Despite its humble office space inside Johnson-McFarlane Hall, the University of Denver’s Center for Sustainability packs a big, eco-driven punch.
The center’s newest initiative, the DU Bike Share program, launched Monday. Spearheaded by the undergraduate student sustainability committee, the program will provide 10 new bicycles, a helmet and a U-Lock to DU students on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“This is great for our international and out-of-state students,” says sustainability coordinator Chad King. “If you need a bike for the whole quarter, it will only cost $20.”
In partnership with the student committee, DU’s Center for Sustainability also plans to offer bicycle maintenance stations across campus and roving mechanics (with a tool-laden pull cart) to assist campus cyclists weekly. Eventually, maintenance classes will be offered to University students and community members on a regular basis. “We’re trying to push biking because commuting is 10 percent of our collective university footprint,” King says.
Since 2007, the University has reduced its overall carbon footprint by 20 percent, according to King. The savings have come from multiple projects, including installation of motion-sensor lights across campus, a new, more efficient chiller for the ice hockey rink and the construction of an electric car plug-in station behind Sturm Hall, to name a few.
“The University has been focused on trying to reduce its footprint through energy reductions, wherever we can find them,” King says. Additionally, DU Energy Engineer Tom McGee has been tasked with improving the efficiency of the University’s current structures. “Over the last three years, Tom has implemented projects that have saved over one million kilowatts of energy,” King says. “These projects have the potential for massive, massive savings [over time].”
In an effort to contribute collectively to these savings, more than 100 University employees are participating in the “Bike to Work Challenge” this summer. “We have 114 people who’ve ridden over 17,500 miles,” King says. “We’re No. 2 in the state in overall mileage ridden.”
By empowering faculty, staff and students to commute via bicycles, DU is laying the groundwork for green transportation options to join other campus initiatives. Alongside Zero Waste Hockey Games, Dining Hall Recycling and Composting and the Furniture Share program, the bike-share program provides opportunities for the DU community to contribute to the University’s goal of becoming “carbon neutral” by 2050.
“That 20 percent reduction is kind of a big deal,” King says. “We’re one of the best in the state, I think, in terms of doing the little things right.”