Everyday Actions, Enduring Results

WINNER: Best Contribution to Sustainability Concepts

 In the Fall of 2010, the Student Government Association (SGA) at the Johns Hopkins University reformed the student transportation service to improve mobility by creating an expansive van-based route system. However, these reforms led to an increase in fuel-consumption by the 12 passenger vans. This inspired one student named Michael St. Germain, a member of the SGA, to explore alternative fuel options for these light-duty vans.  The Director of Transportation, Greg Smith, was supportive but also stipulated that any proposal for a new form of transportation did not diminish the capability, reliability or comfort of the vehicle fleet. 
 Michael’s goal was to reduce carbon emissions and gasoline consumption while saving the university money. It became clear that no hybrid electric option would be available as there is currently no 12-passenger van on the market that has a hybrid powertrain. The next option to be considered was natural gas. After crunching numbers Michael determined that a compressed natural gas powertrain would be the best option for the university. While infrastructure to fuel the vans needed to be built and there was a van conversion premium the project would in fact pay for itself in only five and a half years and cut carbon emissions by over 25%!
 While innovative projects like this are great, sustainability requires that many people contribute to the effort by making small modifications in their everyday lives to reduce waste. At Johns Hopkins, many students are making smart, sustainable decisions. This can be as simple as recycling instead of throwing something away or drinking water from a reusable bottle rather than a disposable plastic water bottle. Innovation and individual action are the two essential components of creating an America built to last.