Archive for the 'Transportation' Category

Calculating Scope 3 Emissions: One University’s Experience

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 by

Today’s post is by guest author Mary Whitney, University Sustainability Coordinator for Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. It was originally offered as a response to an inquiry on GRNSCH-L, a mailing list for college and university sustainability professionals, about how to compile data for Scope 3 emissions for faculty and staff commuting distances and frequency. You can contact Mary at MWhitney At chatham.edu.

Accounting for Scope 3 requires a lot of figuring out what are your institutional  “indicators” that can give you a sound figure, even if it is imperfect. I always try to build in assumptions that would result in over-estimating carbon burden.

Over the last 5 years I’ve refined our commuting report and would be glad to share what we’ve developed. I still have to figure out how to account for Prius vs. Hummer issues yet though, so I’d be glad of advice on that!

When we’ve compared it to surveys, it is MORE reliable. We used to have to set up the survey, then all the reminders trying to get enough responses, etc. It was a real pain and took too much time, and it wasn’t even very accurate. Then we switched to having people put in their miles when they filled out the parking permit form, but it was wildly inaccurate – people were  just guessing.

Here’s what we have worked out since:

In order to park a car on campus you have to have a permit, and so we get a list of all permit holders from the transportation office. I have the make/model and the zipcode for each person. I correlate that with a report from HR that tells me if they’re faculty or staff, 12-month or 9-month, full or part time, and another from the registrar with students full or part time.

We then assume that full time is every day, 5 days a week. This is often NOT the case, but this way we won’t undercount trips. Part-time is considered to be 3 days a week, although again, it is often less. This assumes you’re here for a MWF schedule, even though many people are only doing T/TH. I can’t tell, but again, the assumption is that it’s more trips, not less. Faculty and students are counted for 36 weeks, staff work 49.

In cases where someone is part-time but attends every day, I would undercount, but so far I haven’t found many. It would be technically possible, I suppose, to cross-tab that with more registrar data, but that would be too burdensome, and I’ve made the decision not to do that. I figure that that possibility will be evened out by the person that is counted as full-time but does one marathon day of classes, 9-9pm. So afar I’ve found one of each of those extremes, so it seems a fair way to calculate.

Then I use a site that lets me set a radius from a zipcode. I saved a list of all zipcodes in various radii from the campus. We do every mile up to 25 miles, then jump to 30, then up to 50. I calculated them at www.freemaptools.com/find-zip-codes-inside-radius.htm.

We tested the zipcode radius with many people’s real mileage, and it was surprisingly (and happily) very close!  As a way to get a good number without putting a mileage recorder on their car, it works well. We always include the summer campers, using registration data from the camp. I assume that kids living over 50 miles are actually staying with Grandma nearby, calculated at 5 miles away, and we assume that anyone living less than 1/2 mile is driving, although in reality most of the people that live that close walk to camp each day, as we discovered! Again, overestimating so we don’t underestimate.

Then I have a spreadsheet calculate the whole mess. For example, Zipcode 11111 is 6 miles away, Jane Doe lives in 11111 , works full-time as staff on a 12-month contract. 6×2 for each day, x5 days a week, x 49 weeks = 2940 miles per year. Believe it or not, it is actually simple once you get the basic spreadsheet set up. The zipcode distances auto-populate, and so does a code for FT, PT, etc.

I do a similar thing with students and faculty who do not have parking permits, with the assumption that they are taking the bus, unless they are on the bike commuter list that get the tax credit.

If someone is getting dropped off by car and never has a permit, I cannot account for that, but they are at least captured somewhat in the bus calculations. There are also people who I KNOW walk to campus every day, but I calculate them as at least bus commuters, figuring it helps even out and reduce undercounting carbon impact. Not perfect, but everyone gets counted somewhere a little.

 

Illinois Governor Signs Executive Order to Reduce Goverment Operations Impact

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by

On Earth Day, Governor Pat Quinn signed Exeuctive Order 11. This Executive Order covers the topics of Waste Prevention, Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Water Quality and Conservation, Sustainable Transportation, plus Education and Outreach. The Green Government Coordinating Council is responsible for the implementation of this Executive Order. The P2 Programs at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (on behalf of the University of Illinois) were involved in crafting the Executive Order and will be involved in overseeing the progress of the Order throughout state government, as well as colleges and universities in Illinois. To read the entire Executive Order visit http://www.glrppr.org/docs/GOVExecutiveOrder11.pdf.

