New mobility hubs part of larger green initiative

Stephen Nielson
Contributing Writer

Commonwealth Times’ Twitter

In its latest step in the “VCU Goes Green” initiative, VCU has begun installing mobility hubs in both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses.

The hubs are meant to “promote alternate transportation” for students and faculty, according to Jacek Ghosh, VCU director of sustainability. The various options will allow students greater options for easily moving both on and off campus.

Each hub will consist of a kiosk displaying a map of VCU, detailing the location of different transportations, and a covered bike rack, which will provide shared bikes. As of now, the bike racks haven’t been installed, but should be added to the hub in the next month.

The locations detailed on the map will include basic options like local bus stops and bike racks, and also newer facilities like electric car charge points, Zipcars and the Zimcar program.

Zipcars are rental cars open to students and faculty for either an hourly rate or by the day. The Zimcar program is a carpool social network organized by VCU that will provide easy access to carpooling around the city.  The car programs are intended to both reduce impact as well as congestion on campus, according to Ghosh.

“You wouldn’t need to own a car on campus. That’s less of a carbon footprint and one less car,” he said.

As of now, there is one hub per campus, located on Leigh and 10th streets on the MCV campus and on Floyd Avenue and Linden Street on the Monroe Park campus.

“Initially the plan was to pilot two mobility hubs – one on each campus and then see if additional ones are warranted,” Ghosh said.

While these programs are ambitiously aiming to change the habits of students and faculty, informing the VCU population is a challenge that the Sustainability Committee, which heads up the “VCU Going Green” initiative, will have to face.

Cymor Holzschuh, a recently transferred sophomore, has been looking for a more green method of getting to campus, but is finding the distance from his home in Short Pump difficult.

“As far as I’m aware, they don’t have anything set up at Short Pump, even though a lot of VCU students are there,” Holzschuh said.  “It looks like it’s going to be pretty difficult.”

The installation of the mobility hubs has been the most recent in an ongoing plan that began with the signing of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment by Emeritus Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D., president of VCU.

This commitment states that VCU, along with the over 600 other colleges and universities who signed, will achieve environmental-neutrality by the year 2050. This will mean complete carbon neutrality: reducing VCU’s carbon footprint to a net zero.

Since its signing in April 2008, VCU has instituted multiple new additions. Some have been simple new rules such as a reducing the use of paper by doing more digitally, such as posting syllabi online instead of handing them out. Other changes have been more dramatic, like the installation of photo-voltaic solar paneling to help offset energy consumption and the placement of solar-powered trash compactors around campus.

These changes have made a calculable difference in VCU’s environmental impact. One of the measures of impact is the Green Report Card.

“Our grade in 2008 was C-, and today it is A- (highest in Virginia),” Ghosh said Still, true neutrality is a ways away, he explains.

“We’ve made progress. Do we need to make more progress? Obviously.”

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