Universities Turn to Alternative Fuels as Gas Prices Rise

With gasoline prices expected to keep rising over the next few years, institutions are looking for ways to decrease their long-term reliance on fuel, reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article. The University of Florida has worked since 2007 to replace aging vehicles with ethanol-fueled vehicles, says the article, and the University of Minnesota is looking to start purchasing hybrid-electric vehicles. Ohio State University has spent $40,000 more on fuel than it budgeted for the 2011 fiscal year and is dipping into parking fee reserves to cover the difference. The university is researching compressed natural gas—cheaper and cleaner-burning than conventional gas—and ways to reduce traffic to campus including a dial-a-ride service.

Georgia Tech Improves Bike Culture on Campus

Students and staff on the Bicycle Infrastructure Improvement Committee at Georgia Institute of Technology have announced plans to make it safer and easier to bike to campus. With a $26,146 grant from the Student Government Association, the group will spearhead additional bike racks and bike lanes, slated for a fall 2011 completion. The group also debuted an online campus bike hub.

U Chicago Launches Bike Commuter Benefit Pilot Program

The University of Chicago (IL) has launched a Bike Commuter Benefit pilot program. The program will offer a half-priced three-month gym membership to faculty, staff and other academic personnel who bike to work. The program is the first in a series of steps the university is taking towards becoming a more bicycle friendly campus.

U Wisconsin Madison Celebrates Bike to Work Week

The University of Wisconsin-Madison recently partnered with the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin to promote various Bike to Work Week events throughout the community. University departments participated in the Get Up and Ride Wisconsin Bike Challenge, which made available real-time reports with miles biked, trips taken, calories burned and gas dollars saved for each department. Prizes will be awarded to participants.

Wilfrid Laurier U Takes on Canadian Commuter Challenge

Members of the Wilfrid Laurier University (ON) community recently competed in the Canadian Commuter Challenge, a friendly competition between organizations in Canada to reduce greenhouse gases. Staff and faculty at the university pledged to use environmentally friendly modes of transportation like biking, walking, car pooling or public transit to get around town and to commute to and from work. The university has also announced that 25 bike racks and three crosswalks will be installed over the summer on campus. The Sustainability Office is also researching a formal carpooling program and the feasibility of an electric fleet of vehicles for use on campus.

Stetson U Replaces Public Safety Dept SUV with Electric Vehicle

Stetson University’s (FL) Public Safety Department has replaced its sports utility vehicle with a MILES Electric Vehicle. The $13,000 electric vehicle is battery-fueled and has an estimated battery life of 25,000 miles. The university may buy more electric-motor-utility vehicles for its Facilities Management Department if the recently purchased vehicle is a success.

Temple U Debuts Car Sharing, Water Refilling Station Initiatives

Temple University (PA) recently implemented two initiatives as part of its Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce the university's carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2030. The university has partnered with Zimride, a ride-sharing tool that uses social networking functionality to bring members of the campus community together to share commutes. The university has also installed water bottle refilling stations in the lobbies of several academic building across campus.

California State U Los Angeles Competes in EcoCAR 2

California State University, Los Angeles' College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology has been selected to build a zero-emissions vehicle for the EcoCAR 2 Plugging In to the Future international competition. Established by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, the three-year collegiate competition provides engineering students the chance to design and build vehicles that demonstrate cutting-edge automotive technologies. The competition challenges 16 North American universities to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.

Georgia Tech Partners with Ford for Green Eco School Bus

Georgia Institute of Technology has partnered with the Ford Motor Company Fund to convert a school bus to a hydraulic hybrid vehicle that runs on recycled biofuel. The project was financed by a $50,000 Ford College Community Challenge. Students, with the help of a mechanical engineering professor, designed and developed the hydraulic hybrid system for the 16-passenger school bus. The university held an event in which elementary students painted the bus and organized a drive to collect used cooking oil for processing into biodiesel.

