UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


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Electric Vehicle Charging at UConn

Are you the owner of an electric vehicle?  The University of Connecticut has recognized the importance and efficiency of both hybrid and fully electric alternative fuel vehicles.  Recently, grants have been acquired to allow UConn to install Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations around the Storrs Campus for your convenience!  Currently, there is one EV station in the Motor Pool parking lot off of North Hillside Road, two in North Garage on North Eagleville Rd, and plans to install stations in South Garage in the near future.  The North Garage stations were open for use on Friday, February 6, 2015.  All stations located on campus are free of charge for public use for the first 5 years of operation.  In addition to the campus stations, there are 4 more charging stations in the parking garage off of Dog Lane in Storrs Center, as well as one in the parking lot of the Mansfield Community Center.  These stations charge $1/hour of charging to the public, or a flat rate of $3 per charge for residents with a garage pass.

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These two ceiling mounted charging stations in the North Garage were installed earlier this month and are ready for use.


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Green Game Day – UConn Men’s Basketball Edition

IMG_2046Not only was February 4th a great day for UConn Men’s Basketball; it was an outstanding day for recycling on our campus. The Huskies beat East Carolina 65-52 at Gampel, and over 400 bottles were collected by over 15 student volunteers: a win on multiple levels. Thank you to all that came to the Men’s Basketball Green Game Day to support UConn athletics as well as our recycling initiatives!

For those of you who don’t know, Green Game Days take place multiple times a year during football and basketball seasons. The objective of these fun events is to advocate recycling and environmental initiatives to the UConn community.

huskymascotGGDAfter entering Gampel Pavillion, fans were greeted by student volunteers who reminded and encouraged them to practice efficient recycling habits. Fans were also given a list of dates of upcoming green events, such as Earth Day Spring Fling.

Along with the volunteers, the UConn cheerleaders joined the cause, wearing green ribbons and wristbands.  Even the Husky Mascot was involved in promoting recycling, sporting an EcoHusky t-shirt with phrase, “Big dog. Small ecological footprint.”

Student volunteers dispersed throughout Gampel to “man the can,” educating fans and ensuring that they placed the correct waste in the correct bins. At the end of the game, all bottles were gathered into bags, and the profits, five cents per bottle, went to EcoHusky to promote further environmental awareness. Again, we offer a big thank you to all that came out to this past Green Game Day. For those of you eager to attend the next Green Game Day, it will take place on February 28th, when UConn Women’s Basketball takes on Memphis. We hope to see you there!


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The State of the OEP Blog

The UConn Office of Environmental Policy’s blog began in 2011, and has since accumulated over 20,150 views. Covering topics such as outreach events, study abroad experiences, news, and achievements, it has provided students, faculty, and community members alike with a wealth of informative, eye-catching reports. We are only a month or so into 2015, and the OEP blog has acquired more views during that time than all of 2011!  If that doesn’t impress you, you should also know that the blog reached 114 countries last year alone and 131 countries over the course of its existence. Individuals have found their way to the page from a variety of different sources, the top being Facebook and the OEP website. If you have not yet had the chance to read through some blog posts, you are missing out.  Tune in for new posts weekly!

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All countries that have viewed the OEP blog (Left) and the top 20 countries by number of views (Right).


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A Green Nation’s Best Friend

KK Back in the USA

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A(n uncommon) sunny afternoon stroll on Nyhavn.

Hello, OEP followers!  After a semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, the European Green Capital of 2014, I am ecstatic to say I am back in Husky territory and ready to share the global environmental knowledge I have accumulated over the last four months.  My travels through the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark have shown me a vast range of environmental policy and practices present in Europe, pros and cons associated with different approaches taken towards energy and waste management problems, innovative ideas for incorporating environmentalism in education and across cultures, and much more.  Over the next few months, I will be writing a series of blog posts explaining the most significant experiences I had with sustainability while overseas, so be sure to be on the look out!

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Bike racks located outside a popular metro station, Kongens Nytorv.

To kick off the series, I figured what better a topic to start with than the city that is nearest and dearest to my heart: wonderful, wonderful København.

A Green Nation’s Best Friend

In Copenhagen, they are everywhere.  Sitting snugly in designated train cars, whizzing past traffic jams and slow-moving pedestrians, accessorizing every available lamppost or railing, these masses of metal and rubber have an undeniable presence in Danish society.  Each day, everyone from bright-eyed toddlers to silver-haired seniors, from daily commuters to the Crown Prince, Frederik, hop on these emission-free vehicles with ease, powering through whatever treacherous Scandinavian weather is thrown at them to get to their final destination.  What is this magical environmental speed demon?  The classic, reliable, bicycle!

