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Transportation

Motor vehicle transportation has an enormous impact on the environment, and accounts for roughly one third of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, as well as the majority of air pollution in many areas. In addition, motor vehicle transportation is one of the least sustainable forms of transportation. In order to demonstrate environmental responsibility and make the school community more sustainable, K-12 schools should utilize transportation technologies and strategies which minimize pollution and energy consumption.

    Diesel buses can be made to run on biofuel; the one in this image runs entirely on soybean oil.
    Image courtesy EERE.gov
  Organizational Assistance   Best Practices  
  • Encourage Carpooling
    Carpooling can help minimize emissions and save money. Consider offering the best parking spaces to carpoolers.
  • Support Rideshare
    Rideshare is an online organization to help people link up with others for carpooling purposes. Rideshare allows your employees and or students to find carpooling partners they would otherwise be unable to link up with. Schools may also set up their own ride share forum for parents to communicate rides shares through.
  • Use Public Transportation
    Public transportation is part of an efficient solution for congested streets and pollution. Mass transit systems, such as buses, might use five times the amount of fuel as a car, but transports up to sixty people at a time. One effective strategy often used to get students and faculty to use mass transit is to coordinate with the local mass transit system to set discounted fares for students and faculty. With the price of gas on the rise, discounts make public transportation more competitive, especially for commuters.
    School buses are public transportation! Communities have bus routes by every household, yet many parents choose to drive children to school. Encourage use of the provided buses with promotions that make it cool to take the bus. Discourage curbside idling and limit pickup waiting spaces as a way to minimize non-bus transportation.
  • Support Bikes and Walking
    Biking to work or school is a great way to save money and encourage a healthy lifestyle. However, with bicycle theft being a major problem in some areas, it may be necessary to construct small locked facilities for students and faculty to store bikes when they are not in use. Also consider installing a shower facility for bicyclists who travel a great distance and do not wish to attend class or work unkempt.  Encourage “Walking Buses,” groups of neighbors who supervise the walk to school by a group of students.
  • Convert Vehicles to Alternative Fuels
    In larger cities and in some production areas, there may be access to alternative fuels for automobiles, such as ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol utilizes ethyl alcohol mixed with gasoline to fuel an engine. Switching to ethanol requires virtually no modifications to the vehicle. Pure ethanol engines however cannot run using gasoline, and given the limited number of pure ethanol pumps, it would be prudent to ensure that vehicles can run on a combination of the two. New ethanol vehicles often run on E-85 which is a fuel solution made of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol. Biodiesel on the other hand, is more readily available and easily substituted for traditional diesel fuel.
  • Improve Your Fleet
    There is a wide variety of efficient vehicles on the market. All classes of personal vehicles are now available with hybrid engines, including compact cars, sedans, trucks, and SUV's. Hybrids use inertia capturing to power an electric motor. This technique significantly improves fuel economy. Consider adding these high efficiency models to the school fleet when replacing vehicles.  In addition to vehicles capable of using renewable fuels, hybrids can contribute greatly to a school’s image.
  • Prevent Idling
    In Connecticut, it is usually illegal for vehicles to be left idling for more than three minutes. Idling should be prevented entirely, if possible, since diesel fumes can consist of not only carbon dioxide, but volatile organic compounds (VOC's), nitrogen oxides (both of which contribute to ozone depletion), and particulate matter, which can exacerbate heart and lung conditions in people. In addition, turning off vehicles saves fuel and reduces engine wear, which will save money in the long run. However, in the winter, it is often necessary to leave a vehicle idling to let it warm up, as failure to do so can cause engine problems. Thus, idling should only be used to heat the engine to operating temperature.
More Info
  • South Windsor High School, South Windsor
    • Used police department to talk to students about bike safety, as well as bike reflectors, helmets, headlights, mirrors, and signals. Stressed the importance of biking to reduce CO2 emissions
Want to learn more? Visit the Keep Connecticut Cool website!
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