A How-To Guide on Going Green with GEMs

Return to Issue of Aug. 17, 2009 

Darwin Friend can offer help with the purchase of a GEM.

This is the second installment of a two-part article examining the use of electric and hybrid vehicles on campus.

For five departments on the Kent Campus, the use of a GEM (Global Electric Motorcar) or a mild hybrid vehicle has become commonplace. For other departments interested in “going green” with their transportation, Fleet Services can provide assistance.

Darwin Friend, superintendent of fleet services, says that the first step for any department interested in an electric or hybrid vehicle is to contact Fleet Services.

“After the department contacts Fleet Services, we’ll assist them in determining their needs,” Friend says. “If an electric or hybrid meets those needs, then the request goes through an approval process. After approval, Fleet Services will process the order and prep the vehicle for delivery.”

Dean Tondiglia, associate director of public safety, says that Fleet Services guided his department in purchasing its mild hybrid. Mild hybrids have some, but not all, of the features of a full hybrid vehicle.

“Fleet Services identified vehicles that would fit our needs and then gave us their advice and feedback,” Tondiglia says. “They even did calculations to break down costs into what we would save over time with the mild hybrid when compared to other vehicles.”

While using electric or hybrid vehicles contributes to the university’s sustainability initiative, the vehicles are not always appropriate for every department.

Tom Euclide, associate vice president for facilities planning and operations and Sustainability Task Force co-chair, says that the electric vehicles benefit departments with staff who travel frequently around campus and transport equipment.

“If you’re thinking of using the vehicle to travel to occasional meetings in other buildings, it’s more sustainable to walk or ride a bike,” Euclide says. “The electric vehicles are appropriate for extensive traveling between buildings and carrying supplies.”

To better meet departments’ needs, the GEMs can even be custom-ordered.

Diane Sperko, manager of Design Solutions, says, “The cars can be made to order, so I would advise people to find one that suits their needs. My department’s GEM has a utility cart on the back, secured with a lock, for transporting display pieces, signs, etc.”

For departments that believe they could benefit from a GEM or alternative-fueled vehicle, Friend encourages them to contact him.

“If anyone has any questions or concerns about what to do to make their fleet more sustainable, I would be happy to talk with them,” Friend says.

By Lindsay Kuntzman

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