USU’s Sustainability Council focuses carbon reduction efforts on local emissions and air quality problems. Air and vehicular travel by students, staff, and faculty comprises nearly one-fifth of USU's greenhouse gas emissions. For example, in 2012 USU travelers logged over 17 million miles in air travel and over 7 million miles by car.
What can we do about our transportation emissions?The Council started the Commuter Club to help people choose low-carbon options such as, walking, busing, biking, and carpooling, when possible. For travel by airplanes and automobiles, USU has a local carbon offset fund. On travel forms, travelers can voluntarily check a box to deduct $10 from their travel reimbursement as a tax-exempt donation to projects reducing USU’s greenhouse gases. Commuters can choose a monthly contribution from this site. If you have contributed to this fund, thank you for your generosity. Please continue to support our work in reducing emissions at USU.
Which projects do carbon offset donations support?Currently, the majority of donations support Zimride rideshare program on the USU Logan campus. Carbon offset funds also enable the Sustainability Council to support other programs and projects, including:
- USU's 4th Bike Challenge and 3rd win in the university category averted over 28,600 lbs. of CO2.
- USU Commuter Club launched in 2016 to link low-carbon commuters with transportation options.
- Drive Electric Northern Utah program has facilitated approximately 100 sign-ups and 20 electric vehicle purchases.
- The USU Campus Reporter app is now available on iOS and Android, allowing people to report water and energy waste.
- Energy Wars expanded from USU Housing to academic buildings to encourage energy efficiency across campus.
More On USU Carbon Offset Fund
In 2012, the Sustainability Council created an opportunity for faculty and staff to contribute to offset USU’s carbon. The new Carbon Off-Set Program provided an easy means for USU travelers to check a box on their travel reimbursement form, indicating their intent to deduct $10 from their reimbursement as a tax-exempt donation to on-campus projects to reduce USU’s carbon output. The donation is voluntary and is optional each time an individual travels. So far, the fund has raised over $12,000. The first project funded was a new electronic fuel injection mower, 20% more efficient than a conventional engine.
In 2013, the funds supported Clear the Air Carbon Offset Grants were open to students and employees to fund their air quality improvement and greenhouse gas reduction ideas. The following projects were funded through this process:
- The Utah Conservation Corps received up to $2,500 towards energy efficiency renovations for their new demonstration "Blue Goes Green House."
- Parking & Transportation received up to $500 for research and development of a "red air" day shuttle program.
- Art for Air, an interactive student art project, received up to $1,400. See http://artforair.blogspot.com/ documenting the stellar results of this effort.
In 2014, the funds were committed to a contract with Zimride to provide a rideshare service for the campus community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced through transportation. Rideshare is a secure online program that allows individuals to connect to share rides. USU saved an estimated 150,000 lbs. CO2 2015-2016. Rideshare also has other benefits—providing affordable transportation, optimizing carpooling connections, and reducing congestion and parking demand. This program requires continuous funding, so we hope you will continue to support the Carbon Offset Fund through the travel reimbursement donation option. And, we hope you will find the program useful for your own transportation needs. If you have ideas or feedback, send us an email.
We owe a great deal of thanks to Sharyn Bradfield (Manager of Finance Systems) and Megan Maples (Travel Lead) in the USU Controllers’ Office and Ryan Merrill (Database Administrator) in USU’s Information Technology Office. They’re the ones who figured out how to make the program operational on the Travel forms.