Sustainability series part two: There is no backup planet after Earth has...

Sustainability series part two: There is no backup planet after Earth has been depleted

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Jake Essman / The Arbiter

Morning is a busy time on campus; people are driving in search of parking, bicyclers traverse  to get to class and pedestrians are everywhere. How do you get to school every day?  More than likely, convenience rules the day. Most people with cars want to drive them. Others may prefer to bike, walk, carpool or take the bus. Typically these alternate forms of transportation are associated with not having a car but there are people on campus who use these forms of transportation with a car left behind in the driveway.

It’s no secret carbon dioxide emitted from cars is bad for the environment, but it actually accounts for almost a third of the greenhouse gases.  So, what’s a kid late for class to do?

Students have several options. The first is to bike to school. Bicycle racks are scattered around campus and there are bicycle barns in Lincoln Garage. The bike barns are intended for  long-term parking and hold up to 1,000 bicycles.

The Cycle Learning Center (CLC), located next to Lincoln Garage, is a wealth of resources for cyclists. Students can rent a bike, buy a helmet, get a flat fixed and sign up to take a class to learn how to fix a flat. The CLC also offers free compressed air in case tires are running a low. One of the reasons the CLC was built was to increase the number of people riding to campus.

But what about ice and snow, common during an Idaho winter?

“There is a percentage of the population that is not comfortable riding in inclimate weather,”  said Casey Jones, executive director of Transportation & Parking Services. “There are a lot of misconceptions about riding bikes in the winter.”

That is why the CLC is offering a class to educate people on  how to safely handle weather while on a bike.

Valley Transit, the local bus, offers services free to university students, faculty and staff  year round. The bus routes include downtown Boise and the Nampa/Caldwell area. To ride the bus, all students need to do is get a sticker to affix to student I.D. cards to present  when boarding.

Carpooling is also an option, whether it be an arrangement made between friends or something set up through the transportation department.  One concern people have with carpooling is something will happen, leaving them stranded.  So ACHD and CommuterRide developed The Guaranteed Ride Home.  Essentially, if an emergency comes up, individuals are guaranteed a ride home.  Participants do have to call a taxi and pay for it initially and it has to be a valid emergency, but users are reimbursed. It’s a service people can use up to six times a year or $300 a year.

Jones said the participants of this program are very respectful and there is little abuse. Individuals do have participate in carpool, vanpool, ride a bus or walk in order to take advantage of this service.

The university also offers Zipcars for rent. They are safe and fuel efficient and renters are provided a card for purchasing fuel.  Renters can  drive up to 180 miles per day without owing additional money. Zipcar rentals are available for  $7.50 an hour or $69 a day, with a $25 annual fee.

Leaving cars at home just two days a week reduces 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

“My goal is to just get people out of their car, driving by themselves, and just a little bit goes a long ways,” Jones said.

The transportation department is also making available occasional use permits for the parking garages, for those who would like to drive sometimes and bike other times.

The Lincoln Parking garage was also built with efficiency in mind. By installing LED lights into the garage, the university is saving $10,000 annually.

The lights are more expensive, but the investment will be paid for in approximately five years. There are plans to retrofit the Brady Parking Garage with LED lights, slated to occur this coming summer.

The transportation department is also looking into solar panels and wind generation, but those energy options may not be right for Boise State because of our climate.

Jones, who has a graduate certificate in Sustainable Leadership, is very passionate about the environment.

“Sustainability is so important;  environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and the people part of it. We are really working, not just in my department, but across the campus to improve our triple bottom line thinking,” Jones said.

Triple Bottom Line Thinking has three components:  the planet, profit and people.

“You can’t achieve sustainability unless you address all three of those; people, planet and profit,” Jones said.

Jones went on to explain  Triple Bottom Line thinking means we have to think about our planet, we know our society is built on commerce and we have to be able to make profit, and we have to take care of our people.

To be in harmony with this balance, we can’t have a business harming any one of
these areas.

Jones said we need to ask ourselves:  are we supporting businesses who take care of the earth by not causing pollution? Are these businesses hurting our people by underpaying them?  Are they somehow impeding economic growth and development? Jones said we need to make our decisions about everything paying attention to those three components.