Green Campus Transport Good Economics and Community Relations

Will Toor and Spencer Havlick’s book, Transportation and Sustainable Campus Communities (2004), is a vital resource for anyone interested in how campuses can reduce congestion related to cars on campuses and in surrounding communities while saving money and preventing global warming and other forms of pollution. The resource is held in such esteem by decision-makers that, last October, members of the City Council of College Park, Maryland who are concerned about how best to manage university-related growth and congestion issues purchased a copy for each member after a presentation by NWF staff on how campuses and communities all across the country are working together to improve the public health. Incidentally, the University of Maryland, according to the authors, has already begun to implement a number of strategies to reduce congestion and the demand for new parking, such as charging 75 percent less for carpool permits than for drive-alone permits (p. 7).

Universities are moving toward a new vision that encompasses better bicycle and pedestrian facilities, expanded access to transit and financial incentives to drive less, observe Toor and Havlick. With chapters on campus transit, nonmotorized transport and campus fleets, their book makes a strong, well-documented economic case for sustainable transportation policies on campus . “Because parking has not typically been priced at the true marginal cost of new parking supply,” the authors note, “good economic analysis of transportation options for university communities will generally show that an economically efficient transportation policy will rely less on parking and more on transportation alternatives compared to most universities’ current practice (p. 282).”

Campuses featured in the book’s in-depth case studies include the University of Washington-Seattle, the University of British Columbia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Montana at Missoula, Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire along with shorter references to almost 200 other college and university programs of various types and sizes.

Transportation demand management strategies considerably reduce campus carbon dioxide emissions. At the University of Washington, for example, alternative transportation plans enabled the campus to grow while reducing the anticipated growth in the number of cars driving to and from the campus by 10,000 vehicles per day. At 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted for every gallon of gasoline that would have been burned by those vehicles, the CO2 emissions reductions for just this one project on one campus alone could be well over 100,000 pounds of CO2 per day (assuming the cars would have used half a gallon per day on average which is probably a low estimate).

The book is published by and can be ordered through Island Press.

Also consulted by campus transportation planners are NWF publications Ecodemia (1995) and Green Investment, Green Return (1998) which can both be ordered through NWF’s Campus Ecology Program. See also “projects” in the left-hand column of the website and click on “transportation” to find case studies on a variety of current transportation-related projects coordinated by member Campus Ecology teams and fellows.

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Published: November 16, 2005