ECOCat Vehicle Selection Calculator Released

ECOCat Vehicle Selection Calculator Released

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Last year, UNH’s “fleet” – the 300-plus transit and non-transit vehicles on campus – traveled a total of 1.6 million miles, racking up more than $624,000 in fuel costs and emitting 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of 18 tanker trucks filled with gasoline or the electricity used in one year by more than 200 homes. 

Now, a new tool will help UNH departments and offices make wise fiscal and environmental choices when purchasing new vehicles – or not.

The ECOCat Vehicle Selection Calculator, released in May by a team that includes UNH Facilities Campus Planning in collaboration with transportation services, purchasing, and the Sustainability Institute, is a spreadsheet tool that incorporates vehicle price, miles per gallon (MPG), and greenhouse gas emissions to represent the full life cycle and environmental costs of selecting vehicle ownership. An easy-to-use downloadable Excel file, the calculator will be updated twice a year.  

"Passenger cars on campus frequently are kept for 10 years," says Stephen Pesci, special projects director with UNH Facilities Campus Planning. "Over that period, small differences in miles per gallon can result in big fiscal and fuel impacts. The cheapest vehicle upfront can have a much greater life-cycle cost than a higher efficiency vehicle." Pesci notes that in some cases, the ECOCat Vehicle Selection Calculator might help departments realize their needs can be met without purchasing a vehicle.

UNH continues to grow ECOCat, its alternative-fueled fleet of biodiesel (B20) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. Last fiscal year, ECOCat vehicles replaced 53,000 gallons of petroleum fuel with alternative fuels, saving UNH an estimated $45,000 while reducing emissions by 400 tons. UNH Transit leads the way with more than 40 percent of its vehicle miles now being powered by CNG and the balance by B20. The rest of UNH's vehicle fleet is moving towards alternative fuels and higher efficiency vehicles.  

The ECOCat Vehicle Selection Calculator will help individual-vehicle buyers realize similar financial and emissions savings. To make a wise vehicle choice, follow these steps before purchasing a vehicle: 

  • Do you really need to purchase a vehicle? Incorporate Zipcar into your transportation plans to cycle out vehicles you don't use often, saving money and the hassle of vehicle upkeep, from inspections to maintenance. Departmental accounts are free.
  • Consider more sustainable transport for on-campus use, such as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles and bicycles.
  • If you decide you do need to purchase a vehicle, contact Ray Myatt, the UNH fleet manager, or Mike Amincangioli, UTS grants manager, for a single vehicle purchase under $35,000, or contact Lisa Pollard of USNH Purchasing for purchases of more than one vehicle or over $35.000.  They can help you with questions regarding whether CNG, hybrids, electrics, or B20 are a good fit for your needs or if grant funding is available. CNG is currently $2.04 per gallon with a high speed refueling station on campus. Biodiesel 20 (B20) runs cleaner than conventional diesel and is also available on campus. Electrics and hybrids produce the lowest emissions and have the highest MPG ratings.
  • Think about the entire life cycle of a vehicle when making your final decision.

The new ECOCat Vehicle Selection Calculator is part of UNH's overall commitment to sustainable transportation demand management policies and practices, an essential component of WildCAP, the university's Climate Action Plan.