Location Considerations

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What It Is

Many factors impact the decision of where to locate an office or facility. These include:

  • Access to public transportation
  • Proximity to food and other amenities
  • Distance from residential areas where employees live
  • Natural hazards and risks
  • Zoning restrictions

Why It Matters

Since most businesses and nonprofit employees commute to the office, location can have a meaningful impact on employee quality of life. According to one poll, the average commute for an American worker is 16 miles each way. Reducing this distance or having public transportation options available to employees can save fuel, money, and time. Additionally, being prepared for any risks associated with your office location can save money and headaches.

Proximity to transportation options and amenities

Consider how far away your business is located from affordable employee housing, restaurants, and other businesses like shipping and printing stores. Locating near public transit stops, bicycle trails, and pedestrian-friendly streets can be a big draw for employees.

An accessible location can reduce travel times, air pollution, fuel costs, and increase productivity. Of course, consumer-oriented businesses can benefit from having more customers nearby. Changing your location may be a big challenge and a considerable cost investment. If your business is planning on expanding or moving, consider an energy-efficient location that minimizes transportation to other services and housing.

If location is not a changeable option, consider consolidating trips for company business. 

If your company is getting ready for a move or considering a new office space, look into offices in downtown locations, or other spots that are centrally located for your particular business. Get involved (and encourage employees to be involved) in local town planning issues to help create a higher quality of life and lower dependence on automobiles in your neighborhood.

Risks from Natural Hazards

Natural hazards include floods, fires, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, wind damage, heat waves, snow storms, ice storms and thunderstorms, and more.

It’s a good idea to know about potential natural hazards in your location, in order to prepare and protect against them. Flooding in many areas is a costly natural hazard, costing the US an average of $6 billion a year in property damage. For a more comprehensive introduction to flooding, click here for a USGS (United States Geological Survey) document overview. In other areas, fire is a bigger threat. The USGS has many programs to address these threats. Click here for a document pertaining to natural hazards in general.

Getting Started

  • Identify potential natural hazard risks and address them in your risk management plan
  • Make sure insurance covers damages from flooding and any other coverage that may be needed in your area
  • If necessary, take steps to fortify your building and grounds against natural hazards. For a full packet of information from FEMA (for homeowners but can be adapted for business owners) click here.
  • For a helpful document from Firewise.org on retrofitting your property to protect it against wildfire risks and related information, click here.


  • How to determine your location in relation to nearest housing, restaurants, transit stops: Use Google Maps website to first locate your place of business, and then search for restaurants, service providers, etc.
  • For transit proximity, find your local transit provider by searching the American Public Transit Association at this link. You can probably use your local transit agency’s site to locate the nearest routes and stops to your place of business.
  • For housing location and characteristics nearest a potential business location, contact the local chamber of commerce, real estate agents, or apartment or home guides. Or calculate the average distance employees commute from the office by mapping out the distances on Google Maps or sending out a survey.
  • Ten ways to run errands more efficiently are found in this article (personal advice can be adapted to business use).


Air Pollution: Air pollution comes from many different sources such as factories, power plants, dry cleaners, cars, buses, trucks and even windblown dust and wildfires. Air pollution can threaten the health of human beings, trees, lakes, crops, and animals, as well as damage the ozone layer and buildings. Air pollution also can cause haze, reducing visibility in national parks and wilderness areas.

We educate, motivate, and recognize smaller enterprises for their efforts towards becoming more sustainable. We’re here to offer tangible, practical tips and expertise in sustainability.
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