Delivering Sustainability Results with Supplier Partners

Sustainability in Action…

So far in my sustainability series posts we have talked about the principles, opportunities and benefits from creating a ‘Responsible Travel Program’. Let’s now look at a real-life example of how working with your suppliers can deliver a great program, and a significant return on investment.


Autodesk is a global leaders in 3D design software. Headquartered in San Rafael, California, they employee over 7,800 staff, which includes over 3,500 travellers.

‘A company that has sustainability in their DNA’

Their first sustainability report was published in 2008. Since that time they have put in place a strategic plan including corporate carbon reduction targets, established wide ranging ‘Green Procurement’ best practices, employee engagement initiatives and much more.

They have consistently disclosed details about their performance, in order to provide information to investors, analysts, customers, employees, etc. There is also a desire to share their approach, and encourage other companies to borrow best practices and ideas in the knowledge that Autodesk faces many of the same challenges they do.

 The Plan for Business Travel?

In 2012, as part of an ongoing effort to reduce their environmental impact, Autodesk challenged its Preferred Travel Suppliers to help “green” a traditional travel program and help contribute to an overall company target of 35 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2018.

A company preferred car vendor accepted the challenge.

The program had four components to Autodesk sustainability success:

  • Increase usage of alternative fuel vehicles to 17 percent
  • Increase utilization of vehicles with a 28+ MPG average to 90 percent
  • Contribute to a total company reduction in CO2 emissions by 35 percent
  • Full utilization of On Demand EVs at Autodesk Corporate HQ locations in California.


Implementation of the program, developed by their U.S. Travel Manager, included:

  • Engaging and working closely together with their primary car rental vendor
  • The car rental company brought in their sustainability team
  • Metrics were reviewed to identify where potential reductions could be made
  • Key cities were challenged to pilot a Hybrid car program
  • Employee engagement and education program was devised and implemented
  • Annual CO2 reduction reports were developed to track progress

“Implementation of the program at Autodesk was simple and painless. Autodesk has a culture that embraces sustainability – it’s in our DNA. The key is to engage our supplies to ensure cars are available and then to socialize the results with our employees.” -Mark Papale.

Employee Engagement and Incentives:

In an effort to foster strong engagement in the travel program, the company offered incentives to employees to reduce their own environmental footprint:

  • Discounts on electric vehicles commuting (to purchase an EV vehicle as well as 12 charging stations that were installed at 111 McInnis)
  • Discounts on hybrid vehicles
  • Biking and public transit incentives


As at March 2015, all four initiatives are on track to smash the 2018 targets.

‘On track to lower CO2 and travel costs!’

  1. Increase usage of alternative fuel vehicles to 25 percent
  • Over 800 hybrid vehicles were added to the fleet
  • All monthly rental transactions for vehicle car classes driven, upgrades taken by employees and green vehicles rented, as well as average MPG by car make/model are audited
  • Total cost of for fuel charged to renters decreased by 39 percent
  • This can be directly attributed to hybrid rentals as less fuel is needed for the average trip
  1. Increase utilization of vehicles with a 28+ MPG average to 83 percent
  • Limits were put on the booking tool – travellers allowed to rent hybrids first and then rent mandatory mid-size or fuel efficient vehicles
  • Utilization increased in vehicles with Avg. 28+ MPG, from 35 percent to 83 percent between year-end 2012 and the end of Q1 2015
  1. Lower total CO2 emissions by 35 percent
  • Autodesk has reduced its total emissions by 27 percent over its 2008 baseline.

The goal is to have 100% adoption by Autodesk employees by 2018.

These efforts to reduce Autodesk’s business travel incentives are part of a suite of other initiatives to reduce Autodesk’s overall environmental footprint. These include a commitment to power Autodesk’s business with 100% renewable energy and transportation incentive programs for employees to reduce their own footprint. To find out more, see Autodesk’s Annual Sustainability ReportAnnual Sustainability Report

An inspiration to us all!!

GBTA members can read the full case study on Autodesk on the GBTA Hub.

Stay tuned for my next post in about two weeks. If you can’t wait until then and want to learn more now, visit our Project ICARUS website.

I welcome your views and comments. Please feel free to comment below or email me at [email protected].