Parking and transportation receives around $230,000 in sustainability-focused grant money

Parking and Transportation Services recently received around $230,000 in grant money to pay for electric buses and charging stations.

The money is spread out over three different grants, two of which will go toward funding electric buses. The other grant will go toward replacing the electric vehicle charging stations in Alpine Garage.

The first grant, Clean Fleet Enterprise, comes from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Executive Director of Parking and Transportation Jim Spice said this grant, which is around $205,000, will go toward the purchase of two new electric 14-passenger shuttles.

“We’re in the process of getting the purchase orders and ordering those buses, but within the next year to year and a half, we’ll have two new electric vehicles as part of our shuttle fleet, so we’re excited about that,” Spice said.

The grant will help fulfill the goal of replacing one diesel bus with an electric bus every five years, a commitment UCCS made in their 2021 sustainability report.

The next grant, Fleet-ZERO, comes from the Colorado Energy Office. Spice said that the roughly $7,000 grant will fund two single port chargers for the bus lot to charge the new shuttles.

The last grant, Charge Ahead Colorado, was also from the Colorado Energy Office. Roughly $18,000 will help fund the replacement of the four single-port charging stations in Alpine Garage and the purchase of one dual-port station for Gateway Garage. Spice hopes to have these chargers installed within three months.

According to Spice, the charging stations in Alpine Garage have been out of service since March 2022 because of a change in Payment Card Industry Compliance for credit cards, which discontinued the use of swipe-only card readers.

Director of Sustainability Konrad Schlarbaum said that electric vehicle charging stations are essential for students on campus who drive or plan to drive an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Schlarbaum also said the stations encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and reduce anxiety about being stranded for drivers on the fence about switching to an electric vehicle.

The Sustainability Office is collecting data on electric vehicle usage on campus through a 2024 transportation survey. While the survey is still accepting responses, preliminary results indicate that 2.4% of respondents, including students, faculty and staff, currently drive a zero-emissions vehicle as their primary mode of transportation.

Preliminary results also indicated that the population of students, faculty and staff that drive an electric vehicle may increase over the next few years. In the survey, 36% of respondents indicated that they drive, plan to drive or are considering driving an electric or hybrid vehicle in the next five years.

While the grants are funding a large portion of the purchases, they aren’t enough to cover the entire cost of the new shuttles and chargers. Spice estimated that the buses will cost an extra $355,000 on top of the $205,000 grant.

He also estimated that the bus lot chargers will cost an extra $33,000 and the garage chargers will cost an extra $24,000. These extra costs will come out of parking and transportation’s savings account, which is funded through the sale of parking permits.

Spice hopes these grants are just the beginning. He has been working closely with Jonathan Royal, a grant writer for the University Advancement Office, to apply for more grants that he hopes will fund more sustainability-based projects down the line.

Spice said that his department recently applied for another grant through Charge Ahead Colorado to help fund two more dual-port electric vehicle charging stations on campus, one in Lot 572 and the other behind the Engineering and Applied Science Building.

The station will give the engineering building’s new wing a LEED point, making it LEED Gold. LEED, a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is used worldwide and provides a framework for healthy as well as energy and cost-efficient buildings. Gold is the second highest rating that a building can achieve.

The department also plans to apply for the Revitalizing Main Streets grant through the Colorado Department of Transportation. The grant would pay for sidewalks that would connect the main campus to the University Village shopping center.

Electric car charging. Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash.