By Gabriel Mendez and Shereen Shaw
Arizona State University has a long history of dedication to sustainability. As the nation’s largest public university in terms of enrollment, ASU leads by example, setting short- and long-term sustainability goals that touch every university department. These include the mitigation of carbon emissions from transportation by 2035 and the elimination of 90 percent of campus solid waste to the landfill by 2015.
There currently are 58 photovoltaic (PV) solar systems across ASU’s four campuses that generate about 30 percent of ASU’s peak daytime electrical energy needs. The university installed 15.3 megawatts (MWdc) of solar energy capacity on March 6, 2012, and expects to reach 20.6 MWdc by July 2013. Solar panels are installed on campus buildings and on the rooftops of eight of the nine parking structures and in three parking lots on the Tempe campus. The West campus has three parking lots shaded by solar panels, bringing the total number of solar panel-shaded parking spaces on both campuses to 4,611.
While the university focuses its efforts on many sustainability initiatives, including renewable energy and waste reduction, transportation remains a primary area of importance for making sustainable choices. ASU Parking and Transit Services (PTS) offers a wide range of environmentally-conscious commuting solutions. From the U-Pass and Platinum Pass programs to campus shuttles and Zipcar, PTS is doing its part to reach the goals in the ASU Carbon Neutrality Action Plan (carbonzero.asu.edu).
PTS’s biggest plan contribution is to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips, and it has established the following programs to do that:
Transit Pass Program. Launched in 2005, PTS subsidizes nearly 60 percent of the actual cost of a Valley Metro transit pass for ASU students and employees, which allows for unlimited rides on the METRO light rail and Valley Metro buses throughout the year.
Eco-Pass Parking Permit. Debuted in 2011, this supplemental permit allows Transit Pass program participants 30 all-day parking privileges during the year. This provides the flexibility to park on campus on those rainy days.
Intercampus Shuttle Program. The campus shuttle system transports more than 43,000 passengers each month between the four campuses, significantly reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road.
Zipcar. PTS introduced car sharing to Arizona in 2007. ASU’s Zipcar program has 19 vehicles in its on-campus fleet and approximately 3,200 members. This makes choosing mass transit easier; should the need arise, light rail and bus riders know there is a car available for them.
Because ASU is the first university in the country to have a school of sustainability, PTS recognizes that it must also be at the technological forefront as it pertains to sustainable initiatives. PTS partnered with ECOtality earlier this year to have six level-2 Blink electric vehicle charging stations installed on the Tempe campus. Level-2 charging stations run off 240 volts of electricity, which is a level most homes already have. A 7kW charger can charge a vehicle in three to four hours and draws about 30 amps of power. Thanks to a federal grant, ASU community members who have Blink access cards can use the charging stations at no cost for the remainder of 2012; these free cards can be obtained through PTS.
“We are pleased to provide these innovative services to the Sun Devil community,” says Melinda Alonzo-Helton, CAPP, PTS director. “Many of these programs are a result of PTS listening to suggestions from students, faculty, and staff. Others came about from PTS researching best practices within the parking and transportation industry and tailoring them to bring a higher level of service to ASU. At the core of our programs is greater convenience for our customers and a commitment to sustainability.”
Shereen Shaw is communications specialist for ASU Parking and Transit Services. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480.727.7053.
Gabriel Mendez is customer relations and services manager for ASU Parking and Transit Services, and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com or 480.965.4311.