In March, I initiated an effort to create the Fall Commuter Challenge between the University of Maryland and George Mason University. This ended up becoming a collaborative effort among Human Resources, Transportation, and Sustainability, and the University of Maryland, to encourage employees and students to use alternative modes of transportation, other than driving alone, to get to campus. Josh Cantor, director of parking and transportation, played a key role in making this event a reality.
The challenge ran from September 22 (car-free day) to October 22. We used Zimride to track the mode of transportation used by individuals during the challenge. Zimride is a website that helps people find carpooling opportunities. The challenge was designed to have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the number of commuting trips made in single occupancy vehicles. The University of Maryland led the way in all categories of the competition: number of registrations, participation in the event, number of trips saved, and amount of CO2 reduced. But Mason demonstrated a strong environmental focus with 186 registrations, 41 people tracking their commutes, 378 trips saved, and a reduction of 8,642 pounds of CO2. Overall, the challenge had a significant impact with both universities contributing to a reduction in traffic congestion, a reduction of CO2 emissions, and getting people to try alternative modes of transportation. The total amount of CO2 emissions reduced during the event amounted to 28,517 pounds, and there was a reduction in the amount of gasoline potentially used by approximately 1,622 gallons. This was an innovative way to bring members of the Mason team together to make a difference.
We are looking to hold another challenge in the spring, possibly involving other regional universities, as well. This time, we will reach out to Public Policy, Psychology, and Environmental Sciences to continue building a collaborative team effort. We hope to raise awareness and increase involvement for faculty, staff, and students during the spring event. This would also provide a great opportunity for different classes related to environmental studies, sustainability, public policy, and psychology to participate.
Submitted by Rick Holt, Human Resources and Payroll