June 16, 2019 | 69° F

Updating buildings, transportation remain key environmental aspects of Rutgers 2030 Plan

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Part of the Rutgers 2030 plan includes promoting more non-vehicle methods of transportation, such as riding bikes. Knight Cycle, a Rutgers bike-share program, is currently being implemented and funded by a $1.1 million grant.

Rutgers continues to develop and implement the goals outlined in its 2030 plan, which includes green energy, changes to transportation and hopeful improvements to the quality of college life for both students and faculty, according to the introduction of the proposal’s report.

Michael Kornitas, the director of Sustainability and Energy at the University, is responsible for the physical plan of Rutgers 2030, as well as limiting the school's carbon emissions and having the University focus on green energy. Kornitas said that Rutgers is currently ahead of the curve in terms of sustainability when compared to other schools.

Buildings at Rutgers are much more energy-friendly than on other schools, Kornitas said. This is partly because the University is based off of an “energy model” that puts carbon emissions and energy consumption as a priority as opposed to a “Baseline model” that does not acknowledge these issues. 

“We have almost 10 megawatts of solar (power) and more sustainable methods of both air conditioning and heating,” Kornitas said. “We produce about 30 percent of the University’s energy from clean sources and sensors that shut lights off automatically. If no one is in the room, even small things like that can go a really long way.” 

The most significant sustainability issue that Rutgers students and faculty face is more behavioral than physical, said Frank Wong, assistant vice president for Planning and Development.  

He said one issue is that students and faculty are indifferent to the choices that they make and how they manage their day-to-day lives. 

“Getting people to use mass transportation and biking is something that should be encouraged,” Wong said. “Being aware of leaving a room to shut everything off, if you're not in your dorm room make sure to turn off all of the lights before you go out. To me, that seems to be the biggest culprit in the schools energy consumption.”

Wong’s role in the 2030 plan is developing the long range master plan for the University. He also works in the division of Institutional Planning and Operations. 

He acknowledged that these massive changes to the school cannot happen overnight. 

Over the past few decades, the University has been moving more to energy efficiency and has taken factors such as consumption into account when moving forward with plans. 

"The environment needs to reflect where the institution is now (and) aims to be at by 2030," Wong said. "All of the buildings that have not been updated in decades need to be looked at and updated. We really want to bring every part of Rutgers into the 21st century."

He described the 2030 plan as the “physical master plan” that lays out the school in terms of land, infrastructure and buildings.  

The most common complaint that he hears from students is about transportation, Wong said.

As a part of the 2030 plan, Rutgers will look at how the different campuses are connected, and at better and faster modes of transporting between them, Kornitas said. The plan also includes the University making more bicycle routes and making bicycles more accessible in general. 

Wong said that the University is changing and evolving quickly. 

When the University was built, it was designed to support much smaller buildings over different campuses, he said. With the Rutgers 2030 plan, the school will be able to withstand the upcoming years and adopt the latest technological advances.

He wants the 2030 plan to take a closer look at street buildings, bridges and roadways that were developed back in the 60s, he said. It is important that the older infrastructure matches where the Rutgers 2030 plan wants the development to be in a few more years. 

“We are always focused on the best way to move this school forward,” Wong said. “'We are determined that the school, students and faculty will all work together to make this school more useable and better for upcoming students in the future.”

Jacob Turchi

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