Something Different About This Car
the outside, Smith’s latest addition to its fleet of
campus vehicles looks like most other economy cars: on the
small side, efficient, and sensible.
But don’t let this new, white Honda Civic fool you.
As a “hybrid” vehicle, the car burns less gas
than its stable mates, moving its engine parts with a combination
of gas and battery-powered electricity.
It runs quieter. It stands completely
still at stops, with nary a hint of idle. It delivers nearly
20 miles more per gallon than its gas-only counterparts.
“The first time we filled
it up, I was pleasantly surprised,” says Karl Kowitz,
associate director of business operations in the Physical
Plant, who oversees the campus fleet. “It got 44.9 miles
per gallon in mixed highway and city driving.” That’s
compared with about 25 miles per gallon that the college’s
other economy cars get, said Kowitz.
Perhaps most important, the new
hybrid significantly reduces the amount of hydrocarbon emissions
into the air -- about 84 percent less than the average passenger
new Honda is one of three general-purpose cars leased by the
college from Enterprise Rent-a-car. The college also leases
12 passenger vans. All the college’s vehicles are heavily
used, says Kowitz. The vans transport sports teams and departmental
groups to numerous events, while the cars are typically used
for airport trips and to take personnel to meetings in the
region. “There’s a large number of trips where
there are two people in the car,” Kowitz said. “This
[hybrid] is perfect for those occasions.”
Though the Honda hybrid costs
slightly more to lease than gas-only models, it’s a
calculated payoff, from the perspective of those in Physical
Plant, to realize environmental gains.
“You’ve got to look
at a lot of environmental factors here,” said Kowitz,
such as the
emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases, which contribute
to global warming. “This is the right thing to do for
Smith plans to continue adding
hybrid vehicles to its fleet, says Kowitz. “We will
endeavor to go more hybrid as they meet our needs as an institution,
and as vans become available.”
Leasing the hybrid vehicle --
and others in the future -- is another step in Smith’s
ongoing efforts to become more environmentally responsible
and to minimize its impact on the earth. The college’s
Green Team has assertively led campaigns to change campus
light bulbs to the lower-wattage models, turn off lights and
appliances when not in use, and to get computer users to set
their monitors to automatically shut down after a specified
period, collectively saving millions of watts, to name a few
of the team’s efforts. And this year, the college leased
two cars from Zipcar, a national car-sharing service, to help
The Honda hybrid and other college
cars are available to the community for any college-related
use. to view vehicle request information.