What is Penn doing about sustainable transportation?

Dear Benny,
I noticed that Penn has its own transportation office. I hear Penn talk a lot about sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint, but what is it doing to reduce the amount of carbon or pollutants put into the air by its vehicles?
—Green Lantern

Dear Hal Jordan,
To answer your question, we turned to Matthew Brown, associate director of transportation at Penn Transit. He says that in support of the University’s Climate Action Plan, Penn Transit has adopted propane as the alternative fuel for its fleet. Penn Transit currently has eight bi-fuel vehicles that can operate on both propane and gasoline.

“We have 35-gallon [propane] tanks,” Brown says. “We are consuming about 1,000 gallons a week. This is significant savings with the cost of gasoline currently going up.”

Penn Transit has installed a 1,000-gallon propane fueling station at the South Bank, where Penn Transit staff can fill up their vehicles. Penn’s facility is the only privately owned propane fueling station in Philadelphia.

Due to the fully functional propane fueling station and the infrastructure to support propane vehicles, Brown says Penn Transit vehicles rarely use gasoline.

“It’s become a great way to be more sustainable and reduce the overall carbon footprint of the University,” he says.

To promote the use of propane and the fueling station, Penn Transit technicians have been certified by a third-party vendor to retrofit most vehicles in the University’s fleet so they can operate on propane.

“This helps us make the best use of the propane station, and helps the University be sustainable and utilize alternative fuel throughout the entire University and not just in transportation,” Brown says.

In addition, Penn Transit staff can help University departments convert their vehicles to propane, which they can fuel on campus, enabling them to reduce fueling costs.

Send it via email to current@pobox.upenn.edu.

Originally published on February 13, 2014