Lehigh’s all-electric car, which is one of four electric vehicles on Lehigh’s campus. The police department also has two hybrid electric vehicles and plans on buying all electric in the future. (Annalise Kelloff/B&W Staff)

Lehigh pledges to increase electric vehicles

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Lehigh has partnered with the Climate Mayors Electric Purchasing Collaborative, along with 10 other academic institutions, to increase the number of electric vehicles on campus. 

The collaborative has been concentrating on making electric vehicles more affordable and accessible by the end of 2021.

“Through this collaborative, Lehigh is making a public commitment to continue sustainable transportation purchasing into the future,” said Katharine Targett Gross, sustainability officer in Lehigh’s Office of Sustainability. “Zero-emission vehicles will be an integral part of meeting Lehigh’s sustainability goals going forward.” 

The collaborative was established in fall 2018 with Climate Mayors, the Electrification Coalition and Sourcewell. On Sept. 30, the collaborative partnered with Second Nature, a non-governmental organization located in Boston that has a network filled with more than 450 academic institutions. 

The collaborative will invest $123.5 million in electric vehicles, eliminate 28 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and avoid 1.7 million gallons of gas annually. 

Lehigh has already acquired an electric bus, one all-electric vehicle and two all-electric golf carts. The police department plans on purchasing all electric vehicles in the future and currently has two hybrid electric vehicles, with a third being delivered later this year. 

Lehigh’s Transportation Services electric bus during Car Free day. Printing and Mailing Services graphic designer Brooke Porcelli designed the exterior to resemble the other campus buses in circulation. (Danielle Betterman/B&W Staff)

Mark Ironside, executive director of University Business Services, provides oversight for parking for both transportation and parking in Lehigh’s sustainability efforts.

“Quieter vehicles, cleaner vehicles, vehicles that while more expensive on the front end but have a less expensive lifecycle cost are good for the university, good for students and good for tuition cost,” Ironside said.

Parking Services Manager Sharon Kay Field said the Sustainability Office and Parking Services have been working together to ensure the success of the collaborative. 

“We want to support faculty, staff and students who have electric vehicles, so we have installed some EV charging stations,” Field said. We started in the spring of 2018 in the Alumni garage, and this past winter we installed them in the Farrington garage, Zoellner garage and at Mountaintop campus.”

Field said Parking Services also plans on installing more electric charging stations at Goodman Campus and possibly in the Saucon Village complex area. The stations are available to anyone with a permit and visitors without a permit are also welcome to use it. 

Lehigh’s new partnership with the Climate Mayors Electric Purchasing Collaborative will aid in progressing the Lehigh Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030. The Sustainability Office and Parking Services hope their efforts will foster a more environmentally conscious mentality across Lehigh’s campus. 

“With our Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030, we are hoping to see a change in culture at Lehigh among faculty, staff and students,” Gross said. “So many of us are used to just hopping in a vehicle and driving to class, and that will likely not be the Lehigh of the future.”

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