Metropolitan CC Debuts Green Bike Program

Metropolitan Community College (NE) recently debuted the Green Bike Program at its Fort Omaha campus. The Green Bike Program encourages biking as a healthy, safe and environmentally friendly way to get around. Students and staff on the campus will have free access to seven bikes. Twenty-four new bike racks were installed on campus, and eight sharrows were painted on campus roads. The green bikes will be available free of charge on a first-come, first-serve basis to get around the Fort Omaha campus only. The Green Bike program is made possible through a partnership among the college, Live Well Omaha, the Community Bike Shop and Green Street Cycles. The bikes were painted by students in the college's Auto Collision Technology Program.

U Northern British Columbia Installs Showers for Cyclists

The University of Northern British Columbia has installed two showers for bike commuters. The shower facilities are part of a plan to encourage more people to bike or walk to campus. The cycling community at the university had expressed that the new facilities would be a great help and remove a lot of barriers to biking to campus.

West Virginia U Celebrates Bike to Work Week

West Virginia University recently celebrated Bike to Work Week, part of National Bike Month, by encouraging employees and students to ride their bikes and showcasing the services available to cyclists. The university’s Mountaineer Station offers indoor lockers, bike racks and showers for cyclists who can then ride the Personal Rapid Transit system to their destination. A Confident City Cycling program was created for those who are uncomfortable with cycling on the streets and the university will pay for the cost for employees to attend the program.

U Arizona Adds Electric Vehicle to Campus Fleet

The University of Arizona has added the electric Nissan Leaf to its fleet of 100 vehicles, available to students and faculty to rent. The first step in a plan to add more electric vehicles to its fleet, the car is now accompanied by a new electric vehicle charging station, donated by California-based AeroVironment, Inc.

U of California Riverside Offers Vanpooling Option

In an effort to make commuting to campus more affordable and sustainable, the University of California, Riverside's Transportation and Parking Services has created a vanpooling program. The university hopes the program will reduce traffic congestion and provide another alternative for students, faculty and staff in their commuting options.

Baker College of Owosso Produces Biofuel

Baker College of Owosso (MI) has begun processing its own biofuel using recently purchased processing equipment. The processor can produce 40 gallons of diesel fuel in one 12-hour batch. The college is using waste oil and grease produced by its cafeteria, and is teaching other college and high school instructors how to convert their own cafeterias into diesel producing kitchens.

U Utah Opens Bike Repair Stations

The University of Utah has installed two bicycle repair stations on campus to help facilitate bike commuting options. Installed by Commuter Services, each station features a tire pump, tire levers, screwdrivers and allen keys to help students make minor repairs to their bikes.

Cornell U to Compete in Green Grand Prix

Cornell University (NY) will compete in the 7th Annual Green Grand Prix this month, which will take place at Watkins Glen International racing facility in New York. The university has submitted its diesel hybrid dubbed "Redshift." Entries can include diesel and traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrid models, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell cars and vehicles running on biodiesel, flex-fuel and pure electric.

Rice U Expands Campus Bike Initiatives

With funding from the Rice Endowment for Sustainable Energy and Technology, the Office of Sustainability and a student initiative grant program, Rice University (TX) has expanded its campus bicycle program to include bike sharing, bike reps and a repair shop. Students worked with the Rice Police Department to refurbish abandoned bikes for the bike sharing initiative. The new bike reps will function like campus eco-reps with a focus on bikes. Their duties will include identifying and reporting abandoned bikes, sharing information about campus bike rules and policies with the campus community, and providing minor bicycle repairs and maintenance.

Rochester Inst to Develop Natural Gas Engines for Hybrid Vehicles

Faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) have received a $100,000 grant from the California Energy Commission to develop a natural gas-fueled engine for hybrid electric vehicles. The new engine, which is estimated to save five million tons of carbon dioxide from the air per year if 5 percent of California drivers converted to it, can also be used for electric generators and agricultural uses like power for irrigation pumps.

Seattle Pacific U Solar Power Offsets Electric Vehicle Energy Use

The 18 solar panels at Seattle Pacific University (WA) are producing enough energy to power the university’s fleet of electric vehicles. They began producing electricity in the spring quarter of 2010. At their best, with perfect sunshine, they generate four kilowatts per hour. Their daily average energy production is the equivalent to the daily energy consumed by the campus’ electric vehicles.

