By: Anna Adami — Staff Writer
The University of Dayton is electrically propelling forward in its sustainability initiatives. Two 100 percent electric utility vehicles, valued at $25,000 each, were gifted to UD from Cenntro Motors. Marianne McInerney, a 1985 UD graduate and vice president for Cenntro Automotive Corp., presented the first car at Fitz Hall on Sept. 18. The cars will be used by both mail and parking services.
“When you have a visionary institution like the University of Dayton,” McInerney told ABC 22, “We know we can make an impact.”
The blue cars will be strategically placed in the back of the Fitz parking lot so they can be seen, said Meg Maloney, a sophomore environmental biology major. Maloney is president of the campus Sustainability Club and student representative for the Hanley Board.
The current mail cars are guzzling gas, she elaborated. The new ones have zero emission and can travel about 200 miles before needing to recharge, which happens overnight.
Since UD is “nationally recognized” for its sustainability efforts, Maloney said, we are “continually trying to improve ourselves.”
As of June 2015, the university committed to begin divesting coal and fossil fuels. These new cars give UD a chance to push farther in its energy efficiency efforts, said Don Pair, acting head of the Hanley Sustainability Institute.
“Conversation about sustainable solutions and sustainable decision making are particularly important right now given the pope and his new encyclical,” Pair continued.
Pope Francis released his latest encyclical, “Laudato si,’” in May. The encyclical emphasizes the need to respect the environment and to create more sustainable development.
Lea Dolimier, senior environmental biology major, is studying the encyclical in two of her classes.
“The encyclical is unique,” she said, “in that it puts science and religion in conversation with each other.”
Dolimier said the pope uses the Catholic Social Teaching of the “common good” to talk about the Earth, “our common home,” but also about the disparity in resource consumption.
“Technology is moving too fast for us to catch up with it in terms of ethics and consumerism,” Dolimier said.
“We start creating and using technology before knowing its consequences to the environment,” she said.
The new electric cars show that UD is “taking a step forward in our sustainability track,” Maloney said.
UD participated in the “Know Tomorrow Campaign” on Oct. 2 in Humanities Plaza, unifying the university nationally with other activists demanding climate action.
“Admissions is starting to recognize sustainability as a selling point,” Dolimier said.
“It helps now that we’re trying to advertise it,” she said. Yet when it comes to implementations “there is still a lot of red tape.”
Dolimier cited proposals for green roofs, for solar panels and for sustainable buildings. “Most things are disapproved purely because of aesthetic value,” she said.
Sustainability Week, Oct. 20—25, is intended to generate excitement and discussion around the environment. There will be speakers, contests, free food and sustainable products.
“If it’s not our generation that’s inspired to change,” said Maloney, “no one’s going to end up doing it.”