The Environmental Center just purchased its first car. This is a big step for an organization that promotes active transportation and is trying to help the Central Oregon community reduce its carbon footprint. In order to expand programs cost effectively – the Energy Challenge’s free LED program, in particular – it became necessary to have a vehicle for the organization.
It didn’t take much convincing that an electric car was the way to go, especially after Pine Mountain Sports got their all-electric shop car last summer. We ended up choosing the same model, a Nissan Leaf. We really had two motives for making this decision for The Environmental Center:
- It makes sense financially.
- If makes sense environmentally.
- (Bonus!) They’re so much fun to drive.
An electric car is a great financial investment because they cost less to maintain and fuel. They don’t have exhaust systems or need oil changes. Overall, there are very few moving parts. (The main areas of regular maintenance are tires and brakes.) And the electricity cost to charge up and drive 100 miles is less than $3.00.
There are no tailpipe emissions, because there isn’t even a tailpipe! This vehicle won’t pollute our air.
When it comes to total vehicle emissions, we still have to consider that 67% of our electricity comes from coal, which is a very dirty way to produce energy. The Environmental Center offsets a small portion of our electricity use with a solar installation on our building. It is big enough to offset all of the energy that we need to power the electric car. However, we were already using solar to offset our office energy use, so we’re still creating a net gain in consumption.
With this in mind, we’re looking to make strategic improvements at our facility to reduce our energy use. For example, smart thermostats that can sense when renters have left the building, and automatically adjust the temperature accordingly.
Lastly, electric cars are just plain fun to drive. But don’t just take our word for it! Come drive one at our Electric Vehicle Ride & Drive event that will take place at the Earth Day Fair and Parade on Saturday, April 22nd from 11:00 – 3:00.