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Feb. 15, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

Facilities wheels out electric vehicles

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's facilities and planning department has added three Club Car electric utility vehicles to its fleet of maintenance vehicles. The three new vehicles provide a quiet, smooth ride. They emit no pollution and will help the department deploy a more sustainable maintenance operation.

The small-wheel, zero-emission vehicles, which use a 48-volt motor, are 9 1/2 feet long and include two seats, a heater, horn, fan and turn signals.

"Rather than purchase new gasoline-powered vans and trucks, which aren't as friendly to our local air quality, we decided to try out electric utility vehicles for maintenance staff," said Scott Albert, director of facilities and planning.

The vehicles look like golf carts with bins on the back and replaced full-size, gasoline-powered pickups. "We are trying to look at alternative vehicles as we replace ours," Albert said.

The new vehicles, which will be housed and recharged overnight at the Facilities Building, offer many perks, Albert said. They take 8-10 hours to charge, which provides two to five days of service depending how much the vehicle is used, how fast it is driven and how much extra weight it is carrying.

"Another benefit is we don't have to drive as many full size vehicles on sidewalks," he said. "It is safer for students and less wear and tear on campus sidewalks."

One of the vehicles has been assigned to Rusty Karnes, SRU maintenance repairman II, who said he likes the brains and brawn of the new rides. Their maximum speed is 17 MPH.

"I think the goal of getting us into greener vehicles is great," he said. "It's the perfect size and easy to get around in."

Maintenance crews use the vehicles to reach and haul parts to job sites, along with other functions. The facilities and planning department employs 150 staffers who clean and maintain 54 campus buildings. They maintain playing fields and roads, landscape campus, plow snow, paint the interior of buildings, fix electrical system and keep up with plumbing and carpentry.

"Reaching for 2025 and Beyond," SRU's long-range strategic plan, emphasizes the importance of energy conservation, alternative energy distribution, sustainable practice and design and environmental awareness.

The University has taken a number of steps to promote greening and reduce its carbon footprint. SRU's Climate Action Plan sets the goal of achieving carbon neutrality in 25 years or less. The 52-page action plan provides a roadmap for neutrality within the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment program. Cheryl Norton, SRU president, signed the plan.

SRU has been named a green college in Princeton Review's "Guide to 322 Green Colleges" and achieved a Silver rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, a leading benchmark for rating campus sustainability gains.

More recently, SRU implemented a Land Use Project Request approval process to promote sustainable development, preserve green space and maximize conservation of natural and educationally relevant resources. Norton requested that a Land Use Project Request Form be created to oversee land use proposals from students, faculty, staff and outside groups.

The measure will help assure that construction, recreation and entertainment requests impacting campus property are carried out in a sustainable manner and in alignment with "Reaching for 2025 and Beyond."

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.