USC plans to wean vehicles from petroleum + video

University to run transportation on cleaner energy to slash carbon dioxide emissions

12/02/2009 12:00 AM

12/02/2009 6:58 AM

Story continues below video player: Video courtesy of the University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina pledged Tuesday to reduce the carbon-dioxide emissions from its vehicle fleet by 90 percent within five years.

The emissions reductions are at the heart of a sustainability plan the university has called its "Genesis 2015 Initiative."

"We are making a commitment that will drive Carolina into a new era of environmental responsibility," USC president Harris Pastides said. "This is another important initiative supported by our faculty, staff and students to create a campus that will be climate neutral."

USC plans to cut its use of petroleum by using ethanol, biodiesel, liquefied petroleum gas, electricity or hydrogen fuel cells to power the roughly 400 vehicles in its fleet. The school could not provide cost estimates.

Those changes could reduce the university's carbon-dioxide emissions by 2,000 tons per year, according to Michael Koman, USC's director of sustainability.

In January, a hydrogen hybrid bus will become part of the university's shuttle service.

"We have 156 vehicles that we can convert to alternative fuel right away," said Derrick Huggins, USC's associate vice president for transportation. "This plan underscores the fact that the University of South Carolina is a leader among colleges and universities in sustainability efforts, including transportation, which is a key source of carbon emissions."

In recent years, colleges and universities across the country have made public efforts to build with environmentally friendly materials and use less energy in transportation and in heating and cooling interior spaces. Those efforts have caught the attention of the various organizations that rate schools on how "green" they are.

USC earned top green ratings from the Princeton Review and the College Sustainability Report Card this fall.

Koman said USC's efforts could help agriculture in South Carolina.

"Farmers could plant crops to meet fuel and food demands."

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