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|Shavers Creek adopts environmentally friendly vehicle|
| Penn State is one step closer to owning a greener fleet of cars, thanks to the Universitys purchase of its first hybrid vehiclefor Penn State Shavers Creek Environmental Center, the Universitys Outreach resource for environmental programming.|
Shavers Creek Environmental Center is proud to own a hybrid, said Gerald Corky Potter, director of the center. The use of such green technology is an enormous step on the road to a more sustainable future.
Shavers Creek employees Cheri L. Nearhoof and David Fox convinced the Universitys manager of fleet operations, Bruce Younkin, to research the benefits of a gasoline-electric powered vehicle, ultimately leading to the purchase of a Honda Civic Hybrid for center programming.
According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the Civic Hybrid can go about 50 miles per gallon on the highway, with an annual fuel cost of about $480 (based on 15,000 annual miles and a fuel price of $1.55 a gallon). Compare that to a gas-only Honda Odyssey (minivan), which goes about 25 miles per gallon on the highway and has an annual fuel cost of more than $1,100. The hybrid cuts the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by more than half, compared to the gas-only minivan.
Shavers Creek programming includes travel to many area parks, for such activities as bird watching or rock climbing, and to local schools and businesses. Some trips entail a steep seven-mile crossing of the Tussey Ridge bordering southern Centre County and northern Huntingdon County.
Shavers Creek employee Ann Taylor marveled at the novelty of operating the electric-gas car as opposed to a gas-only vehicle, noting, It is interesting to watch the battery gauge on the controls of the car when driving. Climbing the elevation of Tussey Ridge shows a depletion of stored electrical power, but when the driver hits the brakes during the descent, the gauge shows that the electrical supply is restored completely.
Younkin explained, The energy gain from braking is really from running the vehicles engine in reverse mode. The advantage is that inertial energy is captured and stored in the battery, much like what happens when a battery is recharging.
Taylor added that the engine turns off completely when idle, at a stop sign for instance. Then, when the driver hits the accelerator, the electric motor instantly restarts the engine. It creates the feeling of glidingShavers Creek naturalists enjoy this feature as they move quietly into wildlife-watching areas, she said.
Potter added, The switch at Shavers Creek to the hybrid is a way to practice what we teach. We aim to sustain a healthy relationship with the natural world and to teach, model and encourage sustainability in our larger community.