12:00 AM

Ohio State unveils two "green" transportation initiatives

The Ohio State University will unveil two new ways for faculty, staff and students to "go green" when traveling to, from and around campus. The initiatives, designed to relieve the campus parking crunch and reduce energy consumption, will be introduced at a "Transportation Green Fair" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday (8/14) in the Chadwick Arboretum Learning Gardens, in front of Howlett Hall, 2001 Fyffe Ct.

The new sustainability programs include Flexcar, a car-sharing program for university departments, faculty, staff, students and community residents; and a vanpooling program for commuters.

Ohio State is launching a car-sharing program. Flexcar, headquartered in Washington D.C., works with cities and colleges to provide vehicles for departmental employee, student and public transportation. People who bike, walk, carpool, vanpool or take a bus to campus can have a vehicle ready for their short-term needs. Employees, students, departments and community residents can reserve a vehicle from a fleet of 20 Flexcars to travel across campus or town to attend meetings or other events. The vehicles, which are all low-emission and fuel efficient, are positioned around campus in reserved parking spaces. Users simply reserve a vehicle online or via touchtone phone, go to the vehicle location at the reservation start time and return it to the reserved space at the end of the trip. An hourly fee includes gas, insurance, 150 free miles, emergency assistance and maintenance. For information on Flexcar at Ohio State, see http://www.flexcar.com/Default.aspx?tabid=562

The university is also joining with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to offer a vanpooling program to faculty and staff. Through MORPC's RideSolutions program, commuters join a vanpool from their neighborhood and travel to and from work together in a 12-passenger van. Pool members save money on gasoline and parking, and instead pay a nominal monthly fee which includes fuel, van maintenance and insurance. In addition, Ohio State is designating special reserved parking spaces near the driver's office. The program also offers a guaranteed ride home if the employee is stuck at work in case of emergency or unexpected overtime. More information on the OSU faculty and staff vanpooling option is at http://osuvanpooling.morpc.org/

For Ohio State, these programs make alternative transportation more viable, according to Sarah Blouch, director of Transportation and Parking. "For everybody we can get out of their personal cars, it is one less dollar spent on gasoline, one less car emitting pollution, and one less car on the road or taking up a parking space." For example, she says the fleet of Flexcars could eventually help replace some of the 800 state vehicles currently used on central campus.

Such initiatives are part of the university's Scarlet, Gray & Green sustainability program, introduced last year. This umbrella program, operated through the Office of Business and Finance, provides a business model for a number of university business operations. Other initiatives include:

Campus bio-diesel conversion: Campus pumps dispensing diesel fuel to all state vehicles on the Columbus campus have been converted to soy bio-diesel (B20) fuel, a cleaner burning fuel made from renewable resources.

Idling guidelines for university vehicles: Designed to reduce vehicle emissions and maximize fuel efficiency, operators of university vehicles and gasoline powered equipment are asked to minimize idling and take other fuel efficiency measures.

"Green" Office Supplies: Through the Green Alternatives Program, the university is increasing access to environmentally friendly alternatives of commonly used supplies, beginning with recycled copy paper. Additionally, a "Green Spending Analysis" project is being piloted to identify opportunities to turn "traditional" supply purchases into "green" supply purchases.

Energy-saving lights: The Varmatic Lightmaster Pilot program in the Northwest Garage this past spring resulted in considerable savings in energy consumption without reducing lighting levels in the garage. The product, which will be placed in all garages over the next year, saves significant energy and reduces emissions.

Recycling: Since the nine-building pilot recycling program began in November 2006, over 61 tons of recycling have been diverted from the landfill. This fall, another 16 tons will be diverted when the program expands to Ohio Stadium and tailgating lots for all seven home games.