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These days, no issue attracts more attention from managers specifying utility vehicles than sustainability — the impact of the vehicles on the environment. And no state places as much emphasis on all aspects of sustainability as California.
"We’re in California, so that’s a huge consideration for us," Avery says. "We have regulatory requirements we look at in terms of air quality, so we’re looking at that constantly when we go to purchase. Most of the sales reps in this area are pretty familiar with those requirements, so they don’t even bring us anything that isn’t workable for us."
As with the issue of safe vehicle on a bike-intensive campus, vehicle operation also must not interfere with the learning environment.
"Noise levels on campus are important," he says. "If it were a vehicle that was very loud, we definitely would turn it away. We want to make sure that we’re good partner with the university in terms of the students."
Sustainability in many organizations also encompasses the use of alternative fuels — including propane, bio-diesel, and electricity — to power grounds equipment. So far, such alternatives have not played a large role in the department’s specification of utility vehicles.
"We have looked at some, and we had more electric vehicles at one time, but they just didn’t stay charged long enough throughout the day so that users wouldn’t have to find a charging station while they’re out working," he says. "We like the gasoline-powered ones because it's the fuel of choice right, and the mechanic prefers working on them.
"We’re always looking at the return on investment and the dependability, but we’re always watching the alternatives in terms of propane (vehicles) and even some of the new electric vehicles. There might be some solar vehicles at some point. You never know."
Avery says he also he wants to be certain new vehicles stay in service as long as possible — a literal translation of sustainability, which many managers often use only as it relates to emissions, fuels, and noise.
"We think of sustainability not just in those terms but also in terms of durability," he says. "We want to know that the vehicles are sustainable through day-to-day use."
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