U Alaska Fairbanks Installs Smart Cold Weather Vehicle Cords

The University of Alaska, Fairbanks is installing 100 new energy-efficient power cords that are used to plug into cars to keep engine fluids from freezing during the winter months. Typical cords draw energy constantly while plugged in, while the new cords draw electricity only when the engine coolant temperature drops near freezing temperatures. The power-saving cords have been installed on 31 campus vehicles and remaining cords are being installed on vehicles owned by students, faculty and staff members who volunteered.

U Alaska Fairbanks Offers New Bicycle Sharing Program

The University of Alaska, Fairbanks’ Office of Sustainability has recently approved a new bicycle rental program on campus. It will be funded by $10,000 from a sustainability fee that students pay each semester. Long-term and short-term rentals will be available beginning in April. They will begin the program with a stable of 20 new Kona bicycles and nearly 100 used and donated bicycles.

U Missouri-Kansas City Launches Student Bus Pass Program

Students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City have approved a student fee that will provide every student with an annual pass for city bus services. The university partnered with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to provide the all-access transit pass, beginning in fall 2011. Students will be assessed a $14 fee per semester to fund the universal pass.

Western Michigan U Opens Electric Car Charging Stations

Western Michigan University has unveiled four electric car charging stations on its main campus that it received at no cost from manufacturer Coulomb Technologies through an equipment grant from the company's ChargePoint America program. The program is part of a federal government demonstration project to encourage the adoption of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. The university, which has two electric and 50 hybrid-electric vehicles in its campus fleet, will offer the chargers for free initially, as much of the expected energy use will be offset by its existing campus wind turbine and solar array. The university will consider charging in the future if usage is more than expected.

Arizona State U Surveys Campus for Sustainable Transport Ideas

The Parking and Transit Services department at Arizona State University is conducting an extensive transportation survey among its students and staff to find sustainable solutions for reducing overall carbon emissions. The survey is mandated by Maricopa County, but it has led to significant student conceptualized ideas in previous years, including intercampus shuttles, the U-Pass program that provides reduced fares for light rail and bus tickets, and reserved carpool parking spots.

Kent State U Expands Bike Share Program

After a successful launch in the fall, Kent State University (OH) is expanding its bike share program. Flashfleet, which registered 1,081 users for a total of 4,467 checkouts in the fall, now includes a new checkout location, an expanded bike selection, and additional hours of operation and student staff members to assist with maintenance repairs.

Middlebury College Students Initiate Car Share Program

The Environmental Council at Middlebury College (VT) is working to implement a student-led proposal to offer the car share program, Zimride. The group proposed this idea to the student government last month and it has been accepted. The program will cost the college between $17,000 and $19,000. Along with the additional transportation options the program will provide, it will also help the college reduce its overall carbon emissions.

Syracuse U, SUNY College Partner for Ride Share Program

Syracuse University (NY) and the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry are collaborating to provide students and faculty with a ride share program at no cost. With the online RideShare program, staff and students at both institutions can coordinate carpools. Syracuse is using this program in conjunction with other alternative transportation companies, such as Zipcar. The partnership between the two institutions will reduce single-occupant vehicles and positively contributed to each institution’s Climate Action Plan.

First-Ever Bicycle Friendly Campus Designations Announced

The League of American Bicyclists has announced the first institutions to receive its Bicycle Friendly University designation. The program recognizes colleges and universities that create environments where bicycling can thrive and provides a roadmap and technical assistance to create great campuses for bicycling. For its breadth of programs, including a cycling network, education programs like the Bike Safety Dorm Challenge, bicycling incentive programs and 21.7 percent of bike commuters, Stanford University (CA) received the only platinum-level award. Twenty of the 32 institutions who applied received designations including the University of California, Santa Barbara; University of California, Davis; University of Minnesota; and Emory University (GA).

Montgomery County CC Purchases Electric Utility Carts

Montgomery County Community College (PA) has traded three of its gas-powered utility vehicles for electric carts. The zero emissions vehicles will be used by the Facilities staff around campus.

