University departments go green with GEMs

Kristyn Soltis

Faculty uses efficient electronic vehicles across campus

The Kent State Design Solutions department has introduced Global Electric Motorcars to the university. The vehicles are powered by a 72-volt absorbed glass mat battery pack with an on-board charger that can be plugged into a standard household 110-volt ou

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State’s Design Solutions department is going green by using one of the eight Global Electric Motorcars on campus.

A GEM is an electric vehicle powered by a 72-volt absorbed glass mat battery pack with an on-board charger that can be plugged into a standard household 110-volt outlet. Charges may last three to six hours, depending on how long the batteries were discharged.

Diane Sperko, manager of Design Solutions, said her department, which acquired its GEM in February, uses the vehicle daily.

“One of the biggest benefits is the environmentally friendly application,” Sperko said in an e-mail interview. “Since it is electric, it saves on gas consumption and is safer for the environment.”

John Walsh, associate director of Campus Environment and Operations, said GEMs are just one alternative fuel vehicle Kent State has been evaluating and agrees the fuel-less aspect is a major benefit.

“I’ve personally had a GEM for three years, and it’s extremely dependable,” Walsh said. “I just quit running around the campus at the end of the day. Plug it in, and you’re good to go, and the charge lasts a couple days,” Walsh said. “It goes up to 24 miles per hour, and the campus speed is 25 miles per hour, so I’m good.”

Fleet Services superintendent Darwin Friend said GEMs have other benefits besides the fact they support sustainability and green initiatives.

Friend said they are quiet, have low operational costs, little overall maintenance and they are small, making them easy to maneuver.

“It’s a more efficient use of our time because of the accessibility of parking nearer to the buildings where we have business with clients for consultations, installations, deliveries, etcetera,” Sperko said.

Last fall, President Lester Lefton announced the formation of a task force for sustainability to help build upon current efforts and investigate new initiatives to go green.

The College of Technology tries to incorporate sustainability initiatives into all aspects of its curriculum, such as investigating jet fuel alternatives to move an airplane while it is on the ground. University groundskeepers also adds sand as a supplement in the campus flowerbeds.

Contact principal reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected]