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University Sustainability is a Team Sport


Many colleges and universities are looking to reduce operational costs, reach sustainability goals and demonstrate reduction of vehicle emissions on campus. Often when visiting a college or university campus to discuss deployment of XL Hybrids™ technology, I meet with Offices of Sustainability and/or the Parking & Transportation Departments. In these departments, fleet and vehicle service managers often have large economic, environmental, and visual impact to campus sustainability; however, ironically, a university’s fleet is often one of the last areas to go green on campuses. I am on a mission to change this nationwide!

Sustainability is of great importance to student bodies, staffs, employees, and alumni, and because these constituents know that sustainability will prove to have a great impact of the future of the college or university. This got me thinking, how can these great ideas be put into action and receive the support needed? Truth is, it’s a team effort. Like the many athletic teams on your fields, sustainability is a team effort. If all the stakeholders aren’t working together, it’s going to be very difficult to achieve these goals. Like with a sports team winning a championship, university sustainability requires a team effort to form new habits, new procedures, and new ways of conducting the day-day tasks on campus. Installing efficient light bulbs, adjusting the smart thermostats, and adding recycle bins around the college grounds, are great initial steps. However, and even bigger win can be the university’s fleet.

The thousands of vehicles that drive in/around campuses across North America are an often overlooked area for widespread, impactful sustainability improvements. Some universities have begun purchasing a few “green” sedans, such as hybrids. Some schools have even deployed an electric vehicle or two. Great. However, while the savings from electrified sedans are nice, they do not compare to the huge environmental impact of improving a vans, trucks and shuttle buses on campus. These larger campus vehicles typically have MPG’s in the single digits (e.g. 6-9 MPG), and burn hundreds more gallons of fuel than a sedan.

For example, at Yale University, our hybrid electric system was installed on several of their shuttle buses and has since helped Yale save over 50 metric tons of CO2 in approximately 9 months. This is equivalent to removing 10 cars off the road for a year, switching 1,772 incandescent lamps to LED light bulbs or saving 116 barrels of oil! It is sustainability impacts like these why XL Hybrids systems are currently deployed with many, leading schools such as Penn State, Harvard, LaSalle, MIT, Wheaton College, and more.

With XL Hybrids, we maintain the vehicle’s full factory warranty, we don’t interrupt your daily operations and there’s no driver training. The vehicle still uses the factory engine, uses the factory transmission, and the vehicle has improved drivability with no impact the vehicle’s cargo capacity or its passenger seating. All systems are monitored 24/7 by XL Link, a cloud-based data analytics system, which measures key performance indicators, including MPG performance and reports carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

So, the next time you are recycling your containers in the cafeteria, turning off your conference room lights, or attending a campus meeting about sustainability, please think about whole picture. Consider the large variety of vehicles on campus, including vehicles for mail services, physical plant maintenance, athletics transportation, and shuttle services, as candidates for fuel efficiency improvement technologies like hybrids. These vehicles can all be an integral part of a successful green campus.

University Sustainability is a Team Sport

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