State will try four-day work-week to cut energy use

Gov. Chris Gregoire this week directed selected state agencies to experiment with a four-day workweek and to put into place additional measures for saving energy.

Some agencies will be adopting the new schedule at all of their offices, while others will be moving to the 10-hour, four-day week at selected locations. These agencies are:

— Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (agency wide)

— Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (Olympia headquarter buildings)

— Department of General Administration (Materials Management Center, warehouse facility)

— Department of Personnel (training facility in downtown Olympia)

— Department of Fish and Wildlife (Union Street office, back office operations)

— Department of Services for the Blind (Seattle field office)

— Department of Veterans Affairs (headquarters operations)

— Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (agency wide)

— Parks and Recreation Commission (Auburn regional office).

“Last month I asked employees for their ideas to help save energy in state government, and the suggestion to try a four-day workweek was the most recommended,” Gregoire said. “I am asking certain agencies to try the new schedule to see if it helps save energy while maintaining the level of service expected by state residents.”

Advantages that might be gained by the new schedule include:

— Reduced environmental impact due to lower energy use;

— Fewer commute trips by employees, which will save gas, help the environment and reduce burdens on our roads;

— State budget savings in reduced energy and janitorial costs;

— Increased employee satisfaction;

— Increased customer service by offering extended hours Monday through Thursday.

The offices were chosen for the test based on several criteria, including staff willingness to participate, opportunity to close an entire facility and ability to realize significant energy savings.

The agencies involved in the test represent approximately 650 state employees in almost 260,000 square feet of offices and other building space owned or leased by the state. The pilot agencies will meet next week to develop the pilot start time and duration.

Gregoire also directed all state agencies to implement additional energy savings measures. These approaches are already being used in some agencies, and the governor is asking all agencies to follow suit.

The measures primarily fall into three categories: smart travel choices, limiting energy usage and reducing resource consumption.

These changes build on energy savings initiatives already adopted by the state. These include the requirement that new state-funded building projects must meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards, funding of Green Energy Grants, installation of computer-shutdown software, and an emphasis on purchasing flex-fuel vehicles for the state motor pool.