Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

CAP Part 4: Transportation and Education

Over the past month this blog has detailed Seattle Pacific Unviersity’s Climate Action Plan. In wrapping up this series, the final major pieces of SPU’s climate action plan deal with transportation and education.

As mentioned in a previous post, one of the major sources of the University’s carbon emissions is transportation. SPU is working on revamping its fleet of vehicles, and is currently in the process of phasing gasoline vehicles out of its maintenance fleet, while looking to do the same with its SUVs and patrol cars as new technologies continue to emerge.

However, university vehicles are only a portion of total transportation-related emissions. In fact, most emissions in the transportation category come from commuting. Faculty, staff, and student commuting accounts for 26% of Seattle Pacific’s baseline carbon footprint, comprising the University’s second largest contribution to climate change.

Because addressing commuting problems requires dealing with behavior change rather than the physical campus, the climate action plan strives to make sustainable transportation options easier and more convenient than other options. The plan suggests not only expanding current programs but developing new strategies using community input.

The climate action plan lists a series of goals to meet in order to curb commuting emissions. Included is the development of a comprehensive campus bike plan to encourage cycling, increasing program and communication support for public transportation, developing an online ridesharing program to make carpooling easier, and additional long-term plans.

The final focus area in the climate action plan deals with providing education for a sustainable future. In keeping with SPU’s mission to graduate students equipped with the compassion and knowledge to change the world, the plan seeks to encourage students to live sustainably. One part of this is identifying courses at SPU that are related to sustainability topics. Highlighting these courses will allow SPU to better communicate its commitment to sustainability to current and prospective students.

The climate action plan also advises the introduction of a campus laboratory grant, designed to allow a student or student team to pursue a campus sustainability project that provides an educational and environmental benefit to the campus community, much like the Otto Miller Hall solar project.

The plan also calls for community events intended to raise the profile of sustainability issues on campus and encourage an ongoing discussion on how best to move towards a sustainable future. Proposed annual events include RecyclemaniaEarth WeekNational Day of Prayer for Creation, as well as the incorporation of sustainability initiatives in the Day of Common Learning and resident hall move-out days. The plan emphasizes ways to communicate sustainability-related information to the campus community, through pamphlets for incoming freshman, annual updates to deans and directors, blurbs in campus bulletins, and of course, through this blog!

Transportation and education, alongside building standards and space planning and energy infrastructure, efficiency, and conservation, make up the main areas of focus laid out in the climate action plan. These strategies serve as a starting point for the University as it continues its commitment to sustainability. For more information, please check out the climate action plan in its entirety here.

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