|Universities Go Green, Part 3: Transportation|
|Sunday, 06 November 2011 00:00 | Written by Francisco Ramos | Blog Entry|
Of the estimated 18 million college students in the US, only two million live in campus dorms. The remaining 16 million join the countless Americans who commute an average of 100 hours per year. These commutes—if not on foot or by bike—add to pollution and help exacerbate the increasing problem of climate change. This has not gone unnoticed by universities across the country, which are beginning to invest resources to alter the way people get around—on and off campus.
University of Kentucky
The compact development of neighborhoods is expected to save 8% in costs, and reduce the municipal deficit by 10% over the next 15 years. LWYW encourages participants to walk, cycle and use public transportation as a means to commute, as well. This helps the environment and, as a bonus, fosters a sense of community surrounding the campus. The low-interest, fixed-rate mortgage program has been so successful that other universities and even the state of New Jersey have adopted similar measures.
University of Washington
University of New England
Through sponsorship by companies such as Fuji Bikes and Bicycle South, more institutions are developing bike-sharing programs. Cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and Washington, DC, are now cultivating citywide plans as well.
University of California-Davis
UC-Davis has also heavily invested in its on-campus modes of transportation. Most of the institution’s bus system operates on compressed natural gas or hydrogen. With a university ID, citywide transit is free. This makes the Amtrak station, located a mile off campus, easily accessible to commuters and travelers.
The commitment to sustainability is being led by the nation’s greatest centers of learning. Their ingenuity and proactivity will continue to spread from the core of their campuses to the communities and states in which they reside.
The conscious actions of an individual, a committee or an organization may seem insignificant in and of themselves. However, we are all interconnected. A bike rider in Seattle helps encourage a LEED building in Atlanta that is powered by a turbine in Rhode Island. Supporting local initiatives means nurturing action throughout the country and across the globe. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”