This electric car-charging station outside Bonner Hall on the
North Campus is part of UB's effort to reduce its environmental
In a good month, Alan Rabideau doesn’t stop at the gas
That’s not because he isn’t driving – the
engineering professor commutes roughly nine miles to UB’s
North Campus. Rather, it’s due to the university’s
latest effort to make its three campuses more sustainable.
UB and partners recently installed electric car-charging
stations at the university’s three campuses.
“From the Solar Strand, which generates enough clean,
renewable energy for hundreds of student apartments, to composting
food scraps and implementing an innovative first-of-its-kind bike
share program, we strive to evolve, build resilience and minimize
our environmental footprint on the future,” says Dennis
Black, vice president for university life and services. “The
car-charging stations are another piece of the puzzle to help UB
become climate neutral by 2030.”
UB partnered with the New York State Energy Research and
Development Authority (NYSERDA) and ChargePoint as part of a larger
initiative to install 20 charging stations in Western New York and
80 throughout the state.
The UB effort, made possible by a partnership between University
Facilities and Parking and Transportation Services, includes two
charging stations at Bonner and Bissell halls on the North Campus
and one at Diefendorf Hall on the South Campus, in addition to
several already on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where the
university is moving its medical school.
A NYSERDA grant paid for 85 percent of the costs for the
stations on the North and South campuses. More stations are planned
at UB as demand increases.
Electric vehicles in upstate New York produce less carbon
dioxide emissions than a 50-mile-per-gallon gas-powered vehicle,
according to a 2012 Union of Concerned Scientists report. The
organization, which advocates for increased fuel efficiency in
vehicles, based its findings on the region’s mix of
electricity sources and the emissions they produce.
Additionally, the cost of fueling an electric vehicle is four
times cheaper than using gasoline; a typical electric vehicle owner
saves $750 to $1,200 per year on fuel costs, the report says.
With sales tripling from 2011 to 2012 nationwide, there are more
than 100,000 electric vehicles on the road from 10 different
automakers, the report says. New York has one of the highest growth
rates of electric vehicles; the number has risen from 1,000 to
5,000 in the past year, according to the state Department of Motor
The growth is due in part to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who, along with
the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, signed an agreement in October
that promotes electric vehicle technology, and the infrastructure
and coordination needed to put 3.3 million electric vehicles on the
road by 2025.
A professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering,
Rabideau leases a Toyota Prius plug-in, which has a traditional
gas-powered engine plus a small battery. When fully charged, the
battery is good for roughly 10 miles. That’s just enough to
get Rabideau from his Buffalo home to Bonner Hall. From there, he
parks the car and plugs it into the charger — each station
can charge two vehicles simultaneously. After three hours, the
battery is ready for another 10-mile ride.
“In a good month, I use zero gas,” says Rabideau,
principal investigator of Ecosystem Restoration through
Interdisciplinary Exchange (ERIE), a multidisciplinary program at
UB that includes scientists, engineers and students who conduct
innovative ecosystem restoration research.
Rabideau isn’t the only one taking advantage of the
charging stations. During the past few months, faculty, staff and
community members have used them. They’re driving further,
too. For example, the all-electric Nissan Leaf gets roughly 80
miles per charge and the range of Tesla electric vehicles is even
These vehicles will help UB eventually displace hundreds of tons
of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas and leading cause of global
In 2007, UB was one of the first 150 institutions of higher
learning to pledge to reduce or offset all of its greenhouse gas
emissions by signing the American College and University
Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The pact, now signed by more
than 675 colleges and universities, requires signatories to
inventory their carbon emissions and create a climate action plan
to achieve carbon neutrality.
Addressing the impact of UB’s transportation system, which
accounts for 25 percent of the university’s carbon footprint,
is a key component of the plan. These stations, combined with other
innovative technologies, additional transportation demand
initiatives and other efforts, ultimately will allow UB to be more
energy independent and move toward its 2030 goal.
For more information on UB’s electric vehicle program,
visit the Office
of Sustainability’s website.