Full-time Chatham employees now eligible for bicycle commuter benefit
By: Amanda Kennedy, Senior Public Relations Specialist
April 12, 2010
PITTSBURGH (April 12, 2010) … As part of its effort to promote sustainable practices and healthy living, Chatham University will now offer full-time employees the opportunity to receive a bicycle commuter benefit, according to an announcement by Walter Fowler, vice president for finance and administration. Included as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, this benefit will reimburse full-time employees who commute to work by bicycle for reasonable expenses up to $20 a month. The reimbursements will be excludable from an employee’s gross income and not subject to federal income tax.
“As a charter signatory of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, we continue to offer incentives for our employees to reduce their carbon footprint and also maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Mr. Fowler said. “We wanted to take advantage of this incentive to encourage more bicycle commuting. Since we also subsidize free public transportation, those employees who live further from campus can take advantage of the Port Authority’s Rack n’ Roll program.”
The bicycle commuter benefit is offered as part of the University’s Fit for the Future® program, which promotes health and wellness initiatives across campus. Established in 2004, the Fit for the Future program has actually helped the University better control its employees’ healthcare premiums with its provider, UPMC.
According to IRS guidelines, employees who sign up for this benefit will not be permitted to have a campus parking permit as they are required to certify that cycling is their primary mode of transportation to and from work during the time frame in which they receive the reimbursement. An employee may be reimbursed on a tax-free basis for reasonable expenses incurred during the calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle, improvements, repair and equipment (i.e. helmet) provided that the bicycle is used regularly to travel between the employee’s residence and the three University campuses. This benefit does not cover bike clothing. Employees can be reimbursed on a quarterly basis (April, July, October, and January) for expenses incurred over three months by submitting a check request form and attaching proper receipts. The maximum reimbursement is $20 per month or $240 over a calendar year.
Chatham and the Environment
Chatham University emphasizes environmental awareness as part of its curriculum, including:
• As a Charter Signatory of the Presidents Climate Commitment, Chatham has conducted an inventory of its carbon footprint and is developing ways to reduce its environmental impact. The Presidents Climate Commitment is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.
• The University’s new Eden Hall Farm Campus in Richland Township will serve as a living laboratory where students will engage in a broad range of studies including programs aimed at improving the lives of women and addressing issues of environmental sustainability. Given by Eden Hall Foundation, the 388-acre Eden Hall Farm Campus establishes Chatham as the largest university campus with respect to acreage in southwestern Pennsylvania.
• Sustainability is a part of the University’s curriculum and informs many of its academic programs including botany, environmental science, environmental studies, interior architecture, and landscape architecture.
• Thirty-two acres of the University’s Shadyside Campus were designated an arboretum by the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (AABGA, now known as the American Public Garden Association (APGA), in 1998). The arboretum maintains elements of Andrew Mellon’s estate designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers and includes 117 different species of trees.
• Chatham purchased the first hybrid police car in the City of Pittsburgh in 2008. The Toyota Prius patrols the Shadyside Campus.
• Old cell phones are recycled through HopeLine, Verizon’s nationally-recognized domestic violence prevention initiative which provides unused wireless phones to organizations assisting victims of domestic violence. Obsolete computers are recycled through Senior Computer Associates of Latrobe, Pa. which refurbishes the computers and provides them to senior citizens and local school children in the greater Latrobe area.
• To commemorate the 40th anniversary publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 2004, Chatham eliminated the use of chemical-based herbicides and pesticides on campus, and switched to toxic-free cleaning products. It also began purchasing ten percent of its power from alternative sources, and today purchases 15 percent from wind-generated energy.
• Food waste from the University’s dining hall is composted by AgRecycle Inc. and cooking oil is recycled as biofuel. In 2009 Chatham recycled more food service organics than any other participating school in the national Recyclemania competition.
About Chatham University
Chatham University prepares students from around the world to develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Every Chatham student – women in Chatham’s historic women’s residential college, and men and women in Chatham’s graduate programs – receives a highly individualized, experiential educational experience that is informed by Chatham’s strong institutional commitment to globalism, the environment and citizen leadership. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with Chatham Eastside and the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Farm Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information call 800-837-1290 or visit www.chatham.edu.