Designing a Greener Commute

Grousing about gridlock is a common ritual at morning and afternoon business meetings, but not at Panasonic’s Newark, NJ headquarters, now that more than half of employees commute by public transportation. Panasonic recently announced a goal to increase the percentage of employees commuting by train or bus to 75%. Panasonic offers employees a commuting subsidy covering half the monthly cost of employees’ public transportation costs. In addition, Panasonic offers bicycle parking and changing rooms.

At last count, about 57% of Panasonic employees currently working in Newark and the company’s nearby Harrison Technology Center use public transportation to get to work — according to 2014 study by NJ Transit. That’s up from less than 5% in 2012. The rise in public transportation use means that about 430 cars have been taken off the roads during peak commuting hours—on some of the nation’s busiest roadways. This rise in public transit use also has resulted in reduced traffic congestion, approximately 144,250 gallons of gas not burned, and around 1,678 tons of greenhouse gas emissions being prevented.

In 2013 Panasonic moved its headquarters from a corporate campus in Secaucus, NJ to the City of Newark one block from Newark Penn Station, one of the nation’s busiest transit hubs with rail, light rail and bus service. In 2014, Panasonic’s headquarters became the first newly built office tower in Newark to earn both Platinum and Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications. Panasonic achieved its LEED certifications based on several criteria including situating its headquarters near a major transit hub.

Panasonic employees’ increasing use of public transportation is part of a larger trend. Americans took 10.8 billion trips on public transportation in 2014--the highest annual public transit ridership number in 58 years, according to a national trade association. Read more details in Panasonic Unveils Goal for 75% Employee Public Transit Use.

Newark Penn Station is considered by many an architectural masterpiece: "A study in Art Deco exuberance, the waiting room features colorful terrazzo floors, sculpted wall medallions, metalwork and glowing chandeliers decorated with signs of the Zodiac," according to greatamericanstations.com. Architectural firm McKim, Mead and White designed the station in the 1930s. It opened to the public in 1935. Some 677,175 riders passed through the station in 2014, according to greatamericanstations.com.

Photos in this story were taken by photographer Bob Kozlarek, a senior product engineer at Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company.