U.Va. Parking & Transportation Recognized for Environmental Responsibility

April 20, 2012 — The University of Virginia's Department of Parking & Transportation has been doubly honored by the commonwealth for its environmental initiatives.

The department received an Exemplary Environmental Enterprise, or "E3," designation from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality earlier this month, and also was issued a silver medal by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell for its efforts at reducing the number of single-occupant vehicles at the University through transportation demand management, which provides more transportation alternatives in a more timely manner.

"We have been recognized for our contributions to improving the quality of the environment at the University," said Rebecca White, director of Parking & Transportation. "We have been able to show how our programs have been able to reduce the amount of carbon we are releasing into the atmosphere."

The E3 designation was awarded for the measures P&T has taken to reduce the environmental impact of its operation, such as cutting by 20 percent the amount of water it uses to wash the parking decks, and converting its bus fleet to a biodiesel mixture.

"Where we park the buses, we have replaced the asphalt surface with concrete and installed new drains with filters, so any oil residue is separated from stormwater run-off," White said.

In acknowledging the awards at a reception at Runk Hall last Wednesday, White credited many people. She said leaders at the University including Yoke San Reynolds, vice president and chief financial officer, and Richard Kovatch, associate vice president of business operations, have been supportive of the department's sustainability efforts and have backed this support with money. She said there have been many supportive partners on Grounds, including U.Va. Dining Services, the Housing and Residence Life Division, and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. She specifically cited Jess Wenger, environmental projects manager, and Jeff Sitler, environmental compliance manager, both of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, for their passion for the environment.

And, she said, there has been a great deal of grassroots support from staff, faculty and students for the efforts.

"It's like a three-legged stool," she said. "These three legs work together for a common purpose that will bring us into the future."

P&T has become the third University department, with U.Va. Dining and the Housing Division, to have the E3 designation. Brent Beringer, speaking at Wednesday's reception, said U.Va. was the only university in the commonwealth to have departments with the E3 designation.

"That is an indication of how robust our sustainability program is," he said.

The silver medal, which was presented to White and Jonathan Monceaux, P&T's transportation demand management professional, during a recent Environment Virginia Symposium in Lexington, honored U.Va.'s transportation demand management program, which encourages alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. Specifically cited were the Cavpool program, which provides incentives to faculty and staff who carpool; subsidizing University employee trips on Charlottesville Area Transit buses; and the addition of Zipcar, which allows participants to rent fuel-efficient vehicles by the hour or the day.

The University was also cited for its work encouraging bicycles for commuters, such as establishing a bicycle repair station in Central Grounds, installing bike racks on UTS buses and introducing painted "sharrow" pavement markings to remind motorists and bicyclists to share the road with each other.

The University also provides a GPS bus tracking system, so riders can look up online how soon a bus will arrive at their stop.

"I think some of the major components of this were the bicycle repair station and the continuing relationship with the city of Charlottesville, which really opens up transportation options outside of the University for students, staff and faculty," Monceaux said.

Monceaux noted that the University is working on being bicycle friendly, with more bicycle parking areas being added, as well as bicycle safety and repair classes.

– by Matt Kelly