The Office of Sustainability at The University of Texas-Pan American began its series of workshops promoting green living Aug. 24 with a discussion on alternative transportation.
"The sustainable component of alternative transportation, not only protects the environment, but helps humanity and society while helping develop and maintain economic development in our communities," said Marianella Franklin, director of the Office for Sustainability at UTPA.
"It's important we find alternative forms of transport for those who may not have the opportunity to pump their cars with gasoline or for those without a vehicle," she said.
At UTPA, students, staff, and faculty support cycling as an alternative form of transportation.
"We're encouraging more cycling on campus and have provided the ability for more people to ride on campus. We changed the parking rules and regulations to allow cycling under the covered walkways as well," said Roger Lee Stearns, UTPA chief of police.
To endorse cycling on campus, the University has provided more bicycle racks and developed Operation I.D., a program aimed at deterring theft by having people's bicycles registered with the UTPA police department.
"We're doing things to be much more cycling friendly as an institution," Stearns said.
Participants also talked about other forms of alternative transportation, including city bus systems.
"Our philosophy is that public transportation is a basic necessity. It's similar to social programs for the elderly, the disabled, low-income, veterans, or for those who don't have any other option," said Tom Logan, director of Valley Metro. "We're trying to make bus transportation attractive and convenient for our citizens and visitors here in the Valley."
Charlie Clark Nissan in Harlingen brought a Nissan Leaf electric car -- which runs on 100 percent electricity and is the only lithium-ion technology vehicle on the market -- to display outside the University's International Trade and Technology building.
"If this is the future of green technology vehicles, I can only imagine what the car industry will think of next," said Charlie Clark, owner and founder of Charlie Clark Nissan.
"This technology will eventually catch on and this car can be plugged in just about anywhere and costs around $60 a month to charge it. It's a lot less than filling up your car with gas," Clark said.
Workshops like these serve the public in knowing about the options available in transportation methods.
"There needs to be an outreach to the public to know there's people in organizations that are really mindful and aware in implementing alternative transportation methods. This workshop hosted by the Office for Sustainability at UTPA is a big start," said Andrew Canon, transportation director of the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The Office for Sustainability's Fall 2011 workshop series resumes with "Meet the Water Challenges of the Future While you Save Money" Sept. 6, followed by "Healthy Food for All," Oct. 5, "Creating Sustainable Economic Growth through Energy Conservation Behavioral Change," Oct. 12, "Recycling-Reduce Cost While Maintaining Service," Oct. 14, "Economic and Social Benefits of Composting and Mulching," Nov. 16, "Sustainable Water Management for Long-Term Savings," Dec. 1, and "Conservation and Restoration of Coastal Habitat," Dec. 14.
For more information, contact the Office for Sustainability at (956) 665-3030.