University of Vermont

Green Dorm

October 2011 Newsletter

In this month's issue:


Bike Users Group Looks to Improve and Expand Program

The Bike User Group (BUG) presented at September’s Environmental Forum, with students Jesse Simmons and Lucy Perutz representing. Jesse and Lucy came with an open mind ready to absorb any ideas available to help improve, grow, and sustain the bikeshare program.

You may have noticed the BUG’s yellow bike hubs near the Davis Center and on the Redstone and Trinity campuses. The bikeshare program has been running since last spring, and saw immediate success with 320 uses in the first month. Since then, the BUG has been looking for ways to increase the popularity of the program with a goal of establishing a deep, lasting connection with the university as a whole.

One of the measures the BUG has taken to increase user-friendliness with the program was to expand the rental block from two hours to four hours. This will allow students to use the bikes for more than just getting from class to class, but also to get out on the bike paths and explore the Burlington area. The BUG wants to keep the program free to students, and there is no charge for the four-hour block. If a student has trouble returning the bike within that time period, there is a $1 charge for each hour they go over and a $5 overnight fee.

What might be the most exciting new feature of the bikeshare program is the bicycle shop that opened on Monday, September 12th. The shop is open from 11am to 2pm, Monday through Friday. Any student can come in and get some minor repairs, advice, and training on basic bicycle maintenance. The facility is staffed completely by volunteers. The shop is located in the loading dock of the Davis Center and outside the library on Fridays.

While the bikeshare program is off to a great start, creating something sustainable is the ultimate goal. The BUG’s start-up costs were covered by their yearly funding from the SGA and a large grant from the SGA that allowed them to purchase the bikes. The BUG hopes they can build their fleet of bikes by recycling and repairing old and donated bikes. However, the overall operating cost of a free program still leaves them with a need to find a source of revenue outside of SGA money. The BUG looked for looking for advice at the environmental forum.

One suggestion was a voluntary buy-in, where people can support the program with a certain amount of money. In this model nobody would be required to pay, but those who really believe in the program and want to help sustain it would have the opportunity to do their part.

Ways of working around the BUG’s limited revenue stream were also discussed. The BUG hopes to set up internships where students can volunteer their time, or earn credit, by helping with either administrative or physical tasks. Another suggestion for getting the students involved in a mutually beneficial way would be to create a permanent work-study job. This would give the bikeshare program a paid staff member without them having to use their own budget dollars.

The BUG still has a lot of work to do to reach their goals, but they are doing what they can to move in the right direction. For now, they have a really convenient and easy-to-use bikeshare system set up for students. All students need to do is fill out a waiver form at the first floor Davis Center information desk. Then they will be free to go to the Davis Center, Simpson, and McCauley any time they are open to swipe their card and get a key. It’s really simple, so get out there and start using pedal power!

- Craig Powers

Announcing the October Environmental Forum

VSTEP Discusses The Beverage Contract

Wednesday, October 19 @ 2pm
Davis Center – Jost Foundation Room

2:00    Introductions, announcements
2:15    Update from OoS: New Fellows, 2011-2012 workplans, AASHE Reporting
3:00    VSTEP
3:45    Other business
4:00    Finish

The Vermont Student Environmental Program (VSTEP) is an organization of concerned individuals dedicated to coordinating environmental activities on Vermont campuses and throughout the general public. VSTEP's goal is to establish an information network which students throughout the state can use to address the real problems of environmental abuse and the misuse occurring on campuses; the focus of this goal being environmental education, activity, and research. VSTEP is a non-profit, private foundation run by students.

Transportation Updates Around Campus

One of the goals of the Office of Transportation and Parking Services is to find ways to limit the amount of single-person car trips to campus. The fewer vehicles there are going to and from campus on a daily basis, the better. Eventually Jim Barr, the Director of the Office, hopes the whole campus can be car free, with only buses on the roads. So, how will this be done? What programs are being used to take steps towards this goal?

The first program is Carshare Vermont, which provides access to a network of vehicles that can be used whenever a car is available for as long as is desired.  All that is required is for individuals to sign up, reserve their car, and start driving. Through a special partnership between the Campus Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA) and CarShare Vermont, full-time students, faculty, and staff at UVM and Champlain College can take advantage of a soon to be launched promotion where a limited number of subsidized memberships are available to campus affiliates and will be distributed on a first come basis.  For the first 200 people UVM's Transportation and Parking Services will fund the full cost of the annual membership fee, leaving only an enrollment fee to be covered.  Look here for more information and eligibility requirements.

The Campus Area Transporation Management Association (CATMA) is another great organization working to "connect you with transportation choices." CATMA is a private, non-profit planning and management entity, with private and public sector participation. UVM, Fletcher Allen Health Care, Champlain College, and the American Red Cross are all members of CATMA.  CATMA offers Transportation Demand Management (TDM) incentives that include carpool and vanpool programs, the Guaranteed Ride Home Program, mass transit subsidies and the Bike/Walk Program.

