The elimination of Saturday mail delivery to home and business addresses is part of a proposed plan that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has formulated as an alternative to significantly increasing postage rates, or requesting a government bailout, to relieve its deficit.
The gap between revenues and costs for the USPS has widened with the extensive increase in technology and use of the Internet. Individuals as well as firms, now utilize online billing services, electronic deposit and e-mail, as opposed to ‘snail mail’ — increasing the decline in the volume of mail. The decreased volume translates into greatly reduced revenue for the USPS, and since postal costs are fixed (carriers still have to stop at each address, even though delivering fewer pieces of mail), the future of our postal system hangs in the balance.
This change in delivery would certainly affect our firm, via our finance department, as we still find it necessary to use USPS for delivery and receipt of hard copy invoices and vendor payments. As a firm focused on sustainability, we do make an effort to process invoices and payments electronically, but find not all companies and government agencies are set up to receive them. In order for us to adapt to the five-day delivery schedule, we would need to schedule billing more strategically, adjusting our billing cycle to accommodate the reduced service, and encourage other companies and government agencies to increase their digital scope in this area. As a woman-owned small business, we feel strongly that further cutbacks in delivery service would seriously jeopardize our accounts payable, receivables and cash flow.
As part of the USPS plan, no post office buildings will be closed as a result of the switch. Being contributors to the built environment ourselves, Goshow Architects’ triple bottom line focus is on lessening the environmental impact of buildings, so naturally we ask… why keep these buildings open and operating on Saturdays at all? Perhaps a reduction in facility operating costs could prevent further cutbacks in delivery days.
According to the USPS Web site: “Reducing street delivery to five days will help rebalance postal operations with the needs of today’s customers. It also will save about $3 billion a year, including reductions in energy use and carbon emissions,” which include the obvious transportation and vehicle-related savings in fuel and maintenance costs.
However, “Saturday total energy use for a mail processing unit (greater than 50,000 gross square feet) ranged between 70 and 100 percent for a typical operating day,” so if the USPS pushes the envelope (pardon the pun) a little further and shuts down all building operations on Saturdays as well, imagine not only the additional reductions in the impact to our environment, but the monetary savings the USPS would recoup in operating costs as well, over and beyond the $3 billion a year.
What if you can’t get to the post office Monday through Friday? Post office lobbies could remain unlocked on Saturdays for public access to automated stamp machines, drop-off boxes, and P.O.boxes.
Finally, for the USPS plan to be put into action, Congress would have to agree not to enact legislation that requires mail to be delivered six days a week.
Nancy Aber Goshow is a licensed architect, founder and managing partner of Goshow Architects, the largest woman-owned architectural firm in New York City committed to improving communities through sustainable design solutions for new buildings and the rehabilitation, adaptive reuse and historic preservation of existing structures.