Life + Arts

LIVING GREEN: Research examines commuter students’ impact on environment

The UH Carbon Footprint Study was recently completed and an official report is expected to be finalized between today and Jan. 2010.

Commuting and buildings are the two biggest contributors to the University’s carbon footprint, according to the 2006 UH Carbon Footprint Study. Commuting contributes to the largest share of the carbon footprint at 51 percent, while buildings make up 46 percent.

The study includes detailed information, which includes the carbon calculations of the campus shuttle buses to the carbon avoided through recycling diverted from the landfill. The University’s sustainability taskforce has been working to help reduce the commuter’s carbon footprint.

Car sharing on campus is an environmentally friendly transportation idea-in-progress. It allows people to rent a car for as little as an hour. Car sharing would allow students to ride the bus (or future rail) to school, and then rent a car to go off campus for a few hours between classes, as needed.

Students that live on campus wouldn’t need to worry about owning or maintaining a car because they will have the option to rent a car as needed. Some students support the idea while others remain skeptical.

‘I think it will be a good idea and students will use it,’ marketing senior Britni Deese said. ‘Students are trying to be a part of the green movement.’

Long commutes and limited parking may be motivators for an on-campus car sharing service.

However, some disagree and feel students won’t use the service.

‘I don’t think students will utilize the service because it seems it would be a hassle,’ finance senior David McAllen said.

The Sustainability Taskforce is reviewing the car sharing proposal, which may be the newest transportation option available to students.

A campus with ‘37,000 students and 6,000 to 7,000 faculty and staff (is like) a small city and needs a robust infrastructure (plan) in place,’ Assistant Vice President for University Services Emily Messa said.

Existing transportation options include carpooling, park-and-ride, biking and riding the bus. Combining the bike and bus options has become popular in recent years.

‘Metro’s Bike on Buses program registered 35,145 boardings from Oct. 2008 to May 2009 – a 291 percent increase compared to the 8,987 boardings the program recorded during the same period in FY2008,’ according to

Eight Metro bus transit lines service the University area, according to a UH Parking and Transportation Services brochure distributed during Green UH day.

The Taskforce tries to consider the environmental and economic aspects of ideas and policies before implementing them on campus. The possibility of reducing congestion on campus while being environmentally friendly is why people may find car sharing appealing.

The Taskforce hopes a car-sharing program will be available on campus by Spring 2010. The 2006 UH Carbon Footprint Study isavailable at

[email protected]

Leave a Comment