Electric cars used on CSUEB campuses get eight times the mileage of traditional gas-powered cars. (Photo credits: Elias Barboza)
Facilities management has gradually replaced gas-powered cars used for hauling tools, shrubs and landscaping supplies with electric cars, saving on fuel costs and reducing carbon emissions on Cal State East Bay campuses.
As technologies rapidly evolve, CSUEB’s purchase of electric cars represents one of many examples of how the school continues serving the community in a cost-conscious and earth friendly way. Other recent steps taken by the university include growing its own plants for landscaping and converting to use of biosafe cleaning supplies.
“These cars definitely do their part for the carbon footprint,” said Maintenance Manager David Miller. “They don’t pollute, (give off) toxic emissions, and I haven’t heard negativity about them. We’re going green.”
Since CSUEB bought its first electric car in 1997 from Global Electric Motorcars, the Hayward campus has added 20 vehicles, known as GEMs, to its fleet. The Concord campus uses two. Each GEM costs one third the price of a regular gas powered car. The electric car's battery, which lasts three years, is charged overnight through a regular 110-volt outlet and runs for an entire day without losing power.
The vehicles are used primarily by the grounds department for maintenance and repair. They also are used to transport mail, carry equipment such as lawn mowers and hedge clippers and for driving staff members around campus. Members of the University Police Department also use the GEMs for security. The cars reach a maximum 25 miles per hour, are easy to operate, low maintenance and boast fuel efficiency eight times better than a traditional car, according to the manufacturer.
Smaller and more quiet than traditional maintenance trucks and road vehicles, GEMs are easier to maneuver on campus and cause fewer disruptions to staff, faculty and students, Miller said.
“They’re very useful,” he said. “You can drive these vehicles anywhere on campus. They’re versatile and dependable.”