Sep 172008
Authors: Johnny Hart

CSU is in the process of conducting an online survey measuring the commuting habits of students, faculty and staff this month, in hopes of tallying the campus’ gas emissions.

The findings are set to allow Facilities Management to measure CSU’s carbon footprint in accord with university President Larry Penley’s plan for the university to be carbon-neutral by the year 2020.

Available beginning last week on the day of Penley’s fall address, the survey asks students to answer approximately how many trips to and from campus they make, what mode of commuting they use and how fuel efficient their vehicles are.

As of press time, 952 people had completed the survey.

Of those who were surveyed, 50 percent answered that they find other means of transportation to campus than driving, said Carol Dollard, energy engineer for Facilities Management.

“We’re really impressed about how many students, faculty and staff don’t drive to campus,” Dollard said.

In an interview with the Collegian last week, former student government vice presidential candidate Seth Walter said Penley’s plan draws funds away from educational resources, but finds the survey to be a step in the right direction.

“We’re setting the pace of what a green university should be,” Walter said.

Eric Sutherland, Fort Collins critic of local environmental initiatives, said people are so “freakishly” energy dependant that calling for carbon-neutrality is irresponsible.

“Carbon-neutrality — what does that mean?” Sutherland said in a phone interview. “What it means to me is not emitting any green-house gases.”

But contrary to his thoughts on the university becoming carbon-neutral, Sutherland said he applauds CSU for surveying students, faculty and staff about commuting habits.

“Anything that anyone is doing to reduce green-house gasses is awesome,” Sutherland said.

Instead of using census data or estimating commuter’s habits like companies and other organizations do, Dollard said it was much more efficient to survey students, faculty and staff to compile sufficient data.

“Understanding (how people are) commuting is a hard thing to do,” Dollard said.

The survey will be posted until Sept. 25, and data will be published in a greenhouse footprint guide in October, Dollard said.

She added that because of Penley’s carbon-neutrality pledge to the American Colleges & University President’s Climate Commitment, the university would track its commuters’ carbon-footprint and will most-likely survey again in 2010.

Facilities Management is using incentives including gift cards to several establishments in Fort Collins, tickets to NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”, and a 22-inch Toshiba LCD flat screen HDTV donated by the CSU bookstore to encourage students to participate in the survey.

According to Dollard, the survey can be done in less than two minutes and can be found at and through RamCT.

Senior Reporter Johnny Hart can be reached at

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