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Major university makes electrifying change with multi-million dollar investment: ‘This is just phase one’

“This is a great example of using technology to support a sustainable future while also making things easier for employees.”

"This is a great example of using technology to support a sustainable future while also making things easier for employees."

Photo Credit: University of Waikato

In a bid to become more sustainable, the University of Waikato in New Zealand has begun a major overhaul of its vehicle fleet, as it reported in December.

According to CleanTechnica, the institution is expecting to deliver 80 new electric vehicles to be used by its staff, with the BYD Atto 3 being the model of choice.

It’s the latest green move made by the university, as CleanTechnica reported, with gas-powered boilers replaced by low-pollution alternatives, the installation of solar arrays on campus buildings, and a switch to LED lightbulbs among the steps already taken or underway.

The new fleet will be delivered courtesy of a funding boost of just more than $2 million from the nation’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, which the university has matched for a total investment of about $4 million (presumably in New Zealand dollars, equivalent to just under $2.5 million USD). 

In addition to the zero-tailpipe-pollution vehicles, the school said it’s also installing EV charging stations at the Hamilton and Tauranga campuses, courtesy of the installers We.EV. 

The EVs and charging stations will eventually be available for staff to use outside of university hours, with the school hoping to reduce Scope 3 pollution — or the indirect pollution produced by an organization, such as by staff vehicle use. 

“This is a great example of using technology to support a sustainable future while also making things easier for employees,” Jim Mercer, chief operating officer at the University of Waikato, said in a university release.

“This is just phase one,” he added. “We will continue to make upgrades over the coming years to ensure the University of Waikato continues to take steps towards becoming more sustainable.”

The BYD Atto 3 is an electric SUV that boasts about a 260-mile range on a single charge, while it can hit 60 miles per hour from standing in around seven seconds. The model can be charged from 30% to 80% in just 29 minutes, per BYD.

The University of Waikato is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030, and the move to clean EVs will undoubtedly help in that pursuit.

In addition to avoiding the use of polluting dirty fuel, the switch to EVs will help drive down the cost of refueling vehicles for both the university and its staff. 

Meanwhile, replacing standard internal combustion engine cars will improve air quality in the campus and surrounding areas. ICEs produce particulate matter that can contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular problems, but battery-powered electric vehicles do not produce harmful smog while on the road.

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