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Assessing the potential of telecommuting as an energy savings technology in Japan

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1 Author(s)
Williams, E.D. ; United Nations Univ., Tokyo, Japan

A simple macro-model is developed to assess the potential of telework as an energy saving technology for Japan. Results are that adoption of 4-day per week telecommuting of the mobile sales and specialist/technical work force could reduce national energy consumption by 1.0%. If clerical workers also telecommute an additional 1.1% of savings become possible. While these results have a fair margin of uncertainty, they do indicate that telecommuting should be considered as a serious candidate for reduction of energy-related environmental burdens. The adoption of telecommuting, especially for clerical workers, is hampered by the limitation on modes of communication available via current networking technologies. In particular, inexpensive, high quality video-calling on demand would be key in making telecommuting practicable and enjoyable on a large scale. However, current trends in the progress in Internet bandwidth are not promising. While last mile bandwidth (from provider to home) is nearing the critical level needed for video-calls, the scale and fluctuations in first miles bandwidth (from server to provider) is the real bottleneck. Future efforts to upgrade the Internet should focus on this factor, or alternatively, developing a broadband switched network. While transport savings is the dominant factor in the energy balance of telecommuting, changes in energy use in buildings, both commercial and residential, is significant and deserves attention. In particular, firm-level management of telecommuting programs should strive to insure that consumption in office buildings falls sufficiently to at least balance out increases in residential consumption.

Published in:

Electronics and the Environment, 2003. IEEE International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

19-22 May 2003