Spotlight On

Spotlight On... Sustainable Transportation

June 29, 2017   |   Author: Meghan O'Connor

Spotlight On... Sustainable Transportation

As Conor McGuire prepared for the Northern New England’s AIA Committee on the Environment’s 2017 Leadership Summit, he noted the irony in traveling to an environmental conference in a gas-powered vehicle. As a sponsor for the conference promoting sustainable buildings as standard practice, it would be counterproductive to travel the 200+ miles burning fossil fuel and creating carbon emissions. Conor, Columbia’s Director of Sustainability, coordinated the lease of a car for the Sustainability Department that runs entirely on electricity. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will now be utilized for transportation to and from job site meetings, conferences and events, and solar energy projects. The AIA COTE Leadership Summit was a perfect destination for the maiden voyage. To further reduce CO2 emissions from traveling to the conference, Conor carpooled with a few Boston architects and made the trek across three states without needing to stop and charge at all! Only 75% of the battery charge was used to travel the 220 miles between Boston and Burlington Vermont.  

Although there are several hybrid options on the market, Columbia chose to enter the sustainable electric vehicle (EV) world full force and leased a 100% electric car. Chevrolet designed the Bolt specifically as an electric car, instead of trying to adapt a gas fueled vehicle’s layout. The battery spans the floor of the car and holds 60 kilowatt hours of electricity when fully charged, equivalent to betwen 200 and 300 miles, depending on driving technique. In addition to benefitting the environment, the Bolt is extremely user friendly and enjoyable to drive. “A lot of times when people are making the environmentally conscious choice, there is an element of sacrifice involved,” explains Conor. “With this electric vehicle, there is no sacrifice. In many ways it is just like a gas-powered car, and any differences are ways in which the EV is better.”

Studies have shown that a large percentage of suburban offices’ carbon footprints are due to emissions made while employees are commuting to and from the office. Since more electric vehicles are becoming more available, Columbia strives to encourage and enable people to make the environmentally friendly choice. Columbia Construction is installing multiple charging stations at our office parking lot for employee and tenant use. Not only are CO2 emissions related to EVs already cleaner than gas and hybrids, those emissions are reduced every year as we continue to “green the grid” with more solar PV energy projects. We are excited to be a part of this transition to sustainable transportation that will not only have a great impact on the state of our environment, but allows us to drive in style!