operation of facilities through several CAP measures.

To reduce commute miles from the community at-large, Measure T-2.2: Reduce Emissions from New Non-Residential Development Vehicle Miles Traveled and T-2.4: Shared and Reduced Parking in New Non-Residential Development will result in increased participation in programs and the development of infrastructure that minimizes employee commute trips for new non-residential development within the unincorporated area. This will help encourage employees of new businesses to take alternative transportation, rideshare, telework, carpool, vanpool, or use other options to reduce the impact of commuting to work everyday.

To reduce commute miles associated with County employees, Measure T-2.3: Reduce County Employee Vehicle Miles Traveled will facilitate increased transit ridership, vanpools, carpools, teleworking and a transition to electric vehicle ownership.

Is telecommuting available to you? If so, then you have the opportunity to reduce your environmental impact and contribute better regional air quality and climate outcomes. You can visit the San Diego Association of Government's (SANDAG) iCommute program for more tips and guidelines on telecommuting.