Location: Granville, OH

Fleet Type: Light-duty Electric Vehicles

 

Narrative

Denison University, a nationally ranked liberal arts college located in Granville, Ohio, has long considered the possibility of transitioning its vehicle fleet from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) as part of a strategy toward net-zero carbon emissions in 2045.

Their partnership with Smart Columbus Accelerator advanced the discovery process, though questions remained around such topics as range anxiety. An opportunity to move forward arose  in 2022 when two students majoring in economics and  environmental studies connected with an alum in the EV field  on a project to impact campus sustainability.

With advice from the alum and input from the college’s sustainability director, the students analyzed the impact of integrating an EV into the fleet and presented their work to the college. A month later, Denison ordered a Chevy Bolt, and the students held an event to showcase it to students, employees, and the entire campus community. The campus safety office, which facilitates the use of the fleet, implemented a process that allows students and employees to check out and return the Bolt for charging. The Bolt is used for transportation to student organization events, classes, meetings, service-learning opportunities, and other business of the college, one of 15 university-owned vehicles that serves this purpose.

The overall experience of integrating an EV onto campus has been successful and positive,  due in part to Denison’s early adoption of EV-charging technology. The college installed its first EV chargers in 2017, deploying two GE WattStation chargers in the parking garage. After successfully applying for grants through AEP Ohio, Denison installed six ChargePoint chargers elsewhere on campus. With the new addition of an EV to its vehicle fleet, Denison assigned an EV charging area in its parking garage, where two ChargePoint chargers and four Autel level-2 chargers have been installed in anticipation of the growth of EVs in the fleet.

Outputs and Outcomes

The outputs from the college’s efforts towards electrification include proof of concept that EVs can be adapted into an existing fleet; the learning process of the students who created the project and evaluated Denison’s vehicle fleet use, and the impacts of EVs on it; and the research the students produced. The outcome of this work includes a greater understanding of EVs; increased use and purchase of EVs among employees; and a desire for the campus to expand the number of EVs in its fleet.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

  1. Involve and include as many people as you can in the process of evaluating the transition to an EV fleet.
  2. Do your homework to understand how you use your vehicles to determine what vehicle is the right vehicle for you.

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Denison University Fleet Story

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