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Utility Vehicles: Sustainability and Smart Choices

By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor - August 2013 - Grounds Management


Whether the task is transporting workers and grounds care materials across a campus, hauling debris from site to site, or clearing snow and leaves from sidewalks, utility vehicles have become essential pieces of equipment for grounds managers at institutional and commercial facilities.

As environmental considerations have increasingly impacted managers' product-buying decisions, electric utility vehicles have emerged in recent years as more viable options for managers also seeking flexibility and reliability.

While not every situation is the most appropriate for electric vehicles, many managers are taking a closer look at fuel sources for utility vehicles — as well as issues such as attachment options and long-term durability — in their efforts to make specification decisions that are best for their departments.

Taking Different Paths

Five years ago, Marion Bolick gave little if any consideration to specifying electric vehicles for his grounds staff at the Lexington Medical Center, a facility that rests on 70 acres in West Columbia, S.C. But in light of a directive from the center's vice president, the effort to become a greener operation has changed that approach.

The medical center has eight utility vehicles, which have dump beds and mostly move workers and materials between job sites. Lexington Medical Center is gradually making the switch from gasoline to electric, having recently replaced two gasoline-fueled vehicles with electric vehicles.

"My administration wants us to get rid of using as many fossil fuels as possible," says Bolick, the medical center's manager of grounds. "In some cases, it's not practical. But with utility vehicles, we've found that cost-wise, it's not that much different. The reliability has been equal to the gas. I do not foresee us going back to gas. We'll stay electric."

Bolick also has been pleased with the way the vehicles have performed.

"We have had very few problems with our batteries charging," Bolick says. "They seem to last throughout the day for us and we recharge overnight."





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