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Eco-Cat Logo Equals Ecologically Friendly Travel

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
June 24, 2009

UNH Eco-CAT hybrid sign

Logos convey ideas. The swoosh; the apple with the bite out of the side; they don’t just identify the companies they signify, they convey their philosophies.

That same result is what Steve Pesci of Campus Planning hopes will eventually happen with the Eco-Cat logo: anyone who sees it will automatically think, ‘oh, that’s a green vehicle.’

The label is helping to educate the public about UNH’s growing fleet of clean technology vehicles. Almost all the diesel vehicles, including buses, are run on low-sulfur B20 fuel (20 percent bio and 80 percent diesel). Fifteen compressed natural gas (CNG) and more than 20 hybrid and all-electric vehicles make up the balance of the expanding alternative fuel fleet.

“Even if people just see the logo in passing, it catches their eye and reinforces ‘hey, there’s something different about this vehicle,’” says Pesci, project director of special projects for Campus Planning. “We’ve been working to get out the message that these vehicles are unique, why, and how that ties into the bigger picture of sustainability and climate education.”

Pesci says the goal is to, over time, have all UNH vehicles meet the Eco-Cat high standard. However, right now there are limited options. For example, there is only one company in the country that makes the all-electric truck, which is a full-speed highway vehicle. (UNH’s other electric vehicles have a maximum speed of 35 mph.)

“There aren’t a lot of options,” Pesci says. “For now, it’s a chicken-egg thing. There’s a lack of alternative fuel vehicles. Federal policy is trying to build a market. There has to be a market for car makers to build these vehicles.”

As more companies join the ranks, and older vehicles need replacing, the university will expand its alternative fuel fleet. Pesci notes UNH has been successful in obtaining grants to help purchase new cars and trucks, with some grants paying as much as 80 percent of the replacement cost.

“It creates a win-win-win with three capital Ws,” he says. “Not only have we gotten cleaner vehicles at a huge subsidy but the fuel and maintenance costs are less expensive and emissions have been reduced.”

Each Eco-Cat logo has a slogan specific to its fuel source. For example, electric cars bear a label with an electrical plug in the center of the O and the tagline beneath it that reads “zero emission electric power” while those vehicles running on B20 read “U.S. grown low-emission biodiesel.”

“In everything we do, we’re trying to explain the fuel alternatives and climate impacts and get across the message of sustainability,” Pesci says.

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