February 19, 2013

School adds zero-emission vehicle

LAKE PLACID — In mid-February, North Country School took delivery of an unusual item: a small, fully electric, zero-emission vehicle.

Made by Minnesota-based e-ride Industries, the so-called “neighborhood vehicles” are popular with colleges, universities and U.S. military facilities as they try to reduce costs and meet institutional goals for clean energy.

At North Country School, the two-person, flatbed truck is charged overnight and used primarily for transporting trash, recycling, furniture and other large, bulky items around the 200-acre campus. It is not used on public roads.

“We believe that this is the first truck of its kind in the Adirondacks,” John Culpepper, director of facilities and sustainability at North Country School and Camp Treetops, said in a news release.

“More important, of course, are the reductions we expect to see in our consumption of gasoline and our carbon footprint.”

The new vehicle replaces an aging one-ton dump truck.

Culpepper estimates that the school will save 500 gallons of gas a year for an average annual decrease in the carbon footprint of more than 10,000 pounds.

The nearly $2,000 a year that is expected to be saved will be put to use elsewhere.

The new electric truck is just the latest in a series of steps at the school and camp intended to conserve natural resources and protect the environment. These include extensive recycling and composting, converting all building heating systems away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy and sustainable forestry practices that utilize lumber cut from campus forests in construction and woodshop projects.

The facilities also operate a small, multi-purpose farm that produces eggs, poultry, pork, maple syrup, wool and thousands of pounds of vegetables, greens and herbs.

By working on the farm, students and campers learn first-hand about local food production and practices of sustainable living.

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