The Facilities Management Division recently purchased 12 fully electric utility vehicles as part of its ongoing commitment to enhance sustainability in campus maintenance.
Manufactured by Georgia-based retailer Club Car, the low-speed vehicles are about the size of golf carts and can easily navigate sidewalks and walkways without disrupting pedestrian traffic. Unlike golf carts, they come with 3-point seatbelts, backup cameras, a crash-test rating, and other safety features common in standard-sized cars. With the cost of electricity being less than gas, they are eco-friendly as well as budget-friendly.
“We are very excited to have these new vehicles in our fleet,” said Brett Ganas, director of Grounds and Fleet Management in FMD. “They can charge overnight or when they’re not being used, so we’re able to save time and money while also reducing our emissions.”
Several departments within FMD use the vehicles, including Grounds, Building Services and Operations & Maintenance. With a payload capacity of over 1,000 pounds and an enclosed bed option, they can be customized to haul everything from hand tools to landscaping equipment. According to Ganas, that versatility makes a big difference in day-to-day operations.
“Our teams have been able to outfit the vehicles to fit their needs, which makes us better equipped to respond to work requests and continue providing exceptional service,” he said.
Sustainability is a primary consideration for FMD when replacing or buying new vehicles and equipment. In 2022, the division added the first all-electric cars to its fleet and introduced autonomous electric mowers at the UGA Club Sports Complex. Additionally, the Grounds Department established a central “green zone” across North Campus where electric landscaping equipment is used almost exclusively.
“Our priority is to provide services that support the health and well-being of the university community,” said Jeff Benjamin, associate vice president for FMD. “Investing in sustainable solutions is a major part of that, and I’m thankful for the campus support and partnerships that help make these initiatives successful.”
The ongoing sustainability efforts also open doors for UGA students. Last year, a group of students in the College of Engineering partnered with FMD to develop a portable charging station for electric landscaping equipment. Students in the College of Environment + Design have also helped assess the effectiveness of FMD’s sustainable landscape projects.
The Office of Sustainability, housed in FMD, partners with schools, colleges and units to support the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Sustainability, provide internships, and fund student projects through the campus sustainability grant program.
“We are here to support the university’s infrastructure, but we also provide a hands-on learning environment. By implementing sustainable practices, we can offer unique educational opportunities that connect the academic and operational sides of the university,” Benjamin said. “I’m proud of our students and excited to continue working with schools and colleges on these efforts.”