The UConn Libraries are leading the charge in a new environmentally conscious initiative on campus with the acquisition of a new light utility electric vehicle. The vehicle, a GEM, manufactured by Polaris, will replace the Libraries’ 15-year-old gas powered delivery vehicle and is the first of six similar vehicles acquired through Transportation Services for use by campus departments. Delivered in mid-January, the new vehicle will continue to be used to make daily deliveries of interlibrary loan books and books from Circulation to the Music & Dramatic Arts Library, the Pharmacy Library, and the Dodd Research Center, as well as to pick up materials on campus destined for the Libraries.
“We’re really pleased with it because we’ll no longer be faced with the mechanical repairs of an aging gas-powered vehicle. Plus, it’s green, so we’re adding yet one more environmentally sound element to the University’s environmental stature,” said David Avery, Facilities/Security Librarian.
Last year, UConn won the top spot as Sierra magazine’s Coolest School nationwide for its efforts to encourage sustainability, green technology, and environmental stewardship. Other familiar green features at the library include bicycles loaned through the campus “UConn Cycles” program, and recycling containers for consumer products such as used sneakers and computer electronics.
Classified as a low-speed vehicle, the vehicle has a top speed of 25 mph, a cargo capacity of 1,100 pounds, and boasts zero emissions. Similar vehicles are used by cities, municipalities and government offices, other colleges and increasingly by athletic and recreation venues, which use them to transport injured players off the field.
Equipped with six regular car batteries that charge via a regular 110 volt outlet with power provided by UConn’s own energy generation plant, the new vehicle’s mileage is the equivalent of the high 30s mpg to 50 mpg, and costs the about 2 to 3 cents a gallon to operate, according to Charlie Grab, Business Services Supervisor, of UConn’s Transportation and Motor Pool, who coordinated the purchase. In addition to those impressive operating statistics, Grabb says, the vehicles also hold their value. Although relatively new to UConn, early reports by users are positive. The vehicles will be routinely maintained by the campus Motor Pool mechanics, Grab says, and will go to the dealer for more specialized service. The purchase was offset by a grant from Connecticut’s Clean Energy Fund.
“They’re all around cool,” Grab observed.