Green Streets Initiative runs an annual sustainable commuting challenge with 30 to 40 workplaces in the Boston-area. These workplaces participate to encourage, celebrate and nudge sustainable and active commuting among staff. While all of our workplaces are proponents of sustainable commuting, a handful go above and beyond in their adoption of the mission. NMR Group, Inc., a small employee-owned Somerville, MA Company specializing in renewable and energy efficiency program evaluation is one of these workplaces. NMR’s core value of environmental stewardship is reflected throughout its policies and practices including the company’s travel and commuting policy. Driving to work is forbidden except by special permission.
Green Streets had a chance to visit NMR to learn more about their unique commuting policy and how it helps minimize emissions, recruit strong candidates and enhance employee well-being.
While most employers would discuss commuting during a job interview to gauge a candidate’s ability to get to work on time, NMR sees commuting behavior as a signal of a candidate’s values and a helpful selection criteria. Candidates must be willing to either commute sustainably - via public transportation, cycling or on foot - or, they can telecommute. Telecommuting is supported with technology from Skype and half of NMR employees are set up to work remotely.
NMR’s commitment to car-free, green commutes date back to the Company’s founding. Co-founders Lynn Hoefgen and Ruth Harvey chose NMR’s office building for its energy efficiency and its convenient location just a shady two blocks from the Red Line MBTA station. NMR supports sustainable commuting with great commuter benefits and flexible work hours. The firm covers the full cost of MBTA passes and BlueBike memberships. Those who commute actively have access to showers in the onsite gym and cyclists are allowed to store their bikes in the office.
NMR’s transportation policy applies to business travel as well. When NMR visits a client in another state, they try to hire local contractors to conduct the assessment, depending on the type of project. When this approach is not feasible and an NMR employee needs to drive or fly to a client site, their travel emissions are recorded and offset at the end of the year through Terrapass.
All employees we spoke with expressed that NMR’s commuting policy drew them to the firm. The staff are driven by the Company’s sustainability mission and they appreciate the wellness benefits of healthy commuting, flexible work hours and telecommuting.
Green Streets’ Champion at NMR, Amy Whitford (pictured, left), is a model green commuter. She walks the 2 miles between home and work and shared that she tends to walk to any place within a 2 mile radius. Her commute is a “nice transition between work and home”, she explained. Amy occasionally switches from walking to cycling on a BlueBike when she wants to get to the office faster.
Another employee from Watertown enjoys his commute on bus 71 and was pleased to “knock off” 10 minutes to his commute recently thanks to the new bus priority lane on Mt. Auburn Street.
At NMR, being sustainable also means taking care of employees’ well-being. The Company keeps a healthy and collaborative workplace thanks to a well designed office office with an open layout that receives lots of natural light. The building is surrounded by trees and is next to a koi fish pond, a perfect place for breaks and deep thinking. For many employees, the best policy of all is the dog-friendly workplace policy. Many employees had dogs at work when we visited; they were busy playing while their owners were hard at work. The dogs’ presence added to the joy and humanity characteristic of the NMR work environment.