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Volvo's App for Greener Commutes Wins Sustainability Award

An app created by Volvo employees who wanted to shrink the carbon footprint of their commutes has been named the most environmentally friendly project for 2011 by tech magazine CIO's edition for Sweden.

Commute Greener, conceived about two years ago in the Volvo IT unit, has developed into a program that combines the app with a robust social network of users who say they've managed to reduce the environmental impacts of their commutes by as much as two-thirds by using the personal CO2 calculator.

The app has been used in civic and corporate initiatives, starting with the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. Commute Greener also is being used in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Mexico City, where an environmental initiative that includes the app involves some 300,000 people, according to Volvo.

With the app, users can redesign their commutes to select the most eco-friendly and efficient way to get to and from work -- and then track the environmental impact of their choices.

Urban planners can use data collected via Commute Greener to improve traffic management and supplement information on use of public transportation, which in turn can yield economic and social benefits, said Magnus Kushel of Volvo.

"Significant environmental effects can be achieved when economical and environmental objectives go hand in hand," Kuschel said in a statement from the company.

Here is a video on how the program works:

Reducing environmental impact of commutes and traffic is a key of objective in Sweden's broad sustainability agenda and work to curb it is paying off.

IBM's most recent international survey on the subject, the Global Commuter Pain Index, shows that Stockholm is among the "least painful" (and more efficient and environmentally friendly) places in the world when it comes to getting around on the streets.

The Swedish capital has been working with IBM for the past five years on a traffic management system that pulls together a number of efforts to reduce congestion and pollution, boost use of public transportation and increase foot traffic.

Stockholm's emissions from traffic sunk by at least 14 percent within two years of formally launching the program in 2007. Also, tolls imposed for driving in the urban center during work hours were raking in about $84 million a year. The city uses the money to improve the infrastructure of its roads.

commuter pain

Photo and video courtesy of Volvo IT; chart courtesy of IBM.

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