(WUSA) -- The DC area consistently appears on those lists of cities with the worst commutes. That has more and more people turning to alternate forms of transportation. And ZGF Architects is hoping to inspire others to join that growing list.
This will be the fourth year the agency sponsors the Big Green Commute. It's a challenge for offices in the entire area to find more environmentally friendly methods of commuting. Last year, 1,800 people signed up. As of Thursday, about 5,200 people in 49 different offices were ready to take the challenge.
Here's how it works: once a company signs up, every employee is given a scorecard. Then the week of May 13th, people chart the ways they commute each day. For example, driving alone in your car is worth one point, using public transit is worth 8, and biking, walking or any form of self-propelled transportation is worth ten points. At the end of the week, all those points get tallied up to pick the winning company.
ZGF started the challenge as an internal program ten years ago. The company has five offices nationwide, including one in Portland, Oregon. "We got tired of hearing about how environmentally conscious everyone in Portland was," says Rich Hubacker, an Associate Partner with ZGF. The DC office did win that year, and has never lost to Portland. But the New York office has been on quite a streak since joining the competition in 2006.
Hubacker says that internal initiative gave way to developing the broader one. According to the Big Green Commute's website, the goal is to "encourage awareness of commuting's environmental impacts" while adopting "more eco-friendly modes of traveling to work."
The event coincides with the nationwide Bike To Work Week. But ZGF's Lance Eubanks says the company wanted to do an event that was more inclusive than just bicycling. Their goal is to take a holistic view of the environmental impacts of commuting and living patterns on the environment.
We want to know if your office is taking part in the challenge, or what you do to ease your commute. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are taking part, send us a blog about your commuting experiences next week, and we'll post some of them on our Living Green page.