April 2009 Site of the Month: The Sustainable Sites Initiative

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. The information on the site is meant to be applied to sites both with and without buildings, including, but not limited to:

  • Open spaces such as local, state and national parks, conservation easements and buffer zones and transportation rights-of-way.
  • Sites with buildings including industrial, retail and office parks, military complexes, airports, botanical gardens, streetscapes and plazas, residential and commercial developments and public and private campuses.

The Initiative site provides a copy of the report Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks – Draft 2008, which focuses on measuring how a site can protect, restore and regenerate ecosystem services – benefits provided by natural ecosystems such as cleaning air and water, climate regulation and human health benefits. This report contains over 50 draft prerequisites and credits that cover all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance.

Case studies, dates for upcoming presentations on sustainable sites, and information on the Initiative’s areas of focus (Why Sustainable Sites?; Hydrology; Soils; Vegetation; Materials; and Human Health & Well-being) are also provided.

February 2009 Site of the Month: Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Sunday, February 1st, 2009 by

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change was established in 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization. The Center’s mission is to provide credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. Extensive information is available on the Center’s web site and organized into section on Global Warming Basics, Science & Impacts, Technology Solutions, and Economics. Information is also organized by policy level, including International, U.S. Federal, U.S. States & Regions and Business. The home page features links to hot topics, facts & figures, an overview of what’s new, and brief summaries of Pew Center initiatives. An e-mail newsletter and RSS feed are also available to help you keep up-to-date with new developments.

Registration Open for Biofuels and Sustainability Conference

Friday, September 5th, 2008 by

Registration is now open for the Biofuels and Sustainability Conference to be held at the University of Illinois campus in Champaign, IL on October 21-22. This event will provide a forum for researchers, policy makers, students, activists and industry leaders to share and gain perspectives regarding the entire life-cycle of the biofuels industry–from feedstock development through fuel consumption. Diverse constituencies will be able to network and develop future directions and strategies regarding this important and complex topic and examine innovations that can improve the sustainability of the biofuels industry.

See the conference website for a detailed description of the event, a list of speakers, and registration information.

Remember that if you have events related to sustainability and pollution prevention that you would like to promote to the region, you can suggest them for the GLRPPR Calendar by sending them to Wayne Duke. Events posted to the GLRPPR Calendar also appear in relevant Sector Resources and are featured on the RSS feeds for those Sector Resources.

P2 for Winter Recreation

Monday, December 31st, 2007 by

For those of us who live in the Great Lakes Region, it’s the time of year when snow and ice set the scene. Visions of a winter wonderland may be inspiring you to participate in any number of wintry recreational activities, including skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling, etc. Before you join in any reindeer games, however, you may want to take a moment to consider how P2 applies. Here are some resources to help you out.

NY: Guidelines for Energy Efficient School Buildings & Green Schools Summit

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007 by

The State Education Department (SED) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) have announced new guidelines to encourage the use of energy efficient design when building and renovating schools. These voluntary guidelines, known as the “Collaborative for High Performance Schools” (NY-CHPS), were created through a joint effort of SED and NYSERDA. NY-CHPS will help schools develop and maintain learning environments that contribute to improved academic achievement while reducing operating costs and protecting and conserving our natural resources. Read the full NYSERDA press release here.

The guidelines are available online to download in PDF format.

Note that NYSERDA, in cooperation with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), will be hosting a Green Schools Summit on October 15, 2007 at Farmingdale State University of New York. Visit the summit web site to register and view the agenda. Sessions will cover the NY-CHPS, as well as reducing exposures to toxic substances/green cleaning, working with LIPA to green your school, alternative fuels and emission reduction efforts for school buses, and teacher/student energy and environmental initiatives from NYSERDA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

NWF Documents on EPP, Mercury Thermostat Recycling, & Mercury Switches in Vehicles

Friday, March 16th, 2007 by

Thanks to Michael Murray, Ph.D., National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Staff Scientist for the Great Lakes Natural Resource Center, for providing three new NWF documents for access on the GLRPPR web site:

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing in the Great Lakes Region: A Survey of State, Municipal and Institutional Programs assesses EPP programs in the eight Great Lakes states, eight municipalities and three universities, with an emphasis on policies addressing PBT chemicals. Researched and written by Cameron S. Lory and Amy E. Scott-Runnels of INFORM, Inc., and Michael W. Murray, Ph.D. of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Recycling Mercury Thermostats in Ohio outlines the problem of mercury in the environment, and provides information on mercury in thermostats and alternatives and recycling mercury containing thermostats in Ohio. It also includes a comparison of collection of mercury containing thermostats via the Thermostat Recycling Corporation voluntary program for both the U.S. as a whole and Ohio.