The Freeride program, also a CATMA initiative, gives students and staff the ability to ride the public CCTA buses for free with the use of a UVM ID. The usage of the program has been strong since its inception. The CCTA Link buses are also being implemented, meaning that users can hop on express buses to towns outside of Chittenden County like St. Albans, Middlebury, and Montpelier.

The Megabus operated by Coach USA is now serving UVM with a bus service going to and from Boston twice a day. The bus picks up in front of the Royall Tyler Theater. Rates start at $1.50 after service charges and go up with each ticket sold. The key is to buy your ticket early and get one of the first seats. This bus provides an alternative, express service to Boston for a much lower price than other bus companies.

Many students over the last two years have made the Blirpit technology at UVM a success. Blirpit is a GPS system, developed by former UVM students that lets any user find out where the on-campus, off-campus, or Redstone Express buses are by sending a text message or via web-browser. Barr hopes that, due to the success of Blirpit, he will be able to install kiosks in front of some of the major bus stops showing the interactive map of where the buses are, similar to what you would see on the browser version. This system helps any user cut down the amount of time they must wait out in the cold or dark.

Blirpit #: 368266

As many students and faculty know, an on-demand van services UVM’s main campus, as well as other complexes owned by UVM. Some of these are the Bio-Research complex off of Spear Street, and the Colchester Research Facility. The van is a Dodge Sprinter, purchased originally for the use of the Medical School. It has more recently become a mode of transportation used by students, staff, and faculty. To use it, you must call or schedule ahead of time (typically a day is ample), and list the time, location of pickup, and location of arrival. It is utilized year-round and has been well-used.

Directly related to the Blirpit system, our CATS (Campus Area Transportation System) buses are the main source of transportation on campus for students. As many people may have noticed, there are several buses that run on compressed natural gas, and the rest on bio-diesel. Barr says that there currently are 5 of these CNG buses running on campus. They get lots of use, and do not have high carbon emissions. In exploring other ways to bring sustainable energy transportation to our campus, Barr mentioned some research that has been done in comparing electric buses, hybrids, CNG’s and Bio-diesels. For electric buses in particular, he finds that they’re not very useful during the cold weather months because the batteries are affected negatively with cold temperatures. They lose a significant portion of their charge. Therefore, he doesn’t see them as being feasible for the department. The ideal bus in his eyes would be a hybrid-CNG bus. Barr is working on getting a grant for more CNG buses on our campus to replace the “dying” bio-diesels.

- Tucker Bean

Eco-Reps Going Strong

The UVM Eco-Reps Program continues to model and promote environmental responsibility on campus this Fall. The paid Eco-Rep student workers provide compost through organics collection in the residence halls, as well as regularly maintain bulletin boards designed to help fellow students make more sustainable lifestyle choices. Their style of peer to peer education has further spread across campus through light bulb swap events and the popular Davis Center Farmer’s Market, which will be offered for the fourth time this semester from 11am-3pm on October 26th.

This year UVM Eco-Reps aim to go beyond providing information to the campus community about environmental impacts and choices. Using an approach called Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM), small groups are designing behavior change campaigns that target very specific and harmful student activities. Education and awareness is not enough to change behaviors, so the CBSM approach that addresses other, deeper barriers to environmental responsibility promises to foster sustainable behavior on a wide scale. After piloting their strategies on a small scale this fall Eco-Reps will focus on broad implementation of the most successful projects in the Spring semester. If you notice new signs around campus about what items can be recycled, or find yourself compelled to reuse your Eco-Ware container when dining on campus… there’s a good chance that UVM Eco-Reps were involved.

- Steve Posner

Publications & Resources on the OoS Website

Do you need some campus sustainability info? Are you looking for presentations, publications, web links, or project information?

The Publications and Resources page on the Office of Sustainability website has UVM and external publications of interest. Check it out!

Clean Energy Fund Call for Ideas

The Clean Energy Fund @ The University of Vermont from UVM Sustain on Vimeo.


The Clean Energy Fund (CEF) seeks participation from students, faculty and staff for its annual Call for Ideas. The CEF generates $225,000 each year from a student fee to implement renewable energy projects on campus. As the University moves towards climate neutrality, the Clean Energy Fund presents a unique opportunity for the university community to engage with energy issues and learn about renewable energy technologies.  We welcome ideas for installation projects, curriculum and classes, and other innovative educational tools focusing on renewable energy. 

Submit your project ideas—and comment and vote on ideas—by visiting:

The Ideas Collection process closes on November 15, 2011.

Our Clean Energy Futures Lectures/Workshops series is seeking proposals as well:

For more information, contact:

Kate Blofson, Clean Energy Fund Fellow |  (802) 656-0895