Patrick Willoughby drives through the Wellesley College campus in the college’s maintenance van and everyone stops to look. This car is not like any other college maintenance vehicle. Adorned with graphics that promote the school’s commitment to sustainable landscape, water, waste and energy practices, this maintenance car is electric and uses energy from a solar panel installed on its rooftop.
Willoughby, the sustainability director at Wellesley, says he plugs it in about once a week, but ,for the most part, the car uses only the energy provided by the solar panel. When he does need to plug it in, Willoughby uses an extension cord that will plug into any 120 watt outlet.
“It’s a car that charges on the go, from the sun, and also plugs in,” he says. “It’s all electric .”
Driving sustainability home
It was Willoughby’s idea to get the car on Wellesley’s campus because we wanted to raise awareness about the idea of using electric/solar-powered vehicles and the importance of sustainability in general.
Willoughby says he knows that one electric car is not going to change the world, but when he drives by he hopes that everyone watching will stop a minute to think about sustainability.
“It’s unique and quirky; it grabs attention just like I wanted,” Willoughby says.
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Willoughby has also recently installed a 10.5 kW solar electrical system with 48 solar panels. The panels were installed directly next to Wellesley’s soccer fields. He says it was important to make the system obvious and accessible.
“It would have been easy to put the panels on the roof of the science building,” Willoughby explains. “But nobody would have seen them or walked by them.”
Wellesley College and its Sustainability Advisory Committee have recently made several other improvements and adjustments to the functional sustainability and green aspects of the school’s campus, including aggressive energy management by the College as well as LEED certification for newly renovated buildings on campus.
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