Thursday, September 24, 2009

Four Tens

Glen Thomas, the Communications & Public Relations Supervisor, did an interview with Mary Cashiola that appears in this week's Memphis Flyer. The article is mainly about the future of suburbs but it also discusses MLGW's offering of four-day work weeks to employees.

Remaking Suburbia
Why we need to redevelop out-of-date suburbs into more urban, sustainable spaces.

Last summer, as gas prices hit the $4 a gallon mark, employees at MLGW started talking about a way to save money on their daily commute.

This June, several of the utility's departments began a pilot project: a four-day, 10-hour-a-day workweek.

"The economy drove the discussion and ways to deal with escalating gas prices," says Glen Thomas, supervisor of communications and public relations at MLGW. "For the individual employees who live a little ways out, they're paying less in fuel costs."

The program is optional and isn't offered to some departments or positions. But Thomas says the advantages include longer hours of operation at MLGW and employees getting an extra "weekend" day to run errands.

"I don't want to portray it as a huge environmental thing, but our carbon footprint is a factor," he says.

But MLGW is hardly the only company whose employees have a long commute.

"People are saying their employees are willing to work four 12-hour days if they don't have to drive to work," says Ellen Dunham-Jones. "Suburbia is based on the premise of cheap oil. I think we can all agree that oil is not staying cheap for that much longer."

Dunham-Jones, director of the architecture program at Georgia Tech, spoke at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art last week as part of the local American Institute of Architects' sixth annual Architecture Month. Other events include the annual chalk-art competition and Dining by Design, a dinner at Ballet Memphis.

Dunham-Jones, who wrote Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs with June Williamson, spoke about the need to redesign suburbia.

"The reality is that [the suburbs] are getting kind of old, and they weren't designed to be sustainable," she says.

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