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Hartwick going green with electric car

In step with the university’s “go green” initiatives, Hartwick College has arranged for a more environmentally friendly way to transport students to and from its Pine Lake Campus, according to a recent media release.

In August, the college purchased the all-electric vehicle 2015 Nissan Leaf to make the 16-mile round trip to and from the satellite campus between Davenport Center and West Davenport, according to Hartwick media relations manager David Lubell.

The vehicle replaces Pine Lake’s 2007 mini-van, Lubell said, and will cost less to operate than the combined repair and gas costs for its predecessor.

The car fits with the Pine Lake campus mission to promote “ecological stewardship and economic, social, and environmental sustainability,” according to the release.

Peter Blue, manager of operations at Pine Lake, facilitated the purchase, he said. The college first looked at hybrid vehicles, and then at electric cars, and selected the Leaf for its seating and storage capacity, as well as positive reviews.

“We quickly realized an electric vehicle would work really well for us and serve as a great learning opportunity for the students,” Blue said.

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A Leaf costs about $30,000, according to Nissan’s website. The battery of the all-electric vehicle is recharged whenever the driver brakes, making it ideal for the “town driving” to and from Pine Lake, Lubell said.

Blue purchased the vehicle locally from Leaf Country Club Imports in Oneonta, which provides a charging station for customers, according to the release.

A 240-watt charging station was installed at the Robertson Lodge at Pine Lake, according to the release. The charging station will fully charge a battery from empty in about 4 hours. The Leaf can also be plugged into any standard 120-watt outlet. This “trickle charging” takes about 24 hours to recharge an exhausted battery. It has a range of about 90 miles on a single charge.

Hartwick students are reporting using less than 30 percent of a full charge in an average day of two round trips, or up to 74 miles of driving, Toal said.

Driving an electric car can save 6,100 gallons of gas over the life of the vehicle, Lubell said, potentially reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 45.5 tons.

Students need to be trained and approved to use the vehicle, Lubell said, adding that it has been popular so far.

“Actually, we have one young man who is a huge fan,” Lubell said. “He’s an electric car/battery buff, so the Leaf has become his baby, so to speak.”

The Leaf is Hartwick’s first all-electric vehicle, according to Dr. Michael Tannenbaum, Hartwick’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“This is an excellent example of how we are instituting ‘green’ initiatives on campus whenever possible,” Tannenbaum said.