Virginia Tech Encouraging Green Commuters

By 2015, Virginia Tech hopes to have half of its workplace committed to green commuting. The institution's alternative commuting program focuses on incentives for biking to campus including ample bike parking, and works with local transit companies to provide free passes at certain times of the day.

Alabama A&M U Tests Biodiesel for Campus Transportation

Alabama A&M University’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences is experimenting with turning cooking oil into biodiesel. The Toyota engine plant in Huntsville, Ala. is donating the oil to the university. The university plans to run campus buses and agriculture equipment with biodiesel fuel in the future.

Arkansas State U Grows Electric Vehicle Campus Fleet

Arkansas State University first implemented its electric golf carts on campus 11 years ago. Now the campus has 16 more electric vehicles including cars, Segways and cargo trucks. The vehicles are predominantly used by Facilities Management personnel, but they lease the vehicles out to different departments as requested.

Cornell U Starts Bike Share Program

Cornell University (NY) is gearing up for its Big Red Bikes program, a bike share program that will begin with 20 bikes based at one station. It was made possible by the efforts of the Big Red Bikes student group that began in 2008 in the Cornell Sustainability Hub. After spearheading a petition signed by 1,000 students, the Undergraduate Student Assembly granted the group funding for the initial two years of the project, amounting to $1 from every student’s activities fee.

U Maryland Installs Electric Car Charging Stations

The University of Maryland’s Department of Transportation Services has installed five electric car charging stations, with five more planned on the university’s campus. Each station can recharge two cars simultaneously for four to eight hours. The university hopes that the stations will encourage people to move toward electric cars. The electric charging stations cost $31,500 total.

Texas A&M U at Qatar Students to Compete in Shell Eco-Marathon

College of Engineering students at Texas A&M University at Qatar are set to compete in this year's Shell Eco-Marathon. Since 1985, the global competition has challenged student teams to design and build fuel-efficient cars. The 2011 European edition will be held at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz track in Germany from May 26-28, 2011. Vehicles can use various fuels and energy sources including gas-to-liquids, petrol, biofuels, hydrogen and solar. Two teams at the university will compete in the Urban Concept category, one team with gas-to-liquids fuel and the other with a vehicle powered by petrol.

U Adelaide Provides Bike Commuting Support to Staff, Students

The University of Adelaide (Australia) recently implemented the Ecorider program, an 11-week behavior change effort to increase cycling trips to campus, improve fitness, save money, and reduce traffic congestion and campus emissions. The program provided 20 student and staff members with support in becoming regular commuting cyclists to campus with individual email communication and feedback, group training sessions and a communal blog. Improvement was measured through reported cycling trip data and monthly fitness testing. The Ecoriders completed 803 trips to the university in total and saved 25,890 minutes and $4,000 in transportation time and money.

Zipcar Grows Network of Campus Car Share Programs

With its latest partnerships with the University of Texas at Austin, Michigan State University, the University of Richmond (VA), Christopher Newport University (VA), Hampshire College (MA), Seton Hall University (NJ), Meredith College (NC) and North Carolina State University, Zipcar, Inc. has a presence on more than 225 college campuses. The car sharing program allows students, faculty and staff to rent a car only when they need it, providing a cost-effective alternative to car ownership. Within this network of campus programs, 1.7 million students, faculty and staff are now within a short walk of a Zipcar.

U Wisconsin Eau Claire Increases Bus Ridership

A recent survey of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus shows that transit bus riding has increased 19 percent over the past five years. Students and faculty may ride the city bus for free if they have their campus ID. An additional bus route has contributed to the increase, but campus construction and increased prices for a parking pass are also factors that affected the increase.

Washington State U Conducts Commuter Survey

Washington State University's Environmental Health and Safety Department is in the last stages of a commuter survey conducted to develop models to better estimate reductions in campus carbon emissions. In its first attempt to understand greenhouse gas emissions as they relate to campus commuting practices, the university emailed the survey to faculty, staff and students statewide.

