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ChargingStation_32These days, it goes without saying: The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is leading the way with sustainability initiatives.

Most recently–and as part of the Reeve Memorial Union parking lot update project–four electric vehicle charging stations were installed on campus. Two of the stations are located in the Reeve parking lot (lot 15) and another two in the campus parking ramp. The stations are available for use by both the campus and public.

“It goes without saying, it is extremely important to this campus to be sustainable,” said Steve Arndt, director of facilities management and campus sustainability council co-chairperson at UW Oshkosh. “We’re constantly evolving and doing sustainable things. Sustainability is such a dynamic, changing area. When you get opportunities like this to try something new–that will further promote sustainability–you have to.”

The electric vehicle charging stations are easy to use and quite innovative. Users simply plug in and then scan a Quick Response Code (QR code) on the charging station and are directed to a payment screen. It costs $2 per hour to “fuel up” or $125 for a year-long parking permit. The stations are PayPal enabled.

For Ben Richardson, the manager of parking and transportation at UW Oshkosh, the new charging stations on campus have been very useful. He recently purchased a Chevy Volt electric car and is now able to plug in each day when he arrives on campus.

“In general, electric vehicles have a pretty short driving range on a charge,” said Richardson, who drives to Oshkosh from Appleton.

Richardson said people who drive electric vehicles worry a lot about running out of energy before reaching their destination, something called “range anxiety.” Because electric vehicles are still growing in popularity, so are the charging stations. UW Oshkosh’s stations are some of only a few in Oshkosh, Arndt said.

Currently, Arndt and Richardson said there aren’t a lot of users of the electric charging stations on campus, which isn’t surprising to either of them. They are optimistic usage will grow as awareness does and as more people purchase electric cars, something that is just becoming popular and financially viable.

“We knew there wouldn’t be a lot of users at first. In order to get people to use technology like this, you have to have it available,” said Richardson. “It’s either you are a leader or you aren’t on things like this. And we are.”

Beyond the electric vehicle charging stations on campus, the University also owns many other “green” titles. In recent years, several University buildings have been built and identified by the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership as being built to Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, including the South Campus Parking Ramp, Student Success Center, Sage Hall and Horizon Village. UW Oshkosh is rated among the greenest universities in the nation by Sierra Magazine and The Princeton Review.

UW Oshkosh is also a leader in renewable energy, using sources such as wind power, solar power and biomass production through its now three biodigesters.

As part of the University’s Climate Action Plan, developed a handful of years ago, the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025 was established; UW Oshkosh is working toward that goal with every innovative, sustainable step it takes.

“Sustainability is just so important to UW Oshkosh. It’s one of our guiding values and these charging stations are really an expression of that,” Arndt said.

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