So why do Danes love their bikes?

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Danes biking in rainy weather. The ledges to the left and right of the bike lane serve as both safety barriers from automobile and pedestrian traffic, and a great location for foot placement when stopped at traffic lights.

As environmentalists, I am sure many of us would like to say the appeal of an emission-free transportation method is the driving force behind the Danish bike trend.  Surprising enough, however, only 1% of Danes surveyed sited environmental reasoning as their major motive for daily pedaling.  61% of responders said they bike because it is “convenient, fast, and easy,” 19% named exercise as their motivator, and 6% said financial reasons made biking ideal (Van Deurs, C.).

These percentages are not meant to be discouraging.  Regardless of reasoning, it is an amazing fact that 18% of all trips in Denmark are made via bicycles.  These sort of statistics should motivate the critical thinkers within us, bringing questions to the surface like “how did the Danish government create such a user-friendly bike system?” as well as, “what do we need to do to replicate such a system in other major cities, like New York or Boston, or non-urban environments like Storrs, for example?”  If this avid biking culture could be transferred to other areas of heavy automobile use, imagine the environmental benefits that would arise!

Making a Bike System “Convenient, Fast, and Easy”

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Here, you can see the bike lane clearly.

          Creating a convenient bike system is no easy feat.  Walking around Copenhagen and experiencing the bike life firsthand, it seemed every aspect of bike travel was thought out down to the most minor details.  After careful observation and evaluation, here is a list of the top concepts that have made biking so popular in modern Denmark:

Accessibility: The network has an incredibly extensive presence, with an impressive 7,500 miles of bike lanes weaving throughout the country.  This enables riders to travel to loads of desirable destinations both within in the city center and throughout the beautiful countryside.

Safety: Biker safety is key, and is enabled through clearly marked bike lanes, which are frequently separated from roadways by an actual physical barrier.  Additionally, separate traffic lights for bikers assist users in properly understanding right of way, reducing unnecessary accidents.

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An elevator conveniently located within an underground metro station allows for easy bike transportation.

Integration in Public Transportation: Need to take a cab, the Metro, or S-tog as part of your daily commute?  Have no fear!  Special train cars with bike racks make bike transportation a breeze.  Elevators in metro stations reduce the need to carry bikes up and down the stairs.  Taxi cabs carry attachments that allow travelers to lock their bike to the car and hop inside within minutes of the cab stopping.

The Little Things: Probably some of the most notable aspects of the Danish bike system that enable its success are small, practical solutions to problems of convenience.  Bike racks are ubiquitous, which minimizes the time consuming anxiety of finding a place to park and promotes a quick commute.  Metal ramps line the edges of staircases so users can push their bikes up and down stairs with little effort, rather than strenuously carrying the bikes.  Ledges alongside the lanes allow an easy stopping process at traffic lights.

In addition to all of this, Denmark is a fairly flat country, which makes biking an easy task.

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Bike ramps line the edges of the Nørreport metro station staircases.

 Food for Thought

            The development of the Danish bike system has played a significant role in decreasing Copenhagen’s emissions and moving the city towards its commitment of carbon neutrality by 2025 (Copenhagen: CPH Climate Plan 2015).  For the most part, however, the initiative was not motivated and pushed to fruition by environmental reasoning.  Ultimately, it was the architectural planners’ constant, proactive thinking of human behavior and the ease with which users could ride their bikes that led to the immense integration of cycling into Danish culture.

To progress to a greener world, I believe we must continue to approach environmental problems with unique and creative mindsets.  Successful policy and project implementation may not always lie in the environmental logic, but in the other underlying positive social motives.

Sources

Copenhagen: CPH Climate Plan 2025. (2014, January 1). Retrieved January 23, 2015, from http://cityclimateleadershipawards.com/copenhagen-cph-climate-plan-2025/

Cycling in Denmark. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2015, from http://www.visitdenmark.co.uk/en-gb/denmark/nature/cycling-denmark

Van Deurs, C. (n.d.). Copenhagen Changing mindsets towards ‘Cities for People’. Retrieved January 23, 2015, from http://www.mobiliteit2050.be/gallery/multimedia/presentatiessprekers/camillapresentatie.pdf

Kerrin is a 6th semester Environmental Studies major and an undergraduate intern at the Office of Environmental Policy.