Turning Initiatives Into Action

Feb. 1, 2011

On the campus of the University of Arizona, “sustainability” isn’t just a catch phrase, it’s a commitment. From academics to facilities management, every department looks for innovative ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the 380-acre campus.

The UA Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) is behind two new initiatives to reduce carbon emissions by getting cars off the road. They started the Bike Share program, which lends bikes to students, faculty and staff.

“The bikes are available at five different locations around campus, and it’s completely free to borrow one,” says PTS marketing manager Bill Davidson. “They come with baskets and locks, and they’re tuned up every day, so riders can just hop on and go.” PTS even provides a map of bike paths on campus.

The affordable Car Share program is for those days when students, faculty or staff need a car to get off campus. Sophomore Matt Garside, who runs the program for PTS, says it’s designed for maximum convenience. 

“For eight dollars an hour you get parking included, gas included and insurance included. And you don’t have to go to an off-campus location to pick up the car. You reserve it online, and then you walk from the dorm or classroom to one of the parking lots where the car is waiting. You get in, and you go. It’s that easy.”

The Car Share program has environmentally friendly models like the Smart Car and the Prius. Bill Davidson estimates that each Car Share car is keeping 14 cars off the road.

With more than 35,000 people on campus, recycling is essential for cutting waste and saving vital resources. Chris Kopach, director of Facilities Management, says the university recycles 5,000 tons of cardboard, aluminum cans and white paper a year. And UA placed fourth among the nation's largest universities in a nationwide competition called “Recyclemania,” which is run in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Kopach’s staff works behind the scenes to “green” the campus. In the summer, they operate an ice-making plant during nights when the temperatures drop. They use the ice during the day to cool the water that runs air conditioners on campus. This saves significant energy and cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Even the janitorial staff are trained in the best practices of sustainable cleaning and maintenance. They replaced nearly all of their traditional cleaning supplies with products developed for high performance, reduced environmental impact and enhanced safety. Their mops are made from recycled plastic soda bottles and have handles made of bamboo, a fast-growing and highly sustainable crop.

Efforts continue across campus, and the list of green initiatives continues to grow, year over year. For more information, visit http://portal.environment.arizona.edu/.

Info about UA Earth Day activities and events is available at http://earthday.arizona.edu  and http://www.facebook.com/UAEarthDay