Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reducing Carbon Emissions

As DePaul has two urban campuses within the city of Chicago, there are opportunities to implement green practices in transportation to reduce carbon and tailpipe emissions and congestion.

DePaul’s Facility Operations has been a big proponent of bicycling as an alternative and environmental form of transportation. DePaul has installed ubiquitous bicycle racks throughout their campuses and have augmented some of the existing ones. Racks are located outside dormitories, libraries, student centers, department buildings, and other places where there is a lot of student traffic. Students, staff, and faculty can rent bikes at the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center for $10 a day. DePaul also has a bike intern, Amanda Kautzer, who is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) to promote bicycle commuting through various campus events. DePaul also partners with CDOT to raise awareness about green transportation on campus.

The City of Chicago has done a lot to enable DePaul to encourage its affiliates to bike. The city has installed bicycle racks that DePaul student, staff, and faculty can take advantage of at its train stations and local businesses. The City of Chicago has also contributed to bicycling commuting, according to the Bike 2015 Plan, by outfitting CTA buses with bicycle racks, as well as allowing them on the CTA train during non-rush hours. Metra also allows bicycles to increase mobility for the suburban commuters. There are bicycle lanes throughout both campuses on Fullerton Ave., Armitage St., Lincoln Ave., Halsted St., and the Lake Shore Drive multi-use path. With a great infrastructure for biking, DePaul has more validation and motivation to promote it as a sustainable form of alternative transportation.

DePaul participates in the Chicago Transit Authority’s U-Pass program. The U-Pass program provides public transportation on buses and trains at a drastically reduce rate for students enrolled full-time. Using public transportation rather than bringing personal vehicles reduces traffic congestion and tailpipe emissions. Not only does public transportation provide good area coverage within campuses, but between campuses as well. The red line Fullerton stop connects to the State St. stop so students can commute between campuses with ease. It is both economical and better for the environment.

According to the DePaul University Carbon Footprint and Sustainability Assessment, DePaul has taken even more steps to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles. The Public Safety Department purchased two hybrid vehicles for its fleet, which saved 5% of their previous use of gasoline since the purchase. DePaul has partnered with I-Go to allow students, staff, and faculty to purchase a membership for one-third of the cost of a full-priced membership. DePaul also offers Metra passes to students based on financial need.

For the past three years, DePaul has done an assessment of the amount of CO2 emissions that come from travel for DePaul athletes and faculty. DePaul takes efficiency measures for athletic travel by taking into account the number of athletes and distance to determine the most efficient way to travel (E.G. land versus air, bus versus van). However, the most effective way to address the 1300 MTECO2 by both athletic and faculty travel is to invest in carbon offsets. DePaul plans to do this by purchasing carbon offsets from third parties like TerraPass or supporting student-run or local environmental organizations.

Since 2007, DePaul has been on a trend of reducing carbon emissions every year and continues to look for ways to decrease motor fuel consumption and their carbon footprint. Transportation is a big carbon emitter and students, staff, and faculty must also do their part in making the right decisions to use greener transportation.

Posted by Sylvia Chung

Photo courtesy of Sylvia Chung

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