Air-Purifying Asphalt? A Louisiana State U Professor Says So

A Louisiana State University industrial engineering assistant professor has teamed up with PURETI Inc, a U.S.-based manufacturer to announce the first evaluation of air-purifying asphalt and concrete. Photo catalytic pavement uses light and titanium dioxide to accelerate decomposition of organic matter. A field study of this new technology is underway near the university's campus. The year-long study will measure air quality and groundwater runoff. Dr. Hassan will present her findings at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Conference in Washington DC. She says that this will be “the first photo catalytic pavement in the U.S. capable of purifying outdoor air...from traffic emissions.”

Alternate Transportation at Portland State U Becoming the Norm

A recent survey of Portland State University’s (OR) staff and student population revealed that 75 percent commute to campus without a car. The survey shows that bus, light rail and streetcars are the dominant forms of transportation to the campus. With a new bicycle track that runs through campus, however, biking is the mode of transportation that is growing the fastest. The inclusion of 2,000 bike parking spots and a bicycle repair shop on campus has helped increase the popularity of biking to campus. The electronic survey was completed by 960 employees and 1,109 students.

Culinary Institute of America Goes Biodiesel

The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in California is turning waste vegetable oil into biodiesel to fuel its campus shuttles. Oil from multiple oil fryers in campus kitchen classrooms is being converted to fuel using a BioPro biodiesel processor. This processor is expected to pay for itself within a year. By switching from diesel, the institute saves $64 a tank in the two shuttle vans outfitted to run on biodiesel.

U Toledo Installs Electric Vehicle Charge Stations

The University of Toledo (OH) has installed three electric vehicle chargers. The charge stations use technology that debuted last year including General Electric Co.’s smart meters and Juice Technologies’ Plug Smart engine. The university's decision to implement charging stations is in anticipation of the university community's purchase of electric vehicles as electric cars gain traction with national automakers.

North Carolina State U, Meredith College Partner with Zipcar

North Carolina State University and Meredith College (NC) have partnered with Zipcar, Inc. to provide both campuses with the car sharing service. The alternative transportation option will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to faculty, staff and students at both campuses for $8 per hour and $66 per day with a $35 annual membership fee. Four Zipcars will be located on the North Carolina State University campus and two cars available on the Meredith College campus. Members of either campus will have access to cars at both locations.

Oklahoma State U Transportation Converts Buses to Natural Gas

With money from a federal grant, the Department of Parking and Transit Services at Oklahoma State University recently converted 18 buses to run on compressed natural gas. A natural gas station recently opened near campus and the university plans to convert more vehicles to natural gas in the future.

Luther College Partners with U Car Share

Luther College (IA) has partnered with U Car Share to provide two campus vehicles available to students, faculty and staff at an hourly rental rate. The cars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reserved online.

U Colorado Boulder Adds 400 Bike Spots

To keep encouraging students to go car-less on campus, the University of Colorado at Boulder has added 400 bike spaces in prime campus areas. About 75 percent of students, faculty and staff get to the campus by some means of alternative transportation and university officials noticed bikes chained to nearby trees and handicap-accessible rails due to the parking crunch. The university has added 1,664 bike parking spots over the last three years.

U Colorado Boulder Sees 20% Drop in Freshman Parking Permits

The University of Colorado at Boulder has seen a 20 percent drop in the amount of freshman buying parking permits since the last school year. Of the 5,215 in this year's freshman class, 852 purchased parking permits. In 2005, the number was more than 1,400. To help meet its goal of reducing petroleum use on campus by 25 percent by 2012, the university encourages students who tour the campus to not bring cars their freshman year. University recruiters instead educate prospective students about the alternative options to driving to campus. Currently, student fees pay for bus passes, mobile mechanics will help service students' bikes, and the university provides free bike rentals and a Zimride carpool matching service.

U Chicago Expands Online Outreach for Bike Share Program

In celebration of the first anniversary of its Bike Share program, recycles, the University of Chicago is expanding the program's online outreach. The free program offers one-day bike rentals to the campus community with nearly 1,000 registered users and about 100 rentals per week. In response to feedback from users, a bicycle mechanic was recently hired to maintain the bikes and a new website launched where users can register and view available bikes online. The program's refurbished bicycles are purchased from a local nonprofit organization, Blackstone Bicycle Works, which also sponsors local youth programs.