Carbon-Neutral Commuter: FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t see your question listed below? E-mail us!What is a carbon offset?
A carbon offset is a reduction in carbon emissions made in one location or by one entity to offset emissions made elsewhere or by another entity. A simple analogy: If you cut down two trees growing near your house, you can either pay to plant two trees on a nearby property, or you can plant two trees on another part of your own property. Essentially, it is a balancing of the scale.
Why should I participate?
As an employee of UF, your commute to and from work is counted into the university’s overall carbon footprint. By participating in this offset program, you are directly helping UF reduce its climate impact.
What type of offsets is UF purchasing for this program?
The University of Florida is committed to improving the local community and local environment through our use of carbon offsets. The offsets that we purchase are generated in several different ways:
- Energy-efficiency improvements to low-income housing in Florida. By making homes more efficient, they use less energy, resulting in lower carbon emissions from power plants.
- Planting of native trees on conservation land in and around Alachua County. As trees grow, they uptake carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, branches, and leaves. Planting native trees on conservation land ensures that the trees are protected (i.e. won’t be cut down at some later time) and that they restore Florida’s original ecosystems.
- Methane capture and flaring at the regional landfill that accepts the University of Florida’s solid waste. New River Regional Landfill (NRRL), located in Union County, has been a leader in environmentally responsible waste disposal since its inception in the late 1980s. By capturing the methane (a potent greenhouse gas) that is generated as waste decomposes and combusting it to form less-potent carbon dioxide, NRRL reduces the net climate impact of waste disposal.
Who is generating and providing these offsets?
The University of Florida is partnering with the local nonprofit We Are Neutral to generate and provide carbon offsets for this program. UF has worked with We Are Neutral for a number of years to offset all UF commencement ceremonies, and the University Athletic Association (UAA) has worked with We Are Neutral to offset the entire university athletics program. The UF UAA is the first carbon-neutral athletics program in the country! We Are Neutral is a trusted partner with a proven dedication to generating meaningful, local offsets that reduce atmospheric carbon while simultaneously improving our local community and environment.
Who can participate?
Faculty and staff employees of the University of Florida may participate.
How much does it cost to participate?
It’s up to you! We suggest $1 per pay period ($26 per year), which completely offsets the average UF employee’s commute, but you can choose to have more or less deducted. For every dollar per pay period that you have deducted, you offset one person’s commute. You can offset just yourself, yourself and a spouse/partner, or your entire office – it’s your choice!
I live far from campus – does that mean I’ll have to pay more?
No, although you can choose to. The $1 per pay period suggested offset amount covers the average employee commute, which has bene calculated to be about 9 miles. If you live particularly far away – or if you wish to make a bigger impact – you can choose a higher dollar amount for your offset.
If I choose to participate in this program, does that mean I am not allowed drive my car to work?
No! While we encourage UF faculty, staff, and students to use alternative transportation options whenever possible (like bicycling, walking, or riding the bus), we realize those options are not practical for all members of the UF community. If you are concerned about the climate and environmental impacts of your car commute, we encourage you to offset those impacts through participation in this program. You keep driving your vehicle but take positive action to reduce the impact of that driving while also bettering the environment and your local community.
If I choose not to participate in this program, does that mean I am not allowed to drive my car to work?
No! This is a completely voluntary program. We certainly encourage employees who commute by personal vehicle to participate in this program, but it is 100% voluntary. If you don’t want to participate, you don’t have to. If you choose not to participate, though, we’d love to hear why so we can address your concerns.
I don’t want to enroll now but might want to later. Can I do that?
Sure! You can enroll at any time through myUFL by following these instructions.
What if I enroll in this program now but later decide not to participate anymore?
Not a problem. We’d be sorry to see you go, but you can un-enroll just as easily as you enrolled by following these instructions.
You’re asking employees to pay to offset their emissions, but how is the university reducing or offsetting its own emissions?
UF has control over its infrastructure and environment – and we are actively working to improve it – but we need your help and your individual action and initiative to holistically and comprehensively address emissions associated with the operation of the university.
With regards to university-wide carbon offsets, UF fully offsets each commencement ceremony, and the University Athletic Association (UAA) offsets its entire athletic program each year. In addition, UF is committed to reducing its climate impact through energy efficiency improvements, a transition of the campus vehicle fleet toward electric vehicles, and diversion of waste from the landfill.
To that end, UF has reduced energy intensity by 7% below 2007 levels, has committed to transitioning 10% of the university fleet to electric vehicles within the next 10 years, and has expanded food composting across campus, among other initiatives.
But I already have to pay for my parking pass! Will I get a discount on my parking pass if I participate in the carbon offset program?
Unfortunately not, but we’re confident that you’ll feel great about reducing your carbon impact while also improving your local community!