Putting the Brakes on Quicksilver: Removing Mercury From Vehicles in Ohio addresses the removal of mercury switches from automobiles in Ohio. This report was written by Michael W. Murray, Ph.D. with research assistance by Knoll Larkin and Liz Szaluta of the University of Michigan.

P2 for the Snowbound

Friday, February 16th, 2007 by

It’s been an interesting week here in central Illinois. A full-fledged blizzard (how often to you see a “Blizzard Warning” in the corner of your TV screen?) dumped mounds of snow on the Champaign-Urbana area, resulting in a rare closing of the entire University of Illinois campus (for two straight days). Now, as those of us at WMRC headquarters dig ourselves out, it’s worth considering how our efforts to keep our streets and windshields clean affect the environment.

As snow melts, road salts runoff from streets, parking lots and other paved surfaces into storm sewers and eventually into waterways, where they may pose a risk to the aquatic environment. Road salts can also negatively impact vegetation and wildlife while still on the land, and can contribute to corrosion of automobiles and infrastructure. Check out Environment Canada’s web page on road salts, their environmental impacts, and what the Canadian government is doing to reduce environmental risks associated with road salts. This page includes case studies related to the management of road salt usage. For more information on road salt use north of the border, see RiverSides “Low-Salt Diet” page, which includes their publication, A Low-Salt Diet for Ontario’s Roads and Rivers. This document provides an overview of environmental and economic impacts of road salt use and discusses best management practices and alternative products.

The U.S. EPA Natural Emergencies–Snow and Ice page provides information on environmental concerns associated with snow and ice management for residences, highways and airports. Included are links to information on road salt application and storage, as well as application practices and research related to deicing chemicals. The Environmental Literacy Council provides a nice overview on the environmental impacts of deicing, considering road salt, alternatives to road salt (e.g. sand, calcium magnesium acetate, etc.) and liquid deicers. A list of recommended resources is provided for further information.

If you’re aware of other resources related to the environmental impacts of snow and ice management, or of information on environmentally friendly road salt alternatives/deicing products, email the information to Joy Scrogum for potential inclusion in the GLRPPR Sector Resources.

From the GLRPPR Help Desk archive

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 by

The GLRPPR Help Desk Librarian is here to answer your P2 questions. Previous questions and answers are archived on the GLRPPR web site and also appear in related sector resource categories. Below is a recent inquiry.

Question: I have heard about a $1/gallon government incentive for biodiesel. I would like some information about who provides the incentive and who gets it.

Answer: This incentive is also known as the Biodiesel and Ethanol (VEETC) Tax Credit. According to the U.S. Department of Energy:

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-357) created tax incentives for biodiesel fuels and extended the tax credit for fuel ethanol. The biodiesel credit is available to blenders/retailers beginning in January 2005. It also established the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), which provides ethanol blenders/retailers with $.51 per pure gallon of ethanol blended or $.0051 per percentage point of ethanol blended (i.e., E10 is eligible for $.051/gal; E85 is eligible for $.4335/gal). The incentive is available until 2010.

Section 1344 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended the tax credit for biodiesel producers through 2008. The credits are $.51 per gallon of ethanol at 190 proof or greater, $1.00 per gallon of agri-biodiesel, and $.50 per gallon of waste-grease biodiesel. If the fuel is used in a mixture, the credit amounts to $.0051 per percentage point ethanol or $.01 per percentage point of agri-biodiesel used or $.0050 per percentage point of waste-grease biodiesel (i.e. E100 is eligible for $.51 per gallon) (Source: U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)

For more details on this program and other incentives for using alternative fuel sources, see:

Getting bucks back for your biodiesel production
This article provides a good overview of the tax credit and related incentives for biodiesel producers.

State & Federal Incentives & Laws
This database captures state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics. State-level information is updated annually after each state’s legislative session ends. Federal information is updated after enacted legislation is signed into law.