Luther utility vehicle fleet goes electric

Friday, February 20, 2009

Luther College has moved closer to its goal of 50 percent reduction of its carbon emission with the purchase of three new all-electric vehicles for its campus fleet of utility vehicles.

The three new units, manufactured by E-Ride, increase Luther's all-electric utility carts to seven.

A Luther carbon emissions study determined that using electric utility vehicles instead of regular gasoline-powered vehicles for campus facilities services, dining services, security and light hauling duties would substantially reduce the college fleet's greenhouse gas emissions, as well as save money. After monitoring the fleet vehicles' use, Luther Facilities Services estimates the all-electric vehicles emit 76 percent fewer emissions and cost 84 percent less money to operate than their gasoline-powered predecessors.

The seven vehicles collectively reduce Luther's carbon emissions by an estimated 50,000 pounds annually.

E-Ride offers custom modification of its vehicles so that each cart can be used for specific purposes. The maintenance vehicle has racks and side doors for tools while the security vehicle has four seats for passengers when necessary.

Richard Tenneson, Luther director of facilities services did an analysis of cost and carbon comparisons between the electric and gas vehicles to determine potential savings. Tenneson determined Luther could reduce emissions by almost 200,000 pounds of carbon and nearly $60,000 annually if the college converted the whole fleet.

The expansion of Luther's electric vehicle fleet is part of the college's broader effort to promote sustainability and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This effort is a major focus of the college's recently adopted five-year strategic plan and is in compliance with the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), of which Luther President Richard Torgerson was a charter signatory.

The all-electric vehicles also serve as promotions-on-wheels for Luther's Sustainability Initiative. The unusual-looking carts, which are prominently labeled "All Electric," foster environmental awareness and conversations across campus.

Of the four other electric vehicles in the Luther utility cart fleet, two were made by Columbia Par-Car and are used by the college's facilities services crews, and two are John Deere Gators used for landscape maintenance.

Photo caption: Luther's seven all-electric vehicles include (from left to right) an E-Ride cart modified for Campus Security duties, operated by Duane Senft, Luther security officer; a John Deere Gator used by landscaping crews, operated by Rich Tenneson, Facilities Services director; a Columbia Par-Car used for light duties by Facilities Services crews, operated by Kevin Ellingson, maintenance mechanic; and an E-Ride cart modified for Facilities Services duties, operated by Terry Ollendieck, Luther carpenter. Luther's all-electric vehicles are reducing the colleges carbon emissions by an estimated 50,000 pounds annually.

Luther utility vehicle fleet goes electric