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Clif Bar Launches Cool Commute Program; Incentives for B100 and Hybrids

Clif Bar & Co., a manufacturer of all-natural and organic energy and nutrition foods and drinks, has launched a “Cool Commute” program for its employees.

The Cool Commute incentive program pays $5,000 to employees who switch to biodiesel (B100) cars for their commutes. In addition to a cash incentive for biodiesel, Clif Bar also will pay $5,000 to its people who buy a hybrid vehicle.

Along with incentives for driving more fuel-efficient cars, the Cool Commute program awards points to Clif Bar people who carpool or leave their cars at home and opt instead to walk, bike or take public transportation to work. Points can be redeemed for tax-free public transit vouchers or gift cards from Whole Foods Market, Peet’s Coffee and other local green businesses. Points can also be used to support environmental groups such as American Forests, Clean Air-Cool Planet and NativeEnergy.

We found that collectively the folks at our company consumed about 29,500 gallons of gasoline commuting more than 700,000 miles to and from work in 2005. By encouraging our people to rely less on fossil fuels in their commutes, we can make a difference as a business when it comes to arguably the single biggest issue facing us all—global warming.

—Elysa Hammond, Clif Bar staff ecologist and co-developer of the Cool Commute effort.

Former Vice President Al Gore visited the company for the launch of the program at the company’s annual meeting and gave a talk on global warming, during which he challenged the company to continue its efforts to reduce its impact on global warming.

Gore encouraged other businesses to also think beyond quarterly earnings and consider the long term value of environmental stewardship. He said most businesses now “treat the environment as an externality,” which results in decisions that “ignore or are actively harmful to the planet.”

Cool Commute is the first phase of a larger Clif Bar initiative that will eventually help employees address their environmental impact at home as well as at work, according to Jennifer Freitas, the company’s wellness advocate and co-developer with Hammond of the Cool Commute program.



700,000 miles and 29,500 gallons is 23.7mpg. Either they already had a healthy percentage of walkers and cyclists or they drive some pretty efficient cars.

Nice to see the business sector taking a stand on reducing fuel consumption.


I believe the current US fleet for passenger vehicles is around 25 mpg so they are actually below the national average.


Paul. You are talking about the mpg for new cars, not the average for the existing fleet. On Wikipedia, the stated fleet average was in the 16+ range. Others may have different numbers.


Paul. You are talking about the mpg for new cars, not the average for the existing fleet. On Wikipedia, the stated fleet average was in the 16+ range. Others may have different numbers.

In 2004, the average mpg was 17.1. 16+ was incorrect.

Bike Commuter Dude

The following are results from a two year long personal research project.

Distance traveled on my Specialized bicycle in 2006: 3,245.8 miles

Amount of gasoline used: 0 gallons (US)

Distance traveled on public transportation in 2006: 1,156 miles

Amount of gasoline used: 0 gallons

Distance traveled in my large 1991 Chrysler sedan in 2006:
~7,720 miles

Amount of gasoline used: 376 gallons

Personal transportation efficiency average: 32.7 Miles/gallon.

This is the secret trick to getting improved fuel economy from your large vehicle; find a substitute as often as possible!


Yeah, I was wrong. I think this incentive is actually pretty amazing. I think I google did something like this and I think there is one other company that I have heard of. But as far as incentive go I was discouraged by the US stance on stopping the incentive after 60,000. This seem clearly a way to stop the incentive for foriegn car conpanies that have a jump on the hybrid market and help the US companies sell thier hybrids after the 60,000 is gone. If the we truely cared about fuel economy we would not stop the tax credit after 60,000 and we would also have some federal funded advertising to really get driving tips out there such as accelerating slower and keeping proper tire presure. That is just my rant for the day.


If they carpool more, they may be able to get it to 37 (2+/vehicle) or 51mpg (4/vehicle).




Carpooling is one way to increase efficiency due to the fact that many personal automobiles have 4 or more seats. Parking is often a consideration, since many carpoolers drive to a meetup point. If possible, bike/use mass transit to the point, in order to minimise fuel usage. Ideally, the point along the way to work for your co-worker.


Public transportation uses some fossil fuel -- diesel for the buses, electricity (coal, gas, oil) for subways. While it is true that the train would run whether you boarded it or not, the only "fair" way to account for the emissions the system creates is to divide them among the actual ridership. Still, mass transit is generally very carbon friendly -- except for a small number of boondoggle projects that constantly run vehicles and never see much ridership. I would also note that while trains can be more or less crowded depending on the time of day, if the less utilized departure times create the sense of flexibilty needed to convince the commuters to use the system during the peak time (i.e. a worker might need the security of knowing he can catch a late train home if things run late in order to be convinced not to drive in the morning), they are appropriately counted in and the total carbon footprint of the system should be divided over the total ridership of the system.


The above comment was directed at the statement of "Bike Commuter Dude" which pegged his public transit "mileage" as 0 gallons for 1,156 miles traveled. My point is that even if no actual gasoline was consumed -- he rode an electric train and doesn't care about any buses run by the transit operator -- there was still a carbon impact from the operation of the system, which needs to be apportioned over its ridership.


Bike commuter dude -- not leaving the house for the rest of 2006?

Just kidding, congrats on bike commuting. What kind of Specialized have you got? I ride a Langster to work and an Allez on the weekends.


Go Clif Bar!!!

I'm getting 47 mpg running B99 in my 2001 VW Golf TDI. It's ~51-52 with regular diesel. This is 8-10 year old diesel tech - rotary pump, 2-valves per cylinder 1.9L. Modern 1.3L common-rail diesels have similar performance figures now, but return easily return 65 mpg in a 3000 lb. car like mine if driven with a careful foot.

I agree with biker dude. Driving a car should be the last resort in transportation. When I'm not walking to work, taking public transport, or carpooling I'm in a vehicle that gets reasonable fuel economy. Can't wait till Kalifornia Air Resources Board allows clean diesel back into the state!


Jeff Linder

As a co-owner at Bike Friday, I want to acknowledge right up front that there is a profit motive at work in much that I do and say. Having noted that, I would like to draw attention to the most innovative and solution-oriented offering from the bicycle community in many, many years. It is nothing more than a bike, but what a wonderful coming together of innovation and problem solving. The name of this bike is the "tikit" and it can help you increase that mpg figure substantially. Please enjoy the 5 short clips included with this posting.
All the best to you and your conscientious efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
Jeff Linder
Bike Friday

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